Hey! Let's forget about that silly make-it-up-as-you-go-along non-noir I was crapping out last month (at least for now) and enjoy this mini narrative. Based on a theme I want to explore about making short stories based on famous joke formats
Here is A Man Walks Into a Bar
A man walks into a bar. Silence falls as everyone turns to see him. No one recognizes his face: he isn’t a regular in this bar. Probably not even a regular in town. He has a long, black coat, buttoned to the top with a black scarf tucked inside around his neck.
He looks around with eyes unblinking at the many patrons. They are red-faced, dim-eyed and bushy-eyebrowed and they certainly don’t like the stranger. The barman – a middle-aged man with a fallen face, a permanent scowl and a prominent mole – looks a bit nervous. He runs his hands through his thinning grey hair, as if looking for something to do, but his eyes do not leave the newcomer.
The bar has never been so quiet and the click click click of the stranger’s heavily-polished leather shoes on the floorboards as he takes a few more steps inside is the only thing to be heard.
With grace unseen by any of the patrons he approaches the bar. Every pair of eyes inside is fixed on him, but he doesn’t seem disturbed by it. At the back, one man leans close to another and whispers in his ear.
The stranger speaks. His voice is like a knife on stone.
“Why the long face?” he asks of the barman. He silently chuckles to himself before ordering a gin and tonic.
“It’s terribly cold outside, you know. I appreciate the hospitality.” There isn’t a drop of irony in his tone. “You’re not usually this welcoming to outsiders.”
As the stranger drinks in silence, some of the regular patrons resume conversation, albeit in low voices. The tension is still there, but life returns to the bar.
The barman is frozen on the spot, though, trying his best not to look at this new customer and doing a very bad job of it. The stranger notices this, and looks at him in the eyes.
“Do you recognize me?” he asks.
The barman nods, not entirely of his own free will.
“Oh yes. The park. You did nothing that day either.” The stranger smiles his long, slow smile.
“Don’t worry, old sport. I only stopped by for a drink. Thirsty work, all this. By the way, you might want to do something about this.”
He reaches into his pocket and takes out something red and woolen. It’s an old, dirty tuque. He drops it onto the bar, finishes his drink and stands up.
Gesturing to the hat the stranger says: “The rest of it is outside your establishment. You will recognize it, no doubt, underneath the snow and the jackets. It has only been a few hours since those much-famed stares of yours last drove someone out. No doubt you do not get many hats like this walking in to your public house, and you will most certainly want to remove it from the premises.”
He turns and begins for the door, his long, pointed shoes tapping loudly on the floor. The tension in the establishment starts to drop. Stopping abruptly, the man turns to face the regulars.
“Make sure to wear a jacket when you pick it up and dispose of it,” he says, in his cool, casual voice. “You’ll catch your death of cold out there.”
Click click clickA cold wind rushes into the room as the door is opened and, into the snow, the stranger vanishes