The Sleeping Hare

This is a rough opening for a work in progress. A short story set in the world of The Three Billy Goats Gruff for an anthology. I think it’s off to a good start. Perspective needs to shift slightly but a good start.

*****

Don’t expect to find dignity in an old bar. Not here. Not at “The Sleeping Hare.”
The sallow light of street-lamps trickled into the darkened room through diamonds of lead panes. The smoke twisted in an artistic way, forming curls in the gloom, illuminated only by the age-speckled bar lights.
The smell has changed over the years. Once it was of cigarette smoke only, the bouquet clung to clothing, skin and furniture alike. Now it is joined by the miasma of stale beer, cheap hooch, body odor and cheaper perfume from the quiff trying to make a buck.
“The Sleeping Hare” was always a den of debauchery, alcoholism and the great unwashed of the town. It still is. No-one comes here with anything wholesome in mind. Probably why the small mountain of a goat sat on the stool by the door. Black, with tufts of grey in his beard, a tight T-shirt highlighted bulging muscles. If he did not look menacing enough, flexing those muscles was often deterrent enough for the occasional trouble maker.
Once upon a time, the place might have had a classy, old world feel. Now nicotine-stained walls, which might have been white, the darkened wood and stained reddish carpet only hinted at what might have been. There are establishments that are more like restaurants now – all clean with waiting staff. Not at “The Sleeping Hare.” Here, you still bellied up to the bar, where along the wall was every hue of amber liquid in their inverted bottles, and caught the barkeeps eye to place your order. Bring your patience though, tortoises are not known for their speed and Tabor is not as fast as he used to be, but he will take care of you.
The thunk of darts and clack of pool balls came from the back of the joint. An addition to the old building the plaster and wood gave way to cinder block walls painted black. Four red felt pool tables commanded the center of the room. They and the dart board lanes in the back of the room brought in almost as the cheap hooch Tabor stocked.
Only one table was in use tonight, a young brown goat crisp white shirt with sleeve holders, thin black tie tossed over his shoulder as he lined up a shot while nearby a ferret in a beret watched, anxiously hoping for a scratch.

Thank you for reading,

Ernest

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