In June, he journeyed four hundred miles to Bern, Switzerland. He’d arrived late and found himself at a bar in front of the River Aare where warm gusts filled the air. Under the awnings, he watched couples walk hand in hand, then find shelter under the rain. It made him queasy as it splashed down, like all of Bern’s water-falls were in his belly. The sky was darkening when a man took up the empty chair beside him and lit up a cigarette. Trebitsch felt his eyes upon him.
“What are you: bull or bear?”
Trebitsch took a gulp of his wine. He eyed the drunk: broad, fair hair, a rough-looking fellow. Trebitsch thought and decided to indulge the fool.
“I met the bull. Francis Bertie, Paris Consulate. Never a more ignorant man have I met.”
“He was a bull?” the stranger drawled.
“The Bull.” said Trebitsch. “That’s how he’s known. He refused to give me my books! Despite orders from the British government themselves!”
Trebitsch stank quite badly of Merlot himself.
“He sounds like an ice eater,” said the man.
“Ice eater. It’s the hot wind coming off those mountains; the rain shadow wind. Your Bertie, like a warm fart off an icy soul.”
“Ah, yes, I see.”
“There’s a myth about a girl, Chinook-Wind, who married Glacier. She moved to the river to be with him. But it was not warm, you know, and she pined for her home by the sea. Well her many brothers came for her, came as snowflakes and they fought with Glacier and over-powered him.” he said.
“You are Canadian?” asked Trebitsch.
“Some Dublin, some British Columbia, mostly Alberta,” he said and pronounced, “I am the bear.”
He had rolled another cigarette and stuck it in his mouth with show. “Corona Corealis,” he got out as it lit in a flare.
Then he looked up to the stars and pointed. “There’s my brothers: Ursa Major, hard at plough. The Finns say that’s where they go, Jupiter’s mistress and her son.”
“Which maketh Arcturus, Orion, and Pleiades, and the chambers of the south,” said Trebitsch. “Job, chapter nine, verse nine.”
“Oh, ho, God is it? I thought you were a little Jewish bear cub,” said the stranger, and he roared with laughter.
“Maybe I am the matador,” said Trebitsch loudly, and more roaring followed.
“Oh, that’s good, that’s good. Now, look. Are you looking?”
Trebitsch followed the calloused yellow finger again.
“I see him: Taurus.”
“That’s Zeus, in disguise. He’s full of his self, thrusting up,” and the drunk punched several times in the air, “but he’ll wear himself out. You see his eye…or is it arse? Who can tell? Anyway, that’s the marker.”
“The bull market,” said Trebitsch.
“The marker! The marker! Are you not listening? You…lead him right to the pit.”
“Yes,” said Trebitsch. “Yes! I shall use my assets.”
“ASSES!” proclaimed the drunk, and slammed his tankard down on the table, before promptly falling asleep, under rolling cigarette.
Ignacz The Watch Thief is serialised five days a week. To donate go to patreon.com/andyluke and access four advance chapters, commentaries or bonus art.