Drunk Morgan Beats the Odds - A Short Story

Drunk Morgan lay back, fingers laced behind his head and contemplated the complexities of life. In his opinion, the world was a many layered and tumultuous place which meant navigating from moment to moment required finesse of thought and a deftness of touch.

More often than not, Drunk Morgan chose to forgo this approach for a far simpler, some would say almost monastically devoted, method consisting of spending every waking hour in varying states of inebriation.

He was, after all, Drunk Morgan.

Had he always been Drunk Morgan?

Surely not.

As for when Morgan ended and Drunk Morgan began, well, Drunk Morgan chose not to give such thoughts the time of day, rather to concentrate on the here and now. As in here he was and he wanted a drink now. This approach to life was not without its merits.

Drunk Morgan wasn’t an aggressive drunk, he wasn’t loud and he wasn’t prone to emotional outbursts. He just simply began each day with the overwhelming desire to spend as much of it as possible drinking. As such, he had become something of a local celebrity on the cobbled Backstreets of Lower Calver. For those who knew him it was now customary to greet him with a shout of, “Drunk Morgan!”

To which he would more often than not reply: “Not yet, but I’m working on it!”

And he would weave his wobbly way onwards, in search of the next drink.

If you ever took the time to sit down with Drunk Morgan, you’d find him to be utterly engaging company. After the first few wafts of alcohol hit you, your sense of smell became neutered and you then often found yourself deep in conversation on any number of subjects.

For a man who spent his waking hours attempting to kill as many brain cells as possible, he was incredibly knowledgeable.

This led people to speculate as to who Drunk Morgan really was.

Some believed he was from Upper Calver and had fallen about as far from grace as possible. Others figured he was a travelling merchant who’d lost his way to the drink and now couldn’t afford to get home. Others still had him pegged as a love scorned wretch who drank to dilute the pains of a broken heart. If asked, Drunk Morgan would shrug his shoulders and simply tell people he was just someone who liked to drink.

And so it came to be, that on this star-sprinkled night, Drunk Morgan came to rest in a doorway and lay back, fingers laced behind his head in order to contemplate the many complexities of life.

Quite often Drunk Morgan spent nights out in the open, under the starry sky. Having no actual house, very few belongings and a penchant for drinking until his legs gave way contributed greatly to this life choice. In truth, Drunk Morgan liked sleeping outdoors. If he clamped one hand over an eye, the stars would cease their swirling from one side of the sky to the other and he could lie back and marvel at the vastness of the heavens whilst he drifted off to sleep.

Besides, it was much easier to wake up, roll over, throw up into a gutter, then roll back to sleep.

This particular night, Drunk Morgan had set himself so that his back wouldn’t hurt too much come first light, wrapped his overcoat as tightly as possible around himself and undertaken a few dry heaves just to check if he might be sick. It seemed as if the gods had given him a pass tonight.

All in all, about as good an end to the day as Drunk Morgan could expect. He was content. He closed his eyes and waited for the darkness.

Instead, what he got was the blinding light from a lantern.

“On your feet, sinner!”

Drunk Morgan clamped his eyes shut and added a forearm over them for good measure. “What in the god’s name are you doing?” he said, trying to turn away.

A pair of hands seized him by the lapel of his coat and yanked him up into a seated position. “Okay, let him have it!” the voice said.

“Who actually says let him have it?” Drunk Morgan said. Or tried to say. As he opened his mouth to speak a wave of cold water hit him in the face. He coughed, spluttered and didn’t have to worry about the uncertainty of whether he’d be sick or not anymore. He flopped to one side and vomited a large quantity of water and a days’ worth of drink onto the cobbles.

Before Drunk Morgan could right himself, he was grabbed under the arms and hoisted upright, then slammed into the door at his back. “Can you stand, you wretch?” the voice said again.

“My legs aren’t the problem,” Drunk Morgan said. “It’s drowning from the inside out that’s bothering me right now.” Drunk Morgan leant back on the door and rubbed the water from his eyes. His hair was soaking wet so he had to pull it back from his eyes. Having done so, he could now see who it was who had assaulted him.

Before him stood three people. They were dressed identically in long black robes. The two men on the outside were carrying lanterns and seemed unremarkable enough but maybe that was because they were in the presence of the lady in the middle. She was stick thin with long bony hands and a face which could cut glass. What stood out more than anything else, however, was how compact she was. In politer company than this she may have been referred to as diminutive except that conjured the wrong idea altogether.

