The first character walked into the pub. He bellied up to the bar and asked to see the landlord. While we are waiting for him to turn up, I will describe the first character. He was about 55 years old, of medium height, dressed in a suit that was of medium quality but that had seen some hard wear from many hours of being worn sat in a car, criss crossing the country in search of business. He had a perpetual optimistic smile, like someone who was used to disappointment but still had to go to work each week in the hope of meeting his sales target and, perhaps one day, landing ‘the big one.’
Ah, here comes the landlord. ‘Hello, I’m the second character, how can I help?’ There was a brief handshake, more business-like than friendly. I’ll now take a moment to describe the second character. He had the physique of an ex rugby player. His head sprang directly from his shoulders, no sign of a neck. His head was shaved to disguise the recent lack of hair growth. His hands were large although a couple of fingers were slightly deformed, he still managed to slightly crush the first character’s hand during the shake. His face was pallid from working indoors during the last fifteen years. Lack of exercise and too much beer was showing up in his incipient paunch and the presence of broken capillaries in his nose. He had obviously relaxed his rugby training during that time as evidenced by the thin gold ring in his left ear.
‘I’m here representing the Homeopathic Brewery in Stanley – on – Severn. I know it will be a difficult conversation and your first thought will probably be to throw me out but I hope I can find some common conversational ground with you, like any good salesman and build on that to create a rapport. Then I can slowly draw you into a discussion about how we can move towards a mutually beneficial commercial relationship. I will always have my eye on my monthly sales target and my chance of winning our “Salesman of the Year’ prize.”’ said the first character.
‘I understand all of that and I will be a reluctant participant. I will have an evident reluctance to show any enthusiasm for your product as this will affect the final price to me. I will also pretend to have more important things to do as a self employed business man, rather than stand here talking to you. This will set up our relative status in this relationship.’ protested the second character.
‘I’ll try rugby first then. What do you think of England’s performance in the six nations recently,’ he said, using an obvious opening gambit.
‘I’ve no idea as I’ve never had any interest in rugby.’ said the second character..
‘Well I guess I got that wrong,’ retreated the first character. ‘However, like any good salesman, I’ll be undaunted, regroup and try a different approach. What are your main interests?’
‘I don’t admit this to most people as they think I’m gay – er, which I’m not, of course. I used to be a ballet dancer before I retired and now I like to watch ballet and listen to opera. I like Mozart’s best, along with some of the earlier ones like those by Pergolesi after he left Mantua to return to Jesi, the city of his birth in the Italian Ancona province.’
‘I have nothing against gay people but of course, just like yourself I am not gay. The reason people think I am is that I am a homeopath. They think that I have just come out of the homeopath dispensary.’
‘Well ok then, perhaps we can get on well as we both seem to have the same problem,’ said the second character. ‘Let’s shake on that. A firm, manly, non-gay handshake, of course. I feel a lot more comfortable now knowing that you’re not gay and also you knowing that I’m not gay either.’
The first character laughed and agreed. ‘ I think we have found the mutual interest that every salesman like me yearns for with a potential customer. It will now be easier to start talking about ballet and opera for a few minutes and then gently ease you into talking about the reason for my visit which, of course is to persuade you to buy some of my products.’
‘I work for a homeopathic brewery so my products are homeopathic beers and wines.’
‘You’re having a laugh ain’t yu?’ protested the second character. ‘Look at the third character, Old Tom, along the bar there, he nearly choked on his pint.’
‘Ah, but there you have it. If you go homeopathic you won’t have pints, you’ll just serve small cocktail glasses. You can also sell drinks more cheaply because your buying, transport, storage and hygiene costs will all come down. This means that you will attract more drinkers who will spend more in your pub so you will make more money. Everybody wins with homeopathy. Like any good salesman, I won’t try to sell you the product but will concentrate more on the benefits. I can see if I am winning by checking on the third character’s reaction. Isn’t that right Tom?’
‘I’ve been coming here for 22 years and I don’t want this place turned into a gay bar.’ stated Tom, the third character, firmly.
‘The first and second characters exchanged a glance, ‘You see what you’re up against don’t you? Most of the regulars will feel the same as the third character there. You have certainly got some explaining and convincing to do.’ warned the second character.
