Time stands still as we sit there, listening to Pat sing; harmonica battling bravely against the storms. Winds whistling outside; rattling against the wooden doors, shut against the howl. Time and again, we have been lured inside to listen. So many times, perhaps, we have forgotten – or simply forgotten to keep count. It scarcely matters. The music is its own allure. We are held in its thrall. It holds all else at bay, until the morning dawns; until the song, like the storm, breaks.
Grouped together, so we gather, evening upon evening. Mid week, Friday; weekends. Incapable of leaving. Starving for comfort; knowing the grief of loss, before it has begun, by virtue of anticipation. Lulled into lethargy, unable to pass, still knowing the need for safe passage by.
He hails from pastures strange; Pat who holds other names, if you catch hold of the worlds beneath his words and tie them fast; quickly, quickly! Singer of the small isle of Sirenum scopuli, rotting corpses in his wake, skin shrivelling about their bones. Heed him; yet not too well, for fear you will not live to tell the tale. These words hold your warning amongst them.
I listen with half an ear only, most evenings. Those who came before me mentioned the need to plug my ears, barman to barman. The old remedies work; beeswax comes well recommended, so they say, the unmentioned and unmentionable predecessors. To date, I have not known it fail. Week upon week, I make good my escape. Still, there is always a first time. When the slow and steady crawl home at dawn fails to materialise. So I am told. It happens to us all, unless guarded against well, at all times.
I dare not ask how many have poured their pints before me. I think I am better not knowing the numbers for those who have headed heavenwards without word or warning. I am already deep enough in. I always return, though I leave, resolved to be on my way. My feet bring me back, far from the beyond I think I am aiming for. Bodily betrayal, time and again. It defeats me, chained as much as the punters I serve.
Mirror man, he is – Parthenope, shortened to Pat – I think I would be glad not to have caught the glimpse of his true reflection; feather and wing; scaly feet. Now I carry it with me wherever I go. The singing I leave behind, albeit momentarily, ever to return. The silence into which the images creep unbidden – that I cannot escape. Never, ever. That I carry with me, after. Perhaps it is my penance for exposure to the truth; the sentence awarded for close proximity. Perhaps it is due diligence. Perhaps, I do not care. Perhaps I care too much. Perhaps not at all. Perhaps, perhaps. Perhaps the imponderables will bring me full circle before the song is played out and the lyrics leave. Perhaps, perhaps. Perhaps. I do not know. Not really. I suspect none of the others did either. Maybe this is how the music played out for them too, before they left for the last train to their final destination.
I clear the bar one last time. One for the road, for what it’s worth. I suspect little, although I seek to delude myself, even midst recognition. There will be none to walk me to the station, for the journey. The newest crowd crush themselves into the corner; enamoured. There will be no stirring them until the dawn breaks. Been there, done that. They cannot help themselves. Neither can I help them from the hold they find themselves in. Circle full cycle, though my time within it comes to an end. All so inevitable. Still, I raise a final glass to the best little boozer, as I take my leave unnoticed, new barman already at the helm. I suspect I will be seeing some of the faces before me again, though I must be on my way now. Travelling far, far away. Their journey lies before them. Soon enough, they may follow my footsteps. Then, I may have company. Now, I look for the footprints of those who passed before me.
Another one for this week's Mid Week Blues Buster - this week's song was The Pogues "Sally MacLennane" in honour of St. Patrick's Day. I put a twist on things with this piece involving music and sirens.