A Landlord’s Bemusement

Henry could always tell when Jack Frost had had a heavy night by the carnage in his garden. For years his Inn had seen an increase in what he called “distinguished guests”, ever since the incident with the drunken elf lord and the cast iron frying pan.

Once Harriet had demonstrated both disdain for the antics of anyone or anything that disrupted a good evening, and an aptitude for swift and effective justice, the more unusual ‘people’ passing through had started to relax their glamours.

Henry had learned to calmly serve hobgoblins alongside loup garous, and not worry that either would harass the bar staff any worse than drunken farmers from the next village. Every now and then, an old and grizzled one-eyed man would sit in a corner with a youth with winged sandals and no one would comment unless their inebrietated friend turned up with his sozzled followers.

As long as they spent coin of the realm, or at least coin-like objects that could be exchanged for proper money, goods, or services, then everything was fine or at least recompensable.

The only problem that regularly exercised Henry’s normally affable calm was that layabout Jack Frost. He was of no fixed address that anyone knew, and always in a hurry. He regularly painted the windows and garden furniture overnight, even out of season – and if Henry left some glasses out to chill for drinks for the morning he would usually oblige as part of his payment.

But there were mornings where Jack had obviously had a trying time – usually where people had put a lot of salt down in preparation. It was usually Henry’s garden that took the brunt of his frustration.

He tutted under his breath, and started sweeping away the blocks of smashed and fragmented blocks of ice around, on, and in his flowerbeds. If it didn’t allow him to top up the icehouse, he mused, he’d be more upset.