By chance I ran into Chet from: Old Geezers, The Gateway, of which he was a reluctant character. He seemed to be heading in the direction of the only bar in town which hasn’t threatened him with castration should he ever darken their door again. The mischievous look plastered across his face and the fact that Abe and Amon weren't with him made me sense foul play in the offing. Obviously my tape recorder was hidden or he’d have inserted it into my spleen. Old he may be but those gnarled hands of his have sent many a younger man to hospital.
(I’ve deleted the worst of his language.)
Me: ‘Hi, Chet.’ He stares suspiciously at me, and then the streets surrounding us, but after seeing no one within a hundred yards, relaxes slightly.
Chet: ‘What you want?’
As I approach I see that his eyes are particularly bloodshot, probably from another marathon drinking spree, and I can’t help but notice the suspicious bulge beneath his coat; a rather heavy coat despite the low eighties temperature. I decided to ignore it.
Me: ‘I was just passing and thought I’d be polite.’
Chet: ‘Oh yeah? The last time you were polite you almost got us all dead on another world full of man-eating monsters. What’re you gonna do for an encore?’
Obviously unable to picture anything worse than this he stops, glaring at me with open hostility before clutching the coat tightly around his immensely tall body.
Me: ‘Going somewhere nice?’ I try to inject friendly banter into my voice but his face, now as red as his eyes, and clearly furious, dissuades me from anything more.
Chet: I’ve got a job on. Oh s…’
A passing police cruiser slows and the occupants, clearly aware of Chet’s identity, stare suspiciously at him and the way he’s holding the coat so tightly. I wave in an attempt to diffuse the situation. For a moment it seems that he’s about to get arrested again. He doesn’t like the local cops and they reciprocate with mutual loathing, but luckily a garbled transmission from their radio results in a scowl from one as the driver wafts off in a cloud of hot dust. In a moment they’re gone and Chet, relieved, accidentally drops whatever he’s holding. It falls to the ground with a thud. Chet lets loose an impressively long string of profanity even for him before picking it up once more.
Chet: ‘Keep out of my way. I’ve had it with you. Don’t be writing any more of those damned books. I’ve got more to do with my life than traipsing through time and nearly getting eaten by ravenous…’
He stops, shuddering at the unspoken words and his face, now less than a hair’s breadth from my own, stinks of garlic and old cigars as I nod furiously, at the same time attempting to restrain shaking of my limbs.
And then I realise, he’s not going to the bar at all. A couple of hundred yards further down the street is a shop. It’s an assayer’s office, and what I’d assumed to be a gun - wasn’t. It was a rock, a rock that on closer inspection was clearly gold; suspiciously similar to that which Amon had plucked from that hole in the ground as the earthquake nearly killed them all on that hellish world. A final smirk from Chet assured me of his purpose.
Chet: ‘Write about fluff puppies, you hear? Gonna buy me some Iron pyrite. That’ll learn him.’
Poor old Amon – was he in for a shock.
Old Geezers 2 coming soon.