"I don't smoke." A quiet voice, tense.
American accent. Bernard looked closer. Skinny kid, punk hairdo, didn't look like a tourist. Tourists also generally didn't frequent alleys behind pubs on drizzly nights. Pub. They'd thrown him out, the bastards. "Mindless establishment pawns!" He banged his fist on the wall, yelling. "You'll get no more of my business!" The cigarette, too soggy to light anyway, dropped unnoticed from his lips. "Do you know how to make toast?"
Nny looked down, confused. He was backpacking across Europe, just like those guy in that movie, only no werewolf had attacked him. TV had let him down again. And now he was in some soggy back street in... he thought he was in England, but the drunk yelling at the wall sounded Irish, so he wasn't sure any more. "Are you asking me to make toast? Did someone tell you I was a toast provider? Do you expect me to transform a piece of soggy cardboard into a crisp and delicious baked treat with the power of my will?" Idly, he wondered if the half-charged taser in his pocket would toast bread. It was an experiment that insisted upon being carried out, and now he wouldn't be able to rest until he tried it. "Preparing toast might be among the skills I possess."
"I... want... TOAST!" A light mist was falling. There was just enough light to make out the guy's hair, curling in the damp night air. "Make me some toast?"
He was used to hearing the ubiquitous brainless wads of hostility he encountered begging and pleading, but Nny couldn't remember being asked for toast. It was a novelty that managed somehow not to be irritating, and such things deserved rewarding.
Bernard was leaning on the skinny American's shoulders, steering him, keeping up a steady monologue of nothing in particular and staggering only a little. For such a scrawny kid, he was remarkably strong. When they reached the shop, it took half a dozen tries for him to sort out which of the two locks hovering in his briefly doubled vision was the proper one, and to get the key securely into it, but once he had, it clicked open smoothly. He stepped backward into the darkened room. "Welcome to my humble estabilishimen-" He was cut short when he stumbled backward over a pile of books.
Nny prowled the dark shop, aimlessly caressing the spines of the books surrounding him. It smelled like dust and wine and tobacco. "Where's this bread you wanted me to toast?"
His inebriated host had managed to lift himself to his feet and stagger into the kitchen, turning on a ceiling lamp that swayed precipitously. Following him, Nny rummaged around in the kitchen, staring in puzzlement at some of the curious objects in the refrigerator, so fuzzy with mould their shapes were indistinct. Eventually a squashed loaf, crust dotted with what might well be a cure for staph infections. He tossed it onto the table.
Watching the skinny kid blunder around, Bernard tried to focus. He really was skinny, making him look taller than he actually was, and the stripes he seemed to favour only enhanced the impression. Tall. Why would anyone need to look tall? Did he have a night job as a ladder and had to fake his qualifications? When the loaf of bread hit the table with a solid thump, he flinched involuntarily. "The toaster's..."
But he wasn't even looking. He was pressing something black and sleek to what had been a loaf of ageing bread, but after a buzz and a flash had become a charred lump smelling faintly of the melted plastic wrapper. "What the buggering hell was that all about? Did I say, 'please, skinny American youth, turn my food into charcoal'? Shall I get a few more loaves, and we can have a barbecue? Is this some haute cuisine I was previously unaware of? Are you, in fact, a cutting edge chef of the new burn-the-fuck-out-of-things school, or are you merely some sort of breadicidal maniac?"
Nny dropped the butcher knife carelessly as he left. He hadn't bothered to check if the drunk guy was still breathing. He WAS on vacation, after all.