Aphelion Issue 246, Volume 23
December 2019 / January 2020
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Flash Fiction
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A Tale of Two Taverns…

by Sergio Palumbo

The night had been very gratifying, bringing many customers into O’Sasey’s Tavern. People had eagerly spent their money, buying many bottles of ale and wine, along with mixed drinks. This outpouring of cash was much appreciated by the bar owners because their operating costs were very high, especially considering the hard economic times of the entire area. There simply hadn’t been many chances to make a profit lately.

They told themselves that things would be much easier if only they didn’t have so many competitors nearby. O’Maseys Inn, for instance, was just 90 feet from their front door, on the same side of the street in the small village of Ballydehob, Irish Republic. O’Maseys was nice, given the complementary cuisine offered and the variety of drinks they served – but it wasn’t much different from what O’Saseys Tavern offered.

There was a fierce rivalry between the two venues and each one never hesitated to use any excuse to lower its prices from time to time. Each tavern wanted to attract customers, especially during the weekends, so they displayed their finest, most renowned bottles above the bar. Aside from obvious ploys, what mattered most was the quality of their alcohol, and their cellars were very well stocked. Each one had many great French and Italian wines along with the best Irish, British, Czech and Belgian beers and liquors available.

One of the two tall, fair-haired owners of O’Saseys, named Daithi, couldn’t help noticing that the bottled ales were selling very well and the shelf was starting to empty. So he decided to go downstairs and get more. Actually, the young man didn’t like to go down there because there were strange noises that could be heard past the stairs after sunset now and then. At times he felt that the cellar contained something evil, but the need for more alcohol was undeniable, so he went down the stairs.

Great was his surprise that night, when, as soon as Daithi opened the wooden door and went inside, he saw something unexpected. A few empty bottles had been turned upside down, many of them were damaged and there were several little creatures singing and running around.

The man immediately understood what they really were and his heart sank. Clurichauns!

Those Irish fairies resembled tiny hairy creatures that went out drinking after finishing their daily chants along the hidden pathways in the moorland. And the little monster he had first seen and his orange-faced little fellows were getting drunk merrily. The tavern owner knew they were bad news, as any venue like his that was chosen by such fabled beings was doomed to certain ruin.

Legends said that if you treated Clurichauns well they would protect your inn, but if mistreated, they would cause trouble to your home and destroy your wine bottles. Well, the few they hadn’t emptied already while having their fun…

So, the man slowly went back upstairs and he looked over the people who crowded the place. His eyes searched for his partner on the other side of the room and when he found him, he simply thought ‘We’re lost!’ This was because Daithi knew that, due to that sad occurrence, their business was going to suffer very soon.


The evening of the next day, Monday, when not many customers were in, the two owners held a secret meeting between themselves and then they immediately headed for the old cellar. As the door opened wide and the hairy little creatures saw the humans coming in with unfaltering expressions, they thought the two had probably decided to unite and fight against them. But things didn’t go that way.

“We’re here to propose a deal today, my guests…” Daithi said, and a deep silence fell in the room. Then, the one who looked like the leader of the group of Clurichauns spoke in a funny muttering voice: “Go ahead and show us your cards, monkeys…”


The next few days were much better, sure thing. As a consequence of the agreement made between the owners of O’Sasey’s Tavern and the Clurichauns, no more bottles were emptied in their cellar, nor did those creatures go back down there. The two had convinced the little monsters to turn their attention to their competitor’s inn instead. They had told them how to easily get inside the basement using old ducts - whose layouts had been given to them by a friend of Daithi who worked for the City Council.

So, things went well for awhile, but the peace didn’t last for too long, unfortunately… One night Daithi went to his wine-cellar and found some of their bottles emptied again, and he sadly understood.

Those damn’ creatures had drunk their alcohol and the wines of their competitors, too, once they had been told how to safely get to them. Because two wine-cellars for free were better than one, undoubtedly…


To save their businesses, another secret meeting was held. This time the two sides – the owners of O’Sasey’s Tavern and of O’Masey’s Inn - sat at the same table in order to find a solution that could satisfy them both. And they did, finally!

“Maybe we should change what we sell for a while…” Daithi said.

“What do you mean?” the old proprietor of the other venue asked.

So Daithi explained his plan. And the others nodded.

So, next weekend, when the creatures entered the tavern’s cellar, they went directly for the usual bottles on the shelves along the wall, but what they saw made them deeply dejected!

There was no more wine, but only a lot of bottles of tasteless water - Water everywhere, and nothing else!

So, the Clurichauns went away in a hurry and never were back. Because, as barkeeps knew, nothing was better to make unwanted drunken customers go away than trying to get them to sip water for their own good…


2014 Sergio Palumbo

Bio: Sergio Palumbo is a regular participant in out flash fiction contest and has won many times in the past. He is a regular to our forum and a favorit personality around these parts. Look for the threads of his multiple projects that are usually announced in the forum

E-mail: Sergio Palumbo


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