ale-ien
"Strange things are afoot tonight, beware the full moon."


ALE-IEN

by Steve Stilson

part 1

'Just one,' Joe thought, as he entered the Mecca that is the Saloon bar of the Dog and Partridge. The drab atmosphere that so many 'theme' bars try and emulate was perfect in here, from the authentic tobacco stains on the gaudy patterned wallpaper to the threadbare and soiled 1940's carpet. It wasn't the work of marketing executives. This pub owed everything to the scruffy and degenerative locals that frequented its hallowed ground. Most of the regulars were in tonight, and they sat huddled in gloomy corners, or slouched drunk at the bar. A few high spirited newcomers, who had only been coming in for about 10 years, were being daring and playing a game of darts.

"Bloody youngsters," said Old Dave. "They'll give this pub a bad name if they keep up doing that."

Old Dave's dog, Killer, growled as if agreeing with his wizened old master. Behind the bar, Big John kept his eye on everybody (a good trick if you can do it) just in case anything started. Nothing violent had ever happened in here in the 25 years that Big John had been the barman, but you could never tell when these things were going to kick off. It had come close once when the bitter had run out at the same time as the Guinness, but Big John had stood defiant, armed only with his trusty truncheon, and fended off the aggressive hordes.

Joe walked up to the bar, observing Big John's defensive stance, and made a mental note not to wind him up tonight.

"Pint of your finest bitter please barlord."

"Push the silver across the bar to show that you mean it Joe," said Big John. Joe pushed the amount across, and was rewarded with a pint of 'Quilly's' best bitter. He glanced around the interior and found a spot where he could study the racing pages in his paper in peace. As he sat down, Old Dave caught his eye, nodding prophetically as if forewarning Joe of impending doom. Joe brushed the look aside, blaming it on senile dementia.

"Mind if I join you?" A voice said.

Joe looked up nervously in case it was Old Dave wanting to start one of his 'we fought a war for you young un's and you don't appreciate it' speeches, but he didn't recognize the speaker. Relieved, he said "Yeah sure." "Thank you," the stranger said, extending a hand. "I'm Draaf. My friends call me Draaf."

"I'm Joe," said Joe, shaking Draaf's hand. "What's a friend then?" Joe supped at his pint of bitter and studied Draaf as he sat down. "Excuse me if I'm being impolite," Joe said, placing his glass back on the table. "But I notice you have green skin, three eyes, and a large, bulbous, clear head that let's me see your brain. I take it your not from round here. Correct me if I'm wrong, but your an alien beastie aren't you?"

"Well spotted Joe. I'm here on holiday, doing a pub crawl round the spiral galaxies."

"If that's the case," said Joe, who was completely unfazed by the appearance of aliens in his local pub. "Then why are you sat there with an empty, and very dry pint pot, and not totally out of your mind on our local brew?"

"Ah well. My drinking habits are, how can I say, slightly unusual. Every time I ask one of the locals for my choice of drink I usually end up being punched hard around the facial area."

"So! What do you drink?"

"Urine."

"What!!" Spluttered Joe, spraying the locals with beer.

"Watch it," said Old Dave, shaking his fist.

"Woof," said Killer, cocking his leg in Joe's direction.

"Urine," said Draaf, getting the conversation back where it should be. "You see, my metabolism and digestion system is slightly different from yours. Where you get drunk from alcohol, I get drunk from urine. So if you wouldn't mind, next time you go to the toilet, mine's a pint."

"Now let me get this straight," said Joe, trying to get to grips with this phenomenon. "You want me to go to the toilet with an empty glass, bring it back out full of urine, and you are then going to drink it!!"

"Yep!"

"That is the most disgusting thing I have ever heard."

"It does work both way's. Due to a bizarre quirk of nature, my urine tastes exactly like the drink you call bhud-why-sir."

"You mean Budweiser."

"Yep, that's the one. Think about it. You drink beer and produce urine, what's wrong with me drinking urine and producing beer. Makes sense doesn't it."

"No! Honestly, you expect me to believe you urinate Budweiser. Your taking the piss aren't you?"

"Not yet, but when you come back from the toilet I will be."

