May 23, 2015
I also finally sent out queries for both of my Fantasy series to Kaylee Davis, an agent out of Boston. Talk about a breath of fresh air. If enthusiasm is a measure of how well someone will do in life, she will be queen of the world. I have run into her at two conferences, and her welcoming ways touched me at a time when I needed some encouragement. As many of you know, I was severely injured right before Christmas 2013 in an accident that left me in dire straits. A major operation later and a year of rehabilitation later, and I am on the road to recovery. However, I may never recover fully as my Neurologist says the nerve damage I suffered is permanent. I was very down when I learned this, and I know this sounds trite, but the joy I felt meeting Ms. Davis and several other agents filled me with hope. The publishing business is not for the timid and I see some agents with such dire dispositions. Agents like Ms. Davis, Ms. Anderson-Wheeler, Ms. Lowes, and Mr. Alec Shane have made this process enjoyable (There have been many others and my apologies to those I left out). I recently contacted Ms. Davis to let her know that I did a major rewrite on one of my novels. Many agents would scoff at the idea that a peon like me would dare to ask if they could resubmit. I could almost feel the joy in the exclamation mark she put in her response, encouraging me to send it to her. Hopefully, I finally have works that that she would want to represent.
Below is a drawing by my son from some time ago. He had gotten upset at something. I told him to draw me a picture of what upset him. Obviously, it was a bad day with a video game.
May 22, 2015
A month has passed since I attended the Washington Writer’s Convention. I have not heard back from any of the agents, but that is partly my fault. I have been attending an intensive physical therapy rehabilitation for the past month in a hope to activate the nerve damage in my back and leg. The facility is the Rehab at Work in Lanham, Maryland and I have been working all day in a variety of physical exercises. I am exhausted every day and I have not had much energy for anything else.
I was only able to send off queries and sample chapters to two of the agents, Ms. Jessica Regel and Ms. Emily Keyes. The queries were for my two Fantasy novel series: The Chronicles of Miriana: The Dawning and Keeper of the Stone: The Search for Eternity.
My hope is to get the other novel, Where They All Belong out to the other agents, Cara Mannion and Victoria Lowes sometime next week. Again, this is dependent upon how well I handle a last week of the intensive therapy I will undergo.
My many thanks to Alex, Crysonna, Erica, Richard, and all the rest of the personnel at the facility. It is not an easy job to deal with people whose lives have been interrupted, many with severe injuries. My thanks to them for their dedication and professionalism.
Below is a drawing that I did as part of my rehabilitation. It was freehanded on a white board with but a purple marker. Ehh, it’s nothing special, but it was therapeutic and soothing to finally spend some time again in front of a classroom.
April 27, 2015
This past Saturday I attended the Books Alive! Washington Writers Convention. It was held at the Bethesda Marriot so it was close enough that I could drive there in fifteen minutes. It was a nicely run conference and kudos to David Stewart, Will, and Tara for their hard work.
I met with four agents. All requested to see my work and here is the breakdown.
Cara Mannion. I pitched Where They All Belong to her. If you want to read about it, check out my Novels page on this website. She was very nice and has positive things to say about my work. She said she does not represent fantasy novels, so that would present a problem for me in the future if she chose to represent me. I have invested much in my fantasy books, so much so that I think they might be the first novels that I get published. Cara works at Harold Ober Associates and came all the way from NYC for the event.
Victoria Lowes was a bubble of fresh air and lots of fun. She works at the Bent Agency and she requested several of my novels. She wanted to see Where They All Belong, as well as some pages from Never the Twain. She said she does not represent fantasy, so as nice as she was, maybe I need to look elsewhere for an agent. In a real world I might consider that. But because I am so unpublished, I don’t have the luxury to pick and choose. I would be ecstatic if Victoria would represent me. I would worry about the fantasy books some other time.
Jessica Regel. Jessica is a fantasy fan, so I was happy the pitch went well with her. She wants pages from both of my fantasy series. I decided to send her just The Dawning because if she doesn’t like it, I need to know now because I have all four books in the series completed. I only have completed the first book in The Keeper of the Stone series so I will send that one in a week or so.