She was all wire and bone and seemed as if it was a constant struggle to restrain herself from launching at Drunk Morgan.

“Might I ask, my good lady, why you and your associates have chosen to awaken me from my night time rest in such an intrusive manner?”

“Pah!” the woman spat.

“Pah indeed,” the man to her left said.

“Pah exactly,” the man to her right said, clearly not wanting to feel left out.

“Just look at you,” the woman said through a sneer which threatened to turn her face inside out. “What have you become?”

“Wet?” Drunk Morgan ventured.

Clearly this was not the expected response. The woman stepped forward and, despite her height, managed to make herself seem more threatening the closer she got.

“You were given the good grace of a highly crafted body and a beautifully designed brain. And you have abused both. You stink of degradation and debauchery. Your very soul has become corrupt.”

“Well,” said Drunk Morgan, not entirely sure where to start. “This is all a bit much for a Monday night. But I will thank you for noticing my highly crafted body and beautifully designed brain.”

The woman’s slap cracked through the night air and echoed off the surrounding buildings. Drunk Morgan brought his hand up to his quickly reddening cheek.

“How dare you mock the work of a power much greater than our mortal souls!”

“That, Madam, was unnecessary,” Drunk Morgan said rubbing his cheek.

“Sometimes, where correction of the mind is concerned, a brief interlude of pain is necessary. Especially for those who have fallen so very far from grace.” The woman said this with a smile which didn’t know it was supposed to be one. She wiped her hand on the robe of the man to her right.

“I don’t mean to offend any further, madam, but can we cut to the chase? Who are you and what do you want?” Drunk Morgan flinched awaiting a strike that never came.

“My official title is Corrector Mondrake. I represent the Order of Perpetual Growth. And we are here to rid this cesspool of the sins of those who have wasted what could once have been a glorious life but instead has descended into one of ruin.”

“The Order of Perpetual Growth? Can’t say I’ve heard of you,” Drunk Morgan said. “Which gods do you lot worship?”

Corrector Mondrake looked like she might just explode. “Gods? We serve no gods! They are a fallacy designed by one section of mankind in order to enslave another section of mankind! We serve the greater good. The advancement of mankind itself.”

“And you do that by throwing water over sleeping drunks?” Drunk Morgan said.

“We do what is necessary,” Corrector Mondrake said.

“And what exactly, in my case, is necessary?” Drunk Morgan said, eyeing up the two men either side of the Corrector.

Corrector Mondrake smiled that non-smile of hers again. “We shall take you to our facility in Middle Calver where you shall stay until you have been appropriately corrected.”

“Glad there’s nothing ominous sounding about that then,” Drunk Morgan said. “And if I choose not to go?”

“For someone like you, choice isn’t an option. You’ve had far too much freedom of choice and look at where that has got you.”

“Would you mind at all if I tried to do a runner?” Drunk Morgan said.

“You could try,” said the man to Corrector Mondrake’s left.

In all honesty, Drunk Morgan didn’t think he could walk more than five paces without keeling into a wall. A day of heavy drinking had the strange physiological effect of making one of his legs considerably shorter than the other.

“So,” Corrector Mondrake said, “will you come with us without any fuss, or do my two Practitioners need to assist you?” Drunk Morgan looked at Mondrake’s two Practitioners who at that moment in time looked as if they’d like nothing more than to assist him. Down a flight of stairs.

“Well now,” said another voice. “I find you do come across the most interesting of things upon the Backstreets of an evening.”

Corrector Mondrake and the two Practioners turned around to see a little old lady.

“Oh, hello Auntie,” said Drunk Morgan. “How are you keeping?”

“Always on the sunny side of peachy, thank you very much for asking.

How are you getting on?”

“You know me Auntie. Slowly pickling myself from the inside out. Generally, things are on the up and up.”

“I do wish you’d take more care of yourself, Morgan. When was the last time you had a good meal?”

“That’s a good question, Auntie. I have been rather neglecting my nutrition of late.”

“Excuse me!” Corrector Mondrake spat. “We are members of the Order of Perpetual Growth and we are here on official business.”

“That sounds very impressive!” Auntie said, smiling widely. “You must be very important with a name like that. Please pardon my ignorance, but what is it that you do, dearie?”

Corrector Mondrake looked like she might choke on the word dearie.

