A group of scoundrels sat together in the far corner of the pub, the sort of foul villains that good, normal folk would cross the county to avoid. Their laughter was wild and raucous, delivered alongside bad breath and through mouths with missing teeth. They wore long coats stained with mud, old boots and jeweled rings on their grimy fingers.
“As for me,” said one, “it was an unopened bottle of Islay single malt. What the old man was planning to do with it, I couldn’t say, but I certainly lent him a hand.”
Sitting next to him was an old man with long, stringy hair. “I can beat that,” he said. “It was a windy, dark night in November. I cracked the lid open and what did I find looking back at me, but a carved, wooden duck. This fellow brought his duck down with him—wonder if the duck agreed to that.”
The others roared with laughter.
A third figure at the table pushed her hat back, revealing a nasty scar that ran from ear to chin. “I reckon I’ve got you all beat. It’s been years now, but what I saw that night was something I won’t ever forget.”
“Oh, come off it, Ida,” said the first degenerate. “You’ve been saying that for years, but you never tell us what you saw. How are we supposed to believe you?”
“Well, maybe tonight I’m just drunk enough to tell the tale.”
At her words, the other miscreants leaned in, their faces eager.
“Here’s how it went.
I was contacted by this fancy fellow, the type who wears creased pants and talks out of his nose. Don’t know how he managed to track me down, but the money he promised was good enough I thought it better not to ask.
Normally upper crust clients find such things distasteful, but this one insisted on coming along. He rode up to the cemetery gates in a fine carriage and hopped out as if it were the middle of the afternoon and the two of us were going for a promenade around the park. Dressed all in fine silk, with a collar you wouldn’t believe.
I picked the lock and the two of us started the long walk across the graveyard. As we walked, he explained exactly what we were after.