The sergeant called the watchman into his office. “Excellent report. Clear and concise.”
“How is your partner?”
“He is still sick. He came in today.”
” good good, the harbour is no place to go on patrol alone.”
” I can handle the harbour. Going to roll call for shift change smelling like lavender was awful.”
“Listen, make sure you do a follow up on that woman you pulled out of the harbor ok? We are trying to put your best foot forward in that part of town. When you check on her, we need to look into a potential smuggling operation by the docks.
By the way, your belt needs to be snug on your waist, not hanging.”
The watchman adjusted his belt and went outside. In his mind, he rolled his eyes. Belt placement was uncomfortable, but it was standard operating procedure.
His partner was sitting down and holding his side. ” I really can’t work today, I am too sick.”
“I’m telling you, those Screaming Peaches are no good. I’ll bet that’s why you are not feeling well. “
“I know, I know. Tell you what, I’ll catch up with you later on, I have got to sleep this off.”
The watchman went to his patrol area. He would have to tell his sergeant about Guse, his partner.
The streets were damp from the snowfall the other day, but it had mostly melted.
His was assigned second shift. He had pulled an additional shift when he pulled the woman from the harbour.
A large man with armor bumped into the watchman. He carried a two handed sword in a leaning position on his shoulder.
The watchman bellowed, “STOP WHERE YOU ARE!.”
The man turned and looked on the watchman with contempt. “May I help you?”
“Watch where you are going. You could be hauled off for assault.”
“Uh, yeah, I know the drill, I did the job. Just got off tour. Your a little overweight aren’t you? Have you taken a look in the mirror? Looks like you ate too many fried fritters.”
The watchman had heard it all before. Coffee and fritters, and fat watchmen were common jokes. There was nothing to fight over.
“For a second time, watch where you are going. Do not make physical contact with me or any watchman. It is a punishable offence.”
The armoured man stared hard at the watchman. “Don’t make my day worse than it already is.”
The watchman was bored with the repetition of it all. All day would be a repeat of this; another belligerent jerk trying to show the man or test boundaries.
“Sir, your choices will dictate the outcome of your evening. You chose to bump into me with purpose. I’m not here to ruin your day, but you will comply with the law.”
The armoured man cursed and walked away. The watchman was alarmed on the inside. Enforcing laws was not for the weak of heart. It would not have ended well if a physical altercation occurred.
It was not something you dwelled on for too long as a watchman.
The fisherman’s house was near the guard shack. He offloaded his bag of dinner and extra layers of clothing.
A knock on the door yielded barking dogs. The door opened to reveal the fisherman and his wife. The dogs relaxed.
“can I help you?”
“I dropped a young lady off here that fell in the harbor and am doing a welfare check.”
The woman spoke,
“Oh, Violet. Such a sweet girl. After her clothing was dried and she warmed up she was fine.”
“Do you know where she went?”
“She said she lives at the Puking Peasant Inn. She said she works there.”
The watchman was not plussed. He had been tasked with the welfare check, but going to the Puke in uniform by oneself was not always the best bet.
It was not far to the Inn and you could get there by smell alone. They had some of the best rolls and the worst beverages. The vomit, urine, blood stains, and everything else blended into a putrid stench. More than once he had been called upon to pick up the body of a washed up drunk or someone with too many holes poked in them.
A cat call sounded announcing a watchman’s arrival.
A group of mercenaries approached and circled him. “Watchman Wayne Nixon, How are you today?”
Wayne Nixon smiled. They knew him on his beat. All you could do was smile. You never knew what was going to pop off. Sellswords were regulars to the Puking Peasant. It was a great place to find a quick job and under the table cash.
“ Great! How can I help you fine gentlemen today?”
“We’re just representing our banner. The leader held out his fist. The watchman bumped it with his own.
Wayne Nixon told a few stories and joked with them for a while and they went their way.
It always amazed him how some of the sell swords and pirates near the harbour were like children in some cases. Perhaps he was oversimplifying.
The Puking Peasant inn had a sign.
The Puking Peasant
The Place to Pursue
and Problems a’Plenty.
All Sales Are Final
True it was. When he stepped in the door, the place was moving. Galvin the Bard was up to his shenanigans again. His stint in the stocks had taught him nothing.
The music was so loud Wayne Nixon couldn’t think.
On an unknown cue, the music stopped.
The patrons turned and gawked at the watchman.
A patron shouted, “ It’s a watchman, boo that man!”
The crowd shouted,
The watchman smiled and waved and began to mingle. He was met with a mix of cold stares and sincerely appreciative ones.
The music resumed. It was difficult to remain cool. A misstep in this delicate dance of ne’er do well navigation could mean a short career for the watchman. It was a balanced mix of self depreciation, assertive statements, and lots of fake laughter.
As he spoke to former patrons he had arrested and they re-lived their special moment with his detainment of them, he scanned the room for Violet.
She was talking to a customer at the other end of the room. He worked his way over and pulled her aside. She was all smiles and said, “ How can I help you? It’s always nice to help a pretty watchman!”
She was a charmer. The watchman smiled. “I am conducting a welfare check on you.”
She giggled, “Whatever for, watchman?”
“You took a spill in the harbor the other day.”
Violet looked down. “I’m fine, ok? I need to get back to work.”
“ It’s apparent by your demeanor you do not want to discuss your swim. I am glad you are well. Moving forward, I need to ask you a question about the harbor. Did you see anyone or anything suspicious when you were by the docks?”
Violet thought about it.
“Well, I did see a fishing boat coming in late. I got really bad vibes about it. I skirted around the guy so he wouldn’t see me and ran into you.”
Watchman Wayne Nixon had worked this beat for a while. He trusted his instincts. He would go to the docks.
“Could you take me to the place?”
Violet hesitated. “I have to finish my shift, then I will take you.”
It was a quick walk to the guard shack. True to his word, he was there, sleeping. “Hey, Guse, wake up, we need to follow up on a lead.” His partner was disheveled and out of uniform.
Watchman Guse grumbled and followed Watchman Nixon to the Puking Peasant Inn.
Guse perked up. “I’m going to get a little something while I’m here.”
“You are going to lose your job, Guse. Then they’re going to partner me with the white knight guy.”
“Aww, lay off Wayne. I’m gonna order a cider. You want one?”
He reached into his coin bag.
“Get us some rolls as well. We will be here for a bit.”
Watchman Wayne nodded at Violet to show where he was waiting.
Long minutes went by. Finally, Guse came back with a basket of rolls and two mugs of cider.
“Should have just waited for someone to wait on our table, Guse. You took forever.”
The cider was top notch and made from quality apples. Not the leftover core type cider.
The rolls had been sitting a while, but it was something to eat while they watched Galvin’s stand up.
Guse belched. Then he vomited….
“Guse, you drank the peaches man.”
And indeed he had. “ Guse, go home man. You are of no use today.
You let me down, Guse, you let me down.”