Friday, September 28, 2007

Mossy's Backpackers #6

“… so that’s about it,” Max finished. “What do you think I should do?”

He leaned back in his chair and watched Mossy closely as the big man mulled it over. They were seated at a relatively quiet table far from the entrance of the pub, the remains of their fish and chips littering the table top between them.

The juke box switched from one God-awful 80’s song to another as Mossy took a long swallow of beer and placed his mug back on the table without rattling a fork.

“Well,” he began at last, “what’s the worst that could happen if you tell Caitlin how you feel about her?”

“Let me see,” Max said slowly. “She says no thanks. We endure working together with awkward silences and even more awkward small talk. Eventually, one of us can’t take it any more and leaves the hostel.”

“Yes, but…” Mossy tilted his head back and studied the ceiling fan for a few moments, then returned his gaze to Max. “Alright, yeah, that would suck. A lot.”

“Thanks mate.”

“Have I ever told you how I met my wife?” Mossy asked suddenly.

Max stared at him, trying to figure out if he was joking or not.

“Mossy… mate… you never even told me you were married.”

“Oh,” Mossy shifted a bit in his seat and glanced away. “Sorry Max, I like to keep my private and business life separate. I didn’t mean anything by it.”

“Think nothing of it,” Max told him with a smile, trying to hide his surprise at seeing this side of his boss. Almost as an afterthought, he glanced down. “Oh good, I’m not a completely ignorant fool, you’re not wearing a ring.”

“I wear it on a necklace,” Mossy replied, patting his chest. “It doesn’t ah… fit on any of my fingers.”

“I knew you were Bigfoot in disguise, I just knew it. So how come she never comes by the hostel?”

“The hostel is my passion, not hers. She leaves me to it and I,” Mossy shivered dramatically, “I leave her to her law firm.”

“A lawyer? I can’t picture you being married to a lawyer, mate. Well, go on; tell me all about how you met Mrs. Mossy.”

“Mrs. Mossy?” he snorted quite indelicately. “Her name is Ana.” He shifted in his chair again. If Max had not known better he would have thought Mossy was blushing. “We met at the University of Southern California in ’79. It was my last year of studying Environmental Sciences and she was doing a year long exchange from Switzerland.”

“A Swiss Miss? Very nice!”

“Do you want to hear this or not?”

“Yes, sir. Shutting up, sir.”

“A mutual friend threw a Halloween party where we met and sparked almost instantly.” Max drowned the urge to ask what they were dressed as with a swig of beer. “But nothing came of it at first – we were both very much interested but at the end of the year she would be going home and I’d be coming back here.”

“Another round boys?” asked the waitress who had once again appeared at Max’s side from out of nowhere. He guessed she was in her early forties, although it was impossible to know for sure with the five layers of makeup she was wearing.

“Yes please Eve,” Mossy told her.

“Be back in a flash!” she announced with a big smile and whirled away, once again leaving the dinner plates untouched. Max shook his head, then motioned for Mossy to continue.

“Well, Ana went home to spend Christmas break with her family so I got a little taste of not having her around.” Mossy cleared his throat noisily. “It bloody well sucked.”

“So you went for it.”

“Damn rights I did! I met her at the airport with the biggest bouquet of tulips I could get my hands on and told her I wanted to give us a shot. After a twelve hour flight she didn’t stand a chance.”

Max laughed, clinked his mug against Mossy’s and emptied the last of his beer just in time for the next round to arrive.

“This one’s on the house boys!” Eve told them before dashing off again.

“You reckon she expects us to eat those?” Max asked, indicating their neglected empty plates. Mossy let loose a booming burp in response. “Fair enough. So four months was enough time for your obvious charms to take hold and she came back here with you?”

“When you find something precious in this life Max,” he answered, beginning to slur his esses slightly, “you don’t let it go without a fight.”

Max rolled this around in his head for a few minutes, periodically sipping from his newly arrived beer. He was pretty sure it tasted better than the ones he would be paying for. But wasn’t that always the way?

“Well, I’d hate for this to be something I regret not doing. And what fun is life if you never take any chances?”

“Exactly! Exactly. Life is too short for regrets!” Mossy finished off his free beer and thumped it back onto the table, sending a fork skittering to the floor. Oblivious to the clatter, he carried on. “Besides, if yer single much longer Eve just might up and club ya over the noggin’ and drag yer arse to Father Timothy!”

Max barely managed to avoid choking on his drink.

“What? Yeah right mate!” he spluttered. “It’s you she’s got eyes for!”

“Nah Max, she’s met Ana.” Mossy winked grandly at him. “She knows better than to stick her nose in that hornet nest!” The big man roared with laughter and came dangerously close to falling out of his chair. No one in the pub seemed to notice.

“Alright, alright. One more round of darts and then we go?”

“I’m not sure either of us should be tossing arrows at this point – we might make a bull’s-eye out of someone’s bottom!”

“God, you sound like a teenager. It’ll be fine, come on.” Max stood up with as much dignity as he could muster, which was not much. At least he wasn’t swaying too much, as best he could tell anyway.

“You just want to impress Eve, I understand.”

“Go to hell Mossy.”

“No, it’s ok, it’s ok. I’m sure that if ya dig through two or three inches of makeup you’d find a very attractive woman!”

“Let’s get out of here,” Max said as he tossed some cash onto the table. Then he turned and, without looking to see if Mossy followed, weaved his way through the crowd and into the fresh night air.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great story, keep up the good work!

Island Man