Emily Keyes. She also represents fantasy and asked for both of my fantasy books. I also only sent her The Dawning.
I must say that all four of the agents were very nice and I enjoyed speaking with them. My hope is that I find an agent soon and get on with this. It’s a bit disheartening to have put all this work in and still I am out on the ledge of unpublished misery. I will provide updates when I get them. Please wish me luck.
April 21, 2015
I have crossed the Rubicon. I have business cards. The die is definitely cast. I started out as actor, and was only moderately successful. Then I spent a wonderful time as a teacher/professor/director. I have enjoyed every second of those opportunities. Now, I look forward to a lengthy and substantive career as a writer.
Wow, I might finally be an adult, so I might as well have all the bells and whistles that adults have. Actually, I have had a business card for forty years, but this is the first time I included “author” on the card.
Okay, before this turns into a Facebook posting of what I had for dinner, thanks to all the support I am getting on the launching of this website and the Facebook page I opened to promote my writings.
April 17, 2015
Getting ready for the Books Alive! Washington Writer’s Conference on April 25. I will meet with at least four literary agents to whom I will pitch my novels. I will write a summary as to how things go once I have finished the day.
Obviously, my goal is to find an agent who is willing to represent me and can get me published. Getting published is an easy task. If you have enough money, any publishing company will publish any tripe you happen to have written. My goal is to publish through an agent who will help me build a lifelong audience base.
I am currently writing in a number of genres, and while some would say that an author should limit what they write to one genre, I thoroughly disagree. I have two Epic Fantasy series (Magic, dragons, and hijinks galore), several Historical Dramas, and a Romance. Please visit my other web pages to get a better idea of exactly what I have to offer.
Because my goal is to get all of my work published, I will use this blog to promote a few of my shorter works from time to time. Here is one of my older selections, a short story I titled “Simple Decorations.” Please forgive that it is not formatted correctly, but sometimes we have to have choices as to how much time we spend at things. It is a story of Erin Green, a young Irish girl. The character was inspired by Ken Veltz, a marvelous song writer who had an idea for a musical. I took one of the characters, gave her a first name, and created this backstory for her. (SIDE NOTE : Ken's daughter, the ever talented Laura, recently wrote a number one country hit, "Got a Little Drunk Last Night.")
Hope you enjoy.
Simple Decorations circa 1997
I’ve always liked simple things. A crimson sunset; cars not splashing me when I walk home after a rainstorm; having my panty hose last for more than a week. And I enjoy simple pleasures. Music, poetry.... I used to love to read poetry....especially Yeates. It’s simple, it speaks from the heart, it has no pretensions
“When you are old and gray and full of sleep and nodding by the fire, Take down this book and slowly read and dream of the soft look your eyes once had....”
It says a lot, doesn’t it? With not so many words, mind you. It reminds me of what is good about my home country, not all the “Erin go braugh” accented tripe that drunks yell every time their pitiful manhood’s challenged, but the subtly of a good poet and the caressing word of heartfelt imagery. There.. .so now you know, don’t you? I’m from Ireland. I came here when I was a wee lass of fifteen with a brogue as thick “as the leprechaun on the Lucky charms commercials, aye.” I preceded to spend the next two years losing the accent, burying it under many a grave embarrassing incidents. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still there a bit... .you can’t squeeze the Blarney out all together.. .and I still find it useful on the odd occasion. Does wonders when I get pulled over for speeding. I just pour it on thick and the coppers must be entranced and wanting “to jump me bones for it.” I’ve been pulled over six times for speeding and my record would still be clean as a whistle except for being nailed by some “fecking bionic woman in blue” who had more muscle tone than a Baywatch promo. She told me she ought to give me two tickets, “one for the speeding and the other for my terrible Irish accent.” And she was gone before I could come back with anything more clever than a slight drool from the corner of my mouth dripping on her fifty dollar “souvenir.” Aye, not knowing an Irish, accent if it bit her on the arse, she still reminded me why American women have disliked me since I came over. At that age, at fifteen, the American lasses disliked.. .no, they hated me and they hated my accent me even more, because all the young lads wanted me for it, which only made the lasses hate me all the more, don ‘t you know. So I walked around for two