Shannon O'Neill stretched and yawned. He looked about him to see
where he had awakened this time. It was the back of the tavern
called the Blue Lady. He stood, tried to shake the cobwebs out of
his head. His mouth felt like a compost pile. He had to piss. He
stumbled out the familiar back door into the alley and relieved
himself. As he stood, instrument in hand like any good minstrel, he
yawned again and scratched the top of his head.
"Oh, sorry, man. I didn't see you". The man was about a hundred
feet tall.. in the 8th century, even the fictional one, men tended to
be well under six feet tall. All you have to do is look at a suit of
armor from Henry Vic’s time to see just what better nutrition, clean
water, and modern medicine have done for human height.
As Shannon stared, he wondered if he had actually awakened from his
drunk of the night before or might be hallucinating even now. He
looked at the man's massive frame and the odd clothing he wore. The
shoes! Shannon had never seen such workmanship in his life.
Just as Bo was about to write Shannon off as the village idiot, the
red haired man finally spoke. "Be thee a giant?"
Bo laughed. "Well I suppose that depends on your perspective." He
put out his hand to Shannon, saw that Shannon's hand was still
occupied with a now drained firehose and pulled his hand back.
Shannon looked down, rearranged himself and tried to look less in awe
of the man.
Bo introduced himself... discreetly. "Hello, my name is Beau regard
Butler. You can call me Bo."
Shannon made a short, unsteady bow. "Shannon O'Neill's my name. I
be that pleased to meet ye.
Bo looked surprised. "Shannon O'Neill? The guy who wrote the Ballad
of the Demon Catawampus?!" He still did not want to shake the
Irishman's hand, but he did come up and slap him on the
back. "That's a great song, man!"
If Bo was surprised, Shannon was flabbergasted. "What? Ye know me
song? How is that possible?"
Bo replied, " "Well, the demon is sort of my boss. One of them
Shannon crossed himself. "Saints preserve us! Are ye a demon too?"
Bo laughed and shook his head. "No worries. I'm just a regular guy,
like you." He looked around. "Hey Shannon, can you tell me where I
could get a cup of coffee around here?"
Shannon looked puzzled. "Coffee? What is that? I can tell you
where ye can get a great flagon of ale though. Right through this
door I just stumbled out of." He held his arm up in an
invitation. "Want to join me in some of the hair of the dog that
The two entered the tavern. The innkeeper gave the big man an up and
up and up and down look but turned to the extremely familiar face
under the shock of red hair. "Well met, again, O'Neill. Are ye back
or did ye never leave?"
Shannon grinned. "Well now, well now, me good man. Does it really
matter? Bring this tower of a man your best flagon of ale. I am
Bo was relieved.. having no period money he was glad he did not have
to pay. A buxom wench brought the flagons. Shannon put one arm
around her slender waist and nuzzled her neck. "Are ye after a quick
tumble, me lass?"
The woman poured the ale and grinned at the man. "Oh, is your little
Scottish wife going to join us, O'Neill?"
Shannon laughed and made a guttural noise into her neck. "Methinks
you were not after wantin' her to join us last time, now were ye?"
The woman laughed, dodged a slap on her rump from Shannon's hand and
left. Shannon sang a snippet of verse in a language Bo assumed was
Gaelic, and turned back to his companion.
"So, " Shannon said, taking a healthy draught of the ale without
letting his eyes drop from Bo's face. "The Duke payin' ye well to
find the Queen?"
Bo stopped in mid swallow and looked back at the short Irishman --
although no shorter than the Duke -- and stared at him. The man's
smile was crafty. "We'll need to find ye somethin' to wear that
won't send trolls back under their bridges. Hmmm, I think I know a
tentmaker...." He winked at Bo and went back to his first - but far
from last - drink of the day.
Before there was the novel, there were the stories...
by Nan Hawthorne, who also writes under Christopher Hawthorne Moss, Books and Stories b ChristopherHawthorne Moss at http://authorchristophermoss.vlogspot.com