The King’s Head

…some work in progress from the Cazique of Poyais story…

“Why did you do that?” Noemi said, smacking Jose across the shoulder.

“What do you mean?” Jose said as innocently as possible with a smile on his face.

“You know exactly.  You could have gotten is locked up for being part of some scam.  I’m sure Jenkins would have found a way to dissociate himself from it altogether and we would have gotten the fall!”

Jose knew this all too well, but he had chosen to take the risk.  It seemed the best option at the time and it worked out.  Hindsight is a wonderful thing when it goes your way.

“So now Jenkins owes us a favour.”

“Does he now?  Somehow I doubt very much that he’ll see it that way.”

“We’ll make him see it that way.”

“I guess we’re part of the scammers now,” Emma chipped in, not looking at either of them as they crossed over the ancient most at the front entrance to the Palace.

“Better than to be the scammed.  I’ve had enough of that for a lifetime.”

Emma wasn’t taken by that particular view.  She had been scammed more than he ever would be but she wasn’t necessarily ready to jump to the scammers side because of that.  They continued to walk and Emma engaged little as she pondered what she wanted to be in this life if the choices were as simple as scam or be scammed.  There was a certain moral reprehensibility in taking from others by lying.  Then, there were degrees of that no matter where you walked in life and were successful.  The landlord certainly squeezed the renters even if they were so called market rates.  A greengrocer would bend the truth about when fruit and vegetables were actually picked.  It went on.  Those who had always scammed in one way or another from those that didn’t.  Whether it be through bending of the truth or charging too much for things others couldn’t do, like lawyers, it was all around.  Emma just wasn’t sure.

They walked along the main road that travelled from the bridge over to Putney into London proper.  The Bishop had said that there was an Inn up the road called the Kings Head and it was getting late so they wanted to find somewhere reasonable to stay for the night.

It didn’t take long before they reached the kings head, the major structure alongside the road, unassuming though it was.  There was nothing in particular about the building to mark it out from any other.  Not even a sign.  This didn’t make it hard to find, however, as there was enough ruckus around to know that this was in fact a pub.

As they walked in through the main entrance, they wondered where exactly there might be rooms in this establishment.  Even if there were, it would be a time before they were able to sleep.  Not only the noise, but the energy bursting within them all to properly discuss the day’s events.

Emma and Noemi found a table as Jose went to the bar to enquire about lodgings for the night.

It took only a second of sitting down and relaxing for Noemi to begin her line of enquiry, “what on earth did Jose just do?  Yesterday evening he could barely speak for being so shocked and now he has swung in the opposite direction, having so much gab that it’s outrageous.  This is not my brother, I tell you.”

Emma reflected on her own internal debate before responding.  She too was shocked and she didn’t know Jose a fraction.  Maybe they were both overreacting.  She thought that unlikely though and responded, “I know!  I couldn’t believe it.  What he said after about scamming or being scammed as well.  I’m not sure I can subscribe to that.”

“Not sure?” Noemi asked, intrigued that Emma too had doubts about which we to land on the subject, if only subtlety so.

“There is something in what he said.  I just don’t know if I am prepared to fall on the wrong side of a moral issue.”

“It is a difficult one.  For arguments sake, let’s say we do fall on the wrong side.  What if it was only ever so slightly?  To ensure we didn’t get scammed again ourselves?”

“I don’t think I could live through another.  It was hard enough to middle through the last.  Only after it changed my whole life.”

“The only thing I have the same is the appearance of my brother.  I’m not sure the same man is still in there.”

They both sat in contemplation.  Both thought they would affirm their original views.  Here they sat though trying to convince themselves it was not so.  Perhaps the human mind can only go so far in suffering and strife before something instinctive takes control and forces a person done the least costly, most beneficial route.  It cleanses away morals on the surface and deeper down to make way for survival.  Not only survival, but the ability to thrive.  Perhaps it would return some day.  If the mind allowed such a conflict to arise.

Jose approached them with a smile and a round of drinks.

Noemi looked up, smiling and asked, “did you secure a room brother?”

“It had to be two rooms.  Not the best on the purse, but the landlady was not having a young man share a room with two women not his wife.  It was hard for me to argue with her.”

“That’s fine,” said Emma, “I think we’ve both had enough of you today anyway.”

Both women laughed aloud at this leaving Jose thoroughly confused.

“What on earth is so amusing?”

This was greeted with more laughter rather than the desired explanation.  He considered getting bothered by it.  To what effect?  All he could do was control his own actions.  He knew that clearly now.  So he picked up his drink, raised in a toast and said, “cheers,” and nothing else as he sipped away at his drink and let them laugh.

It didn’t take long for them to calm down and then Noemi advised, “it’s just that you’re a different person today brother.  For all we know you’re the next reincarnation of MacGregor!  Especially with all that scam or be scammed talk.  I’m not sure why it was funny, but I guess sometimes you just have to laugh at what you perceive as absurd.”

Jose hunched over slightly, examine the contents of his drink carefully and making no sound.  Was he the same person as a day ago?  Or two days?  Was he ever the same person?  He changed every day, people always did.  You could only predict probabilities of events happening, but there’s nothing to stop a man from turning into a criminal one day or back to a citizen the next.  His minds adapts to changing circumstances and his body continues the (hopefully) slow march towards death.  If he stood back, he could see the humour in it all.  At least the man he was now could.  So he did all that he could do and started to slowly laugh.

Emma and Noemi looked on in further surprise and then joined in, laughing until a man approached and enquired, “and what is it that is so amusing here?”

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