"Less of the corny jokes," said Old Dave "And make mine a large scotch Joe, or I'll tell Big John what your planning on doing."

Draaf was relieved that he hadn't been punched yet, and decided to finish off with the hard sell.

"Joe, think about this for a second. You buy one pint like you have done, you then go and have a piss and I drink that, then I go for a piss and you drink that, and then.."

"Yeah I know," said Joe, interrupting. "Then I'm sick everywhere after drinking your piss."

"No, that's not it at all. Then we just keep on doing it over and over again. For the price of one pint, you can drink for as long as your in my company."

"Sorta like a perpetual motion in beer."

"Got it in one," said Draaf, thinking of all the smart people he could have picked.

"Okay then Draaf, what do we do?"

"First off, I'm thirsty. Nip to the toilet and fetch me a pint."

So Joe went, glass in hand, to the Dog and Partridge's world renowned gents toilet. Mere words cannot describe the place. For generations, a visit to the toilets in here was like a rite of passage. Men would bring their son's in on their 18th birthday, and point them in the direction of the 'gents'. After an hour or so, the son would emerge changed somehow. No longer a boy but a man, a man who had seen something that very few people had seen. There was nothing secret about the toilet, but all those who entered never spoke about their experiences within. So with an air of mystery surrounding it, we skip forward to Joe coming back out, holding a full glass of yellow liquid.

"You are a star Joe," beamed Draaf, taking the warm glass from Joe's hand and swigging half of it down in one. Joe dry heaved as he watched Draaf. Big John winced, and even Old Dave, who had fought in two world wars, averted his eyes as the alien drank the evil brew.

"That's better. The first of the day always tastes the best."

The smell from the glass was now reaching Joe's nostrils, and he dry heaved again. There was no way that he was going to be able to follow this alien round the pubs without loosing his breakfast somewhere along the way. Draaf finished his pint, and held the glass aloft.

"Right. Now I'll go and pour one for you."

"Fresh glass please Big John," shouted Joe.

A fresh glass was produced from behind the expansive bar and handed to Draaf.

"I think your all sick," said Big John, putting Draaf's used glass in the dishwasher. "I hope your thinking of going soon before I have to bring my truncheon into use."

Draaf departed to the toilet with the clean glass. Joe had forgotten to warn him about the toilets, but realized the alien had probably seen worse on his travels around the Universe. Just then, the pub door opened and in walked Diablo Talmondo, the strange mystic and landscape gardener (competitive weekend rates on all gardens bigger than 10 square yards). He glided towards the bar and with the voice of an angel ordered his usual pint of Guinness. No money was ever seen changing hands when Diablo bought a drink. Speculative patrons thought that it was either a conjuration on the part of Diablo to deceive Big John into thinking that he had been paid, or the beer was a gift for services rendered. It was in fact neither of these, but the author is not going to divulge such answers that easily (Answers on a postcard please!). Suffice to say that all will be revealed (or maybe not) at a later date. Diablo turned, drink in hand, and faced Joe. Diablo seemed worried about something, the anxiety on his face was evident.

"Young Joe," he said. "Strange things are afoot tonight, beware the full moon."

"What are you on about?"

"They are abroad."

"Speak English man!"

"Look Joe, there's something happening tonight, and it's something not right. Don't go out after dark or in the pale moonlight."

"Are you on drugs or something?" Joe said, puzzled by the mystic's verse.

"If you don't want to listen, just piss off."

"Did someone mention piss?" Asked Draaf, returning from the toilet (The author once again successfully navigating the story so he wouldn't have to describe the toilets).

"Arrgghhhh!! An alien beastie! I told you strange things were afoot Joe."

"Don't panic. This here is Draaf, he's a... errr... Well, I don't know what he is, but he is definitely an alien, and he's here to get pissed."

"Literally," added Draaf, placing an ominous full glass on the table. Diablo rubbed his goatee beard in a manner that fitted the esoteric gardener.

"This may explain why I'm only getting vague images out of the old crystal ball tonight."

TUNE IN NEXT TIME TO FIND OUT WHAT DIABLO HAS SEEN, AND IF JOE WILL EVER DRINK DRAAF'S PISS.
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