Posted by / Wednesday, 31 May 2017 / No comments /

Big Player


Here's an excerpt of my latest book: Big Player

Excerpt:

 



He waved a thick frying pan of a hand.
"My lovely Jennifer, another pitcher."
His deep voice carried over the din of barroom patter and the kinetic beat of Jump Around that blasted from the overhead speakers.
One of the regulars at Casey's and my favourite. Fifteen minutes left in the shift and it looked like I’d get out tonight without a major headache, which would be a first.
"Be right there Mr. O'Neill
I saddled up to the bar with my tray.
A pitcher of Guinness for Mr O'Neil and company."
Jack furrowed his brow. His frizzy red hair flaring, he took a hard drag on the last of his cigarette, stubbed it out in an ashtray in front of me, nodded and poured out the draft with a veteran's touch
He slapped the jug onto my tray.
"On your way then."
The slight flick of the head, the curt directive. I could tell the evening was wearing thin on him. In this state he was liable to lose it at any moment. And that was a sight to behold especially for the poor soul who crossed his path. I took the tray gingerly, backed up slowly and turned around. Two bulky middle-aged men stood before me. Oblivious to the world they were in apparent agreement about the sacrilege of allowing penalty shots to decide tied hockey games.
"It's like watching soccer Jack. If I wanted to watch soccer I would go to France or Italy, not the Garden, for gawds sake," said the one in my way.
"Excuse me fellas, coming through," I said.
No response. I might as well as have been invisible.
"Guy's, excuse me," I said raising my voice several octaves.
The one doing all the listening and nodding turned his head. He tapped the other fellow on the shoulder and nodded in my direction. His friend looked my way and when he focused in on me, he glared. I clearly touched a nerve. He shifted over just enough for me to squeeze by.
"Hey, and don't get me started on pushy dames."
I gritted my teeth, took in a deep breath, then exhaled. Let it go Jennifer. You know he has issues. Get through the shift unscathed and you win.

Mr O'Neill waved again. His bushy white hair and size set him apart from his two friends Derek Ryan and Johnny Thorpe seated on either side of him. The three wise men folks called them. They’d been coming to Casey's as far back as anyone could remember.
I set the pitcher of draft in the centre of the bench
"That'll be 15 dollars gentlemen."
Mr O'Neil handed me a twenty.
"Keep the change my lovely lass."
"That won't be necessary Mr O'Neil."
He was on a fixed income. I couldn't take his tips.
Mr O'Neill took the five dollar bill with a sheepish look.
"On the day my lottery ticket comes through I'll make good on all my spurned offers."
I couldn't help but laugh. He had a way with words.
"And on that day I'll gladly take them Mr O'Neill."
What a sweetheart. I was about to turn away when he raised his hand indicating to me to wait. Then, with surprising dexterity for someone so large he reached to his side and pulled out a manila folder. He opened it and laid it flat on the table. I recognized my work.
"This is the portrait the lovely Jennifer did for me. Isn't it grand?"
Derek and Johnny took in the charcoal rendering of their friend and nodded.
"What you doing waiting bars with the talent like that?" Derek said.
I shook my head.
"Trying to get life experience Mr. Ryan. Good for the soul wouldn't you say."
My words and attitude belied my feelings. This is not how I pictured my life would be in any of my High School daydreams. But I reminded myself happiness came in many forms and no one or thing brought me more than my daughter.
"Have a great night guys, gotta keep this gig rolling."
" Good night my lovely lass."

I surveyed the scene to see who would hail me next. The night was lively. The Bruins’ Jerseys and Caps were out in force. Though not a game night tonight, the season was winding down and Boston was a lock to make the playoffs. My cell phone rang. I checked the number thinking it could be the sitter. A false alarm. I was getting as high strung as my mother. I took another look, the number wasn't one I recognized. Someone from out of town calling? The voice sounded familiar and yet...
"Gina... Is that you?"I found myself saying to an echo from the past.
Could it be Gina Michaels? The voice was the same but the attitude was nothing like the girl I remembered from High School, the one who had been afraid of her own shadow..





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