Looking around the pub from his quiet corner table, Rory sees slumped heads here and there, half-drank pints and empty seats. The outlook of his own pint glass is becoming increasingly pessimistic. A group of about five or six people take their leave and Rory is now keenly aware that the barman’s call for last orders is imminent.
He skims through the change from his pocket, but he already knows there isn’t the price of a pint in it. Laying the coins out on the small table in front of him, Rory counts again to be absolutely certain. No – it would appear that his available funds will not meet the recommended retail price of a pint in this establishment. Rory thinks for a moment of inspecting the pockets of his coat before conceding that it would be a fruitless search. Whittling through his options, Rory settles on the only choice remaining for him:
It’s time to sing a song.
From previous experience, Rory knows that all he needs to do is capture his audience with one song. That really is all that it takes. One song can be the difference between him going home now or being the centre of a lock-in until the small hours of the morning. Be the man that gets a singalong going and more often than not, the prize is a free drink or two or whatever it takes to keep you singing.
One song is all that it takes. But what song? Rory scans the pub once more, seeing the majority of the patrons are sitting at the bar. It’s predominantly the older regulars remaining. Nothing current, pop, or R & B for this kind of crowd. Traditional songs should be safe territory, Rory figures. Maybe a Rebel song to fire everyone up. Looking elsewhere, there’s a table of four in the middle of the pub, a pair of couples in from out of town. Rory feels strongly that Country music is their kind of thing. Nothing to it but instinct at this point. This group seem to be a safer bet than the regulars at the bar, if nothing else. Rory takes his pint-glass in hand and approaches the small group.
“Good evening folks!” Rory greets them with a bit of a flourish. “Sorry now for being direct, but you’re not locals, are ye?”
A little bit startled, the group look at one another, unsure of how to interact with Rory’s approach. One of the women takes the lead, smiling politely.
“No, no, we’re just visiting for the weekend,” she explains.
“Oh I see,” Rory says, nodding along. “Any particular reason?”
“Not really,” one of the lads replies to the open question. “It was on the train line, I suppose!”
The group all laugh at this and Rory sees an opportunity. This is it, make or break time. As the laughter of the group subsides, Rory starts to sing:
I hear the train a-comin’
It’s rollin’ round the bend
And I ain’t seen the sunshine since
I don’t know when…
Across the pub, sitting with the regulars on high stools by the bar, an elderly gentleman with a face the shade of beetroot shouts for Rory’s attention.
“Here-here-here,” the Ould Fella beckons Rory.
Unhappy with the interruption, Rory stops singing but attempts to save face with the group. He rolls his eyes for only them to see, before he reluctantly approaches the regulars.
“Who sings that song?” the Ould Fella inquires.
“Johnny Cash,” Rory answers, suddenly hopeful that he has found a willing patron who will support his singing for the small fee of a pint.
The Ould Fella receives the answer with raised eyebrows, looking left and right to his acquaintances.
“Aye, that’s it, Johnny Cash sings that song,” the Ould Fella says, turning back to Rory. “So let’s keep it that way, alright?”
As the regulars erupt with laughter, Rory skulks back to his table, ignoring the group from out of town who are also in hysterics at his embarrassment. He drains the last mouthful of his pint, picks up his coat and heads for the door. Tonight just wasn’t the night, Rory thinks as he leaves. Next time, maybe. Another night, another song. All it takes is one song…