Larry listened for the horn on his Beemer to reassure him that it had locked. It blared and he slid the starter fob into his blazer pocket, twirling it by the blue and white propellor logo with slight wrist and finger movements. Dropping it to silky waves, he reached for the cold door handle.
A creak followed him into the single-room bar; he left his coat on a near-empty rack beside the entrance, making sure to place his jacket opposite the only other, which he assumed belonged to the sole occupant of the counter. A man in a gray t-shirt sat there, slumped onto his own forearms in a potential late-afternoon nap. The rest of the room was relatively vacant: a couple in the booth on the far wall, two waiters standing around a trodden greeting stand, and a bartender with a name tag that read “James” made up the remaining population. He blew warm air into cupped hands and blinked, shaking chills of late autumn from his skin.
McGasey’s Pub was dimly lit by cheap Wal-Mart bulbs, making the white walls look almost yellow and reminding him of the Italian restaurant in his hometown. The floorboards were rough and discolored — some lazy craftsman had skimped on the sanding job — and the ceiling was low, stained with watermarks and a couple unidentifiable gray streaks. Larry sighed and pushed his hands — dried by the cold — through thinning brown hair, noting the Red Sox playoff game on a scratchy television screen suspended above a corner booth.
October ball in a neglected, Americanized version of the Mos Eisley Cantina. Gotta love Boston.
The gray-shirted man, sitting up now, seemed to be keeping a lazy eye on the game, the other remained trained on the bottom of his umpteenth beer. Larry assumed he wasn’t a Sox fan; the team had made it to the second round of playoffs, sweeping Cleveland early, and the rest of the city would be at Fenway by now, the top of the third inning. He sat a few tattered leather stools closer to the screen than the drunk man and signaled for the bartender.
“Crown Royal. Neat, please. Twelve bucks for half the good stuff and some ice just doesn’t seem worth it tonight.” The young man behind the counter nodded indifferently, rubbed his hands on a white rag tucked into his waist — stained just enough to make guests uncomfortable, sticking to the theme in McGasey’s — and moved towards the back of the bar.
Larry turned to face the screen, watched Rick Porcello throw a changeup that embarrassed an Oakland hitter, and waited patiently for his whisky.
“Porcello guy is nasty, eh?” He heard an unfamiliar voice from behind. It was the other customer; slobber half-hung from his lower lip as he raised a pointed finger noticeably to the left of the T.V. He burped quietly, more of a hiccup, really, then continued. “Been watching guys miss that change-up all night.”
Larry turned to face the man who had joined him, “I’m Nick. Pleasure.” The man hesitated between words, but found his footing.
“Larry.” they shook hands. “What brings ya here? Everyone from Cape Cod to Michigan is at the Park right now.” Nick waved a feeble hand in the direction of his new friend and turned away momentarily.
“There’s more important stuff, Larry. Like religion,” he held up the beer he had been nursing — okay, drowning in — and began to chuckle. “Because, y’know what, Larry? Y’know what God…created on the eighth day? Booze, my friend. Booze and beer.”
Larry grinned. “That right? Well then, on the ninth, he musta conjured up the hangover.” Nick howled at the casual rebuttal, spittle flying behind the bar and decorating a few loose bottles of liquor. He took a moment to catch his breath, almost spilling the last of his drink in the process, and slapped his palms on the table, more confident now.
“So, who ya got, Sox or A’s? Hate to be a, uh, what’s the word?” His eyes rolled to the ceiling as he subconsciously sipped at his beer. Evidently, he expected the vocabulary to crumble through the drywall. “Ah! A fair weather fan, but that A’s kid, that Bailey kid can play with the best of ‘em. I think he’s gonna lead them against our boys. Might take six games,” he hiccupped, “but they’re gonna win.”
Larry accepted his Royal from the bartender, swished a sip around his teeth and swallowed. “I’m gonna disagree with you there, Nick. Sox have got a young outfield, all of whom can hit like Mo Vaughn used to — remember Mo? — and a mean pitching staff. Best in the league. They’re bringing home the big one this year. Start preppin’ for a parade now.”
“You think? Well… guess we’ll see soon enough. You have a good night, bud. Forgive me, but I forgot your name. James, Jackie,” he waved to the bartender and a waiter leaning on the wall towards the kitchen. “See ya tomorrow. ‘Til then.” He saluted Larry and stumbled out the front door, leaving his coat behind.
“He gonna be okay?” Larry leaned in and spoke quietly to James.
“Yeah, he’ll be fine. Every day, that one. Drinks on the house, most nights. Learned the hard way the guy can’t afford his alcoholism.”
“Well, tell ya what: I’ll pick him up tonight. Sound good?”
Larry returned home about an hour and another glass of Royal later. He slumped onto his leather couch and flicked on the widescreen television, just in time to see Harrison Bailey get a hold of a curve Porcello left up in the zone. It flew over the Green Monster in left field and bounced off a few cars in the compressed staff parking lot out back. Larry groaned; the three-run shot put Oakland up one in the eighth, but felt himself smile when that Bailey kid landed on home plate and pointed to the sky.
This short story is part of a partnership between Battlefield High School and Piedmont Lifestyle Magazines to enable students to publish their writing, photography, and artwork.
About the Author: Sam Scott is a senior and third year creative writing student under Mr. Bridges at Battlefield High School. He idolizes and draws influence from Edgar Poe, Stephen King, and Elsa from Frozen. Sam hopes to study English in college, but he wouldn’t be opposed to a career in Biochemical Engineering if it means he would be able to do the whole Jurassic Park thing.