A group of Butter Mice visited last night. They always wear their uniform, even when ‘off duty.’ As the old joke goes, their uniform is yellow so they don’t shoot each other, and there isn’t much chance of missing them in here. I always give them discount drinks. They always cluster in the booths. They always sing. They always drink too much.
I am not complaining. I run a bar after all.
And I can never be annoyed by them. You will see why by the end of today’s post. Becuase my first encounter with the Butter Mice dovetails my first encounter with a parsniphead.
My Grandmother had dispatched a few by six months in. At this point execution was still a stressful experience. My only experience with parnsipheads were scanning video clips when they thought I wasn’t looking, and sorties from drunk patrons who forgot I was a child.
We had an orchard closer to the house then. I was picking up windfalls, keeping some for myself, and others for homemade cider. Gran made stuff the colour of earwax that knocked guests under the table. From a few rows ahead came the dry rattling guzzle of something stripping bark. Against one tree was a hunched shape, more like sacks of potatoes strung together than a human being. A sour smell filled the air.
I had seem guests paralytic before of course. I went to check on the figure, if only to check if they need medical attention. And there was my first parnsiphead. Grey skin flopped off in a slice from it’s skull, and one eye was noting but a dark hole. A few rotten teeth wobbled in a jaw locked around the side of a tree. Two hands filled with broken fingers clawed themselves to ribbons on the trunk.
You have to remember back then we thought they might attack us. When he stopped his gnawing, and I was sure he was going to lock those teeth around my throat.
My saviour acted so quickly the parnsiphead was on the floor before I registered what what happened. The top of the Butter Mouse’s scythe sank deep into the tree trunk, mucky blood dripping from the blade. Her yellow armour was so striking, even in the blaze of the midday sun
She took me back to the bar. It was a good while before I went back outside on my own.
That all happened twenty feet from where I am standing now. I can see the path to the exact spot out of the window. The apples trees are long gone, but the Butter Mice remain.
Their discount drinks aren’t going anywhere.