The glass crashed over the side of the boat as he lost his footing and fell, the sound of him hitting the deck drowning out the muffled sound of the drink he had thrown disappearing into the sea, diminishing the efficacy of the gesture.
Nobody dared utter a word, not even a flicker of a smirk crossed their faces as he rose unsteadily to his feet. Nobody wanted to be next.
‘Anybody else have something they’d like to say to me?’ he shouted, to nobody in particular, waiting for somebody else to challenge him. ‘Come on now, we were all so chatty a moment ago, are we scared to talk all of a sudden?’
Eyes locked firmly to the ground as no one dared to meet his gaze.
It had been a quiet evening in the docks until that moment, but that was precisely the point. You never knew what would set him off. You could bring up the same joke that he was laughing about yesterday and today it would spark an explosion. Normally, it depended how much of the fiery brown liquid had passed between his lips, but even that was no guarantee of safety.
The children had scattered, looking for somewhere to hide from their father’s sudden rage. No doubt tomorrow it would be they that would be dragged out in front of him to apologise for making him act that way, for embarrassing him in front of his friends. Perhaps he would have to smack some sense into them, to show them just how disrespectful they had been to him and his guests.
He was the head of this household, and a king can’t show any weakness. Weak kings are dead kings, irrelevant kings, and he wasn’t ready for that, not yet. He’d worked too hard to provide for these ungrateful wretches, and it was about time they showed him a little respect. They would learn, whether they liked it or not. You don’t provoke the king.
Shoutout as ever to Laura Feasey for her excellent prompts. Got me in a real writing mood as soon as I got back from my writing-limiting holiday, so very grateful for that!