Part Two - Alone no longer
Three weeks on and Bert Brewsett still hasn’t told anyone about the weird and wonderful things that have happened to him since the arrival of a certain T-shirt.
It was the day of the much anticipated Little Suppton Home Brew Competition. Bert Brewsett, blessed with beer superpowers bestowed on him by his beer motif T-shirt printed with inks from another dimension, could very easily have assured a win, if he had filled his entry barrel with beer from what he liked to call the ‘T-dimension’ (Td), that is to say, beers that Bert pulled from his T-shirt - which he guessed came from another dimension. When given to anyone, beers from the Td always became that person’s preferred brew, and the ultimate, perfect, most exquisite example of it. It was always an awesome IPA as far as Bert was concerned, but when he gave a glass to his friend Fergus, Fergus spent the rest of the night describing it as the most amazing dark rich porter; just another of the peculiar properties of the Td beer.
Bert had spent his life coming second in everything, but he had had a vision that he would triumph in Little Suppton, a vision which saw him dressed in the empowering T-shirt.
Now, this was the moment of truth, T-shirt on show, as in his vision. Bert thought he was due a break, it was about time for a win, but he was not going to enter the ‘Td brew ‘ as his entry. He saw that as cheating and knew he would not feel any satisfaction going down that route. No, he had put every effort and his considerable home brewing experience into his own special recipe and everything had worked out exactly as planned. Surely?
“The Final Three in reverse order,” said the head judge, “In third place, Carl Burpington, with his incredible creamy stout. And I have to say it has been very close this year, all but one, maybe... nuff said, have really pushed on from where they were last year... In second place, Virginia Jensen. Ginny, well done, that brown was one of my personal favourites. And finally, the grand prize goes to... Fergus Fin... no... no... no, only pulling your leg, Fergus didn’t enter this year. In second place for the last three years, now stepping up to first, Bert Brewsett, with one wondrous IPA. Well done Bert. You certainly nailed it.”
Bert was overcome with pride, and relief, and disbelief and, and, well... ‘Wow, I actually won,” said Bert incredulously. ‘So this is what it feels like,’ he thought. “Thank-you, thank-you all.” He stepped on to the winner’s podium and he held the coveted golden tankard aloft, bursting with pride. A huge grin cracked open across his face and the photographer from the Little Suppton Herald snapped the moment (the moment he had seen in his vision) for the front page and for posterity.
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If that doesn't do the trick all is
explained in part 1
Fergus was the first to run across, pat him on the back and shake his hand. “Well done, mate, excellent,” gushed Fergus. “Come and join.. er “(‘Ooops,’ thought Fergus, he won’t want to join my little family group complete with Bert’s ex’) “...no let’s sit over here, and the first one’s on me.” Fergus was a good friend, even if his family were Bert’s collective nemeses.
Fergus returned to the table with pints and nuts. Bert took a welcome gulp of the barely average IPA and threw a couple of nuts into his mouth with a certain panache. Fergus shuffled in his chair and asked slowly and darkly, “Now then Bert, tell me your secret?” Bert choked a little. Not on a nut. But, how much did Fergus know? and how?
“Secret? What, what d’ya mean?”
“Come on... you know... “ And Fergus leaned into whisper in Bert’s ear, “The secret ingredient, or technique, or the song you sing to your brew, I don’t know what your secret is, but whatever it is, I shared mine with you, now spill the beans.” The shiver of relief that surged through Bert’s body made him feel a little giddy and light headed .
“Oh,” he sighed, “Errr, nothing really different to the last three years, ‘cept maybe a different bottled water. Maybe that was it. And yeah, I admit it, I have been singing to the brew this year. A few ‘Seasick Steve’ songs I guess. “
“Ha! I knew it!” snapped Fergus ,“told ya singing worked.”
