Clyde knows about the ongoing challenge amongst his patrons, it’s hard not to when every night he’s bombarded with any number of bad jokes and dumb things from the internet that he doesn’t understand. It only started a few months ago, somebody suddenly deciding that they wanted to hear him laugh for no other reason than having done it. And since Clyde isn’t known to crack a smile much less laugh it grew big and got out of hand.
To his knowledge the grand prize has become free drinks for a month. With something like that in reach it’s gotten to be so much Clyde’s mood only sours whenever some drunk hillbilly comes up to tell him a joke he’s heard a hundred times by now.
He’s become more determined not to laugh than he’s ever been. No way on God’s green earth is anyone in this bar going to get to hear him laugh.
Or that was the plan until Stensland came sauntering in on a Saturday evening looking like his usual colourful self. Now that’s a man Clyde would both laugh and smile for if he’d let him.
Looking up from the ground, Stensland is the one wearing a smile as he’s walking up to where Clyde is clearing a table to help the servers out a little. Clyde very nearly smiles back, caught up in the way his copper hair is combed all nicely and he’s even wearing a polka dot tie that would look more at home on a rodeo clown; he’s dressed up.
Then suddenly he’s gone from Clyde’s field of vision, conversation halts completely and the jukebox spitting out a Dwight Yoakam song is the only sound apart from a thud and a groan.
Clyde snorts, the corner of his mouth ticking up despite his efforts to restrain it. Looking down he finds Stensland face first on the floor, his hair back in disarray. A thickly accented, muffled swear emerges from under the flat out ginger and before Clyde knows it there’s a giggle bubbling up his throat that turns into a full on laugh while he picks Stensland up off the floor and helps dust him off.
The stunned silence goes on for what feels like forever but Stens’ beet red face remains the centre of his attention while he snorts and chortles his way back into a giggle.
From everywhere around there’s a collective groan of disappointment that comes with losing out on a month of free drinks that ends as abruptly as it started when Stensland sheepishly fishes a crushed wildflower out of his shirt pocket and hands it over with a pout. “It made me think of you,” he mumbles, Clyde smiling like an idiot at the gesture.
Now all eyes are on them for a different reason while Clyde processes that Stensland dressed up for him.
Carefully he takes the wonky flower with a few missing petals and tucks it behind his ear, feeling warm all over from the way that sad look on Stensland’s face melts away a brilliant grin that Clyde can’t wait to see every day for the rest of his life if he should be so lucky.