The Basement Drop Cafe - Home Brew
Saint Nicholas had visitors to his home early one evening.Â Miss Priscilla Smyth-Brown had rallied a little from her illness and she'd come down to the basement apartment for one last hurrah.Â No one else could make her ginseng tea with nips of bracing gin as he could.Â There was no one else.Â But the medicine the doctor prescribed, marked: Not to be taken with alcohol just made her sleepy.Â However, the toddy of ginseng tea and gin for medicinal purposes only â€“ thus not alcohol, strictly speaking â€“ put a spring in her step.Â Of course, the health giving tea was never taken with the lady doctor's medicine, and thus the instructions were followed.Â And she had taken the medicine before coming down to the basement.Â Now she sat relaxing, sipping her toddy in the rocking chair.
Saint Nicholas was sitting on a kitchen stool, having graciously surrendered his freshly stuffed bean bag to That Bitch.Â She had arrived with a six pack of beer, wanting to get away from the flaming row she'd been having with Mongrel, her beloved.Â His bellowing voice had out shouted her's, but She Who Commanded had the last word by flouncing out of the house and roaring away on her Vee twin motorcycle.Â Now she lay sprawled with a can of beer in the bean bag.Â Naturally, Saint Nicholas was nursing a mug of skinny flat white, a home brew of coffee powder and skim milk on the turn to rancid.Â Thus there they were, in what simply had to be The Basement Drop CafÃ©.
Miss Priscilla Smyth-Brown also had a field marshal's baton in her knapsack, so to speak.Â She, too, commanded.Â Conversely, the good saint commanded no one.Â He just blithely followed his own star, regardless of worldly directives.Â Nevertheless, even sainted ones can be stung when there are two queen bees in the hive, and no other workers â€“ and stars do fall.Â Unless, of course, there is divine intervention.Â This was pending.
The authority of the two field marshals had been bolstered â€“ respectively, with gin and beer.Â Although they were not awash in a sea of alcohol, their brine of spirit and hops had transferred them into the navy to exercise the rank of admiral.Â And both of them had decided over yet another sip of ginseng gin and beer that Saint Nicholas was a loose canon.Â He needed a woman's touch to take him in hand in a gentle but firm grip.Â And though Miss Priscilla simpered and That Bitch giggled at that particular thought, they nevertheless were resolved that He Who Must Obey needed the discipline of the right girl.Â A loose canon needed a sergeant-major bombardier!Â And they would brook no argument on the matter.
"You have to smarten up your act, Nicholas dear!" Admiral Priscilla said firmly, in way of opening salvo.Â "Get a haircut and some new clothes!Â Burn those horrible jeans, and all those dreadful black T-shirts!Â And throw away that scruffy motorbike jacket, and â€¦."
"There's nothing wrong with those!" barked the pocket-battleship guns of That Bitch, contending for command of the seas of romance.Â "They're sensible for a bike rider!"
"Then burn the motorbike!" answered the full broadside of the Smyth-Brown battleship.
Saint Nicholas ordered a crash dive of his one-man submarine.Â He fired his torpedo of a nip of gin at the rampaging battleship.Â His aim was as deadly as it was surreptitious. The precision of the torpedo was based on his knowledge that a healthy nip of gin spiked the biggest of the battle wagon guns.Â With the warship thus disabled into a hospital ship, it could be piloted into more peaceful waters.
"Nicholas would be lost without his bike!" Â The precision of the That Bitch cruise missile ensured a pinpoint hit amidships.Â "Absolutely lost!"
That's true," agreed Field Marshal Priscilla.Â The nip of gin had transferred her back out of the navy.Â "But who in their right mind would ride on the back with him?"
"My guardian angel!" said the snorkeling periscope of the one-man submarine.
"Oh, don't be silly, Nicholas!" said Field Marshal That Bitch, also having abandoned the navy after opening another can of beer.Â "There's Sissy, of course.Â She'll ride on the back with anyone."
"But â€¦" began the surfacing submarine.
"Oh, do be quiet, Nicholas!" said General Priscilla.Â She took another sip of her toddy.Â "Who's Sissy?" she asked the younger officer.
"Sissy's in the club," replied General That Bitch, referring to Sissy's membership of the God's Hitmen Motorcycle Club.
