Mr. Nomed’s Pub

Source: Pixabay

The lady entered the pub with a frightened disposition. Her sunglasses did little good in hiding the shame on her face.

She was in her mid forties, slim and slightly shrivelled. Nonetheless, she was beautiful by the standards of the world.

Her attire was simple and dignified. Her old yet well maintained black Ferragamo heels clacked crisply against the old parquet as she took her first few steps towards the counter. I could hear her heart pounding quickly as she approached me. Then, she paused.

I busied myself wiping the countertop and pretended not to notice her at all. In my mind, I knew that she was already a sealed deal the moment she entered the door. I did not have to do anything to lure her closer. True enough, within seconds, she had steadied herself and made her way towards the counter.

With shaking hands she took off her sunglasses and placed them on the counter. “I am here for the drink.” She muttered softly under her breathe.

“Honey, I have been waiting for you. Tell me, what are your heart’s desires?” I replied.

“I want to be young again. I want to be beautiful always. I want to be rich and famous and to afford all the good things the world has to offer.” She rattled.

“That sounds delicious my dear. Beauty, wealth and fame. All these are within my means to bestow. But what will you give me in return?” I said, putting on my the most sincere smile I could muster.

“I offer you my marriage and my children. I will never again be married or bear children.” She remarked in a decisive tone. “I never liked men or children anyway.” She continued, this time with less certainty.

“It is a deal then.” I said, a true smile spreading across my face this time. Oh what a great deal this was. Indeed, she was not the first to have entered my pub and traded off her life’s joy for the riches of the world. “Give me a moment as I prepare your cocktail.”

I turned my back from the counter and headed for my spirits. First, I filled a shot glass with vodka. Next, I added a dash of wealth and a sprinkling of fame. Finally, I garnished it with a pinch of beauty sprinklers. I gave the cocktail a quick stir and brought it to the counter where the lady waited expectantly.

In the time that I was away, the lady had grown anxious and impatient. Beads of sweat now glistened on her artificially taut forehead. Once again, I heard her heart racing. I knew that she was eager to imbibe what I had to offer. “Give it to me.” She beckoned, her voice quivering.

“Ma’am, please be patient. This is not how this works. To make this concoction successful, I would need some ingredients from you too. Some spittle to be precise.”

Abashed, she handed me her spittle in a delicate little embroidered handkerchief. I laid the handkerchief on the top of the cocktail and allowed the lady’s greed, insecurity and vanity to infuse into the spirit. Finally, the drink was ready.

Very gently I shoved the gleaming shot glass across the counter, towards the lady.

“Remember that even right now, you have the choice to not drink this and to walk away from this pub white as snow.” I said. If it had not been my obligation to say so, I would have dealt away with this practice centuries ago.

After my final warning, the lady’s eyes began to well up with tears. For a moment, I thought that I had lost her. Fortunately, almost as quickly as the doubt entered me, it left.

With shaking hands, the lady took the shot glass and drank up every less drop of its darkness. Swallowing the concoction, she closed her eyes and sat still for a brief moment, in what appears to be deep contemplation. When her eyes opened, I perceived some semblance of happiness and relief on her face. Indeed, I could feel her conscience receding deeply into her exterior of renewed confidence.

“I guess we are done then.” She said cheerfully. “I don’t suppose we will ever meet again.” She chimed, almost with an angelic lustre.

“Don’t worry darling, we will see each other soon enough.” I waved goodbye and pointed her in the direction of the door.

“This is just the beginning.” I thought to myself. “Once she’s got a taste of the cocktail, there is no end.”

Inspired by CS Lewis’s Screwtape Letters, this short piece of fiction seeks to critique the rise of materialism in the modern world in a humorous and light-hearted way.

Indeed, it is true that many women and men now trade family for the pursuit of wealth and honour. They may not do so in a manner as deliberate and dramatic as the lady in this story, but the decision is made and reinforced subtly through day to day choices.

Finally, this is my first attempt at fiction. I sincerely hope that you have enjoyed it!

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Denise Thong

Denise Thong

Counsellor, Writer (Christianity, Children’s short stories)