Bill Engleson (@billmelaterplea) flew the highest this week and takes his seventh win!
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I met him that one and only time in the Grilled to the Gills Public House in Winchester City. Late July 2021. I had been on the road for two days, was exhausted from wandering in circles, just reuniting with the freedom of travel, the temporary relief from Covid confinement, and needed a stopover somewhere. The Hotel clerk recommended the Pub as a safe place for strangers to wet their whistle and maybe cut loose.
I wasn’t much for cutting loose but enjoyed being near those who could.
When I entered, the smell of sweat and beer was intoxicating. People were clustered like ants, maskless, free, and feeling their oats. I admit I was slightly overtaken by virus heebie-jeebies and thought to back out and isolate. Off against a far wall, I saw him, alone, safely distanced, and masked.
I donned mine and snaked my way through the masses to an empty table next to his.
The din was massive, but I gave him a wave as if to say we were companions in the chaos. He hailed me over to the empty chair at his table.
“Lloyd,” he said.
“Steve,” I replied.
“We’re the only two.”
“I noticed. Then you believe…?”
“That it isn’t over? You’re darn tootin’. This Virus hasn’t even taken a day off. Growin’ like stink.”
“Yet here you are?”
“Taking a risk, I know. Thought I would take one last look at local humanity before it all blows up.”
My beer came, I ordered a second round. We sat there, nodding in our bleak wisdom, and then parted.
The next day, I began the journey home. I’d had my fill of optimism, of travel. Lloyd had been a godsend, reaffirming the horror that I knew awaited.