Thanks to: I must really thank my co-writer on this who wrote a lot more then I did. It's really been an honor working with you and I'm sure we'll have a chance to do it again if I have anything to say about it. And also thanks to anyone who decides to read this. Eveh
Thanks to: I would like to thank my partner in crime and co-author. You can be just as pushy as I am. I see you for the holidays. I would also like to thank anyone who reads my work. I guess there is a first time for everything. Tami
Please send all comments to Eveh at: XenGab01@aol.com
Or Tami at: Tamot@excite.com
So this is all that's left of O'Ryans, ashes where people used to be, the smell of burnt vinyl mixed in with alcohol and a charred sign. It seems like there's a part of me that's gone now.
"What can I get ya?"
"I'll have a beer. Thanks Shea."
As I filled Tom's mug with beer, his first of the night, I smiled knowing that it was only the first of many. Looking around I thought 'Yep. It was going to be the usual Friday night here at O'Ryans.'
Shea O'Ryan. I was named after my Da's mother. Da was the first O'Ryan to be born here in the US. He was also the only one to stay here. The rest of the clan went back to Ireland years before I was born. They have all since been buried along with Da. Now it is just me. Me and O'Ryans, Da's bar.
I often refer to it as my mother since my own Mother did not see fit to stay and raise me. I don't blame her. She was young when she had me. She felt like she needed to have a life before she was responsible for one.
Nope, she never taught me anything but this bar has. I have been here my entire life. I would come straight to the bar after-school. I would watch Da talking to his customers and pouring drinks. After high school, I worked here with Da until the day he died 10 year ago on my twenty-first birthday. "wrong place at the wrong time" is what the officer said the morning Da didn't return. Who knew that the bakery would catch on fire that day and Da would try to be a hero? He was just there to pick up my cake. I haven't been able to eat cake since that day. Now my birthdays just come and go like any of the other 364 days a year.
To this day I can still here his voice telling me, "Lass you had better keep a good head on that glass or you'll lose customers." He used that saying for working at the bar. He used it for when I graduated high school. He even used it when he told me the facts of life when I was sixteen.
"Can I get another?"
"Another beer coming up. Here you go Tom."
God, I miss him.
"Shea I'll have the usual and a glass of white."
"Sure Eric. It's slow right now so I'll bring it to your table."
Eric Moore. Scotch neat. You can tell a lot about a person by their choice of drink. Eric was a hard-nosed private investigator who worked about as much as he drank. I know he has an office on this block but I think he only uses it when O'Ryans is closed. Today he is sitting across from a long legged blond woman. From the looks of it she doesn't seem happy. But then again, I can't think of a happy reason to hire a PI.
"Mr. Moore, have you made any progress at all in finding my husband?' Apparently this woman didn't notice me when I brought their drinks. Or she just didn't care.
"Well Mrs. Harris, you could say that I have made progress. I have found Mr. Harris. I found him last night at the Hidden Cove Motel." Poor Eric. He looks like it was a rough night.
"Oh! Mr. Moore that's wonderful! Tell me where that is and I'll be going. Oh! Here is your money?"
"Hold on ma'am. That's not all I found. Your husband wasn't alone. Apparently He didn't disappear. He left to shack up with his girlfriend."
"Girlfriend?! What in the Hell are you talking about?! My husband does not have a Girlfriend!"
"I'm sorry but your husband has been seeing this woman for sometime now. I have evidence to prove that they have been seeing each other for at least 5 years."
"WHAT?! Who? Who has he been sleeping with for half of our married life? Tell me Dam it! Who?"
"Hey calm down lady. I am just telling you what I have found out. He is with a woman named Carrie Dalton. They apparently met at some convention and have been seeing each other since."
"Shea, I'll have another."
"Sure thing Tom."
I can't imagine what that poor woman is going through. To find out that your husband has left you and not just disappeared as you originally thought. Then again I have never even had a boyfriend. Let alone someone who was cheating on me.
"Hey. Can I get a vodka cranberry and a martini?"
"Here you go."
Cindy Thomas. Vodka cranberry. Cindy comes in maybe twice a week. Each week it's with a different guy. Tonight is no different. Hum? he looks nothing like the normal guys Cindy dates.
"So I was thinking that maybe this weekend we could drive to Portland and I can introduce you to my mother. Oh. It will be great! She is just going to love you. You know mom thinks it's about time I get married and settle down. Oh I know what you are thinking it's too early for that but I'm not thinking right away but sometime around Christmas?"
"Gerald. Would you please stop talking? I have something I want to say to you." Oh boy. It's not even 8 o'clock yet and Cindy is already on the break up path. Again.
"Gerald, I think you are a lovely man and any woman would be happy to be with you. It's just that I am not really good at relationships. I never date the same guy more the twice."
"Oh. I see. It's my nose isn't it?"
"No. There is nothing wrong with your nose Gerald. You have so many wonderful qualities and I am sure that someone is just waiting for you?"
"If it's not my nose then it must be my hair. I swear Cindy, I have an appointment for the hair transplant next week. I guess I can see if they can reschedule for tomorrow. I can tell them it is an emergency."
"Gerald, it isn't your hair either. We just don't share a lot in common. I'm sorry, but that is all there is to it. I don't think we should see each other again."
"But.. but.. What do I tell mother?"
"I don't know Gerald. Tell her whatever you want."
"Another beer here Shea."
"Coming right up Tom."
I'm surprised that guy lasted to the second date. Cindy doesn't usually date such mamma's boys. Then again I guess I'm a daddy's girl and I don't date.
"Hi I'll just have a coffee."
"Umm.. sure. Just a sec."
