From the moment he stepped over the pub threshold I knew he’d be trouble, and I knew I’d be his target. Like a granny to an infant, at some point he’d be irresistibly drawn to me and would overwhelm my personal space, his face occluding all the known galaxies, his monster hands wandering uninvited.
He was tall, dark and loathsome. He hulked over the bar, scattering twinks like emo skittles. I saw one fatless wonder look him up and down – well, up and up, and down and down and down – and watched the poor youth’s expression shift from “oh?” to “oh!” to “no!” as realisation dawned.
It was, I swear, Ming the Merciless’s gay twin brother. A little more hair, a little less… imperial, but equally evil and certainly an imminent threat to all life on Earth. All you had to do was strike a match within six feet of him and watch the planet burn.
He spent many minutes prowling the pub, not so much undressing as eviscerating people with his vodka-laser stare. I thought I’d escaped when he loomed over Steve Hum and began delicate negotiations, like China in a bilateral with a small Polynesian archipelago. Steve, no shrinking violet, shrank and turned violet. But the guy moved on, course laid in for David Hale. My heart sank: I knew I was next.
I was on my phone attempting to rattle off a plaintive tweet for help when he sidled/sozzled up and enveloped me in a dense alcoholic drizzle. I would love to report what he said but his Eastern European accent was as thick and impenetrable as his leathery hide, and most of the discernable words refused to parse into anything resembling a sentence. He slurred something about “You have a brain,” with which I was forced to agree. He wanted me to look into his eyes for five seconds; I feared they would spin and spark and render me helpless in his gaze and I’d wake up on Mongo chained to his fox fur throne and dressed like the 1972 Blackpool illuminations, but nothing happened.
“Well, that’s your five seconds.” I returned to my phone to finish the tweet. He cursed my primitive Earthly device in an unfamiliar tongue so I adopted my grown-up-talking-to-child voice and said I needed to send a text. This quieted him, or at least confused him; and while his back was turned I darted away, like a gazelle from a particularly pickled lion, to the relative safety of the bar.
My freedom was fleeting. He spotted me and, by now at least six or seven sheets to the wind, tacked haphazardly in my direction. I made no eye contact, observing Lift/Urinal Protocol One. He bought a drink. In fact he bought two: he pushed one along the bar to me, or perhaps moved the rest of the planet in the other direction, I’m not sure.
“I’m sorry, I’m driving. I already have my one drink.” I smiled nervously, pointing at my Peroni and fully expecting a psychic burst to dash it into the slop bucket.
He leaned in close and slobbered in my ear. “You are very horny guy buuuurp.”
Nothing says classy like audible punctuation. Please, no colons or em dashes.
Behind the bar Alex stood watch. He caught my eye; it’s fine, I said. And it was, in a please-don’t-pull-a-knife kind of a way. I felt no actual threat or intimidation; he was too wasted to be anything other than an irritant, a large Lithuanian bluebottle – emphasis on the bottle – who needed swatting with a newspaper the size of Swansea.
But when he put one arm either side of me on the bar, pinning me there, a line was crossed. My mental Uhura flicked on the flashing red bulb. Enough was enough.
I told him to stop. It was the grown-up voice again. He released me from my drunken dungeon and then started on the “You think I’m ugly” schtick, to which there is no appropriate response, so I said nothing. Instead I turned to the bar staff: “Don’t serve him any more.”
And then he was gone – though sadly not in a puff of pink smoke and a thunderflash, or a poorly executed blue-screen effect. I think he went for a wee. For a time he drifted in and out of the pub, carving a boozy furrow between smokers and toilet; and then finally I sensed a great darkness had lifted. I debriefed with Steve and the bouncer.
“Has the scary man gone away?” I asked.
“I put him in a taxi to Niche or the Fez. Take him anywhere, I said, I don’t care. Just get him away from here.”
And so Ming the Merciless’s gay twin brother, Munt the Relentless, had gone on to terrorise another planet. We had defeated him.
But are we truly free of his mincing menace? Shall we again look evil in the gayface and do battle, twink, otter and bear united against his twatted tyranny? I know one thing: next time we will be ready. Next time we’re putting Queen on the jukebox.