Coffee, Graveyards, Skullcaps, and Anchors -An Ongoing Tale Episode 246

Hello, Benjamin from Brother’s Campfire here! Gather ‘Round and I will spin you a tale…

Barfat Bluntbasher wasn’t about to have a watchman in his shop, and his well-muscled employees were willing to press the issue. 

The brass weren’t about to cause a scene on the docks over Justin, either, so help was out of the question. 

The best bet would have been to go to the pauper graves to identify the body, but the thought of avoiding Bluntbasher for even a minute hurt Wayne’s ego. 

Cognitive dissonance was in Watchman Wayne’s favor, for the giant smith gifted a hammer for his marriage ceremony in the recent past. The La Longi watch might not have leverage, but Wayne the civilian did. 

The wrought iron door knocker made a stout rap on the smithy entrance. They had worked late into the night, but so had he. 

“What do you want? GO AWAY I AM SLEEPING! !” A voice bellowed. 

Watchman Wayne Nixon was not easily rattled. Too many hard days with harder cases had beat out all the slag and left a small steely form at Barfat’s doorstep.

“You will come to the door, or I will kick your door in followed by the few teeth left in your sorry head.”

There was a curse, nay, many curses, and an open door. “WHAT DID YOU SAY?”

Watchman Wayne stood face to belly button with his contact. 

“Bluntbasher, I didn’t stutter. I told you to open the door or I would open it myself and kick your teeth in.”

“Ha Ha Ha! Wayne, you couldn’t reach my face with your arms or your legs.”

Watchman Wayne felt violence to be the answer to his problems on this particular afternoon. Lifting his foot, he slammed it down on Barfat’s instep and he howled in pain.

“Agggrr” What did you do that for? Barfat was angry and bent down to nurse his foot. “That hurt like a clinker in the gauntlet. “

Watchman Wayne pinched the smith’s left cheek with his thumb and index finger. 

“I was just seeing if I could reach your face. Looks like I can. Now get up and quit your whining. I have a few questions for you.”

Grumbling, Barfat invited him in. 

The smithy was well organized and everything had its place. Everything from armor to anchor was manufactured here. 

“We will talk, but not long, I have to manufacture a dozen picks and just as many shovels when my crew gets in later. Want some coffee? “

“That would be great, sir, thank you.” Wayne had already proven he was willing to stand up to Barfat and did not wish to push the issue any further.

The giant picked up a large iron kettle and filled it with tool quenching water. Grabbing a handful of beans, he put them through a mill, grinding them into small pieces and flakes into a coal bucket. 

“Wayne, you guys keep coming by asking for donations to the Watchman fund. I told the captain that the next watchman he sent over would be ground into welding flux. You aren’t here to ask for donations, are you?”

“Not today, Barfat. I need that hammer from last night as evidence for a murder investigation.”

“I’ll get it to you, but it is my hammer, and I need it back.” 

From an iron hook, Barfat procured a sweat-stained cotton skull cap meant for protection from heat and sparks and secured the beans inside. 

“No problem. Is there a smith that works for you with a Kraken tattoo on his left arm?” 

Barfat stared hard at the Watchman as he carefully placed the skull-capped grounds in the kettle and the kettle on the coals. 

“Oh, Justin. Yeah, he works here as a second job. He works on the docks with the towel heads and comes here late afternoons. This is a second job for a lot of men so I work the late hours to accommodate. He left early to surprise his wife. Would you believe he had saved up enough coin to pay off his house? He is a worker, that one.” 

“Was, Barfat. He is dead, head bashed in with a hammer. Where did that hammer come from?”

“No way. That’s awful. Wayne, he may have brought his hammer home with him. Some of the guys do. Let me check the slate board. “

Barfat was gone several minutes and the kettle made a sharp whistle. 

The coal forge was hot, and he could not seem to find any gauntlets to pull the kettle off, so he left the coffee to cook. 

When he returned, Barfat brought the evidence. “Wayne, he checked out the hammer. He may have needed it at home and I let my best guys borrow tools.”

Barfat placed two hand-thrown mugs on the table, complete with coal smudges and dirty lip stains from prior drinkers that worked the forge and were not afforded a chance to freshen up between swigs. With his bare hands, The smith pulled the kettle from the fire and poured. 

That was some brutal, but necessary coffee.

Author: The Storyteller

Benjamin Thiel is a husband, father, correctional professional and author of The Ongoing Tale at Brothers Campfire. His favorite quote is "Don't count the lions. It will make you afraid and slow you down."

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