TheFocus: This series was called the <And A Hard Rain Fell> series.
I like Clancy's Bar. It's an Irish bar. Most of the money I spend on booze and beer is spent here. Home away from home. For me and a lot of others.
Clancy's was crowded. Monday night about half past ten. The crowd was mostly the young urban professionals with the "beginning of the week jitters." They would be here tomorrow night too, but by Wednesday night the regular crowd would have the place to ourselves. Then we could drink in peace.
She was with some friends. There was one guy who hung onto her like a leech, but from the look on her face, I could tell his name was not Lucky.
You probably know her from TV. She's on every night reporting the news. Got a semi-regular column in the local rag.
I looked over at her from time to time. She is a good-looking dame. No denying that. She looked a little bit bored, either from life or the guy she was with. Then our eyes locked. I was the first to break our mutual stare as I turned back to my drink.
After a few minutes, she left her friends and began making her way over to my end of the bar, stopping to chat with people and signing a couple of autographs. She finally got to me. I turned to her.
"Got a light?" she asked.
I lit her cigarette and watched as she greedily sucked a couple of drags from it and then put it out in my ashtray.
She smiled. "Thank you. My name is..."
"I know who you are," I interrupted. "I liked the story you did about the Irish mobs. Not one hundred percent accurate, but an OK story."
"Maybe you would like to fill me in on what I didn't get right?"
"Not a chance. I gotta live in this neighborhood."
We continued the small talk for a few more minutes and then she said, "Look. I'm ditching the guy I'm with in a while. I'll be home by midnight." With that she handed me a card with her address and phone number on it.
"No," I said as I stuck the card in my pocket. "Not tonight. Not tomorrow. Maybe Wednesday. I'm sure to be free on Wednesday."
I would not say this pleased her. I could feel the slow burn from her, but she had good control.
"I might not be available Wednesday," she said.
"Wednesday or never," I told her. "Have whiskey and ginger ale available. I'll bring some Chinese take-out."
She looked like she wanted to cancel the whole thing, or maybe she wanted to toss my drink in my face, but she did neither. Instead, she finally said, "Fook Yuen is in my neighborhood. Bring egg rolls." She then turned and walked away. Not even a good-night kiss.
I ordered another high ball. Took my time drinking it. When I looked again, they had just exited Clancy's. I could barely make them out through the rain-streaked windows. Maybe he would get lucky tonight.
I didn't have anything to do that night or tomorrow night. But I didn't get where I am in this world by allowing a woman to call the shots in an affair. We wouldn't be eating from Fook Yuen's either. Fat Buddha has the best egg rolls in the East Side. Everybody knows that.
When I looked again, they were gone. I debated for a few seconds, then ordered one more for the road, along with a pastrami sandwich to take home. Maybe go home and try to solve some chess problems until I was fully sober. If you want to avoid a hang-over, don't go to bed drunk or high. I don't always take my own advice, but most times I do.
I paid my tab and stepped out onto the sidewalk. Tried to hail a cab but got splashed on my pants and shoes for my trouble. I watched the cab's lights until it turned the corner, turned up my collar and began to walk home in the rain.
<Disclaimer: <Fook Yuen>'s is an actual restaurant in Honolulu. It is in the McCulley Shopping Center. I have never eaten there, but I hear the food is good.>