years with my pie hole shut, mostly, except occasionally to give into one of those lads “for some mouth to mouth behind the bleachers,” if you be understanding my meaning. This only made the problem worse. One lad, after coming up for air once, said “Erin, you’re a great kisser. How did you learn to kiss like that?” “I’m Irish, I have to kiss the Blarney Stone...so I can bloody well kiss you.” Well, I got this reputation and though I never let them do anything more than kiss me, you’d have thought I’d been sleeping with the entire British Navy and half the royal family the way they were making a fuss. My Mother told me “The best thing you can do is to blend in and after a while they ‘ll forget all about ye, especially when some new lassie comes around.” And she was right. By the time I finished school, Ireland was as far behind me as was braiding my hair or wearing pleated skirts. Aye, I was an “All-American girl,” just like any other “coed,” with my subscription to “YM,” my Maybelline cosmetics and the inane way I giggled whenever someone mentioned the words “maiden-form, silicon, lubricated” or anything “premature.” All-American, and all that goes with it... .but in honesty, I never really fit in. To really “be” American, to really belong to the society that you read about in the magazines and style section of the papers, you have to be money, have money, or grow it on trees. It costs a lot to look like the bleach blonde Goddesses that went to the country clubs and were invitees to the balls that every lass died to attend. So the only green we had was the colour of our eyes, my mum and me never had much money, what with my Father still in Ireland, lost in some Country Cork pub, finding some satisfaction in the bottom of his glass of ale. I thought about it every time I washed out a mug when I closed up the bar every night. I washed those glasses clean, I did.
You see, I had this thing about neatness. I used to polish the silverware so shiny you’d have believed a fairy had sprinkled them with some of his magic dust to be sure. When I laid out the items for the bar, I placed eight rows of glasses stacked four high so neat and clean Saint Patrick himself would stop and take notice. Not much was thought of my career move, what with my father and all. Still my Mum couldn’t shake too many rafters when I brought home over $200 dollars a night, a sight better than the Seven and Six I cleared at Shennagah’s Tavern back in Dublin as a kid. Age wasn’t a matter in an Irish pub and I kept me nose clean and my skirt up, so it all worked out. So when I came here to the States and I got a job it was only natural I work in a Pub, an Irish one at that. Erin Green, barkeep at Murphy’s Irish Pub... has a ring of inevitability to it. And so between my keeping the bar slick as owl grease and fending off all the fecking old men who’d have me up to their flat for a roll and tumble, (I was as good a good girl as Eliza Doolittle herself, I was) I kept to myself and put away as much as I could for the future.... saving for something I couldn’t put into words, but I had a pretty hefty penny. All the other tenders knew I was salting it away and they would tease me that maybe I wasn’t Irish after all. Maybe I was Scottish or even Jewish, but I put an end to those racism remarks by telling them I would be privileged to be a member of either of those fine clans which is more than I can say for being a member of their sorry lot. You see, as someone who was once a “foreigner,” I experienced some of the faint prejudice that still runs like a polluted river through this country. And I’ll never forget how the other barkeeps would treat some of the customers whose English wasn’t what I’d call “perfect,” and how they would cheat them out of a few cents or show them the door when they thought they couldn’t take no more from them. I’ll never forget this one old gent who sang along to a Frank Sinatra tune on the juke box, and spoke with a heavy, rich voice when he said he was from
“Russia, da. I lived Saint Petersburg. Here have I been four years from 5 July. I love listen to American music.” Well, I found him fascinating and he told me all about his country and how he lived through the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the Communists being run out of the Kremlin.
“Da, I traveled to Berlin for piece of the Berlin Wall. A big piece, like so,” indicating the size of a curling stone, “And day Yeltsin stood up to the Politburo and the army no fight against him, so happy I, I drink two bottles of vodka in celebration. It was sickness worth waking to, da.”
He seemed to be a good man but you could tell by the sadness in his eyes that life had left him a bit empty now, living on past dreams and borrowed hopes. When it was time to close shop, I noticed him waiting outside the front in the cold and rain. My heart nearly jumped through my shirt and I opened the door and asked him if I could call him a taxi. Well, a couple of the other tenders were just making their way out so they heard him reply what seemed to be “F. U. my friend.”
