Home » Uncategorized » Scenes from a Roman Taverna: Fatherhood

Scenes from a Roman Taverna: Fatherhood

‘I’m starting to think that we’ll never get that reward, Calgacus,’ Antonius moaned.
Calgacus just grunted and slapped lime mortar on the previous brick course.
‘I mean, it’s been several days now. Little bitch is probably dead.’
‘Probably,’ said Calgacus,’ yes, she’s probably dead, so no reward for us or anyone else. So we can stop talking about it and get on with the work that we are being paid for.’
‘You’re in a mood today. Got turned down by the Vicus trash again?’
Calgacus thought for a moment. Antonius was an idiot and a gossip. And that was possibly just what he needed to spread lies indiscriminately around the town.
‘Antonius,’ he sighed,’ can I let you in on a secret?’
‘Of course, you know I won’t say a thing to anyone.’
Calgacus wondered if the other man really believed that was true. Probably he did. We cannot often see our own faults, Calgacus reflected before taking a deliberately dramatic deep breath.
‘I have just found out I have a son.’
‘What!’ Antonius’ eyes were wide. Calgacus had to make an effort not to laugh.
‘Yes, it’s true. Some prostitute I went with… Years ago when I was a boy… Seems she got pregnant and hid the child from me. Well, then she found out that she’d caught something and was dying of it, so she was desperate to find someone to look after the kid – he’s only about nine, you see.’
‘Well, she found me!’ Calgacus exclaimed,’ my bad luck again. Then she promptly fell into Hades.’
‘So what are you going to do,’ Antonius said, half checking the plans for the next wall, but clearly more interested in the unfolding domestic drama.
‘What can I do? I have to look after the kid.’
‘That’s awful. What’s he like?’
‘Oh, he’s OK. Nice lad, a bit, a bit…’ Calgacus suppressed a grin,’ a bit of a girl, if you see what I mean. Not very manly…’
‘Yeah, they often are at that age,’ Antonius laughed,’ he’ll grow out of it.’
‘Um, maybe…’
‘So where is he?’
‘Working – found a job for him at the Disconsolate Hyena.’
‘That’s the Gaul place, down near the North Gate?’
‘That’s the one.’
‘Good sausages, I hear.’
‘Apparently,’ said Calgacus. His fish was hooked.
‘Well, um, congratulations, I guess,’ Antonius said after a few moments hard thinking.
‘Well, for being a dad and all that,’ Antonius replied,’ Mariana and I have been trying for years for one, and you get a little boy fully formed from nowhere. I guess the gods must like you for some reason.’
Calgacus suddenly felt terribly guilty for reasons he did not quite understand.
‘Thank you Antonius.’
‘No problem.’
There was a difficult silence.
‘Is it just me, or are there a lot of soldiers about today?’ Calgacus said, really for a way of changing the subject. Although the more he looked the more it was clear that there were indeed a lot more legionnaires running around, and most of them looked stressed.
‘No, you’re right. Maybe they are having an exercise this week.’
‘Maybe,’ Calgacus said doubtfully.
‘Well, we can always ask… Look, that’s Sextus just there, I run into him at the theatre sometimes, decent enough bloke, for someone from Hispania. Sextus!’
Antonius left his charts and ran over to the soldier who smiled in recognition, but only briefly. A short conversation ensued which ended with Sextus running off towards the Forum.
Antonius walked back slowly, a grim look on his face.
‘Not good news my friend,’ Antonius said,’ you’d better look to that young boy of yours.’
‘A rebellion is started. The Iceni have burned Camulodunum. Killed pretty much everyone, and now they are apparently marching on Londinium.’
‘And if they aren’t stopped there…’ Calgacus felt himself cold.
Hiding Vita was suddenly exposed as the small game it was in comparison to this calamity.
‘Then we’re next,’ moaned Antonius.


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