the barkeep glanced up briefly from the racing
form on the rich mahogany bartop to view a few
people rush towards the stairs to the subway above.
it was 3:30 in the afternoon, and aside from the
three or four patrons who sat inside and shrunk from
the light like B-movie vampires coming in from
the window, Abel Geraghty was the only one in
the place. but he would rather have been at the
track. he’d been tending bar here at Flannery’s
for close to 30 years. he’d seen the neighborhood
change in tone from Irish brogue to southern drawl
to even a touch of Hindi and Spanish. but Boyd
Avenue still held the same charm. and for this
son of The Marble County, it was good enough.
Abel poured himself a pint of Guinness and peered
over at one soul who was slumped over onto a table.
“Hey!! You wanna sleep, go home!!” he bellowed.
The gentleman stirred, blinking eyes set deep
within pale skin as wrinkled as a lizard’s feet.
He tugged at his jacket and rose slowly to his
feet. As he walked close to the bar on his way
out, he mumbled, ‘No..no way to treat a body…’
pathetically shaking a bony fist. “Gwan home you
old salt miner.” Abel countered, bringing laughs
from the other three at the table nearest to the
pool table. As the old drunk walked out into the
sunlight, a blur moved past him into the bar.
Abel caught wind of the person before they stopped.
He couldn’t help it; their aroma was a mixture
between cheap wine and perfume. “Hiya Abel!! Set
me up a martini willya?!!” she yelled. A low
groan went out from the group at the table. Abel
sighed with all the wearniess his 50 years could
muster. “Rose, Rose..are ye daft? I’m not givin’
you any booze. You’ve probably got no more’n a
dollar to your name.” he replied simply.
Rose was a neighborhood fixture. A broken one at
that. She had grown up a few blocks from the bar.
Half Italian, half Irish, and all wild. Whatever
beauty she had once was slowly dwindling away. Her
dark hair bounced around her shoulders with each
turn of her head. She had greenish eyes, not unlike
the color of copper exposed to water. She wore
a denim jacket over a thin gray sweater blouse
that matched her tight jeans. She swayed on high
heels that had been repaired twice over. “C’mon
man, I’ve got money.” she said, pulling out a wad
of crumpled bills. “Here, money. Gimme my martini
you codfish!! HAHAHAHA!!” Abel sighed, and took the
bills into his pudgy, hairy hands. He counted until
he had about 5 dollars. “Y’know, I ougtha wash my
hands after this.” he said bluntly. “Whaddya mean
by that? I WORKED for that. Don’t TELL me it’s dirty.
WHO d’ya think you ARE?!” Rose yelled as she stepped
closer to the bar. “All right, all right.” Abel said
as he fixed the martini. Rose took the rest of the
money up as she sat down clumsily.
Her lips kept forming a half-smile. Rose had about
6 pills of Valium in her breast pocket. She had
downed 3 prior to coming into Flannery’s. After
this she was off to go earn money at a video store
peep show in Brooklyn. it was a desperate but viable
hustle for a woman down on her luck with no real
skills. she felt her stomach bubble, but paid it
no real mind. Abel walked over, all 6 feet 3 inches
of him. “Here,” he said as he nudged the martini
over to her. Rose grabbed the glass and took a sip.
“AHHHHHH…’ she exhaled loudly. “Do you KNOW how
long I’ve been WAITING for that?! THREE HOURS!”
Abel said nothing and leaned back against the shelf
near the register. “You know, I need a new gig. This
one is too much for too little…I mean I SHOW my
TITS for CRUMBS…” Rose began, and she rambled on
for a couple of minutes, her loud voice rising on
every third word as she drank the martini. All the
while, Abel nodded. and Rose kept talking. but as
she talked, the bubbling in her stomach kept getting
worse. she began to belch, and Abel stood in shock.
without a word, he ran around the bar towards Rose
in a hurry.
just as he reached Rose, she began to vomit. she
lurched forward and the waste spewed onto the bar.
it was as if she spat up watery cornmeal. “FOR
CHRISSAKES!!!” Abel yelled. Rose simply wiped the
front of her face and sat back down. “Lemme get
another drink, hic, and an olive.” Rose said in a
calmer voice. “GET UP FROM THERE!!!” Abel yelled,
and grabbed her by the arm. She had managed to not
get any vomit on her clothes, but it had hit the
bar and dropped onto the floor. “Wait – what about-
waitasecond-” Rose said as Abel brusquely guided
her to the door. In one swift motion, he opened
the door and flung her out onto the sidewalk. “AND
THIS TIME STAY THE HELL OUT!!!!” he bellowed before
slamming it shut. The other patrons, who were up
in arms laughing before, had gotten silent quick as
Abel stomped back inside. Rose could be heard crying
outside. “You sonuvabitch!! You dirty, potato-fucking
sonuvabitch!!!” she yelled. Abel went to the back to
grab the bucket and mop.
One of the group shook his head. “Wild Irish Rose, that
one is.” he said before taking a swig of Glenfidditch.
The other two nodded as they sipped from their mugs.