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Scenes from a Roman Taverna: Castor

‘So you are sure you have not seen this girl? You are really sure?’ Castor asked the man at the table.
Castor sipped his wine. He had drunk worse. At least the sausages were good at this bar. He could do with some more.
‘Boy, come here.’
A young blonde boy with delicate features came over and stood attentively. He was a pretty boy too. As it happens Castor wasn’t interested in such things and the child was too young anyway, but he had come across plenty who did.
‘More sausages boy, and, yes, more wine I think.’
‘Yes sir,’ said the boy as he took the coin and ran over to large, big nosed man who seemed to be one of the owners. He looks like a Gaul, Castor thought, rather than a local man, which was a little odd. His partner, who busied around the bar like a mother hen and could not seem to stand still for a minute, also had a foreign look for these parts.
Unlike the man sat at the table with him, who had that ingrained stupid look that most of the British tribes seemed to possess.
‘No. Not yet, we are still out looking for her,’ the thug said,’ most of my – well shall we call them associates?’ He leered, ’have been quite enthusiastic considering the side of the reward. But no dice, to my mind she’s either hiding or dead.’
Castor looked at the man in front of him and successfully hid his disdain.
The man was a criminal, a thief and probably a murderer too. But his sort knew the underworld of the city better than anyone, and Castor was sure that if the brat was still alive that would be the pit in which she would be hiding. So it meant dealing with people like this.
People like he had been before he had taken his chance and pulled himself out of the gutter.
‘Well, you can add another ten denarii as a finder’s fee in addition if you make sure that the news gets to me first. Double it if you can bring the girl to me. She doesn’t have to be alive, but you’ll only get the reward for a corpse if you can really prove it is her.’
‘So you do mean you want her alive then?’
Oh, he was not quite as stupid as he looked. Castor had no doubt that this man would happily kill another innocent and try and pass the body off for this level of reward. Or even for much less, he sadly reflected. He just nodded.
‘Do I bring her to the Mansio?’
‘No, but you can contact me there. We’d do the exchange somewhere else. Somewhere like this place for example. I’m sure the owners would take a private booking for a small fee.’
‘You mean Exuperatus and Senodo? Probably, though my sort don’t come here much,’ the man said glancing over at the bar,’ I don’t think they like trouble.’
‘None of us like trouble. Although I thought it came with bar trade. Oh, thank you.’
The boy had returned with the food and drink.
‘Good lad. I don’t suppose you’ve seen the little girl everyone is looking for.’
The boy looked away as though the question had surprised him.
That’s a little strange, Castor thought. Was that just shyness or was there something else?
‘Uh… No sir. I’d be after the reward myself, sir,’ said the boy, still not making eye contact. He scurried away before Castor could ask another question.
‘How long has that boy been working here?’
‘What? Oh that lad. Don’t know really. Not long though. Does it matter?’
Castor shrugged.
‘Probably not… Now, leave me to my wine.’
The man left. Castor stared over at the bar and watched the boy talking to the smaller man. He guessed that was probably the one called Exuperatus. People tended to fit their names, Castor had found, and Senodo fitted the big nosed man much better. Either way the little man seemed to have become quite agitated. He kept glancing over towards where Castor was sitting.
‘Interesting…’ Castor said into his wine,’ I think I will find out a little more about this place and these two Gauls.’
And that boy, he thought. Catch a thief with a thief, catch a child with a child, perhaps?
He downed his wine. It was time to go and meet the Boss at the bath house.
He certainly felt he needed a bath after spending time with the city scum. And no matter how urgent the investigation, there was always time for a nice hot bath.


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