Thursday, December 9, 2010

Favourite Colours - #fridayflash


You know that place somewhere between tipsy and completely schnockered?

That’s were Gerard Hartley was.

“Pass the peanuts,” he said to the guy in the Budweiser cap sitting at the end of the bar.

The Bud guy gave him a dirty look.

“Please,” he added.

Bud Guy slid the bowl along the bar and Gerard almost but not quite snagged it with a wavery hand. The bowl flipped over and nuts tumbled out.

“Ya lost your nuts,” Bud Guy said, then snickered.

Gerard shrugged. He had no comeback. He gathered up the peanuts as best as he could with watery eyes. A couple of tears splashed down his leathery cheeks. Bud Guy saw.

“You crying?”

Gerard shook his head.

“Looks like crying to me. Man, you’re even more wasted than I thought. Barkeep, pal here is hammered. Maybe a cab might be in order.”

The bartender gave Gerard the once-over than shook his head. “I think he’s ok. He just lives around the corner. Walks. Comes here pretty near every night. I’ve seen him worse. You’re alright, eh? Gerard?”

“Pffft,” said Gerard. He wiped his eyes and finished cleaning up the peanuts.

The bartender looked at Bud Guy and shrugged. “See?”

Gerard filled his mouth with peanuts and crunched them noisily. Small peanut bits fell out of his open mouth onto the bar. Bud Guy made a face.

“Eh?” Gerard said. “What’s the matter now? Making faces at me. I saw you. What, you think I’m blind? You think I’m stupid?”

Bud Guy looked at the bartender beseechingly.

“What’s your name?” Gerard asked.

“Me?” asked Bud Guy. Gerard nodded.

“Chris,” he said.

“What’s your favourite colour, Chris?”

“My favourite colour? What the hell?”

Gerard slumped on his barstool. “Just asking, is all. Nobody asks me what my favourite colour is anymore. Notice that? When’s the last time somebody asked you that?”

“I dunno,” Chris said. “Can’t remember.”

“Exactly!” crowed Gerard. “Nobody asks anymore. When you’re a kid, you get asked all the time. What’s your name, little boy? What school do you go to? What’s your favourite subject? What’s your favourite colour?”

He paused. Then: “Ask me what my favourite colour is.”

Chris asked.

Gerard thought for a moment. “You know what? I don’t know anymore. Blue, maybe. If you’re a guy, that’s what you’re supposed to say. I used to spend a lot of time trying to decide what my favourite colour was, because sure as shit you were gonna run into some grown-up who was gonna ask and you wanted to have an answer handy. They expected it.”

Chris nodded, grinned a bit. “You’re right, old man, they did. I was always changing my mind. One day it was blue. Then it was red. Then black, when I was a teenager. It was cool.”

The bartender interrupted, putting down his glass-polishing rag and leaning on the bar. “Why do you think they always asked us what our favourite colour was? Why was it so important they know?”

Gerard snorted. “It wasn’t important. They only asked us that because they couldn’t think of anything else to ask. Adults have no idea how to talk to kids.”

He took a swig of beer to get rid of the peanut bits stuck between what remained of his teeth. “I began to think it must be important to know my favourite colour. That and my favourite subject, my favourite song, my favourite kind of car. There was no quitting it. What a load of hooey.”

Gerard finished his beer. He looked sad, like he might start crying again. “I kinda miss it,” he said. “Nobody asks anymore. Nobody cares enough to ask me much of anything anymore. Sucks to be me, I guess.”

There was a lull in the conversation. The bartender went back to polishing glasses. Chris toyed with the label on his beer bottle. Finally he said, “What’s your favourite beer?”

“Same as my colour. Blue,” Gerard said.

“Then how about I buy you one?”

“Then how about you do,” Gerard said.

Later, long after Chris had gone, the bartender was locking up and saying good-night to Gerard. Their breath came out in steamy puffs and their boots squeaked on the snow-crusted sidewalk.

“That favourite colour thing of yours, it gets you a lot of free beer,” the bartender said with a grin.

Gerard chuckled. “Ayuh. It’s a favourite.” He said good-night and headed up the street, his gait only very slightly off-balance.


  1. Aw, very sneaky. great bar tale Cathy!

  2. Oh that's brilliant! I thought he really had a point but that was a killer ending!

  3. Just like Bud Guy/Chris, I fell for his line, too. What a sneaky old man! If my dad had been a drinker, I could totally see him do this.

