November 12, 2009

Ally Given, installment #3

“Ally, go get your father for dinner”

Okay. She puts on the Adidas sneakers she has attentively kept shiny white for three weeks already. Pretty impressive for slush season. The hinges of the front door squeak as it closes, slowed by the carpet working against the weight of the brass door-knocker.
The receding rainstorm has left the air damp and cold, smelling of the ocean. A silver cloudbank, huge and luminous, moves fast ahead of her. It seems to be leading her to the bar. As if she didn’t know the way.

Ally walks through the door with the diamond-shaped cutout window, and sees Dad right away. He’s in the corner with a couple guys she doesn’t know. His sleeves are rolled up and his elbows on the table. She listens to what he’s saying for a second- something about City Hall, and then:

“You can’t even talk to those Con-Ed guys…they can’t be for real …..25 guys getting paid overtime to stand around watching the one guy take his time fucking something up in a hole…”

Whatever. Ally climbs up on a stool, hooks her feet around the metal legs and stares at the Celtics game on the TV above the bar. Celts are up by 2 points and the regulars seem a little worried. One little old guy who doesn’t seem to know his bottle of Bud is empty quietly chants “Defense, Defense”.

And some other guy:

“Don’t forget to play good D, you lazy motherfuckers!”

“You want a BLT, hon?”

It’s Kathleen. She leans across the counter and whispers even though she doesn’t have to.

“No thanks, I just had some pizza”

“you sure?”



Ally watches Kathleen. The bartender is wearing a tight red t-shirt and jeans. Her black hair cascades down to the small of her back from her half-ponytail held by a silver barrette. She’s got a band-aid on the inside of her elbow like maybe she gave blood today. Her eyes look a little tired. Kathleen tries to pull a pint of something for a fat cop who just came in and gets a sputtering noise, and her hand covered in beer spittle and foam.

“God-dammit!” Kathleen says, but she’s laughing. She shakes her hand off and then goes back in the kitchen to wash it. The cop says to her back “don’t worry about it, sweetheart”. But that’s pretty retarded, because she’s obviously not worried about it, and she’s not some fat cop’s sweetheart.

“Hey kiddo, whatcha doin’ here?”

Dad puts his big rough hands on her shoulders and squeezes. Ally winces.

“Mom wants you home for dinner”.

“Okay, 10 minutes”.

He goes back to the corner table next to the window. Ally glances over and thinks that Dad looks handsome in the gray light of the ending day, with his fingers curling around a pint.

“You want to hear a joke?”

Some yahoo down the bar is trying to get Kathleen’s attention. She is leaning up against the bar with her head at kind of an awkward angle, trying to watch the game, with her arms crossed over her ribcage. The Celts have scored, they’re up by 8 now, so it seems to be okay to let this guy tell a joke.

“Okay, so this guy dies, and he was a really bad person when he was alive- he was like, a total d-bag. He cheated people, cheated on his wife, stole shit, gambled, just evil, right? Didn’t even feel bad about it. So he knew he was going to hell anyway. He gets to hell and meets the Devil. He says
‘Okay Satan. I’ve been real bad. What’s gonna happen to me?’
to his surprise, the Devil says ‘what’s today, Monday?’
‘yeah, Monday’.
‘how do you feel about booze?’
the guy says ‘what! I love booze!’
‘Okay’, Satan says, ‘well, Monday is booze day, so go down to the bar and enjoy yourself. ‘
So the guy says, you know, ‘Alright! Hell is awesome!’ he goes down, gets plastered, all the booze you can drink, until he passes out.
He wakes up the next day and the Devil is standing there. Satan says ‘It’s Tuesday, right? ‘- ‘yeah! Tuesday!’ the guys says. ‘okay’ says Satan, ‘how do you feel about Cocaine?’….’are you kidding me?’ the guy says, ‘I love it!’,
‘okay’, says Satan, ‘well, go down to the lounge and enjoy yourself’ .
‘Holy shit!’ the guy is thinking ‘this is great! Hell is awesome!’. So he goes down to the lounge and he’s snorting coke all day ‘til he passes out.
So this goes on for the next few days. Every day the Devil tells him what day it is, and he just does that thing all day ‘til he passes out. He’s like, shooting little bunnies with big guns, he’s tripping balls- you name it. Finally, Sunday rolls around. He wakes up, finds the Devil. He figures they must be saving the best for last. ‘Satan!’ he says when he finds him- ‘Dude! What’s Sunday!?’
‘oh, hey there’ says Satan. ‘um…Sunday? Let me check’. He gets out a little notebook, flips through the pages-
‘Sunday….ah. How do you feel about gay sex?’

“Ah, Shut the fuck up”

Says Kathleen over the chuckling at the bar, and her face has no patience as she gathers up a number of empties and disappears with them into the kitchen.

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