Unsolicited Advice

Cast: date: '26 August 2012'
place: 'East End'
participants: 'Long John, Mattie'
synopsis: 'Mattie gives Long John some unasked-for advice regarding his etiquette in pawn shops. '
log: "The bar furnished in wood and cheap cushions, with local kitsch on the walls and 80s rock pouring from a jukebox. The room is filling nicely, raucus football hooligans clustered under a TV with volume too low to be heard and pool tables in the back where regulars eye one another between games. Looking remarkably out of place, an overgrown man in a biker getup is seated at the bar with a cue case slung over one shoulder, getting lessons from the 'tender in British slang. \"No, mate, 'pissed' just isn't the same here! Means you're fogged with ale, it does!\" And, inexplicably, the biker is holding a bag of frozen peas to his face.\n\nThrough the door enters a slight-framed redhead, though the color is the type that comes from a bottle and might be closer to cherry or burgundy than ginger. She's still wearing a work \"uniform\" — if it can be called that: a slim black t-shirt proclaiming the name of a local coffee shop along with jeans and Converse. \n\nShe makes for the bar itself and waits for the bartender to head her way after finishing his conversation with the biker. She glances that way, then tips her head, looking, it seems, a bit more carefully — as if trying to discern if she knows the man beneath the package of frozen vegetables. And then she looks away, green eyes focusing on the beers on tap.\n\nThe bag hits the table with a moist sound, as it must be at least partially thawed by now, and John leans back to the tune of a creaking bar stool. His left cheek bears an oval mark, bright pink in the center and unhealthy looking, and the big guy tries working his jaw a moment before blinking and following the 'tender's gaze to the newcomer. \"Guess some things don't need translation!\" Long John declares in a distinctly American voice. Accent sounds roughly SoCal. He reaches for his mug — half full of red beer — and waits as the 'tender wanders off to help Mattie.\n\n\"Pint of Strongbow,\" the woman tells the bartender, her own accent American as well. Her fingers find a \"table tent\" advertising some beer or another, and she fidgets with that as she waits for her drink to be poured. \"Cheers,\" she murmurs in thanks, though it doesn't sound as authentic as a Brit's. \n\n One brow arches as she looks back at Long John, a bit of curiosity evident on her face. The cider is brought to her lips before she attempts conversation. \"Did you charge him for the peas, Nigel?\" she asks the bartender with a nod toward the biker.\n\n\"Brought 'em me own self,\" Long John replies, frowning as he eases up from his seat and scoots a stool over to plant himself near the redhead. One hand wipes at his beaded beard to sort it out, and the other is retrieving his beer in one smooth motion. \"Ain't a lotta people I can understand 'round here! Even the blighty blokes are speakin' proper with them 'prepositions' an' whatnot.\" His eyes are grinning as Long John throws that one out, and he muses, \"Onna these days I'm gonna have ta teach these people ta speak English right!\"\n\n\"Trust me, they're not all speaking proper. Just because they sound cooler than we do with their accents doesn't mean they're correct,\" Mattie tells him, taking another sip of her drink and giving Nigel a nod as he goes to make his rounds on the other end of the bar.\n\n She gives Long John another skeptical look. \"You a tourist? I haven't seen you here before.\"\n\nLong John gives his head a little shake, though his reply takes a moment to come. \"Eh, somethin' like that. Takin' in the sights real slow, workin' my way across London. Sort of a 'backpackin' Europe' thing, 'cept on a bike an' minus the Europe. Looks like you settled in good.\" John takes a moment to waggle a finger at Mattie's chest, probably pointing out the work shirt. \"These Brits go wild over yer American accent?\"\n\nThere's a shake of those ragged layers of red hair as Mattie takes another swallow of her cider.\n\n \"Unfortunately, their accents are charming to us, but I don't think it works the other way around. Not like I'm trying to impress anyone over here,\" she says with a shrug,angling her body so that she can see the door. \"Not here on business, then?\" \n\nLong John laughs at that, shaking his head. And then nodding it, shrugging, \"Well yeah, little business. You know, gotta pay the bills. Jus' real different 'round these parts, tryin' ta get my sea legs. Like fer instance, I went to a pawn shop the other day. I did a job fer some people had more goods than cash, so we worked out a deal an' I had a powerful need ta pay some rent. This silly git of a girl wouldn't meet my eyes. Looked everywhere else — mouth, beard, belt buckle. Stared at that a fair piece, an' normally I wouldn't mind so much, but damn it all! I was haggling! Needed ta look her in the eyes, ya know?\" John smirks at that, pausing to take a drink of his beer as he holds up a finger that says 'wait.' \"So after mentioning it about a dozen times, I reached an' tried ta lift her chin. Get a look at her once. Maybe jus' a little outta line. So she smacks me a little. That's alright. An' her pappy comes runnin' outta the back with a blunderbus, which I even kinda understand. Didn't think it was that way here on this side pf the pond, but why the fuck not? What's throwin' me is that I get home an' my damn face is more than smacked. I'm stuck holding peas 'cuz she somehow managed ta burn me. An' hell if I can figure out how. Chemicals, maybe? But she wasn't wearin' no gloves. It jus' don't make sense.\"\n\nMattie listens, mostly politely, though she glances over at Nigel at some point with slightly widened eyes — the sort of look that says plainly, 'Kill me now!' that people give when a complete stranger is talking their ear off. But then suddenly, her eyes snap back to Long John's face, narrowing in on the burn. \n\n\"Fucking A,\" she mutters, reaching for her pint to take a long swallow. \"This over in Lambeth?\" she asks. \"I mean, I think I know the place. Blond chick, American?\"\n\n\"Yeah,\" John replies, making a small face and shrugging. \"Think so. I was a little drunk atta time. Uh, sorry. 'Pissed.'\" He takes a moment to turn towards Nigel and lift his beer, toasting him and simulaneously showing that he's running low. Long John shrugs at that, looking at his glass as he says, \"But I tell you what, if I ever find that place sober might have ta teach her some manners, ya know? Little brawl I understand, but that shit ain't civilized. Givin' us Americans a bad name.\"\n\n\"Don't,\" is said tersely, sternly, and she shakes her head to punctuate her point. \"Just let it go and be glad you didn't get shot from here to Paris, pal. I'd also advise not touching women unless you know they want you to. Someone not looking you in the eye is usually a pretty good indication they don't. And if she hollers for the cops, you're not the one they're gonna believe, trust me on that.\" \n\nShe finishes her glass and sets down the dead soldier, before pulling out a few coins from her pocket to pay and tip.\n\nJohn laughs aloud at that, and inclines his chin. \"Thing wasn't loaded, knowin' these people. 'Sides, ain't like I never been shot before. If she was in a bar I'd have jus' walked away, but we was doin' business. Ya make eye contact when doin' business. Ya don't get all squirrely-like, start starin' at a man's crotch like that was what I was talkin' with. Anyhow, thanks fer the advice, Red.\" He waits on the refill, turning back towards the bar.\n\nMattie shakes her head. \"But you didn't know them,\" she points out. \"And what you don't know can hurt you.\" \n\nShe hops off the stool. \"Have a good tour and stay safe,\" she adds before slipping through the various groups that crowd the way between her and the exit."

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