It’s not that Sen didn’t want to go that way; no, not at all, he just hadn’t been that way before….is what he kept telling himself.  He stared down the whorled path that led itself into a dark and thick forest at its base, the forest that was between himself and the small town of Lindsey, where he was heading, that lay on its other side. It’s an hour walk to get this far from the sleepy community of  Becket where he lived. Plenty of time to view the movie inside his head leading up to this moment. He often heard of the others back home talk of this path before. “Yup, knocks off a good two hours clean…walking to get to Lindsey going that way…that is if you don’t mind what’s been said about it, ” snickered the pub bartender echoing his hearty, but slightly, Irish accent through Sen’s thoughts. Over the past month after arriving in Becket, a humble borough at one end of a beautiful glen, Sen had become good friends with Archie; a good-hearted man known as the  friendly burly brew master who is most easily recognized by his thick bushy red beard! Archie loved to pour drinks for the locals and humor them with his  stories he so admired in telling. And the path through the forest to Lindsey was one of Archie’s favorite stories!  

Sen’s inner vision continued to watch the movie in his head, he could see and hear this mornings breakfast conversation back at the pub reflecting through his mind, while his body and his eyes stood still….still staring at the path.

“Aaaah, what do you know anyway Arch,” giggled Mabel relieving the bar of a few empty ale mugs into the rinsing machine beside her. Mabel, Archie’s wife of 22 years, a glowing woman in her mid forties, blonde, blue-eyed beauty with just the right amount of love handles to lay testimony to her fine cooking, always loved to tease her husband this way. “Before you know it, he’ll start telling everyone that it is a true story…again,” she further jested but with a wink cast toward her husband. Archie loved his wife dearly and could not imagine his life without her.  Their pub, the town’s pub really, sported a front entrance staircase of a few steps to a spacious landing covered by an arched overhead roof, all made of rough timbers that basked in the diffused light of an Archie’s Ale neon sign hanging in the front window. The pub has been their labour of love  for the past ten years, ever since Archie lost his job at the lumber mill due to downsizing…so said his pink slip. And he knew that none of it could be possible without the love and support of his wife! Which is why he tolerated her interrupting him as she so lovingly teased while he told his stories. It was Mabel who found Sen on the pub doorstep at two in the morning clinging to his life that strange night a month ago.

Sen stood still staring at the path.

“Mabel honey,” Archie cooed, “how many times have I told you, it is a true story!” A lanky attractive young woman with shoulder length auburn hair named Cindy, the pub’s main waitress, put in an order for another round of ales for the dart throwers at the rear of the pub… giving Archie something else to think about. “Cindy, why does nobody take me seriously?” Cindy grinned at him while he worked the tap pouring her order.

“Yes sweetheart…a true story….by the way, we’re having chicken for dinner tonight?” Mabel fed him back as she left the room.

The path stared at Sen

Archie topped up the last ale to round-up  Cindy’s tray, “Sen, buddy, help me out here…could you please tell my wife that she needs to start listening to me,” Archie now holding his hands up in the air.

Sen wiped the last bit of egg and ketchup from his plate with his toast,  stuffed it into his mouth, and mumbled, “sorry Arch…you know I don’t takes sides with my friends,” and while smiling he said…”besides, I gotta hit the road, I’m running late!! Throwing his napkin on the bar, Sen rose and fiddled for his wallet.

“Nay..don’t worry about it…get to me next time,” Archie winked.

“Arch, that’s what you said last time.”

Archie’s hand now on Sen’s shoulder and leaning into him, whispered, “tell you what..we’ll put it on your tab, what do you say?”

Sen grinned, ” alright, but only if you let me pay for it!!

“Ya, ya, ya….later, later,” Archie whimsically countered, now wiping down the bar with a damp cloth.

“Ok, I really have to go now, say bye to Mabel for me! I’ll see you both again in a few days!”

“You betcha buddy,” Archie chuckled, “ the way,” Archie came out from behind the bar, stood  in front of Sen, and with a curious softened voice, asked, “so you going to do it this time?”

Sen stared at him for a moment, then hesitatingly said, “I don’t know….gotta go!” And made his way out the door.

The last words Sen heard Archie bellowing at him while bounding down the front steps was, “say hi to her for me ok?”

And so an hour later, here he was….again, staring at the path. And with waning deliberation and the movie now fading from his head, Sen said out loud to himself, ” nope, not today,” and turned back to the road to carry on his way. Taking the long way around, it would be three more hours before he arrived in Lindsey.

Randy Quickfall ღƪ(ˆ◡ˆ)ʃ ☼