I was taken back, and Charlie, a real waste of a young man, yelled “That’s no way to talk to a lady!” Now the man seemed to be confused as well, and answered back, “I say to her yes, F. U. my friend, you call taxi, no?” And before Charlie could put him through the hood of the Cadillac parked in front of the Pub, I realized what he meant. “Leave him be, Charlie. He wasn’t saying F. U he was saying IF YOU.”
“Yes, if you my friend, call taxi, da.”
Well Charlie, seeing how his chance to impress me had passed, made his way down the street, but not before making some remark reminding me where he lived and that he would “leave the door open for Inc.”
“I’d rather mate with a goat and a dozen squadies, Charlie!”
“That can be arranged” and he was gone, along with his smart mouth, leaving the Russian and I alone, our breath blowing frozen steam as we waited for his taxi. When it finally arrived he thanked me, and bending down in the street, he picked up a small pebble and placed it in my hand.
“Not so big, but Berlin Wall for you, you understand?”
And I did. As he drove away, the checker cab splashing down the street I smiled because I did understand in ways I’m not sure my coworkers ever would. It made it easier to send Charlie reeling for weeks, for every time he tried one of his lame pick-up lines (I’ll not even dignify them by mentioning them except in tacit contempt) in a desperate stab to experience carnival knowledge with me (Yes, I said that right, because with this clown it would have been nothing but a joke of a “side show.”), I’d merely respond “F. U. my friend then you would leave me the fuck alone.” And even though I used this simple rejoinder at least a dozen times, he never came up with any response that approached intelligent thought. Made me wonder if he smoked his shoes and drank his lunch money as a teenager.
And he was the epitome of the clumsy testosterone laden guys who seemed to flood Boston these days. His lame profane outbursts were so typical of these “young punks” that seemed to pour in every “Happy Hour.” It seemed like everyone of them was attempting to relive Matt Damon’s moment of glory when he got Minnie Driver’s phone number in “Good Will Hunting.” Good as that movie was... no, great as that movie was, that one scene seemed to give license to every fair idiot in Boston to think just because he was a man like Mr. Damon, just because he had a few ounces of manhood below the belt, like Mr. Damon, and just because he cried and howled at the moon every time they showed a replay of Buckner playing matador with the groundball in game six of the infamous World Series (We assume like Mr. Damon), he had the right to be as common and rude as he wanted to be.. .just as long as he finished any juvenile tirade with “How ‘bout them apples?” just like Matt did in the movie. Christ, I heard that so line many times I began to think that it might as well be substituted for “amen” at the end of the blessing at every meal... “...for which we are about to eat. Now how ‘bout them apples?” I imagined it was the last thing Bill said to Monica when he spanked off a particular salty one for her, and all she could do was look up at him, smile, and nod her head in a gulp of agreement. I found myself wanting to post a letter to dear Matthew and mention some of his recent movie shortcomings and in big four inch letters that he could read without those hideous glasses from “The Talented Mr. Ripley,” write “Please, I beg you Mr. Damon, write another screenplay where you can be good again, and one that doesn’t mention any fecking apples this time.” Once, during a period when I was particularly lonely, and perhaps feeling the need of manly comfort, this particularly handsome lad, who tipped me over thirty bucks over the course often drinks, had me so entranced that he almost had me talked into going back to his flat for to listen to some Dan Fogelberg over some Frangelico and cream when “he screwed his dance card” by saying the most intense sex he’d ever experienced was after having watched “Good Will Hunting” and “Have I ever seen it before?” When I mentioned that indeed, I had, he replied “Maybe we relive the past, forego the movie and move right on to the ‘main event.’ How ‘bout them apples?” After I had the bouncer deposit him unceremoniously on his backside on the pavement outside the bar, I almost slapped my own handwritten sign against the window that said “Go find your car because that’s the only “driving” you’ll be doing this evening. Now, Happy HUNTING!” But I thought I’d leave that to Will Hunting and all those whose “magic moments” which are only captured on film for all to appreciate. Yeah, why waste “talent’ on a moment so mundane and someone so unworthy?
