The Captain’s Fair (Short Story)

The moment he entered the pub, his eyes instantly fixated on the back of her head. She was the most beautiful girl he had ever seen in his entire life. He ambled over to the bar.

“Is this seat taken?”

She glanced up at him responding, “No.”

He nervously pulled out the stool from underneath the sticky, worn bar ledge. She smiled faintly in amusement as he struggled with the chair.

The bartender glanced his way and held up his finger indicating he would be over in a moment.

“You’re the dancing girl,” he finally spoke up. She peered at him through the corner of her eye with her face still facing straight ahead.

“More of an aerial dancer,” she replied with a hint of irritation lingering on her words.

He said, “I’ve heard about you.”

“You along with 100 other men,” she laughed. She drew the glass up to her lips and took a long sip of the warm, red wine.

“Well do you have a name?”  She asked him.

“Yes. Yes it’s Thomas.”

“And a surname? Do you have a surname young Thomas?”

“Yes. It’s Johnston.”

She grinned. “Thomas Johnston! What a strong name. I like boys with strong names.”  She finally looked over at him before she spoke again.

“My name is Lucinda. But you can call me Lucy. I only let the boys I like call me Lucy.” She smiled coyly at him.

“What’ll you be having,” a voice interrupted. Thomas jolted and saw the bartender impatiently standing there.

“I’ll have a whiskey straight up.”

The bartender poured the young man a shot of whiskey and slid it over to him. “Keep your tab open?” Thomas nodded. He nervously sipped on the Irish whiskey trying to decide on the next thing to say to the beautiful girl sitting next to him. His mind ran blank, and the deafening silence grew uncomfortable.

“Do you have a talent?” Lucinda questioned in an attempt to rescue the boy from the awkward quietness.

“No,” he slowly replied unsure why he responded that way. In reality he did possess a talent. He was a great fiddler player. One of the best in his town. However, he chose to keep that to himself as he could no longer find work as a musician, and he desperately needed a job.

“So young Thomas, what exactly will you be doing at the fair?” she quizzed.

“Any manual work that needs to be done I suppose. Keeping up with the animals. Cleaning. Helping with repairs. You name it. I’ll be doing whatever work they can give me.” She sensed sadness in his voice. Or perhaps it was a hint of anxiety.

“That’s nice,” she said. “You can buy me that drink if you like.”

Thomas looked over at the young woman and stammered, “W-ha-t?”

She smiled and nodded.

“How did you know I wanted to buy you a drink?”

“You see I used to be a gypsy. Well, I still am. But I used to be a fortune teller and could predict things.  I knew what people were thinking. But I think I have all but lost that skill. So now I dance.”

“I’d stay away from that one if I were you,” a voice ascended over the noise in the small pub. The dishes being removed from the tables, spotty conversations throughout the establishment and the soft sound of the worn out jukebox offering songs from days long past.

“What?” Thomas asked.

The man at the end of the bar nodded his head toward Lucinda. “Don’t be too keen on that one. She’s already spoken for my boy.”

Thomas tuned his attention to Lucinda. “Is this true?”

She simply shrugged as the bartender carried over her fresh glass of wine.

“Yep. Hiring manager. She’s his prize,” the gentleman said.

“But we can be friends,” Lucinda pouted.

“Sure,” Thomas responded gazing down at his near empty glass.

“I would like that Thomas,” she smiled. “One can never have enough friends.” She raised her glass and nudged his shoulder. “Come on now. To friends!” she beamed.

A faint grin began to emerge on his face as he raised his glass to hers. It would be nice to have a friend right now he thought to himself. His home, family and friends were becoming a distant memory.

Lucinda spied an empty table. She took hold of Thomas’ arm saying, “Let’s sit over there so we can have us some privacy.” She sneered at the man at the end of the bar.

Thomas politely pulled out the chair for the lovely girl. She grinned, “Such a gentleman. Your mummy must have raised you well.” Thomas shrugged and sat down at the table across from her. The pair sat in momentary silence which was interrupted when Lucinda reached across the table and grabbed Thomas’ hands.

“What is your sin?” she probed.

“I don’t believe in sin,” Thomas countered.

“You should!”

“Well, I don’t.”

“Okay then. What wrong have you done? We’ve all done wrong.”

He shook his head unconvincingly.  She took his left hand into her own examining his palm. Her finger traced the lines on his hand. She gazed up at him locking her eyes with his. “You stole didn’t you?”

He quickly snatched his hand away brushing offer her accusation. “Admit it! You did. Honey I am not here to judge you. That has already been done.”

Finally Thomas relinquished nodding his head. “You see, my father was losing his farm. We had no money. So yes! I stole some food for my family! Happy?”

Lucinda reached up and stroked his cheek. “Shhhhh. I said I am not here to judge. But that wasn’t the last time you did that was it?”

“Enough about me!” he barked. “If you are so big into this whole ‘sin’ concept…” she cut him off shaking her finger. “I mean ‘doing wrong’. What was your wrong doing?”

Lucinda took his hand again holding it ever so firm with a slight tenderness. She sighed and gazed out the dirty window. “I had an affair with a married man,” she confessed. Her eyes began to well with tears.

In turn, Thomas reached over and stroked her cheek. A smile began to materialize on his face. Staring into her eyes he whispered, “I’m not here to judge either.”