Sunday, October 11, 2009


“A pirate as a person or a group involves an element of illegality or at least a bending of the rules, does it not?”

It sounded more like a statement than a question. And a long way short of a chat-up line, I guess. He stared at me at the dark bar on the edge of a nowhere where, lost, cold and hungry, I had just left my car in its car park of no obvious allotted spaces.

Women on their own in such places must be a rare event, I continued to guess. I had only come in here for directions, while deciding whether or not to partake of the establishment’s ‘hospitality’.

I looked sideways at the solitary barstool-occupant. A man wearing glasses that must have made the interior even darker, by the look of them.

“Excuse me?”

“A pirate can also mean people who are not eligible for things but take them nevertheless.”

I felt affronted. Could he mean me? Perhaps this was a club for carefully chosen members and I had parked my car outside ‘illegally’?

I was immediately inclined to leave without further conversation. This was part of the country to which I was unaccustomed. Visiting someone from University days I hadn’t seen for years. We’d just got reacquainted by some internet finding-old-friends site. Maybe old friends were not meant to rediscover each other – as in the old days, with very little means to do so. Such precarious reunions could cause all manner of ‘not-meant-to-be’ situations – and the world sent off into directions equally ‘not-meant-to-be’. These were not original thoughts of mine that I was thinking as I waited to decide about my next move in the dark bar. I had had these thoughts for some time when deciding to pursue, via the internet, certain lost friendships in the first place. But there was something ringing at the back of my mind about my current predicament in the dark bar being a ‘not-meant-to-be’ of some significant risk to my health and safety. A pirate destiny, as it were.

If words could be caught like infections – there I had just thought about the word that seemed to be preoccupying the man in dark glasses who had just used it – twice. As if he was toying with it. Worrying it, teasing it, trying it out on his lips. Obsessed with it.

A member of the bar staff – and I was pleased to see it was a female of some age – now suddenly arrived in my vicinity to take my order.

“Is that your car outside?”

She pointed at a shape I could hardly discern through the window.

“I guess it is,” I said.

“Well, can you move it? It’s private.”

So, I hadn’t been far wrong with my earlier presumptions. But the place had a sign outside indicating it was a public bar serving drink and food.

“Private?” I responded in questioning echo.

“Yes, private.”

“Private,” more forcefully echoed the man in dark glasses.

“Is this private, too?” I asked with a nod towards the bar, trying to take some initiative without antagonising anyone with a forceful reference to the public sign outside.

Thoughts raced through my head. Time seemed to stand still. Many things put on the internet with the wrong assumption of it being private were often available for viewing by many millions. Just see the hit counter if there is one to see at all. Just because these potential millions don’t make their presence known to you does not mean they aren’t there, watching, reading, toying, teasing, worrying at your words ... obsessing ... storing up a whole host of ‘not-meant-to-be’ scenarios. How often have you conducted what you think is a private conversation on a blog or a supposedly ill-frequented forum – only to discover it was far from private. It’s easy to imagine seclusion even when millions are watching you.

Suddenly, the bar woman pointed at a word engraved on the mirror – the backs of the shorts and optics reflected dimly in it.

The word was, of course, “Private”. Except the letters seemed slightly mixed up and one letter had teasingly been rubbed off as if in a game. It was then I saw the woman was wearing a black patch over one eye, fixed in place by a single elastic band around her scarfed head. Stepping nearer, the man took off his dark glasses, then opened his chest...


Anonymous said...



Lee Hughes said...

That's a rather rash and dangerous accusation to just fling about there. You haven't given you're name, where you've had this story published, or how it might have ended up here. I think we all know Des's caliber and integrity, with over 1000 stories published I think the man can come up with his own ideas and you are just a muppet.