“Writes longhand, ‘e does, with a pink pen,” the beggar said, one hand over his mouth as if to prevent the words from escaping. He looked up and down the street nervously, then added, “‘Twas his secret to victory last time, or so they say.”
The Challenger scoffed loudly, with none of the beggar’s discretion. “If the King writes with a pink pen,” he pronounced with a thick Cambridge accent, “then I’m a stillborn child!”
The beggar leaned forward, tapped his finger against the Challenger’s suit of armour. “Is tha’ why yer wearing the tinnies then?”
The Challenger knocked his hand away. “No, you fool! I’m hoping to intimidate him with this authentic eighteenth century armour. Took me an hour to get it on.” He said the last sentence as if it were something of which to be proud.
The beggar just stared at him expectantly, pulling his coat open to reveal the inside pocket, jam-packed with pink pens. “Whaddya say?”
“I suppose it would not to do go into battle poorly armed….” The Challenger sighed. “Fine, give one to me.”
“Tha’ll be a tenner.”
“What?! You quoted three pounds ten minutes ago!”
The beggar shrugged, unrepentant. “Need to make up for the time you spent thinking.”
“My thoughts are not worth seven pounds,” the Challenger replied hotly. “I’ll give you five.”
“Deal.” They furtively exchanged goods. Then, business concluded, the beggar scurried off, vanishing as quickly as a sideshow fable.
“Right,” said the Challenger, speaking aloud for no reason. “On to claim my crown. Those bellowing bastard brothers won’t know what has hit them.”
He marched proudly down the street, his metal feet loud against the pavement, until he reached house number 72, which had a green door and a gold lion-shaped knocker. He ignored the knocker and pressed down hard on the hastily-installed doorbell, a yellowed plastic rectangle that tilted to the left as if drunk.
A tired-looking woman opened the door, her hair pulled back into a messy gray bun, her neatly-pressed clothes already wrinkled. Over her shoulder, the Challenger could see that the living room was already teeming with other challengers, eager to take the crown.
“Mrs. H,” the Challenger said formally, bowing as best he could.
“Is that you Edward?” She readjusted her glasses, frowning. “Come for a spot of bingo?”
“Indeed I have.”
She stood aside to let him pass. “Between you and me, I hope you win. I’m fed up of having a dirty house.”
Inspired by Ergofiction’s old Search Term Challenge.