Fiction

Bewildered Decisions in Times of Mercantile Terror

Jim Gavin

The pub was in the Richmond. It was nice and warm inside, and the walls were decorated with portraits of poets and rebels. He had been here a few times before with Nora, who described it as “a proper pub.” Now that she had money, Nora spent all of her vacations in Ireland. It was her bizarro way of establishing legitimacy, like some derelict countess tracing her bloodline to an ancient king. Bobby didn’t understand why someone who was born and raised in Southern California cared so much about a wet, miserable country she had no real connection to; but she always came back from her trips seeming refreshed, like she had gone home.

The girl tending bar looked underage. He asked if he could make a local call.

“I’ll let you dial the number,” he offered.

Her face was pale and freckled, like Nora’s, and once again Bobby wished he had shaved. She handed him the portable phone and walked down to the other end of the bar. When Nora didn’t answer her work phone, he quickly hung up and tried her cell. She didn’t answer, so he left a message:

“Hey, it’s Bobby. I hope you’re having a proactive day, adding value and so forth. I’m at the bar. I got her early. I’m going to run a tab and let you pay for it when you get here. I’ll probably need to stay at your place tonight. Also, my cell phone got turned off. And I need a new kidney. And the mob wants to kill me. And I’ve got the stigmata, again. Hurry up and get here.”

He gave back the phone and asked for the menu.

“They’re doing a pork chop tonight,” the bartender said. She had an Irish accent.

“That sounds great. I’ll start a tab.”

“I can’t run a tab without a credit card.”

“Where in Ireland are you from?”

“A small place. You’ve never heard of it.”

“I bet my cousin’s been there. You two should talk. She’ll be here soon. Do you know her? Nora Sullivan. She’s in here a lot.”

“I do know her,” she said. “She always puts ‘Fairytale of New York’ on the jukebox.”

“She said to go ahead and start a tab for her. She’s on her way.”

“I need a card.”

Bobby handed her a credit card. “This one’s expired, but just barely.”

Her face was blank, but somehow a friendly blank. She took the card, and he ordered a Guinness and a pork chop.

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