“Yeah, yeah, anywa,y,” said Bert, “what happened to your entry? I thought you had one of your award winning porters on the go?“
“Well, I did,” Fergus sighed, “but when I had that pint over at your place last week, I went back to my brew, and well, it all seemed a bit thin. I didn’t want to embarrass myself. “
Bert cringed, and thought, ‘Shit, he gave up because he tasted Td Beer. I bet he would have won.” His eyes dropped down to look at the sprayed gold tankard in his lap. It looked like just that, a cheap sprayed bit of tat, nothing special, just another second prize really. Further more, Fergus was going to be the first person he would confide in re the superpowers. Now, how was that going to work?
Bert had been noticeably quiet, reflecting on how things had played out. Fergus ducked down to look up into Bert’s hang-dog face. “Hey, mate, where’ve ya gone”? You’ve won. Come on, get back in the room.”
“Yeah, it’s great, fantastic, great.” Bert tried to sound enthusiastic, but knew he was coming across as distracted, even a little distressed. “Oh, sorry, a bit of indigestion. Must have been the pie I had for lunch. Past it’s ‘sell-by.’’ He paused for thought again. “Look I’d better get off home. Get some meds.”
Fergus shrugged, “Yeah? Well, OK, mate, shame that. Look after ya self. Catch up soon.”
On his way out, Bert said to Phil behind the bar, “Why don’t you put that on one of the shelves back there to inspire folks for next year?”
“If you’re sure, Bert.” said Phil.
Bert stepped out into the cool night air, a little numbed by the highs and lows of the night. He felt flat, winning, as he saw it ‘under false pretences’ was worse than coming second.
As he walked home, Bert thought, superpowers are all well and good, but they can really make a guy feel lonely. Arriving at his cottage on the edge of the village, Bert decided he needed to let off a little steam. He checked that no-one was watching, put his hands down by the sides of his thighs, quickly wiping up either side of his body and shazam! He was dressed in what he called the full Beerman; extra muscles and all. He patted the motif on the front of his shirt, grabbed the glass that emerged by the handle, took a sip (made finger gestures that made the beer stay in the glass even when it was upside-down) expanded the beer, not the glass and took off powered by the resulting jet of beer. Having had a few weeks of practice on the moors away form prying eyes, Bert had now perfected the art of beer-jet flying. Now, in a bit of a funny mood, with reason taking a back seat, Bert thought, ‘fuck staying out of sight’ and he flew off to the nearest city. Landing, still unseen, on the roof of King’s College Chapel, Cambridge, he looked down on the students and town’s folk milling about, moving from pub to pub along The King’s Parade. It was darkish, but the night was still young and the sight of the happy throng made Bert feel like he wanted to be part of something like that. He sat and supped the odd beer, content to watch for a while, until a lightly pissed student singing to the stars spotted him and exclaimed to his friends, “Whowza! It’s one of those Night Climbers. Up there, look, look! Is he drinking a pint!?” They all turned to look.
‘Ahh, awkward!’ thought Bert, ‘What now?’ Bert waved; it seemed like the sort of thing a ‘Night Climber’ would do. They all cheered and waved back causing more to look up. Soon there was a small crowd and a Cambridge Don pushed his way through to the front.
“Now look here young man!” he shouted. “That is University property you’re sitting on. You’re trespassing. Get down from there! I’m calling the police, the fire brigade. Er, stay right where you are. Erm, get down, don’t move.” The Don didn’t really know what to say, but the crowd did, they burst into a slurry chorus of “Get up offa that thing and drink ‘til you feel better” James Brown would have been proud. Bert edged back along the ridge of the roof, gave a last salute, and slid down the side that was out of sight to the singers. And splwoosh, he flew out over the college backs and over a couple snogging in a punt parked on the river. It was dark, and they didn’t see him, no one did, but they did get absolutely drenched in a sudden down-pour of beer. Well, one swore it was cider. Bert strolled through the trees on the river bank. He realised he actually felt a little better for being seen. It was a buzz, and he felt strangely part of the real world again. It was fun and it wasn’t as if anyone could identify him. Quite apart from the goggles, he was a different shape when he went full Beerman. ‘Time to go home,’ he thought and gooosh, he was on his way. He got back just in time to see Fergus walking up to his front door. He landed in the back-garden, wiped the suit off and marched in through the back door to answer the front. Fergus was a little worse for booze.
