As noted in the title, this is the second part of a multi-part story, the first of which can be found here. If there’s something you’d like to know about this place, let me know in the comments so I can write about it!
It would be false to say that Dot Harlock gave no consideration to the psychological development of her creation (she felt she was rather too young to have a son that was taller than her, so ‘creation’ it was.) Being an imaginative young woman, she had consumed many popular novels on the topic of artificial humans and the creation thereof and aside from being inspired, she had noticed certain themes.
The artificial human awakens into their new life. Their creator, in a fit of moral crisis that they really should have thought about beforehand, rejects their creation. The artificial human, lacking a caring environment for their initial stage of psychological development, goes on a crime spree, somehow justifying their creator’s initial rejection.
Well! That certainly wasn’t going to happen with her creation! So it was that when Primus Dale came under the care / employ of Grace Baisby, all he knew was kindness, patience, language, and the basic principles of thaumaturgical science. Some of these were more useful in a pub environment than the others.
The first hour of Primus Dale’s employment had not yet passed and Grace Baisby was putting him through his paces now that he was decently attired. She did not put much stock in Dot’s brief explanation of his origins, as she knew her niece, of her brilliance, and of her tendency to ignore legalities with exclamations of “Where’s the harm?” and “But I really wanted to do this.” She had also read some of the same disreputable novels as her niece, although it would take a credible threat of arson to compel her to admit this.
The Queen’s Knuckles was still quiet yet, it being early in the afternoon, and she’d set her husband Rishard to serving the few customers so she might train this Primus with no distractions.
“This is how you pour a draught of beer,” she said, demonstrating a perfect pour of Baisby’s Original from the keg at the bar. Primus watched the glass, the tap, her hands with unfeigned fascination. Slow and steady, glass tilted just so, some head, but not too much, peeking over the rim of the glass but not overflowing. Lovely. “Now copy what I did.”
Primus copied her. Primus copied her exactly. Grace placed the two glasses side by side at the bar and they were the same, down to the millimeter. Well. She slid the two over to Rishard, who took one to Beardy Rosewater (newly returned from a trading run up north and thus twice as hairy as usual) and took the other for himself to enjoy as he read the latest edition of the Eleheim Times. They were not a ‘Citizen’ establishment, in deference to their friendship with Prime Minister Lark, who would have frowned to see such a rag in her presence.
“Well, then,” said Grace, allowing slightly more than the appropriate level of approval to color her words. To do otherwise to Primus’ beaming face felt something akin to kicking a puppy. “You’ve got that down pat. Let’s try your hand at cocktails, starting with…” She thought. “A Corpse Reviver. The PM usually drops by for one before she heads to Parliament, so this is an important one to know. Again: you watch, then do.”
Ice, brandy, apple brandy, sweet vermouth. Into the cocktail shaker and stir. Strain into a cocktail glass. Serve.
Grace sipped Primus’ offering. Again, perfect. Not that this was a complex cocktail, but she’d known folks to mess up simple gin and tonics. If she could only get him talking, she’d have a fantastic bartender on her hands, but words seemed as reluctant to leave his mouth as a student from the bar at closing time. She allowed Primus to sample the Corpse Reviver. When the concoction hit his tongue, he blinked rapidly, swished it around in his mouth, then swallowed.
“Interesting,” he declared. Then he proceeded to consume it at exactly the same rate as Grace consumed hers.
Seeing this, Grace Baisby made a decision. “Now, the next one will be a hot cocktail – a Flip. I will tell you how to make it and you will follow my instructions. Understand?” Primus nodded, jerkily. “Now, for this, we’ll need a metal tankard, rum, sugar, beer, and a egg. And a poker from the fireplace.”
It started off well enough, even if Primus’ hands moved far less swiftly and surely than with the draught and the Corpse Reviver. In went the rum, in went the sugar. The beer was poured over top, and the egg was cracked over top of that. All that was left to do was to take that now-heated poker, stick it in the concoction, and swoosh it about until it was all frothy.
Primus went for the poker, but he did not grab the end of it. He reached forward into the fireplace to grasp the pointed end, his new garb catching on fire at the sleeves. Grace screamed, but before she could pour anything on the spreading flames, Primus took the poker and swished it in the tankard, as instructed. Then he put the poker back.
He was still on fire. He did not seem to notice. The bar was on fire. He did not seem to notice this either. He only smiled, hunching his shoulders up slightly in expectation of Grace’s verdict.
As Grace stood shocked, Beardy Rosewater stumbled over and poured his glass of Baisby’s Original over the flaming parts of Primus, then stumbled back to his table. “I should like another, if you don’t mind,” he said, which Rishard took care of as soon as the bar was saved.
Primus’ expression and stance did not alter one whit. Seeing this, Grace recovered herself and took a swig of the Flip.
Eventually, Rishard said, “Dear, why are you crying?” Wordlessly, Grace handed her husband the Flip, from which he too took a generous swig. He rubbed his thick hair as though by doing so, he could force this new, incredible information into his brain.
“It’s perfect,” he said. “Utterly perfect.”
Primus beamed. His new friends proceeded to teach him many wondrous things that day, including but not limited to: the recipes to the twenty most popular and fashionable cocktails among the clientele, the importance of maintaining a professional appearance, and basic fire and workplace safety.
Dot Harlock was sent a bill later that day.
There you are. If you enjoyed it, please consider throwing a tip my way via PayPal or Patreon. Again, if there’s some little aspect of the world you want to know about, put it in a comment and I’ll see if I can’t write something about it. Part 3 is scheduled for Thursday. Cheers!