The Tavern on Mars

I have killed Victor Camps. There isn’t much way to sugarcoat that kind of news, so I’ve decided saying it outright is probably for the best. I haven’t actually killed him. I killed him in my head, and burnt the chair he gave me as a wedding present, which equates to the same thing if you ask me. If you’re a law-abiding citizen, that is. Obviously actually killing him would be more effective, but I can’t stand the sight of blood. Makes me slightly queasy just thinking about it, so I’m going to stop. I have made the mistake of sitting in his silly little restaurant, The Tavern on Mars, for vengeance sake. What a stupid name. But it does make frustratingly good eggs. The fact that it’s right next to a busy road is fortunate, though. I’m quite sure that drives away at least a few costumers. Thankfully they don’t read the story Victor wrote and put on the walls, although I think they would leave anyway if they did.

 

“Can I get you anything else?”

 

“Yes, another plate of eggs. Please.”

 

“Ok. What are you writing?”

 

“Something banal, probably. I’m not sure yet. Can I get some chips too? Please.”

 

She’s nodding now, the waitress. Good thing my wife isn’t here. She doesn’t like it when I eat crap. Something about cholesterol blocking my arteries and all that jazz. I don’t actually think she knows what that is, but there’s this ad on the telly that plays between her shows about how dangerous cholesterol is. It’s got her all in a tizz, so now I can’t eat chips and have to take these vitamins in the morning that have a faint orange taste, but in that irritatingly slight way that makes you want to eat an orange but also not because they put you off oranges at the same time. It’s quite confusing, so I’ve been avoiding fruit for the last few days. Which makes my wife more cross, because at school we were taught you have to eat at least three fruits a day. School was quite a good time for her, apparently, but I found it boring. Most people seem to think that I would have liked English, for obvious reasons. I didn’t not like it, but it wasn’t as fantastic as my wife says her class was. The class I really didn’t like was French, but I was strangely good at it. Je ne sais pas pourquoi. That means I don’t know why.

 

“Hi. Are you waiting for anyone?”

 

“No.”

 

“Can I have this chair then? Please.”

 

“Yes, yes, if you must.”

 

“Do you want it?”

 

“No.”

 

“Okay.”

 

I suppose I should get back to Victor Camps. He was my father’s friend, and apparently liked me quite a lot, although I don’t really think he did. He was alive during the First World War, enlisted in the army, and then got himself gassed by some Germans while having a smoke in the second battle of Ypres, although he never did learn how to pronounce the word. He lived, I should add. But he couldn’t really speak afterwards. I’m not sure if that was solely because of the gas messing up his throat, or a combination of inhaling gas and cigarette smoke at the same time. So when he did learn how to pronounce ee-pres he couldn’t even say it, which was quite upsetting for him, I believe. He still smoked though, but he had to smoke French cigarettes, which apparently aren’t very nice. I can’t really comment on that, not having had one before, although une cigarette est une cigarette est une cigarette dans tous les pays, if you ask me. Obviously he didn’t. But he did ask me whether or not he should open The Tavern on Mars. Well he didn’t ask per say, he wrote it down on a napkin in the pub down the road, but I said yes all the same. We eventually worked out that he should make it very futuristic, with aliens and tellies and spaceships and strange noises playing (although I did tell him that the noises would probably annoy people). He said (read: wrote) that he also wanted it to be old school, like a fusion of the future and the past. I’m not really sure what he meant by old school, and I don’t think many of the patrons of The Tavern on Mars do either, but he was insistent. He made me go and find pictures of what the road The Tavern is on used to look like, which was really quite difficult. We then took it to some artist who added gaudy little aliens to the pictures that I didn’t like but Victor did. After that we found out all the history about what happened in this town, about how the French blockaded the road and used it as a vantage point to try and keep the Germans out. It didn’t work, obviously, and most of the road was ruined because your average road isn’t built to withstand the weight of tanks and missiles and whatnot. But we did it anyway, and Victor wrote a little piece about how he had to help put the road back together so that the Germans could get their tanks over it, even though he didn’t know anything about building roads. He did it anyway, though, and with the help of a few other men they got the road fixed, and the Germans got their tanks over it and went on to gas more people in other places.

A few months after that Victor watched a documentary on how eventually cars will fly and how everything will be electronic, and got a bit upset that he had wasted all that time building the damn road when it would just be remade in a couple of years time. The general consensus is that the gas made him a bit loopy, so to say, and that’s why he kept going on about flying cars and flying saucers and flying people. I think that’s why he wanted to make The Tavern on Mars a strange combination of the past and what he thought was the near future, so he wouldn’t have to redo the whole place in a few years time. He was a strange man.

Anyway, onto why I’ve killed him. In my head, that is. The reason is quite simple: Victor Camps has painted the road outside The Tavern on Mars. Purple. He painted it purple, because apparently that’s a very futuristic colour. It’s just a small patch, to be clear, but it’s not the colour a road should be. And now he’s just disappeared. Left a note saying he’s been abducted in my letterbox and then vanished. Maybe he has been abducted, I’m not really sure, but I do know that I have to pay for the road to be re-painted. Which is why I’ve killed him in my head, and burnt the chair he gave me as a wedding present. It was a garish thing, covered in stars and spacecrafts. I’m also taking the tellies that are in The Tavern, so my wife and I can watch in different rooms. Plus, I think that will ruin business a bit more, because most people just come for the eggs and the shows. Someone’s even put some gum on Victor’s story, so I think it’s safe to say nobody comes for that.

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