That fool Mortimer did it again.
I told him that he’d never get away with it, but his stubbornness is trumped only by that of a mule. His last minute, hair-brained scheming always leaves me worried that I’ll find his body in the trash-filled gutter one of these days. Given his propensity towards the drink and the company keeps, that may be all too appropriate.
I arrived in London by coach but a few days ago. My travels southward were mostly unimpeded despite the recent flooding of the Thames. Mortimer sent word that he would meet me at the old Dog and Tree, but I’ve yet to uncover any sign of him. His commitment to truancy in our schoolyard days was well known, and much of that behavior spilled over into his adult life. I’ll save my worrying for when I’ve got more information about his condition or whereabouts.
The pub is just as I remember it. Dark, musty, full of the most unsavory types Brixton can muster. I feel at home staring at these disheveled denizens over the brim of my pint glass. The amber of my India Pale Ale tints my vision. The place looks a bit brighter with ale on the brain.
I won’t waste my time asking the barkeep if he’s seen Mortimer. At this point, he’s cocked up the original plan so badly that he’s either dead, or on the run. I hope for my Mother’s sake that he’s not dead. Her old heart couldn’t take a final let down from that life-long disappointment.
Halfway into my beer, a scuffle breaks out on the far side of the tavern. Some surly gent appears to be upset that another, smaller, cruel looking fellow has been cavorting with his wife. I watch the scene unfold, eventually coming to blows, until the smaller man deftly sticks a thin blade in between a few of the larger man’s ribs. He winces and slumps. The wound is bad, but he’ll likely survive. Before he leaves, the smaller man spits on his beaten opponent.
An antique clock chimes, letting me know that Mortimer won’t be coming. The bustling of the bobbies outside causes a lump to rise in my throat. Scotland Yard would be hot on my heels if they’d intercepted my oafish brother, and he, being craven to the core, would quickly betray me to save himself.
I finish the rest of my pint. The bitterness fits the mood of the evening and the bubbles sting my throat. I should go look for him. I should do it for my family, for my surname.
I slide a counterfeit shilling to the barman. The beer was good; I feel guilty for such brazen robbery. The fog has settled heavily on the damp, English night. I hear a blaring siren a few blocks away.
8.75 out of 10