“To what do I owe the pleasure of this visit?” enquired Bert.
“Oh, a bit worried about you.” spluttered Fergus. “Come to see you’re OK, and, and er, there’s something you got to see on the box.
“Come in, sit down before you fall down,” offered Bert. “Thanks for your concern; I’m feeling... OKish thank you. I’ll get you a coffee.”
“You not got any of that lovely porter?” asked Fergus.
“No, all gone, you had the last of it”. Bert lied.
“Ahh, shame.” sighed Fergus, as he fumbled for the TV remote. “Here you have it, local news, watch, watch...”
‘Local news!’ thought Bert ‘No way, not that quick.’ But then, everyone’s a cameraman these days’. And yes, his worst fears were confirmed. A few items in -
“There you go, knew they’d show it again,” said Fergus. “Pisshead on the roof! ‘N’ look, he’s wearing a T-shirt same as yours. Exactly... exactly like yours. Amazin’. The printers told Katie (oh, yeah, we all know Katie bought it for your birthday now),” he giggled a little and added, “Finigan’s not best chuffed...hee hee... But as I was sayin’, they told Katie it was a one off. There was only one made. So we reckon right, we reckon it must have been you! Hee hee. You, with a lot more muscles. Ha! We reckon you left the pub, jumped in a helicopter, inflated your body - ha. Got dropped off on King’s College Chapel... with a pint, hee hee... with a pint... in your hand!”
Fregus was desending into hysterics now. Bert wasn’t finding it quite so funny. He put a coffee in front of Fergus, sat back and tried to take stock of the situation, but there were too many incomplete thoughts whizzing around in Berts head, and before he knew it he blurted out, “It WAS me!”
To this, Fergus cluched the front of his trousers in an effort to be sure he didn’t pee his pants. He fell sideways on the couch, curling up in a quivering mess of giggles, interspersed with snorts and deep belly laughs. Bert walked back to kitchen and pondered. He was going to confide in his friend tonight before he found out about the whole Fergus pulling out of the competition thing. But Fergus was way too far gone to take revelations now. ‘Maybe if he slept it off here tonight, I could talk to him in the morning,’ he thought. Bert patted two beers from his T and walked through to where Fergus was still curled up. “Here, I did have some left; one of those lovely porters. Get your considerable laughing gear round that.“
“Ahh, Berty,” Fergus gasped, “ Ooo mate, I’ll never get home if I drink that.”
“Take a sniff and tell me you don’t want it.”
Fergus sniffed and replied ,“Can I sleep on your couch then?”
“Course you can. It’s OK, it’s Saturday tomorrow,” said Bert “and you’ve done it enough before, you know where everything is.”
Conversation between the two calmed down. Fergus had three of the Td Beers and the conversation drifted off into why Fergus thought Finigan was going slightly mad and how funny it was. Eventually, of course, Fergus ran out of steam and keeled over. Bert shuffled him into a comfortable position, and before he went up to his bed he pinched the Td from Fergus. Fergus gently shuddered as the Td Beer disappeared from his body, but he slept on. ‘No need for a hangover my friend,’ thought Bert ‘and any way, you need a clear head tomorrow. ‘
That was it then, Bert had decided. Tomorrow, come what may, he was NOT going to be the only one that knew.
Saturday. Bert is woken up by the sound of the kettle being filled in the kitchen below. He runs to the landing and shouts down, “I’ll be with you in a mo, make mine a coffee.” Quick as he can, he’s washed, dressed and strolling into the kitchen to find Fergus sitting at the kitchen table with coffee and toast for two. “Hey, how you doin’ chum? enquires Bert.
“Never better.” chirps Fergus. “Can’t believe I got away with last night. As I remember, I was ready to fall over as I came in the door, but here I am fresh ‘n’ frisky. Been looking for the bottles from that porter you were serving up, never did get to know what it was. “
Yeeaah...” said Bert slowly, searching for a good way to start the very difficult conversation. “About that, there’s something. Well, that is to say, erm. You know how you.”
“What? What?” interjected Fergus impatiently.
