SICK CALL - KIERAN SHEA
“That smarmy looking prick over there be the one who left with Suzie, your cousin,” Donohue said.
Donohue eased his meaty presence back behind the bar as Timbo creased his copy of the New York Daily News. Timbo slurped down a bitter knot of warm coffee and gave Donohue a nod of thanks. Donohue left the keys and towels on the bar and slipped past the taps into the bar’s galley kitchen, shooing his Guatemalans out the back. Good guy that Donohue. Timbo owed him one.
Timbo’s eyes drifted across the ranks of bottles before him and then took in the mid-September afternoon light slashing past that fat shamrock in the middle of the bar’s front window. Sputtering shadows from a curb-choked tree shivered on the glass and on the white tiled floor.
God how Timbo used to love Fall. September used to mean better things when he was a kid coming up. Football pick-up games in the street instead of stick, Rangers season around the corner, chasing all that fresh high school poon. Now September meant the Yankees and the Mets had probably screwed the pooch and everybody itchy remembering how a perfect blue morning years ago got yanked the fuck apart.
Timbo eased off his barstool and walked to the bar’s front door. A quick glance right and then left assessed an empty sidewalk. Not that anyone cared anyway. Anything went down in Donohue’s, unless you were a total idiot or an honest cop, you knew to turn both eyes blind.
He slipped the marked key into the top lock, twisted, and then he shot the bolt below.
Timbo half-expected the kid to look up but he was texting something into his faggy, little cell phone. Plus the kid had ear buds in, the white wires snaking to a player stashed in his t-shirt’s pocket like a forbidden deck of smokes. Spent a lot of cash on ink, all artistic-like, a veritable neon sign saying I’m a pussy. Skinny arms. Piercings. What did his cousin Suzie see in this peg-legged, droopy hair doofus Timbo had no idea. Didn’t matter. Family is family and those piercings would be the third thing to go. After the teeth, after the bones.
Timbo pocketed the keys and took the corner two stools away, standing. Knocked twice on the rail.
The kid looked up from his cell phone and uncorked an ear, “Yeah?”
“You know what time it is?”
“Uh, the time? Yeah. It’s just after two-thirty.”
Timbo pointed to the half-empty pint of draft and cocked a grin, “Kinda early.”
The kid set his phone down on the bar and coughed into his fist, “Well, I’m kind of thirsty.”
Timbo nodded, “Ain’t that the truth...”
The second ear bud was tugged free. “I like to stop off somewhere for a pop, you know, before I head in for my shift. Eases the pain of going in.”
Timbo turned his head and checked the window again, “My old man always said no one should begrudge a working man a drink.”
Christ, thought Timbo. Another transplant talking chocolate drop. Talk like that? I can drop you off in a nice little piece of Bed-Stuy where they will positively love you.
“Where’s work then?”
“Oh. You mean what do I do?” Smarmy prick swallowed an inch of his beer, “It’s going to sound lame but I’m kind of a waiter over at Ruby Tuesday’s. I mean, I’m looking for something better, but I got to pay the bills, right? Just moved up here from Georgia a few month ago. Went to Tech. Business. Tough as fucking nails out there.”
“Don’t I know it. That Ruby Tuesday, is that the one over on Seventh Avenue?”
“Yeah, why? Fuckin’ hell hole. You know it?”
Timbo wrapped his hands in the bar towels Donohue gave him. “Nah, not really. But somebody’s going to have to give them a call.”
BIO: Jersey born writer Kieran Shea scratches at the eight ball of crime fiction and his character Charlie Byrne has graced ATON plenty of times before. He blogs the struggle and other musings at BLACK IRISH BLARNEY.