This tale is set in the Hobbit Pub, Southampton, a place I have drunk and worked at for many years now. It is a nod to Neil Gaiman who has inspired me to write and in light of his support in the recent events of the copyright infringement I dedicate this to Neil and all those who have stood behind the Hobbit in the keeping of it’s identity. Thank you everyone.
“…time?” the voice said as it drifted into the arena of my attention whilst I tried to read my book, siting in the corner of my favourite pub. Normally, I could ignore the background noise when I wanted to read a good book over a pint of ‘Shoggoth’s Old Peculiar’*, imported from Newport on the island just over the water from here. The pub, whilst rustic, was not trendy, and proudly owned an eclectic jukebox that currently was singing at you to run to the hills, and attracted swarms of the local students to drink a pint of alcoholic sugar and food colouring before descending upon the next student-friendly bar down the hill. So you get used to the noise and know when is a good time to leave, before the crowds at the bar become more than five students deep. But this voice disrupted my concentration and I realised the voice was actually aimed at me and said something about time. I looked at my mobile phone and the grimy green display doing its best to illuminate, I began to speak “It’s just gone seven…”
“Sorry mate, you must of misheard me,” the voice that had a slight roughness interrupted. I looked up and finally saw the source of the voice that had pulled me from a tale of old gods and books of the dead. They say never judge a book by its cover and they also say first impressions count. I like to acknowledge either depending on my mood. So very much in a ‘first impressions count, you have interrupted my escapism’ kind of mood, I took in the presence before me. He was an average size man, shaved head, dressed in jeans and a casual shirt with oriental script arranged in random places. I always wondered what those symbols meant, was it something deep or the East having a laugh as the Westerners wondered around with ‘fungal foot disease’ emblazoned across their person. His eyes seemed barely open and it was difficult at first to see if he was actually looking at me. “I said, you want some time, you know, buy some time?” He spoke with a shifty aspect as if he was doing something he was not meant to. “Me, time?” I decided to reply, still unsure that I was his intended potential customer. “Yes, time.” he answered back. “Do I want to buy some time?” my internal dialogue asked with more of a question of ‘what’ than ‘do I’. I continued to look at him with a befuddled expression as suddenly it dawned on me. “Oh! Do I want to buy some watches off you?” I spoke hastily as my distrust of this man grew. “Sorry, mate if your wanting to punt knocked off watches round here, then you better be leaving. If the landlady or those guys…” I stopped speaking as I looked round to the two doormen leaning against the wall at the entrance to the pub, looking casually big and persuasive. Turning back to look at guy selling his wares, I continued “…catch you, then you will be asked to leave.” I emphasised the ‘leave’ for a sense of ‘you’re not welcome round here, now sling your hook before the doormen sling you onto pavement outside’ in it. He looked at me, understanding the tone. I could almost hear the heavy sounds of his thoughts and an unsettling power as he stood just staring at me. Suddenly he shrugged his shoulders announced: “You got me all wrong, mate.” and sat down on the pew the other side of the table from me, like he had known me years and I was a good friend.*Shoggoth’s Old Peculiar – Hops grown by HP Lovecraft and brewed by Neil Gaiman