* * *
Crow fluttered out of the Pagan Press offices and blinked at the blinding sun. He felt another headache coming on. The headaches had been his companion after being clouted by Mrs. Crow’s rolling pin, and although they were coming less frequently now, he could still count on at least one a day.
He had amnesia, too, and although he could remember details of his everyday life, more recent events were still in a fog. He had his notes, but notes were written as an aid to the memory, and if you had no memory at all, the notes were pretty much useless. He’d just been at his desk puzzling over them: “Golden whirlpool with giant sucking sound … Alps … Portobello and sole … Shoes in a huge bonfire … Beith bit Craig’s thumb off … howling with rage … Night Hawk drumming under the waxing moon.”
On the sidewalk outside his office, Crow thought again of his headache and sighed. Beer would help, he thought, and so he flew past his favorite sandwich shop, Bard’s Big Bites, turned left at the corner, flew three blocks, took a right turn and landed outside The Foggy Duck Pub. There was a sign tacked to the door.
The sign wrote:CLOSED!
By order of the Health Office
List of violations:
Meat from unknown animals found in the refrigerator
Meat kept at unsafe temperatures
Human and animal hair found in cider vats
Mold in the ice machine
Dryad wings in the peanut bowls
Slime in the beer barrels
Toilet facilities unsafe
Rottweiler feces in the kitchen
Pub to remain closed until re-inspection in two weeks.
Damned big government, thought Crow. Who were they to say what makes a good pub? Well, there was nothing for it but to find a different haunt for a couple of weeks. He knew of another place, though he’d never been inside. The Druid’s Head, it was called, and it was one of those new places that operate under an official government license. How antiseptic, how safe, he thought with a smile. Maybe it was just the thing he needed, because surely no strange adventures would get started there, right under the noses of government bartenders, all dressed in their clean white shirts and freshly ironed black slacks.
Crow flew quickly to The Druid's Head and landed outside. Well, he thought, surely he wouldn’t be the only one drinking in a new place. He opened the door and stepped inside …