A Pint and a Pie
The stranger leaned on the bar and called for a pint and a pie. Billy started the process of pouring the Guinness. He served up the pie along with a bottle of brown sauce. The Guinness took a little longer and while he teased the dark liquor into the glass he watched with some alarm as his customer pulled out a bayonet and with bewildering speed sliced the pie in eight equal portions. Billy swallowed convulsively as he spoke.
“We don’t take kindly to blades in this pub.”
“Sorry mate, I’ve just come back from Iraq and everyone carries a blade over there.”
Quickly he secreted the bayonet in his clothing and grinned at Billy.
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“There you go. Out of sight out of mind.”
“Whatever, but don’t flash it again. Someone might get the wrong idea and call the peelers. I can’t afford any more trouble in my bar.”
“You had problems then?”
Billy slid the full pint of Guinness across the bar.
“A bit. The IRA have told me they’ll either burn down my pub or kneecap me unless I keep on paying protection money. It’s made things very hard. Some weeks I go without wages to make up the payments. I don’t know how long I can carry on like this.”
The stranger took a sip at his drink.
“Ah, man that is the perfect pint.”
He popped a portion of pie in his mouth and chewed, then took another sip from his glass, closed his eyes and sighed.
“That is divine. The classic combination. You don’t know how I missed this. The one thing that kept me sane when I was serving abroad was the thought of coming back to Belfast. I used to see myself walking into a pub and ordering a pint and a pie. Even in my dreams I never imagined anything as good as this. You ought to get medals and gold cups for this. Is there a venue where bar people go to show off their skills? You would win first prize every time. If I worked behind that bar I would be as plump as a Christmas turkey. I’ll have another one of those pies.”
The barman watched uneasily as again that razor sharp bayonet sliced and diced the pie in perfect portions. The street door banged as someone came in and the publican’s face paled and he picked up a cloth and began nervously polishing his spotless bar top. The newcomer sauntered over to the bar and leaned over.
“Hello Billy, your payments are overdue.”
“Jeepers, I’m short this week. Can I lay it over till next time?”
“Next time there won’t be a pub here – just a smoking ruin.”
The customer with the pie leaned towards the debt collector.
“Why don’t you faff off. You’re putting me off my pie.”
Slowly the thug put his hand inside his jacket and pulled out a gun and turned to the speaker.
“You have ten seconds to faff off yourself before I blow off your kneecaps and then you won’t be able to go anywhere.”
There was the flash of something bright and glittery. The gun dropped to the floor and the gunman staggered back bellowing in pain and clapping his hands to his head – too late to catch his ears as the bayonet sliced them from his head. Moaning pathetically he turned and stumbled from the bar and out into the street, his hands ineffectively trying to stem the flow of blood staining his arms and shoulders.
The barman was staring with stunned admiration at the man with the bayonet.
“That was amazing. You said you just returned from Iraq. What branch of the services were you in?”
Wiping the blood from his bayonet with a napkin the soldier replied nonchalantly.
“I’m in the pioneer corps.”