The elephants have been on the rampage again and for once, so far as I could tell, it wasn’t Hadley’s fault. I arrived at the tavern to find Kale and Aoibheann in the process of cleaning. Kale told me they were cleaning up after some elephants. I felt this was highly unlikely, but given where we were, not outside the bounds of possibility. Aoibheann was reading what looked like a cookery book. When she saw me there, she asked what ridickey meant. I could not fathom that, so asked her to spell it. The word turned out to be ‘reduce’, but she still did not know what that meant. I may not be a cook, but at least I know the methods. I explained about how to reduce a sauce and she took that it quite well, heading towards the kitchen. Kale then continued his tale, saying it might have been elephants, or it might have been a mean king. Aoibheann took exception to this, addressing him as Kale James and telling him that he should treat Llwyd with respect. It must be some instinct built into parents or stand-in parents – you always know you are in trouble if they use your middle name. Kale apologised, but after Aoibheann had disappeared into the kitchen, whispered quietly that you had to look out for friends, even against mean kings. I assured him that looking out for friends was very important, but to remember that Llwyd was not necessarily mean. He accepted this and said he preferred Tinkerbell anyway. I didn’t know who that was, but apparently, she is a fairy that will die if nobody believes in her. No doubt that comes from some story or other, but not one I know of.
Meanwhile, a stranger came into the bar, looking like he needed a drink, as new arrivals so often do. He had an air of restlessness about him, eyes roaming, alert, poised ready to flee, or perhaps to pounce. He claimed unfamiliarity with the city, which was to be expected and asked what I would recommend. I made a judgement call and selected a 16 year old Lagavulin, which I served neat after asking if he wanted ice, with a strong hint that yes was the wrong answer. He guessed correctly and after a sip or two, seemed pleased with my selection. The next bit of the conversation was all too familiar; about the currency, about the first drink being on me, about being willing to extend him a line of credit so he could eat and rent a room until he got his finances sorted, etc etc. I’m seriously thinking of making a poster and sticking it on the wall as you come in. It would save so much time. Kale, meanwhile, had climbed onto one of the bar stools to drink his soda. He did his best to engage the gentleman, whose name was Mordwher Maldrake in conversation, but that worthy was not interested, claiming that bars and children don’t mix. In some respects, I agreed with him, and said so, citing many bars and taverns of my experience where children would definitely be a bad idea, but also pointed out that the Lucky Leaf was very much a family establishment where well-behaved children were welcome. I think he got the hint. He finished his drink, I booked him in, and he headed up to bed.
All this talk of money had gotten Kale a little worried, as I found him sorting through his pockets for items of value, in among the lint and broken crayons etc. He asked how much the various sodas, cookies and ham and cheese cost, so I told him that it was already taken care of. I was about to suggest that if he wanted to earn his keep, there were some small chores we could no doubt find for him, but I was distracted by something very unusual. There was a pleasant smell coming from the kitchen, and only Aoibheann was in there. She emerged shortly after with some lamb that had been cooked in mead with herbs, champed and vegetables. She had plates for her and Kale and asked if I wanted to join them. I was torn between my inability to eat much in the way of solid food and curiosity about her apparent success. I claimed that I had already eaten but would perhaps try a very small portion. Wonder of wonders, when she served me a taster portion of each part of the dish, it was actually very tasty. And I told her so, adding that a meal like that made me wish I hadn’t eaten (or, more accurately, that I was able to eat).
I left them soon after, enjoying their meal, but as I was leaving, Kale asked a question that brought a smile to my face. He asked if there was anywhere he could get a notebook like mine. Telling him that I would always encourage anybody to write, I promised I would find him one and give it to him next time we spoke.