So Prigger Tom told himself as he slid between pools of gaslight. The habit of keeping to the dark had been with him longer than anything else he could remember.
A banquet was worth risking a beating for. He held the thought in his mind while he threaded the darkest route off the street to the back of the pub.
He watched from the dark as the cook slipped in and out to the ice house. The trick lay in the timing. Every time the door opened, the candlelight in the kitchen showed him the right time hadn’t arrived.
It wasn’t the cold that made the waiting so hard, even as it gnawed its way from his fingers and toes to his body. It was the delicious smells wafting through that door, setting his stomach grumbling and grinding down his patience.
Tom’s moment came when the door opened to show a plate heaped with floor, ready to be taken through to the customers.
A banquet is worth the risk of a beating. He moved his lips as though saying the words aloud, though no sound escaped his mouth.
When the light from the cook’s lantern framed the ice house door from inside, Tom threw himself at the kitchen. His feet, numb with cold, felt unsteady and threatened to pitch him on to his face. He ignored their protests, grabbed a side of beef from the plate and dashed back into the night.
The cook was outside the kitchen door. A hand clouted Tom to the ground. He rolled away, clinging to the beef as though it was life itself. The cook reached for him, but he didn’t belong to the dark like Tom did. Tom was on his feet and away while the cook’s hand closed on empty air.
A banquet was worth a black eye.
The burning question:
Have you ever met someone like Prigger Tom? Please share your thoughts in the comments.