Of Sundays and tavern tales

2013-04-18 00:00

A TOAST is in order for the imminent lifting of the Sunday booze ban in the province. Soon it will be time to be merry for boozers everywhere as liquor flows every day of the week. Here’s a window into one tavern’s goings-on.

It’s a Friday night. Everyone is loaded with cash and busy searching for that elusive all-night bliss, and where else than the local tavern? For a few hours, booze is consumed in peace as beer bottles and cigarettes criss-cross among friends and foes alike, erotic dancing routines are perfected, tavern queens amuse drooling patrons, and drugs and money stealthily switch hands until a local gang upsets the agreed routine. Then tranquillity degenerates into chaos. And it’s always the defenceless loner who gets picked on, rarely the known bad guys.

Amid the disorder, one intoxicated guzzler claims: “Help always appears when it is convenient and disappears when it is inconvenient.” Sensing trouble, patrons withdraw to the safety of their own shacks. Some peep from their windows as knives are sharpened and death threats traded. After such an incident, many conclude drinking from home is a life-prolonging option. But somehow, beer and conflict are eternal buddies, and few can resist the pull. Welcome to the township, where conflict is part of the daily life. As always, law enforcers are summoned to bring smashed nerves to reason. In this particular case, their swiftness saved the day.

And so an idle Sunday followed an action-abundant Saturday. As usual, regulars had conveniently positioned themselves in their favourite tranquil spots of the tavern. A few hangover treatment swigs from ice-chilled quarts later, a trendy car suddenly screeched to a halt at the entrance. A burly newcomer stepped out. His democratic right to quench his burning liquor cravings had drawn him to this venue. He entered, stylishly puffing at his imported cigar and sat in a corner, ordering expensive ciders curiously preserved in colourful bottles, while he amused himself with his phone. At that very moment everyone knew trouble was brewing.

You see, having no buddy to share a drink with in a pub is an open invitation to adversity. Firstly, you expose yourself as an easy target, because you are not familiar with any of the regulars who can defend your cause against any attacks for as little as a sip. Only that! A guzzle can preserve your dear life — serious, that is the reality. Secondly, by secluding your soul and parading your expansive collections, you reveal extra cash for thugs to grab, cash in and indulge with until dawn beckons. Automatically, you become the gangsters’ bottomless diamond shaft. They will pounce sooner rather than later, like what they did to this foreigner. And that is all what the other customers witnessed.

Sensing a bust-up, they all made themselves scarce or took themselves out of the danger zone, safely clutching their half-filled, warm quarts to imagine the commotion from a safer distance. The victim would later chronicle the episode to the police in his hospital bed. The guy had lost his compass and suddenly found himself at the watering hole. Then he decided to kill two birds with one stone — have a drink and meet new acquaintances. His appearance from his car registered in a province yonder came with a splash. The glitter and glamour resembled a loaded guy. The gangsters sensed an all-night binge that could only be halted by an interfering pack of law enforcers.

He said the moment he stepped out of his car everyone paused with their beer containers stuck to their snouts. He dismissed the focus and that was his main regret. One apprentice gangster trying to prove his worth bombed him. “Heita brother, can I please get a smoke? I really need one.” The new guy never suspected or inspected his surroundings. He flipped open his cigarette box, pulling out two neatly rolled thick cigars and offered his visitor. The thug was taken aback. Mistake number one.

“No, I meant the one you are smoking. Around this place we share. I mean we share everything in this place,” he declared. Everyone agreed. The patrons agreed as well to smother any thoughts of reprisal. The new guy shot back. “Where I come from, we don’t do it that way. I gave you more than what you asked for and what more do you want from me?” He took a last pull and extinguished the butt with his heel. The chubby “foreign” never saw it coming. A siren from a speeding ambulance confirmed that the evil deed had been done, again.

A sobering warning: alcohol abuse is dangerous to your health. But be sure, come next Sunday, drinkers will devotedly stream to the same hot spot, again.

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