"No, she'd never do!" said Brigadier Smyth-Brown, thinking that Sissy was pregnant, and unmarried at that.Â "Nicholas needs someone firm but genteel."
The one-man submarine surfaced.Â Ms Right would be able bodied and genteel to fly with him from the aircraft carrier that had been a submarine.
"True!" said Major That Bitch, agreeing with her opposite number.Â Sissy was desperate for a man, and was anything but firm and genteel.Â "We'll have to think of someone else."
"There is Virginia at church," remarked Captain Priscilla, taking another sip of toddy.Â "She's a born-again Christian and fears God.Â She's a good lass â€“ goes to church every evening and on Sundays as well."
"No, I don't think so," said Lieutenant That Bitch, sipping some more beer.Â The last thing the motorcycle club needed was Nicholas rocking up with some religious nut.Â He was bad enough, but bless his heart.Â "What about enrolling him in a dating service?"
"What a splendid idea!" said Sergeant-Major Smyth-Brown.Â For on reflection, the last thing she wanted was some judgmental young thing flouncing around in her boarding house and doing all sorts of unthinkable things in the basement.Â Sex-crazed Catholic girls had a terrible reputation for doing the unspeakable.Â "Oh, wait a minute!Â Nicholas hasn't got job.Â And that could put a girl off."
Saint Nicholas stood uncertainly in the conning tower of the submarine.Â He knew that Ms Right would not be some Virginia who feared God and spent all her time on her knees.Â Ms Right would be out there with him on his motorbike, after a few dates of her riding her own black or pink bike.Â And he couldn't see the point of a dating service.Â He loathed dates â€“ both pitted and unpitted.Â Hence why should they be served?Â And why would not having a job put a girl off.Â She could ride for free on the back of his bike without any fear of being put off.
"You're right!" agreed Sergeant That Bitch.Â "Having no job would put off those up themselves."
There was a moment's silence for lost jobs and the lubrication of throats.
Then with toddy and beer to keep lips fluid, the two corporals soon arrived at a sensible agreement.Â They put aside for the time being the issue of no job.Â However, the bombardier to take raw-recruit Nicholas in hand would perhaps be an easy-going Christian who might like to take a Sunday ride on the back a motorcycle - although it didn't really matter if such never took place.Â No one could object to that.
Except Saint Nicholas.Â "But what aboutâ€¦." he began.
"Do be quiet!" Priscilla Smyth-Brown said firmly.Â "This is for your own good!"
"Yes!" agreed That Bitch.Â "Think of it as medicine you have to take.Â You'll soon get to like it."
There and then the saint vowed on his mother's grave to henceforth spurn all medicine.
"I've got the answer!" crowed Miss Priscilla.Â "About Nicholas not having a job."Â It was her last but greatest flash of inspiration.Â "Nicholas would perfectly suit a girl who's also unemployed!"
"Brilliant!" said the beloved of Mongrel, who even then was still sulking.Â "You're absolutely brilliant!Â Brilliant!"
Miss Priscilla Smyth-Brown's eyes positively shone with the sheer genius of her suggestion.Â It was the crowning glory of 90 years of suggestions.Â Thus on a high, and in a rocking chair in the basement, she closed her eyes and departed this world for life on the high seas in heaven.
For a while Saint Nicholas and That Bitch thought that the good landlady had dozed off.Â But then the truth dawned on them.Â For long minutes they were at a complete loss at what to do.Â Then That Bitch took charge, phoning Mongrel on her cell phone.
"Hey, babe!" she said.Â "I love you!Â But dump the booze out of the sidecar and ride it over here to Nicholas' pad.Â The old girl â€¦ Miss Priscilla needs a lift to hospital â€“ to the morgue.Â She's passed away.Â Poor thing!Â But I guess it's a blessing.Â Do hurry, babe!Â I'm shaky with shock."
Naturally, an unemployed Bombardier Right Girl for Saint Nicholas was completely forgotten.Â But it did occur to the saint that he hadn't so much as glimpsed Azrael, the Angel of Death, slip in and out of the basement.Â He didn't understand it.Â One day he would.
Tales from the Divine Drop Cafes