I knew he wasn’t right the second I saw him walk in the bar. I turned to Tommy who was sitting on my left. “Tommy,” I said, “There’s something not right about that fella.” Tommy agreed with me. He generally does. Big Jim, who was sitting across from me agreed too, and so did Digger (so called because he is very prone to taking a dig at people without too much in the way of provocation). Idiot Steven agreed too. No one took any notice of this though because Steve’s a fair bit more than half-way towards being a fully-fledged retard. No one cares what Steve thinks or agrees with because he doesn’t know jack-shit about anything – he is as I have said pretty much a mental retard.
None of us liked the look of this fella so we agreed to follow him out when he left the bar and rough him up a little. Nothing too bad, we were just going to slap him about a bit. And maybe give him a few good kicks too if we felt like it. Stomp him a bit. Take the smile off his face. Just to teach him a lesson. Because – we all agreed – he looked like he needed one.
So a few hours later when the guy walked out we all left the bar too and followed him down the street, doing our best to look casual. Then – when we had got out of sight of anyone leaving or going into the bar – we closed in on him, meaning business. As soon as we got up close however we all kind of ran out of impetus. It’s hard to explain what actually happened then; all I can say is that we were all struck by something odd about the guy. I know I said he didn’t look right but this was more than not looking right – it’s like he wasn’t normal. He looked weird or freaky, if you know what I mean.
The guy looked at us and straightway gave us a smile, the kind of smile that would let you know straightaway that something wasn’t right. He shouldn’t have been grinning like that – I know I wouldn’t have been, in his situation. I would have been crapping myself. I’d have been busy filling my underpants at that stage. Big time. That’s when I realized. That’s when we all realized. This was the wrong person to follow down the street. This was the very last person we should have followed down the street. Looking at him slack-jawed it came to me then that that this was a very bad man. If indeed he was a man at all, which as I say I was starting to seriously doubt. Somehow we all knew at the same time that we had done something very stupid.
The thought burst into my head, all by itself, that this was no ordinary man at all but one of the Four. He must have caught something of this thought because his smile immediately became even broader than before and his eyes sparkled dangerously. “Any of you fellas seen my horse?” he asked, “I’m sure I left him tied up somewhere around here.” The smile kept on getting broader as he waited for the significance of his question to sink in. His teeth gleamed like rows of marble tomb-stones seen by moonlight, for all that it was midday. They seemed to be floating in front of me, weirdly independent from the rest of him. I felt as if I was hallucinating. I felt like everything was becoming unreal. Time stood still. I wished very much that I wasn’t standing so close – the guy’s breath smelt of dead things and his skin was very bad. I really did want to get away from whoever this person was. It was as if we all had the same thought; we started to back off en masse, all of a sudden clumsy and tripping over our own feet in the process. “What was it you guys wanted to see me about anyway?” he asked.
I was starting to feel faint. Every time I blinked everything seemed far darker in my head than it should have been. The darkness was overwhelming, it was taking me over from the inside. Inside my head it was like black velvet and against this velvet I could see hundred of tiny jewelled skulls dancing around in a swarm. They were just like so many gnats. Only they were flying jewelled skulls, as I say. Looking around at the other guys I guessed they were having bad experiences too – they certainly looked as if they were. “Nothing” I croaked, “we just wanted to ask you something but now we’ve changed our minds.”
The guy’s face instantly grew stony. I mean STONY. “What the fuck’s that supposed to mean?” He said. My bowels started to feel loose under his gaze. I couldn’t find it in myself to answer. I just stood there like a big stupid gormless prick, speechless with fear. I guess Stupid Steve saved our skins then, big dumb retard though he is. He just came out with the truth, which none of us would ever have dreamed of doing, “It’s just that we saw you in come into the bar and we all thought you didn’t look right. So we decided to follow you outside when you left and rough you up a little. Not too much, just a bit. And maybe give you a kick or two. But now that we get to see you proper we can see that you are right. Very right. You couldn’t be righter. And so we really don’t want to bother you any more…”
Steve looked earnestly from side to side at us at this point, looking for affirmation, and as soon as we saw what was required we all nodded our heads feverishly like so many idiots. It took a real effort to stop nodding.
I noticed that Tommy had chosen this moment to piss himself. A big old dark stain was slowly spreading down the legs of his jeans. His gormless looking face had changed from its usual ruddy hue to take on a distinctly unhealthy yellow look. The strange guy carried on staring stonily at us for another minute or two and then that big smile came back again. “OK boys,” he said slowly, drawing each word out, “I guess that’s fine by me. I’ll just carry on looking for my horse.” We couldn’t believe our luck. He was really going. The guy looked casually over his shoulder as he walked away, “You boys take real good care of yourselves now won’t you,” he said, with a parting wink and last flash of those god-awful teeth. He disappeared slowly down the street, whistling for his horse as he went.
I don’t mind telling you that none of us have had a good night’s sleep since. Apart from Stupid Steve that is, who still sleeps like a baby on account of his being such a complete fucking retard.