‘Wish that I could cross blades with you,’ the man in the hood called to me from the other side of our impromptu tourney ring, the village crowd encircling us with morbid fascination. ‘But alas, I have no wish to die today.’
‘A coward as well as a liar?’ I asked loudly. ‘Who would have thought such knavish traits could fit in a cloak so tattered?’
That elicited a smattering of laughter from the crowd, who were whipping themselves into a state of excitement.
‘You have not proven me a liar!’ the man cried, and I saw the flash of gold under his hood again. ‘I promised you a mechanic to perform a car air con regas near Milperra, and it is you who has not seen fit to test my word!’
In truth, he was correct – I had given him no chance to prove himself a man of honour.
‘And to the charge of cowardice?’ I asked him.
‘Death is the end of everything, is it not?’ the man asked. ‘To throw everything away over a simple… misunderstanding would be folly.’
‘So that is what we have then,’ I said, stopping our slow, circling dance around the edge of the circle.
‘Aye,’ he nodded carefully.
‘Then so be it,’ I replied.
The crowd let out a synchronised moan of disappointment and slowly began to filter away – back to their normal, boring lives. I strode back towards where I had parked my car.
‘Wait!’ the man called out, rushing to me.
‘What more do we have to say to one another?’ I asked him without turning around.
‘You’ve yet to prove me a liar!’
‘I have no interest,’ I waved him off.
‘I promised you, sir,’ he said in a serious tone. ‘I promised you the best mechanic to perform car repairs local to Milperra – and it looks like you still need those.’
I glanced down at my car, battered and bruised, engine running roughly.
‘Get in,’ I sighed.
‘Are you sure?’
‘Before I change my mind,’ I sighed. ‘Take me to this local mechanic of yours.’