The Painter and the Beetle


Every bar I’ve ever gone into has some resident loudmouth who isn’t me.

You know the type: a guy (and it’s pretty well always a guy) who never shuts up about the miracles of free enterprise and the waste of government, and then goes on to brag about how his son has scammed the government out of a huge grant.

In my local pub, that guy was named Larry.

There aren’t many bars in the world that have a Vance.

Larry was closer to 7 feet tall than he wasn’t, he weighed somewhere in the very wealthy neighborhood of 400 pounds, and the diameter of his mid-section was large enough that a small satellite could have revolved around it without losing its orbit due to the pull even from extra-gravitational sources. As such, no one felt confident about popping him in the chops when he went off on one of his tirades about an omnipotent and omniscient God despite his admission that Evil was a separate and unaffected entity.

So it was surprising to all of us at the bar when Vance, a little person who had recently moved into the area, on his third day of barely tolerating Larry, took him on.

Vance started to say something but, naturally, Larry interrupted him. “What’s your religion?”

“My religious views,” said Vance, “are my own business, and the only reason you asked that is because you want to tell me your religious views. I don’t care what they are, and you never listen to anything anyone else ever says.”

Larry didn’t respond to that because he never listened to anything anyone else ever said. Instead, he began to talk about King David (whose secondary claim to fame, in case you didn’t know, was that he sent a man named Uriah into battle so he would be killed so David could marry his widow Bathsheba, a woman with whom he’d already committed adultery and possibly raped, a fact Larry clearly didn’t accept.)

Vance had no time for this, jumped up on the bar, hauled off, and smacked Larry right in the kisser.

Larry hit the floor with a thud that was as loud as one would expect when an avalanche begins. With the help of no one, Larry got to his feet and grabbed the enraged Vance by his armpits. Vance headbutted Larry on the end of his nose, and Larry toppled backwards onto the floor again, this time with Vance on top of him.

Larry must have hit the back of his head on the ground because he was out cold, and blood gushed out of his nose, some of it splattering onto Vance’s shirt.

Vance wiped the blood off with Larry’s pocket square, climbed back onto his barstool, and resumed his beer.

Dave the bartender came out of the kitchen and looked at Larry. “Well, I’m not picking him up,” he said. “What happened?”

“Larry fell over,” we all said.

Vance never paid for another drink in our bar.

~ fin ~


William Kitcher’s stories, plays, and comedy sketches (and one poem) have been published, produced, and/or broadcast in Australia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, Czechia, England, Guernsey, Holland, India, Ireland, Nigeria, Singapore, South Africa, and the U.S. His novel, “Farewell And Goodbye, My Maltese Sleep”, will be published in 2023 by Close To The Bone Publishing.