Now, speaking of “unworthy,” a few weeks later it was time for every sap, sop, sod and lunatic to become an Irishman for the day. Aye, Saint Patrick’s Day. Any holiday that gives an excuse to pinch anyone who wasn’t wearing green had to have been thought up by sadistic corporate types at Walmart so they could clean their inventory of all their previously unsellable green attire. Now the evening before the blessed day, Charlie was again being his charming self, asking me if I care to accompany him to the early Mass on Saint Patrick’s Day.
“It’d be a fine thing to go to Mass, Erin. And maybe you and I could warm up a bottle of Cabernet afterwards at my place and you can let me tongue bath those nice breasts of yours.”
“I don’t think so Charlie, me boy. I’m usually too busy worshipping St. Mattress and getting my sleep, for sure. “ And after a few moments from the vacant look he gave me, it was obvious the “light bulb in his head was burnt out and no one was manning the post.”
Eric, who manned the corner station yelled across the twenty odd feet “Erin, who is the guy that’s going to finally going to share that mattress with you?”
“Oh, it’s broken in well enough already, to be sure.”
He laughed and his eyes smiled as if to say “touché.” “No I mean someone who will make an honest woman out of you.”
“Don’t know, but I think I’m honest enough already.”
“Honest? I think you mean blunt,” Charlie said trying to rejoin the intelligent banter.
“Someone’s bound to catch you and put a brand on you kid.”
“Then he better have an extra large brand, Eric, if you understand the metaphor, love.”
Through the laughter he replied, “No, he’s going to need kismet.”
Now that was a new one for me. “Kismet?”
“Fate. Destiny. Kismet. I think it’s in the stars, Erin,” Eric replied as he began to set up for tonight’s crowd. “Well, maybe if he IS a star. Like Brad Pitt or a Kennedy.”
“No, no Kennedy’s for you. You’ll finally fall for someone who’s a dichotomy like you are.”
“Now Eric, don’t be using words Charlie here can’t comprehend.”
“Charlie, dichotomy means when two...”
“I know what it means, Eric. I went to Boston University.”
“To visit for six years or did you actually go to class there?”
My opinion of Eric just went up a small leap. “Why a dichotomy, Eric?”
“Erin, you are the most complicated uncomplicated person I have ever met. You’ve the soul of a poet and the mouth of a trollop.” And before I could question him further a customer, one of Eric’s regulars bellied up and asked for his favorite import. I looked to Charlie who realized he was lacking the I.Q. to respond further, so he started putting away a case of Genessee Cream Ale and some Saint Paulie Girl’s while humming the theme song to “Gilligan’s Island.” God, what an intellectual abyss I worked in. That night, when I finally laid down to “shuffle off this mortal coil,” once again alone on my mattress, I lay awake and looked out at the stars and wondered which of them held any answers of my “kismet.” And it’s little wonder that I dreamt that night of Peter Pan and Lost Boys, wondering what part I would play in the fantasy, as I flew towards my own second star to the right and straight on till morning. As when I awoke I felt an uneasiness in my stomach which lasted until it was time to go to work.
I was the last barkeep in so I had to hurry to set up for the big event. This particular Saint Patrick’s Day was going to be some fine event, indeed, what with it being on a Saturday Night and all. We had extra tenders on and held a meeting to reinforce for the newcomers it was our responsibility to safeguard the customers and not serve anyone who was obviously drunk. As Murphy himself said “It’s so that all the blokes won’t come in sober and leave swinging a shillelagh any larger than the “swinging richard” that he walked in with.” The management put up a sign “Know when to say when.” I’m sure that was as helpful as “telling a piranha he can only have one bite.” I wonder how “Just Say No” sounds to a Colombian drug lord in Spanish? But in the spirit of the occasion I put up my own sign- “Oh Danny Boy should only be sung by a true Irishman so pipe down or shut up all together, Killian’s and Guiness are not for the timid so stick to a nice American Ale all you yuppie panty-waists, and if you can’t drink more than your sister you shouldn’t be here in the first place...” Got quite a response to that one, I did. I also had previously put up some decorations from home, what, a kilt in a shadowbox, a wooden shaft used by a conjurer, a few pieces of pearl carved into an old Gaelic cross, a framed folio of Oscar Wilde and a signed photograph of U-2’s Bono. It was my own little “shrine.” But one decoration in particular seemed to get lots of attention. It was a simple, wax crayon drawing of a shamrock and a leprechaun. The many drinkers seemed to note it and smiled at it’s child-like crudeness, but no one had the bad manners to ask about it.. .until this one lad piped up, who had as much beer on his front as he did down his trap.