    Very real, vivid characters, and a great twist at the end. I love that old guy. Great story!

  4. I am so gullible. This played out like a movie. With a fabu twist of an ending. Peace...

  5. Still pretty tragic, wandering the nights telling lies to get drunk. I wonder what would happen, Cathy, on the night he's so hammered he lets the truth slip. Can he con an ER out of his bill? "All you nurses have eyes that are my favorite color..."

  6. You had me at "You know that place somewhere between tipsy and completely schnockered?" ...

    CLASSIC ONE HERE, Cathy... And what a great pic!

  7. OMG I love this! I was feeling so sorry for him, the crafty old goat!

    Brilliant twist.

  8. This sent me from sad to chuckling, I think I'm gonna try pulling a few beers my way with that line too.

  9. Cathy, this is brilliant! You have the voices down-pat, and that sneak fooled me too. I thought for sure we were getting into a philosophical discussion, but NO! Just an old cheap drunk, bless his heart.

    Great work!

  10. You just create the most alive atmosphere. And great last lines.

  11. Oh, that was excellent! A scam like that is well worth a beer, I'd buy him one myself! Love this!

  12. That was great! You got me to laugh out loud there at the end.

  13. What a scam. You knocked me slightly off-balance, thought you were going to go the sentimental route. Love the dialogue and details - spilled nuts, squeaky boots.

  14. Awesome! I didn't see the end coming. I'm left wondering if there isn't something deeper to Gerard. Is it funny that he gets away with it, or is it sad that he does? There's a lot of room for interpretation here, which I really like. A solid #FridayFlash!

  15. Oh, man, I'd've totally fallen for this. Brilliant flash, and a very belated congratulations on your wedding!


  16. What a scammer. I was grinning ear to ear at the end.

  17. Michael - I'm nothing if not sneaky... Gerard taught me everything I know.
    Icy - He does have a point, really, and the free beer is just a nice bonus. Thanks!
    Gracie -sneaky in a good way, I think, if he reminds you of your dad!
    Linda - that's why we love you!
    John - he doesn't have to worry about the bill - he's Canadian!
    Anthony - I love it when you talk in all caps.
    Rebecca - he doesn't need sympathy, he needs more beer.
    Steve - let me know if it works for ya.
    Deanna - for me, the story is a philosophical question, something I was thinking about.. just wondered who the best person to tell it was. Finally decided on Gerard. I think he sucked me in, along with Bud Guy.
    Lou - I save my dead atmospheres for Hallowe'en!
    Harry - Never mind Gerard, buy me one!
    Eric - I love making people laugh. Thanks for obliging!
    Kel - Thanks! (good luck when the pup arrives!)
    Mark - I have to thank Linda at my writer's group for the squeaky boots. I read it the other night and she thought I should mention the weather. I should also thank all "the girls" for pointing out my embarrassing typos. Thanks Paula, Sasha and Linda!
    Joanie - that is such a great comment! Thank you very much!
    Cecilia - never too late for congratulations! We're still newlyweds! And still married! Woot!
    Jon - Thanks for your grin; it makes me grin, too!

  18. Ok, so i fell for his line too. Although, truth be told, I would probably have given him a wide berth in the first place.
    Great character you have come up with here. I like the way he and the bar owner are complicit in his scam. What an idea for a story.

  19. What a scene you painted here. You really have a knack for creating these one of a kind characters that grab the reader. Awesome job, as always, Cathy.

  20. So what's your favorite colour, Cathy? hee hee. Hey, what's the "not too shabby" stuff? That was downright seriously funny!

  21. That's a lovely story - really enjoyed the twist at the end!

  22. Great bar yarn. One way of getting free beer. What an unexpected twist.:)

  23. I was intrigued. Canadians spell colour with a 'u' unlike the Americans 'color'. Or am I misled?

  24. What a fun ending to the story. I owe you a beer.

  25. Great bar story, Cathy. Bet there's a leathery-faced Gerard in every less-than-reputable drinking establishment.

  26. The ending was really nice, and communicates the character's wit and intelligence. I did picture the bar nicely as well.

  27. Hi there Cathy - I'm impressed with this. The characters are very well rendered as are the details. The nuts were getting between my teeth. I loved the observation about the colours and childhood - because that's true, and it made me remember it. In fact, on a personal level, my only criticism would be that I was a bit distressed to find that it was being used as a beer-getting scam. But I could have read that opener all day.

  28. Great atmosphere, Cathy, and the sly old dog is a terrific character.


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