“We are here to rid this cesspool of the sins of those who have wasted what once could have been a glorious life but has descended into one of ruin.” She waved her hand so that it encompassed her surroundings.

“Gosh, that does sound like a bit of an undertaking. It must keep you very busy.”

“Actually,” said the Pratitioner to Corrector Mondrake’s left, “it’s only our second night. We’re a pretty new order really. Mum, I mean Corrector Mondrake, had one of her epiphanies last week and decided to set up a new order.”

“Yeah, that’s right,” said the Practitioner to Corrector Mondrake’s right. “Before that we were the School of Continual Development, before that one we were the Congregation of Expansive Minds and I can’t remember the other one.”

“Founders of Advancement Readiness Training. Had to change that on account of people didn’t seem to take the name seriously,” said the first Practitioner.

“Will you two shut up!” Corrector Mondrake said. She straightened her robe and forced her smile back into place. “We of the Order of Perpetual Growth believe it is fundamental in life to be able to find the right path. Sometimes we misstep but with the right level of guidance and discipline, we make the right choices and find our calling in life.”

“I couldn’t agree more,” said Auntie. “Do you know, I was just telling my good friend Agatha the other day that it took me no end of tries to get my apple and cinnamon buns to rise. I had to endure an afternoon of flat apple and cinnamon buns. Got there in the end though and, if I do say so myself, they’re rather good with a nice cup of tea.”

Corrector Mondrake gave Auntie a withering look. “I’m glad you got your fruit buns just right. Now if you’ll excuse us, we need to escort this wayward soul to our facility. He has clearly strayed from the path and requires our special attention.”

Corrector Mondrake nodded to the two Practitioners who stepped forwards and seized Drunk Morgan by an arm each.

“I’m terribly sorry, Mrs Mondrake, but even though Morgan has chosen a life which I find hard to understand, he is a friend. A very good friend actually. He has helped me on occasions too many to mention in ways I won’t go into now. Needless to say, he isn’t going with you. I am terribly sorry about all this, really I am.”

Corrector Mondrake took a step towards Auntie.

“I knew this place was full of scum,” she said, pointing one bony finger at Auntie. “You’re as bad as he is. How can you defend a life so wasted? More to the point, why is a little old lady wandering around the Backstreets of Calver at this hour? You ought to be in bed but you’re probably up to no good just like him. No, madam, we have a calling and you will not stop us.”

“My dear,” Auntie said, the smile vanishing from her face, “you are correct. I will not stop you. But they will.”

The two young women who appeared at the side of each Practitioner seemed borne from the very shadows themselves. It was dark and Drunk Morgan had just been awoken from a deep sleep. He was also drunk. All of which meant he didn’t see what the women did only that the grips on his arms let go and the Practitioners they belonged to slumped to the floor with an audible ‘oof!’.

The women disappeared into the shadows from whence they came. There was a moment of considered silence.

“You know,” Drunk Morgan said, stepping over the limp forms on the floor before him. He only slightly wobbled. “It’s rather late and I think we’ve all had enough stimulation for one night. Auntie, would you allow me the honour of escorting you home?”

“There’s that good-mannered nature again,” Auntie said, beaming. “I would be most grateful for that, thank you Morgan.”

Before they left, she walked up to Corrector Mondrake, who seemed frozen to the spot.

“If I were you, dearie, I wouldn’t spend a great deal of time around the Backstreets for a while. I’d hate for my girls to have to pay you a visit. Nighty-night!”

Drunk Morgan linked his arm into Auntie’s and made a pretty good show of walking in a straight line down the street and around the corner.

“That’s one I owe you, Auntie,” Drunk Morgan said after a while.

“Never you mind about that,” Auntie said. She stopped and turned to face him. The flame from the street light cast an almost ethereal glow upon her. Almost. “You be careful, Morgan. Don’t make me have to start worrying about you.”

“You know me Auntie. Always seem to come up smelling of roses.”

“At the moment, it’s not quite roses I’m getting Morgan, but I see your point.” She gazed into his eyes and appeared about to say something but smiled and shook her head instead. She patted his hand, turned and walked away.

Drunk Morgan watched her go.

A moment later, he saw two shadows fall in step behind her.

“Hey!” came a call from across the street as someone stumbled out of a lock-in at the Vine and Tumbler. “Drunk Morgan!”

Drunk Morgan smiled, checked his pockets for loose change and headed across the street. “Not yet, but I’m working on it!”.

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