THE STAR OF BETHNAL GREEN - PAUL D. BRAZILL
The big silver star hung there all year round; day in, day out. It dangled above the bar, slightly askew, just to the left of the West Ham United clock. Its tinsel border had pretty much molted to almost nothing and the glittery red Merry Xmas greeting had dandruffed so many barflies over the years that it was almost unreadable.
But Tommy Raw remembered the night that Frank hung it up. Or, to be precise, got someone else to hang it up since Frank was a corpulent slug who rarely moved from his stool at the end of the bar and spent most of his nights glaring at staff and customers alike. This was a man who once barred someone out of The Bethnal Star for laughing too loud and was universally loathed - a fact that seemed to give him pleasure, if, indeed, Frank was capable of pleasure.
Frank was also as tight as a gnat’s arse and, only hours after he was found dead behind the bar, some wag quipped that he’d died of a heart attack after finding a foreign coin in the till. But Tommy knew differently which, he supposed, was one of the reasons that he kept the star hanging there, long after he’d taken over as the pub’s landlord.
It was a reminder. A reminder of the fact that no matter what he’d done, or would do, he would never be as big a twat as Frank.
‘Merry Xmas, brother,’ said Tommy each Xmas Day with the flicker of a grin on his ruddy face as he remembered the fateful and fatal Christmas cracker that put Frank out of his own and everyone else’s misery.
BIO: Paul D. Brazill was born in Hartlepool, England and lives in Bydgoszcz, Poland. He has had stories in A Twist Of Noir, Powder Burn Flash, Thrillers Killers n Chillers, Beat To A Pulp, and other such classy joints. He can be found stalking ‘you would say that, wouldn’t you?’ He also writes a regular column, ‘I didn’t say that, did I?’ for Pulp Metal Magazine.