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Everyone has an Aunty Pat, but not Aunty Pat. She was nobody's aunt and yet everyone's. With monocle embedded firmly under left half of monobrow, her eye was to die for. She almost had, and even so the eye wasn't hers. Nor was the monocle.

A pipe clung aimlessly to her lower lip as she half waddled, half strode into the dock road inn.

A pint of the usual? Aye, son. The usual.

Sonny filled the tankard with cheap bourbon, and Aunty Pat took her seat, lit her pipe, swigged the whiskey, removed her pipe to the ashtray, wiped her copious mouth, dusted her monocle on her apron, returned the pipe after a fleeting tap, and belched.

Sonny shook his head, and tried, not for the first time, to see if the thighs, like hard fat of sirloin, would give away Aunty Pat's modesty.

Not today, Sonny, not today.

Aunty Pat used to run this place single-handed, most years served up before the eye. Many a tanner had flown from her thigh with a kiss and a tip for the races. Funny they never shared so much as an ounce-of-baccy's worth of winnings, but they came back when all was lost, when she had a different flight for them to take. Aunty Pat was fair, no question, but she was no-one's patsy in name or nature.

Except for Jack. She always called him Jack, for his name was unpronounceable to toothless Aunty Pat, and near-as-damn-it was her way. He was French, with a strong nose and a weak jaw that made the sailors swoon and the women snigger. Never Aunty Pat, though, who had lost too many physical attributes to risk another on a capricious Frenchman. And he had proved himself, not being seen in these parts for almost ten years, but the locals still recalled the day he last came. After all, it was in most respects a day like no other.

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