Episode Five

June 13, 2010

The Boneyard

One of the first buildings to be constructed when people began to colonize the island was a drinking establishment. It was no secret that the land on which the bar was built had once been a cemetery. The ghosts that haunted the bar made certain to make their presence very well known.

The inaugural Scurvytown council meeting had actually taken place in a tool shed on the freshly demolished cemetery’s outskirts. This meeting occurred immediately after a construction company paved over the cemetery and put up a parking lot. A group of concerned citizens immediately banded together in protest, as no one could understand why they were putting up a parking lot in a town whose primary means of travel was on foot or bicycle. Had the newspaper plant not been a smoldering pile of ash, they might have known that reason, but as it was, the ensuing rioting deterred the incoming shopping center from being built at all, and because there was no newspaper, no one even knew it.

Travis Stark, the man who brought the keg of beer, was immediately crowned the leader of the town council upon his arrival. Before that fateful night, he had been a simple forklift operator at the distillery. For the rest of his days in Scurvytown, as the first proprietor of the town’s brand new watering hole, he was regarded as a king among men.

To this very day, he haunted the remains of the tool shed that had served as the bar’s first location. On the day they cut the ribbon for the brand new building, which covered the entirety of the small cemetery, he had mysteriously been impaled with the ceremonial ribbon cutting scissors. Until his murderer could be brought to justice, he vowed to protect all future proprietors of his beloved venue.

As an homage to the land on which it was built, the bar was called The Boneyard, a term that was such a snickeringly good double entendre that the latest proprietor, Catty Broadsides, liked to promote that aspect of it as much as possible.

This was much to the chagrin to the ghosts who haunted the establishment. They had taken a lot of pride in running many the proprietor out of the shop, but Catty Broadsides was different; there wasn’t much that bothered her in the slightest. One might think this would make the ghosts even angrier and more determined, but it didn’t. Funny thing about apathy and its success as a contagion.

The ghosts were a bit difficult from the get-go. Catty had wanted to paint the bar a lively yellow to brighten it up, but the ghosts all agreed that that was bloody stupid. While they agreed to disagree with the new proprietor, they also disagreed with one another on what color the walls should be. In the end, Catty struck up a compromise and painted the walls a spritely lime green. That was the wisest decision, as it kept the ectoplasm splatters from being all that apparent, and it actually created a sort of wet look along the rear of the bar, alongside the 3 pool tables.

As if it wasn’t hard enough running a place that was so vastly haunted, she had to deal with a very demanding public. Catty had never been much of a people person, but she had owned a very successful gastro pub back on the mainland. It was a haven for local foodies, and prided itself on its snobbery and snottiness (though to be clear on the snottiness, cleanliness was of course next to godliness). Between that high-class atmosphere, and prices that were practically criminal, they were of course despicably successful.

Catty figured that if she could run a successful pocket-gouging fancy schmancy place on the mainland, then small pub fare would be small, but lucrative, potatoes. She was in for quite the culture shock when she arrived in Scurvytown and discovered what she had to work with. For starters, there was no way she could charge highway robbery for anything on an island without a highway.

Her next big hurdle was the lack of refined palates in town. Most of the locals were vegetarians, which would have been fine, but they were used to eating carrots straight out of the ground without even washing them. It was well beyond her means to use dirt as a spice when crafting her recipes. It certainly helped that she had attended culinary school in England, for she knew that deep-frying anything and serving it with booze was probably her best bet, so she based her menu thusly. Most folks will tell you that you haven’t lived until you’ve tried her deep fried beets.

That first summer Catty was in town, she struggled to find her niche, and was very close to washing her hands of the entire business. Her bar was empty most nights, as most people were either at the festivals or sleeping them off. In an act of desperation, she sough the Captain’s help to get back to the mainland.

Captain Tullis had long-ago earned himself a permanent banning from her establishment. As far as she was concerned, he was welcome any time, but the ghosts had other ideas. No one would talk about “the incident” that lead up to the ghosts obvious distaste for the Captain, and after awhile, Catty simply stopped asking. The ghosts weren’t talking, and she was sick of replacing shattered glassware whenever his name was mentioned.

