Published 14 July 202318 July 2023 · Fiction / Friday Fiction Fiction | A Quiet Man Barry Revill A Quiet Man I’m a quiet man. I don’t talk much. I like a quiet drink. Sometimes a bit more, sometimes too much. I have this quiet spot at the Royal pub. Just a little spot around from the bar near the corner. They always serve me a beer as soon as I walk in. A bit of a nod, a bit of a wink, and then I slide on to the stool and rest my elbow on the bar. This is what I do. I watch people. They think I’m looking straight into my beer glass. Well, I am, sort of. But most of the time I am looking at people. Looking at the regulars, the steady drunks, the bludgers – and the rough women. And I might tell you, there are a few of them as well. But this is what I do. I watch people. I watch them because I want to check to see if they are watching me. Sometimes they can be a bit rowdy. Pay night for example. On these nights I do not care much what they say and do; it’s just the grog talking and all that stuff. A bit of a laugh here and a giggle there and sly winks when they are talking about their women and the latest one they have on the side. I know all these things. Not that I give too much away about how I know. I just do and that’s all there is to it. There was this bloke last week. I knew he was staring at me. I could tell by the way he was resting his elbow on the bar. He had his elbow sort of curved up and he had one finger going up the side of his face. He did this to make out he was sort of intelligent and educated like. So, I did the same; I put my finger to the side of my face so that the top of my finger was about level with my right eye. Then I stared into the mirror behind the bar until I got bored and started to make little circles in the beer on the bar. I did this for quite a while, in between ordering another beer. The bloke ordered some potato chips and made circles on the bar too. Then he left. Another bloke came in. A big fat bloke. I don’t like fat blokes. I ordered another beer. He had a stud in one ear and another in the side of his nose. I don’t like studs in the ear and in the nose. I made some circles in the beer on the bar. He made some circles in the beer on the bar. He ordered some chips. He drank his beer quick. He ordered another, then another. He ordered more chips. One of his feet slipped off the bar stool. He swore. I don’t like fat men who swear. Not nice. Should not be allowed. He scratched himself between the legs. Not nice to see men scratch themselves between the legs in public places. He ate his chips and then he made circles in the beer on the bar. Then he left. A woman came in. She sat on a stool a bit closer to me. I ordered another beer. She had on a short skirt which she sort of hitched up when she perched up on the stool. She wore a nice blue blouse and her hair was brushed back into a neat bun behind her neck. She ordered a Scotch. I ordered another beer. The barman looked at me a bit funny. I gave him a wink and he walked away. I don’t like barmen who look at me a bit funny. I could see the woman looking at me in the mirror behind the bar. She crossed her legs a couple of times but I did not take much notice. I’m not bothered with all that. I like to keep myself to myself, cannot be bothered about all this women business. She kept playing with the brooch near her neck. It was a pretty brooch and it sparkled a bit as it moved towards the light. I thought I could at least be a bit friendly, so I smiled at her. I smiled at her again. She moved away further down the bar. I needed another beer. I called out to the barman. Nothing happened. I called again. He came along the bar and stood in front of me. He had a funny grin on his face. I don’t like barmen who have funny looks on their faces. I think he was born overseas somewhere. Should have been born here, that’s what I always say, and I told him so too. I told him I would like another beer. He grinned. I told him again. He grinned at me again. That’s when I tried to punch him on the nose. I missed, but he hit me square on the jaw and I fell to the floor, hitting my head on the bar on the way down. I got up and swung another punch at him. I missed again and he hit me in the eye. He told me to get up on the stool, stay quiet, and he would give me a soft drink. A younger woman came in. I thought I’d seen her somewhere before. She looked nice. I sat drinking my lemon squash. My head ached and my eye was very sore. She moved towards me. Put her hand gently on my arm. “Come on, Dad, time to come home now.” Barry Revill Barry Revill is an 86-year-old writer whose first published story appeared in Overland. He has since published short stories and monologues and is currently working on a book, The Diary of a Young Boy. More by Barry Revill › Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places. If you like this piece, or support Overland’s work in general, please subscribe or donate. Related articles & Essays First published in Overland Issue 228 1 September 202312 September 2023 · Friday Fiction Fiction | Smokescreen Alex Hallahan She slammed the bedroom door shut, turning us both into silhouettes against the fading light filtering through the large open window. 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