I’m continuing to post chapters, up to five at least, onto the blog. Hope you enjoy.
The Saint, one of many local bars, resides on Louisville Avenue a mile or so from Mickey’s Saloon, six blocks from the Ouachita River. The Irish Pub has been around for close to 20 years and developed a healthy amount of regular patrons from nearby residents and businesses. It was not uncommon to see said patrons returning to their cars early in the morning hours having walked home from the bar the night before. There were no pool tables, dartboards, or bar games with electronic screens. The closest thing to technology was a single flat screen TV hovering over the end of the bar where it featured some sort of news or sporting event with the volume turned all the way down and captions scrolling across the bottom of the screen. There was even a sign hung above the back wall mirror with the words “No Cell Phones” engraved into the wood. This was a general rule of the bar normally unenforced except in times of simple newcomer patron harassment. In general, The Saint was a pub that prided itself with the loyal clientele it had accrued over the years, its staff, the decent food it served (mainly hamburgers and chips), and the Irish beer flowing from their taps. Any other form of spirits could be found under or behind the bar, but it was the Irish beer The Saint prided for its reputation. The owner, Jim Reid, retired early from the Fire Department and invested his money into opening the bar. He wanted a small establishment with a decent amount of seating, not too big and not too small, in order maintain order as well as putting a lid on crowd control. He knew what type of customer he wanted to attract and was successful in keeping trouble out of the establishment. If someone started a fight, or became belligerent, they were tossed out immediately. In most cases, when someone was tossed out it meant they were no longer welcome there – ever. Unlike Mickey’s, most employees had been there for years. It was not uncommon for a former employee to return working at The Saint for a couple of weeks, or months, if they had fallen on hard times and needed to reset their lives. According to Jim, once a person worked there they were as good as family. The current employees consisted of Dincy, Ethan, and Sara. Dincy and Ethan were friends who met in college while they studied to become journalists. Toward the end of their junior year the two began to burn out of reporting news and began working at The Saint, a bar they lived near and frequented often. They heard Jim was looking for a new bartender and was convinced by Dincy to hire Ethan as well. After they graduated from college the two continued to work at The Saint without any real job pursuit that would utilize their education into the world of news. Their main aspiration was to buy the bar from Jim one day when the time seemed right.
Sara was a family friend of the Reid’s, having grown up with Jim’s sons Desmond and Sean. She married soon after graduating high school and moved to Kentucky with her new husband. Six years later her mother died in her sleep of asphyxiation due to a gas leak in her house. Her father, who was also a fireman and on duty at the time, did not take it well. As a result of her coming home to take care of her father she found herself suddenly abandoned by her young husband who returned to Kentucky emptying all of her bank accounts and running up all of her credit cards in the process. With this unforeseen circumstance she turned to the few people she knew and trusted, and began working at The Saint to make money while beginning her life over again. Two years after her mother died Sara’s father went into a burning building never to come out alive. A ceiling beam had fallen on him breaking his neck in three places, killing him instantly, and leaving his only daughter with all his worldly possessions. That was five years ago, and like Dincy and Ethan, she continues on at The Saint because it is all the family she had left.
It had been one months since the murders on top of Mickey’s and the town gossip quieted. The police had no real suspects and the occasional person was brought in for questioning without avail. The Saint had been open less than an hour when Jim’s oldest son, Desomond, walked in to find only Ethan at the bar working on a crossword puzzle from the morning paper.
“Afternoon,” said Ethan without looking up from his puzzle. “What can I get you?”
Desmond eased to the nearest stool noticing Ethan’s fixed gaze on the paper in front of him. “NORAD,” he said.
“Huh?” said Ethan as he looked up to see who it was giving such a strange request.
“NORAD,” he said again. “Ten across. The answer you were looking for, ‘The organization that tracks Santa?’ NORAD.”
“Well, holy shit,” Ethan said extending his hand to greet an old friend. “What the hell is going on Des?”
“Not much. Just got in town and thought I’d harass you guys a bit,” said Desmond. “Speaking of, where is your partner in crime?”
“Ah,” said Ethan, “he’s tending to some paperwork in the shitter. You know, top secret hush, hush business.”
“Say no more,” Said Desmond. “Where’s the old man?” Desmond was referring to his father.
“Don’t know,” Ethan said. “He stopped opening up the place about a year or two ago and let’s me and Dincy do the routine now.”
“Another step closer,” Desmond said. Desmond, nor his brother Sean, ever showed any interest in running The Saint and knew of Dincy and Ethan’s unwavering love of the place. It had long been known that the duo wanted to buy the business when Jim was ready to sell, the only problem was that Jim still enjoyed his little business too much to get rid of it.
“Yes sir,” said Ethan. “So what’s happening? You still writing for the paper in Baton Rouge?”
“Nah,” said Desmond. “I quit the paper about a year and a half ago. I’m freelancing and writing PR for a company down there.”
“PR? For shame on you,” Ethan said.
Desmond laughed. He met Ethan while they attended the University of Louisiana at Monroe in the journalism program. The two, along with Dincy, wrote and worked their way up the student newspaper hierarchy of The Pow Wow, now know as The Hawkeye, until they graduated and went their separate ways. News was considered sacred among the three and writing for public relations was always considered puff pieces with no real integrity.
A toilet flushed and Dincy emerged from around the corner. “Well look at this mother fucker right here,” Dincy said. He rushed around the bar and bear hugged the visitor off the stool.
“I hope you washed those hands,” Desmond groaned under the pressure.
“Ah, look Ethan. Our lost little puppy has come home,” said Dincy as he squeezed tighter. He set Desmond back on this stool and pointed at his old classmate while looking at Ethan. “Get this man a beer, and me too for that matter. Oh hell, drinks all around. It’s time for lunch anyways.”