Catty had often found that the best ideas came from the most unlikely of sources, and this was no different. When the Captain suggested that, “if you can’t beat them, join them,” she actually slapped herself on the forehead. It was so simple!

If no one was coming to the bar, she’d bring the bar to them. The Captain protested at her excitement, because all he’d meant was that she should give up working to drink with the rest of the festival revelers. Luckily, Catty had more sense than that.

She got to work that night, creating fabulous new recipes. At the time, the first annual asparagus festival was on day one, so it was a no brainer. She talked to the town council that night, as they were sitting around playing a game of “Spin the Asparagus” to help with the decision making process. Luckily, the asparagus was spinning in her favor, and they agreed she could set up a booth as long as council members got free samples.

This year, she was bristling with excitement over unleashing her new Moonshine punch at the festival. She’d also devised a cupcake that embodied a hint of moonshine flavor, while managing not to burst into flames in the heat of the June sun, and most amazingly, not burn all the way down the throat of the person who ingested it. Luckily, The Boneyard’s regulars were happy to taste any of her concoctions for free, and she was happy to use them as guinea pigs as long as they paid their tabs.

As the pistol sounded to acknowledge the beginning of the Moonshine Festival, Catty was tenth in line. Her booth wasn’t going to be ready for business until noon, as it was customary during the Moonshine Festival to let the first wave of heaving drinkers come and go before any food was set out. The town council may have had some silly policies, but after witnessing the rampages in the first few Moonshine Festivals, she now knew that waiting until the sun was high in the sky and the second wave of security went on the clock was quite the necessity.

Catty enjoyed a couple of flasks of moonshine at the start of the festival, and for once, enjoyed being a regular townsperson. Around noon, she sauntered over to her booth and was pleased that the red-headed college girl she’d hired to cover it for the weekend was selling her cupcakes like hotcakes. That might sound a little weird, but in the hot sun, the cupcakes did get a bit melty and needed to be eaten with a fork.

She watched the girl stow another $100 into the cash box, and she smiled. That smile was wiped off her face when Captain Tullis ran straight into her from behind. She had no idea what hit her until she picked herself up and turned around.

“What the hell, man?” She asked, her hands on her hips, like she was playing a game of “I’m a little sugar bowl” instead of “I’m a little teapot.”

“I know you took him, you and that bird,” that Captain spat, and wiped a smidge of blood from the corner of his mouth.

“Took whom?” She asked, utterly perplexed.

“Whom? WHOM!?” He shouted, pointing to the sky behind her.

She turned to see where he was pointing, and he blind-sided her again. As she untangled herself from him, she shook her head. She should have seen that coming.

As security retrained him, Catty realized his stupid stuffed monkey was missing from his shoulder.

“Oh, Hopewell,” she said, “can’t even keep an eye on a stuffed monkey?” She laughed.

The Captain broke free from security and lunged towards her again, but she was too quick this time, and he fell on his face.

“Sorry, love, dunno where your monkey is, perhaps you should keep him on a leash?”

He looked up at her, and asked, “If you don’t know, what about your bird?”

“Holmes?” She said, restraining a laugh. “He’s nocturnal, so he’s asleep at the bar.”

The Captain beat his fists into the ground at the realization that his number one lead was a dead end. If there was one thing he respected about Catty, it was her inability to tell falsehoods. If there was another thing, it was her respect for a fellow human in pain.

She waved security away and helped him to his feet. He smiled appreciatively.

“We’ll find him, don’t you worry,” she said, patting him on the back. “I know just where to start.”

As they walked back to The Boneyard, she hoped that most of the ghosts were either off at the festival or watching folks have it off at the bordello. Either way, she was going to have to offer him amnesty for the day, and suffer whatever consequences the ghosts had to offer. She hoped they would show her some mercy. As they walked along, she couldn’t shake a major case of the squickens, and she wondered why the hell she’d ever slept with him in the first place.

****
This episode went live on Sunday, June 13, 2010.

Stay tuned for next week’s episode. A mysterious stranger has come to town, and nothing will ever be the same.

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