The little man nodded. “Yer. H. P. Lovecraft. I don’t know what the fuss is about. He couldn’t bloody write.” He slurped his stout, then licked the foam from his lips with a long and flexible tongue. “I mean, for starters, you look at them words he used. Eldritch. You know what eldritch means?”
Ben shook his head. He seemed to be discussing literature with two strangers in an English pub while drinking beer. He wondered for a moment if he had become someone else, while he wasn’t looking. The beer tasted less bad, the farther down the glass he went, and was beginning to erase the lingering aftertaste of the cherryade.
“Eldritch. Means weird. Peculiar. Bloody odd. That’s what it means. I looked it up. In a dictionary. And gibbous?”
Ben shook his head again.
“Gibbous means the moon was nearly full. And what about that one he was always calling us, eh? Thing. Wossname. Starts with a b. Tip of me tongue . . .”
“Bastards?” suggested Wilf.
“Nah. Thing. You know. Batrachian. That’s it. Means looked like frogs.”
“Hang on,” said Wilf. “I thought they was, like, a kind of camel.”
Seth shook his head vigorously. “S’definitely frogs. Not camels. Frogs.”
“Anyway. H. P. Lovecraft. He’d write one of his bloody sentences. Ahem. ‘The gibbous moon hung low over the eldritch and batrachian inhabitants of squamous Dulwich.’ What does he mean, eh? What does he mean? I’ll tell you what he bloody means. What he bloody means is that the moon was nearly full, and everybody what lived in Dulwich was bloody peculiar frogs. That’s what he means.”
“What about the other thing you said?” asked WIlf.
“Squamous. Wossat mean, then?”
Seth shrugged. “Haven’t a clue,” he admitted. “But he used it an awful lot.”