Bert searched again for the right words, “Hmmmm,” and then thought ‘OK, there is no way to verbalise this. In for a penny...’.
“Well, it’s like this.” Bert opened the buttons on his shirt to reveal the T. Fergus looked bemused. Bert patted the motif, the shirt rippled and out came a fresh pint. Fergus froze, wide eyed. Eventually he gasped, swallowed and squeeked “pint!”. Slowly, in silence, Bert grasped the floating beer and placed it on the table.
“I’ve been wanting to tell you for a month or so now. Never seemed to be a good time. “Fergus was still stunned into silence. “It’s the T-shirt,” said Bert, “it gives me, well, special powers you might say.“
“Dickhead on the roof?” probed Fergus.
“Yes, I was the dickhead on the roof.”
“Hhhow?” breathed Fergus, reduced to very short nervous questions, rocking slowly in his chair.
“So, there’s more to it. I know it’s a lot to take in. Did my head in when it happened to me. Are you OK for more?” asked Bert
“More?” said Fergus, shuffling into a more steady sitting position
“OK, ready?” Bert walked a little way back from his quivering friend, paused, and then placed his hands by his thighs and wiped up the sides of his body, shazam! Full on Beerman, muscles and all. Fergus flinched a little and froze again. Bert half twirled this way and the other and enquired, “Well ,what do you think? “
“I think, I think... I can’t think. I mean, things like this don’t happen. But. A month you say? Who else knows?” ‘You’re the only one buddy,” said Bert ,“you can’t tell anyone. Well not yet. Not until we workout what to do with it.”
Fergus nodded and answered, “Wouldn’t no HOW to tell anyone. Got to be going mad, like my brother and his aliens. Maybe he did see aliens. Fuck me. This is...”
“Look I know it’s heavy, but it’s all ok really” interupted Bert. “I’ve lived with it for over a month now and there are no ill effects or downsides as far as I can see.” And, he wiped the full Beerman off. For a while Bert held onto his friends shoulder and just said as many ‘you’re not going mad’ things as he could. Eventually, Fergus looked up and said ,“So, you have an endless supply of amazing free beer. Yes, I feel that is a good thing. What else can you do?”
Bert took a beep breath and proceeded to catalogue the extent of his powers as he knew then so far, ending the monologue with “and that’s about it, as far as I know.” There was a pause and eventually, “Questions,” said Fergus. “You really don’t think TastyTees.co.uk know they are selling T-shirts like this?” Bert shook his head, “Are there other people out there with things like this happening to them?” Bert shrugged. “And you do know, you look like a comic book superhero, right?” Bert grinned. Fergus continued ,“I have to ask, what are you going to do with it?”
“Oooh, not feeling like a hero really. I do like to do the right thing where I can, ya know? Makes you feel good. But I have no reason to go looking for trouble. Got good control of it all now, but, really, not planning a crusade.”
Fergus was handling the revelations as well as Bert could have hoped. Bert felt relieved he had a friend to talk it over with. The two talked for a couple of hours more before Fergus left for home. Bert sat back feeling relief - happy he was not alone. Then, the doorbell had Bert jumping up thinking ‘what’s he forgottten now?’ But no, not Fergus.
“Virginia? Hi”, said Bert, a little puzzled. He had met Virginia through the brewing competition, but didn’t really know her to talk to “Er, do come in, I’m erm...”
“Friends call me Ginny,” she said as she pushed passed. “You seen today’s Herald? she asked and handed him the paper. The headline read “Snap!” and there were two pictures, both Bert; one on the podium winning the brewing competition and one on top of King’s College Chappel. Bert scanned the article quickly - it was not suggesting they were both him, just pointing out the two identical T-shirts. He looked up to see Ginny unbuttoning her top.
“Oooo, errr, would you like a coffee?” he enquired nervously.
“This is very serious,” said Ginny “you are in grave danger. “
“Right,” said Bert.
“I know your secret” said Ginny, as she opened her top to reveal a T-shirt with a Gin motif. “THEY are constantly searching the internet for news that includes T-shirts and they WILL pick up on that article. Even if it is only the Herald. They WILL be coming for you." Part 3 >>>