‘OK well let me talk about some of the benefits to you as the landlord of this excellent establishment. Firstly, can I ask you how many of your customers have been caught for drink driving over the last year.’ asked the first character, earnestly.
‘ Alright, go ahead then,’ allowed the third character, reluctantly.
‘How many of your customers have been caught drunk driving over the last twelve months?’
‘Most of them I suppose. There was the time that the darts teams was stopped by the police after their championship win. They had been celebrating a little too much and the coach that we had hired broke down on its way to us so most of the team members had to drive home. They were fined quite heavily and each gained a few points on their licence, depending if they had been caught before. A couple were banned from driving for a year.There have also been several individuals who have been stopped, breathalysed and found to be over the limit as well. So I suppose, to answer your question, it is probably most of them.’
‘Thank you second character, I can now give you an absolute guarantee that, should you decide to convert to being a fully homeopathic pub, never again will any of your customers be charged with driving while above the alcohol limit in their blood.
I will now give you and the reader a short exposition on Homeopathy – normally called an exposition dump – to explain how this is possible. The principle behind homeopathy is that ‘Like cures like
.’ This means that a small portion of a poison can be administered to a patient and though it may give rise to the same symptoms as the original poison, it will still cure the patient. Because of the danger of taking disease- agents as medicines, the idea has arisen that the original agent can be diluted many times. In fact the belief is that the greater the dilution, the more potent the agent becomes. Some agents are diluted so many times that not one molecule of the original agent will remain. as an example, ducks liver, called Oscillococcinum
, is used as a medicine to cure flu. It is diluted 200C times, which as a log scale is used it means that the agent is diluted more than would allow one atom to be present. In fact it would need 1040
more universes to guarantee one atom in the dose. Operators of this system say that the dilutant, water, retains the memory of the original agent and that is what effects the cure. To ensure this happens, the phial of medicine is percussed – that is shaken and tapped onto a soft surface before each dilution. This is where the myth came from that James Bond was a homeopath because of his insistence that his cocktail was always shaken, not stirred. Here endeth the exposition.’ said the first character, after taking a deep breath.
‘I’m glad about that,’ said the second character, ‘I was on the verge of falling asleep. Does that mean I won’t serve my customers alcohol, just water with the memory of alcohol?’
‘Exactly” proclaimed the first character. ‘They will still feel the affects as if they had been drinking alcohol but if they are breathalysed, there will be no trace of alcohol in their system, even though they may well be acting like a newt. What do you think of it so far, Tom,’ he asked the third character.
‘Never heard so much tosh in my life. I never did believe that James Bond was a homeopath,’ said the third character. ‘but I’m delighted to be asked my opinion so I am happy to give it a try.’
‘OK then, what about you second character? Would you be willing to have a homo evening, with my brewery supplying the drinks, for free of course,, to see what the reaction is of the rest of your regulars?’
‘It would be completely free then and you would get the flyers for the event printed free as well?’ Negotiated the second character
‘Well, err, yes I think so. So if I could just take your name Mr Second Character.’
‘Yes, certainly, my name is Henry Gaylord Singh. The name of the pub is The Strangled Ferret.’
‘Great, consider it done, let’s have another manly, non-gay handshake to seal the deal.’
They shook hands again, carefully avoiding eye contact.
Hm? No, I didn’t write this story. I wish I had! ><
Show and Tell
is a story by another writer who is definitely worth having a look at: Richard Kefford
He’s written countless short stories, as well as other modes of creative writing, so go have a look!
Richard Kefford joined the Royal Navy from school, after 13 years, he followed this with an engineering career. He studied geology and creative writing with the Open University from 2008 until he graduated with a BSc in July 2014.
Richard lives in Somerset, where he enjoys writing, hill walking and geology.
In 2015 he was among the ten winners of an international writing competition called ‘Shine’ with Pan Macmillan. His winning entry is at:-
He’s also started a new group project, the Somerset Writers with other writers including his friend Lois. They’ve already posted many intriguing stories, but they also post other people’s stories in a close-knit literary community, why not go have a look at what is on offer? 🙂