The Visitor

There I was, sitting alone in the dismal crook of the tavern. I could smell the scent of strong ale in my own breath as I put my mug down rather loudly on the little lopsided table in the gloomy corner where I sat. The room turned slightly but my vision was still crystal clear.

At the far end of the tavern a door erupted with an extraordinary bang and in staggered a rather dreary looking bloke. He was bent over slightly as if cradling something of immense value. I looked around the murky room half expecting someone to try and rob the fellow of his possession but none seem to even notice him. He was a strange man indeed, nearly unreal, almost as if a trick of the mind. Yet there he was standing at the corner of the bar desperately trying to get the inn keeper’s attention. It was only after a pathetic gesture of slamming his fist down on the bar top that the inn keeper turned to help, indifferent to the man’s little tantrum.

Just then, while he was exchanging coins, did I get a glimpse of what he was cradling. It looked like a vase of some sort, a golden vase, with ancient-like patterns and symbols engraved on it. It had the shape of an all-knowing presence on it, almost god-like, its arms open in a welcoming embrace towards the sky with the words *Coram chiseled above him. This made me want to investigate the man more thoroughly but I found it somewhat awkward. For some reason it was difficult to focus my full attention on him, like he wasn’t really there. But with a shake of the head and a bit more concentration, I got a lock on him.

He looked pitiful and dull in his faded grey cloak that clung to his shoulders as if to life itself. He had a worn look about him with a rough beard and unruly hair. The most curious thing about him were his eyes. They were a striking rich yellow, like fields and fields of golden corn. It stood out against his skin like a drowning lion in the deep dark ocean, out of place and unnatural.

When his exchange with the inn keeper was complete, he started making his way across the buzzing room towards his accommodation and what a show it turned out to be. People just simply did not notice him. Even when they casually slapped him across the cheek with enthusiastic hand gestures, stomped on his feet in midst twirl of merry dancers and soaked him in ale with their high spirited salutes among friends. He even got a proper pounding when ensnared in the middle of a brawl. The poor man looked broken by the time he reached his destination. When he disappeared behind the big oak door I kept one eye on the door, waiting for the return of my strangely unfortunate, yet quite entertaining friend.

After a few mugs of bitter ale, the door behind which the man had disappeared earlier re-opened and there stood a god, or at least I thought so at the time.

He was a tall and intimidating man of obvious power with a rich charcoal cloak draped over his broad shoulders. Though he had a rough beard and unruly hair, he had noble features with magnificent structure. He was indeed a strikingly handsome man.

When he stepped out of the doorway, every face in the room was drawn to him. An uncomfortable silence settled over the tavern as the man glided to the counter, the people parting for him as the Red Sea had for Moses. His every step was like a dance of the gods. He exchanged packages with a baffled inn keeper and turned to leave but froze in mid-action. His gaze swept over his attentive audience yet it settled on me. Alarmed and taken aback , I tried to melt into the shadow even further to escape his blazing, golden gaze. He grinned at my discomfort and gave me a quick, sneaky wink before once again turning and headed for the door, leaving gaping simpletons in his wake.

There and then, out of the door of a daunting old tavern, walked the man and his Presence.

*Coram is Latin for Presence.

*Simone Troskie, April 2009

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