I’m in a pub in Malta, full of retired British men passing the evening the proper way. I sit on a tall bar stool next to an old timer with a heavy accent. I have a hard time understanding him at first, but his accent disappears as I drink. Soon I can understand him clear as day. With enough alcohol, I can even understand a foreign language. I suspect bartenders are slipping me a babel fish without my knowledge.

He asks my name.

“Bradford Boyle,” I reply.

“I knew you were Irish,” he says.

I had always been told my family was from Wales.

“No,” I reply.  “From Wales.”

We get into a short spat and he lets the subject drop. We drink more.

I lean back on the tall bar stool, which does not agree with the new distribution of weight. Backwards the stool and I go, slamming onto the floor. Drunk and stunned, I lie there. My drinking companion stands and leans over me. He jams his finger into my face. His accent is back.

“I told you you were fucking Irish.”

—Bradford Grant Boyle