Would you slap someone for a free beer? In the world of The Blacktongue Thief by Christopher Buehlman, you can do just that…if the person in question is a debtor. Check out the rules on how to slap someone for a free drink below!
By Christopher Buehlman
Your friends in the Takers Guild wish you good luck and good health!
And what is luckier for the purse or healthier for the blood than a glass of wine, beer, or burnwater given gratis?
Your Guildron uncles, aunts, sisters and cousins invite you to claim the gift of the debtor’s hand when you should meet any person whatever bearing on their cheek the tattoo of the open hand.
And what a tattoo!
Only visible by firelight, and appearing as a rusty brown, not unlike Keshite henna, but not fading until their debt to the Guild is out of arrears.
To claim your gift, first ask of the barkeep if any has yet fetched the debtor a slap that night. If so, go your ways. If no, state your intent by saying for all to hear “I claim the Guild gift of this debtor,” or some such.
Once said, no other may claim the gift after you, unless you fail to strike within a pissing while.
Once said, the debtor may and must not speak to you so long as you speak not to them.
Once said, the debtor may in no wise flee!
Once said, the debtor may make or imply no threat to you or yours.
Strike then the debtor upon the cheek bearing the mark–right cheek for lesser debts, left cheek for greater–hard enough to be heard by all and felt by one.
Take care to use palm and fingers rather than heel, or the debtor may answer as they will.
A backhand may be offered fingers flat and not knuckles first, or the debtor may answer.
Strike not the ear, neck or temple, or the debtor may answer.
A fair and proper slap will have no answer, save your cup filled with what you please, and that the barkeep has to offer.
Any backtalk, backslap or other harm given or threatened for any fair and proper slap shall be the duty of the barkeep to sing at the Hanger’s House–under the sign of the hanged man holding his own noose–and the debtor will be summoned for a tonguewag, and more, on their fault depending.
To your best days and better nights!
CHRISTOPHER BUEHLMAN (he/him) is an author, comedian, and screenwriter from St. Petersburg, Florida. His novels include Those Across the River and The Suicide Motor Club, and his plays include The Last Neanderthals: A Paleolithic Comedy and Hot Nights for the War Wives of Ithaka. His latest book, The Blacktongue Thief, hits shelves on 05/25/2021.
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