A GUNNER IN GOTHAM
The Night We Lost Innconts
It was a cool evening, the looming equinox bringing the first chill of Autumn to the bones of the gathering Hashers. At the Gunner Tavern they convened, near a score of them, old and new. The hostelry’s martial title concealed a darker past, well known to the seasoned drinkers of the group, just as the sunlit evening held within it the menace of a dark, dark night. It was from old Gotham Town that they hashed.
The night’s hare, Treasure Chest, celebrating her natal day, had been left to lay her trail alone, her customary Pimp having been but lately transported. Those who made shift to w*lk were presented with a map – to a buried Treasure? – in case their chosen house of refreshment should lack paper in its facilities. The r*nners were ill-provisioned with torches and all heedless of the peril into which they would shortly plunge.
Past St Cuthbert and the ladyboys to the pinker quarter they went, the local rapscallions urging them on. Woof Woof grew chary of her first FRB by the sauna; surprising, as her fair gender meant its denizens would have little interest in her.
On across Redheugh to drink in a last sunlit view of the Old Town’s bridges before delving beneath. Down the trail took them, and deeper down, through scrub and graffiti to the river’s edge itself, then to cross again at the oldest and lowest of the benighted Tyne’s shackles. Though many FRBs held them back the pack pressed madly on, too eager, overstretching themselves on the crusty cobbles of the Quay. But the hare had other things in mind.
The route led north, and up, winding over Akenside and past the scaffold-wrapped bulk of All Saints, then meandered on towards Manors. Here the FRBs grew thin and the pack spread out, paced by enormous rats, casting about in the alleys and courts as the gloaming decayed into darkness.
Into St Ann’s they ran, and through the very grounds of that ancient church itself. At its southern gate they assembled upon the check – but not all. Long minutes passed without sign of Inncontinents or Five Quai. The Hash attempted to soothe its nerves by screaming ON ON at the church. The church remained unmoved.
Convictions of supernatural murder were soon upon every lip. Immediately two more bravoes, Trees Are and Ion Dick, began to backtrack in search of their lost companions; and with that, where once were 12, there remained but 8.
More minutes passed. The shouting went on. Still the church kept its silence. A local wench indulging in a cheeky spliff was their only audience. Then – hulloa! – the missing Hashers were seen to approach. They numbered but three; of Innconts there was still no sign.
It was mooted that he was either horribly murdered, or back at the pub, and in either case there was no recourse but to press on. So on they went, down stairs onto the Quayside, over the youngest of the city’s bridges, up into the underbelly of Gateshead. Here they took solace in strong drink at Station East, bidding farewell to the bold but undoubtedly butchered Innconts.
Night threw its shroud over their departure. In darkness they hashed, the FRBs barely a glimmer underfoot, until they were upon that marvel of Stevenson and the Hawks that we call High Level Bridge. Here they feasted their eyes upon the floodlit splendour of the Tyne’s many spans; a fitting tribute to the sadly departed.
But then – a miracle! – on their return to the Gunner they found Innconts intact, inebriate, installed at table with the w*lkers. Not murdered, but misled, and Misled wasn’t even out that night. Great was the joy and several were the down-downs visited upon him for his tomfoolery. A mirthful circle was held then and there, to the chagrin of some civilians. A Mean Eyed Cat there was, and a shirt for Tom, and a baptism of beer for Brevet RA Ion Dick.
And so they drifted unsteadily from what was once Gotham, chastened by the shortening of the days. All’s well that ends well, as they say; or to be more precise, all’s well that ends with beer.