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When I went in that first afternoon the place was empty. Then I saw someone kneeling at the far end apparently searching for something on the floor. He looked up as I came in. He was wearing khaki trousers and a Hawaiian shirt which, for some reason, made me assume he was the barman.

‘Good afternoon,’ he said. ‘I’m trying to catch a frog.’

I waited while he did this. Then he brought it over to show me - a small green tree frog, its throat pulsating uncontrollably.

‘I’ll have a beer,’ I said. ‘As soon as you’re ready.’

He pushed the frog out through some glass windows at the end of the bar, before going behind it and pouring me a glass of beer.

‘How much?,’ I said.

‘The house will pay.’

Then he engaged me in conversation in the time-honoured barkeeper-to-client manner: ‘Where are you from? How long are you staying?’. Fairly soon I began to suspect he might be the manager - he seemed far too forward and intelligent to be running a cocktail bar in the Airport Hotel. By the time he asked me to have dinner with him that night I realised I’d been had.

‘You thought I was the barman,’ he said with some glee. ‘Admit it. I got you.’ He was very pleased with his subterfuge.

‘Not for one second,’ I said. ‘ I knew it as soon as you opened the bottle.’

 

WILLIAM BOYD