Coffee. This woman's new. I don't remember the last time someone new walked into this place. It's just the same faces night after night. I know I have never seen her before. Tall, thick dark hair, suit, deep blue eyes.
"Hey Bill. It's Sloan. I just wanted to remind you that I wont be at the firehouse until tomorrow. Yeah the wedding was nice. But what would you expect from my sister. We Reilly's know how to through a party. Well I'll see you tomorrow."
"Hey Shea. I'll take another."
"Here you go Tom."
Wow. Irish firefighter. How have I missed her?
"What can I getcha?"
"I'll have a gin and tonic."
"Make mine a screwdriver."
Gwen Larson and Sam Parker. Gin and tonic and a Screwdriver. For the past 2 years they have been coming to O'Ryans every Friday. They sit in the same dark booth in the corner. I know why but there is no way I am going to talk about that.
"So tell me Samantha how was your day?"
"Do you really want to know Gwennie?"
"Stop it Samantha. Move your hand. At least let me finish my drink first."
"Come on Gwennie. Please? I promise I won't do anything to spill your drink. This time."
"Get that look out of your eyes Sam and tell me how your day was."
"Oh okay. Well you know the Harper showing is next weekend right? Well today I spent my time on the phone trying to explain to Jonathan Harper that the gallery would not allow him to display what he calls a masterpiece. I'm sorry but my God, it's a 30 foot waterfall made out of used band-aids. So instead of talking to the caterers and the publicity people, I had to coddle that no talent hack and make him think it was his idea not to use that damn fountain.'
"Now Samantha, calm down. I for one am looking forward to seeing Jonathan's new work. I liked his last show."
"It's just not right Gwennie. You are so much more talented then he can ever hope of being. It should be your show we're getting ready for. Not that waist of wall space, Harper."
"Sam, stop pouting. I swear you can be such a child. Don't worry about my art. I know I'm good and I know I will get my shot some day. Right now I am just enjoying myself and our time together."
"Oh, you are so sappy?. so you done with your drink yet?'
"Another beer here."
"Another beer Tom."
I really don't have a problem with Gwen and Sam. I just wish they wouldn't do that in my booth. Well maybe if Tom has his usual number of beers tonight, by closing I can con him into wiping down that booth. Again. Eew.
"Oh Deary. I'll have a grasshopper."
"Sure thing Mrs. Matthews."
Edna Matthews. Grasshopper. She was my fifth grade math teacher. I remember when she came into the bar that first time after her husband Albert had died. I didn't know what to say to her. I was only ten at the time. So I just sat there and watched my Da console her. Albert had been to this bar every Friday since Da had opened it. Now she comes in on the first Friday of every month and talks to her dead husband.
"Well Albert, what do you think I should do Saturday morning?"
"What was that dear? You think I should go to the park? That would be nice. I can sit under a tree and have a picnic. You have always liked my fried chicken, so I will make a batch. The weather should be good but I will have to go at the right time."
"Well it is Seattle. So it will rain. Maybe around 11 o'clock?"
"Now where did we leave off last month? Oh yes I was telling you that Ethel Jordan had died. I am reminding you that you are to stay away from that hussy. I don't want to come up there and find out that you have been messing around with that woman."
"I understand that our vows said 'til death parts us'. I have no problem with you messing around with other women until I join you. Just leave that tramp alone."
"If you think about it there really isn't a lot of chance for her is there. I mean you have Marilyn Monroe and Jacky Kennedy up there to play with."
"Now don't you tell me you aren't messing with them Albert. I have known you for 77 years and I know what a slave to your hormones you are. Always have been."
"Oh listen Albert, I wanted to make sure you remembered to say hi to my mother last month. I know she drives you crazy but she is still my mother."
"Well dear, I guess I will see you soon then."
"Hello? Hello one more beer to go."
"Here you go Tom. But since it's not 12 yet I left it in a mug. You know your aren't leaving yet."
Poor old lady. She really is sweet. I can't imagine getting that old and talking to my dead husband at a bar. But then again I haven't lived the life she has nor have I seen one tenth of what she's seen.
So this is all that's left of O'Ryans; Ashes where people used to be, the smell of burnt vinyl mixed in with alcohol and a charred sign.
Is this really all I have to show for my life, my Da's bar sign and ashes?
The bar stool where Tom always ordered his beer from. The table where Eric had his scotch and met his clients. The booth where Cindy took her boyfriends before a breakup. The bar stool that Sloan had sat on once. The back booth where Gwen and Sam went at it. The table where Edna spoke to her late husband Albert. All of them gone.
Now what Da? Now what do I do?
"Umm excuse me miss but you have to move on now."
I turn around to the face a now somewhat familiar voice and look straight into the same blue eyes that I had seen for the first time in my bar not so long ago. It's Sloan and her face is partially covered in dark ash.
"Yeah, I guess I do."
"Look," Sloan took off her protective hat and ran a dirty hand through her dark hair. "I'm really sorry about your bar. I haven't really been here that long, but I've heard how much it meant to you." She wiped her hand on her dirty pants and offered it to me. "I'm Sloan by the way."
I just nodded my head and shook the dirty hand. "I know. I'm Shea."
"It's nice to meet you Shea," Sloan looked around at the ash and rubble. "Do you need a ride home or anything?"
I look deeply into the charred remains once again. "This is home," I tell her solemnly. "Why don't you just take me out to an early breakfast instead?"
"Sure, I can do that." Sloan offers me her hand, which I hesitantly take, and leads me past the ashes of O'Ryans.
As I walk away I feel that my Da is watching me from above giving me permission to finally walk away, and I can't help but smile because for some reason I feel like I've gained my freedom.