The King Bill was a friendly welcoming place where all the locals hung out. It was an old stone building with big bay windows, low ceilings, and whitewashed walls. During the cold winter months, a fire burned in the bar and another in the snug. The snug was a small room where the women would gather and enjoy catching up with the latest gossip. With its comfy chairs and carpeted floor, it was a home away from home
My disturbing encounter in the King Bill happened on a Saturday night in spring of 1975. It was almost closing time. I sat alone on a tall bar stool enjoying a quiet drink, when I heard a noise in the hallway by the front door.
“Are you all right, mate?” an unseen voice asked.
“Stupid damn doormat.”
At that point a stranger entered, brushing himself down. Based on his comment, he’d fallen as he came through the door from the street. He made himself comfortable on the stool next to mine, and ordered a pint of bitter with a whiskey chaser. Liz, the landlady and owner of the pub, was serving behind the bar, and was about to call last orders, so he was lucky to get a drink at all.
He was a tall, skinny man—gangly, almost—with a mop of unruly, dark curly hair. A pair of very thick heavy spectacles covered most of his face. The lenses magnified his eyes, making them look huge and out of proportion. He downed half of his pint in one gulp, wiped the froth from his mouth, and then drank his whiskey. He turned to me with a silly drunken smile on his face.