“Say sweetie who drew that picture? Some retard?” My, did he have no idea what was coming...
“I’m not sure. What’s a retard, love?”
“One of those people...they can’t...they....”
“Have a hard time expressing themselves?”
“Usually answer in one word sentences?”
“Say ‘yeah’ all too often?” He had to be dumb as a “cobblestone” not to see this one coming.
“Yeah...hey! That’s not funny.”
“You sure? I don’t know, I thought I heard a shitload of the other “payers” here laughing their arses off.” And they were. Of the crowd that had congregated in worship to the Lords of hops and barleys, many were now spewing their beverage of choice in amused delight, adding to the mayhem and absurdity of the moment. It was then time to “polish” him a bit, so I continued as I drew a few beers from the tap and handed out some forty ounce mugs.
“But it was rude of me to do what you did, attack someone incapable of defending themselves, lacking the mental capacities for rebut or rejoinder.”
He stood transfixed, like the proverbial deer caught in the headlights, blinking a few times in obvious confusion, and fmally managed to blurt out to another roar from the peons “Yeah, that was rude.” Boy, was this going to be easy. It was like using an AK-47 at the penny arcade.
“Then I apologize. But you.... You ought to be ashamed of yourself Making fun of someone who just needs a little help in this world...the retarded are kind good people...and it’s not their fault how they are, they were born that way. You, you have no excuse for being unable to keep yourself clean.” This drew even more laughs and elicited a few guys to pump their fist in the air in appreciation like some native ritual . . .why, I had no idea... it must be a testosterone thing. “Looks to me like you need a bib to keep from spilling your drinks down your front and a napkin to keep from pissing yourself,” indicating the obvious stain on his button fly Dockers. The ever building crowd’s decibel level was exceptionally high on this one.
“..and besides...I drew the picture. Me. So, Mister what you have to say now? So...How ‘bout them apples.” And finishing I took the last mug and ceremoniously poured it over his head. Like a Gallatin statue he stood there as the bar went hush for a split second, then erupted in unbridled glee as he sprayed the remnants of the quaff from his pencil thin mustache with a breath of astonishment. I saw his expression change at least four times as he tried to come back with some witty remark, but lacking the soberness and probably the intelligence, walked off, grunting out some words I suppose were Neanderthal for “I’m going over here to make a complete ass of myself in this part of the Pub.” Actually, it began with “fuck you” and ended with “fuck you” and maybe had several variations of it somewhere in between.
“Oh, now that sounded real intelligent. Hey come back here and fight like a wussy! Hey look at me! F. U. my friend then you would not talk to me this way.”
He turned to look at me and he was so confused I almost could swear his head did one of those Linda Blair things from the exorcist.
I continued my entertainment for the crowd by finishing with “He looked back in anguish, realizing a mere slip of a girl had mentally raped him and left him spent, to slither away in a prophylactic ooze. “And I whistled for the bouncer who unceremoniously escorted him out the front door. I never attack customers, never would risk losing my job for any reason, and I certainly surprised myself with the viciousness of my words, but something had gotten into me this one time. It had certainly played to the “hard core masses.” You’d of though I just scored an overtime goal at the Garden to win the Stanley Cup the way they erupted, leaping out of their seats in unbridled delight. Several of the onlookers began to cram dollar bills into my tip glass, commenting that it was “better than going to the WWF.” The inebriates howled their approval and one guy wanted to “high five” me. I slapped his bar tab into his hand instead, which surely brought the house down even more. One guy got down on his knees and started to “kowtow” to me.
“Just doing my job. Maybe that’ll sober him up.”
“You are my Goddess,” he droned as his mantra, but I ended his prostrations by saying “Get up from there unless you’re proposing marriage or aiming to kiss every bloke’s arse here at the bar.” I was never this “funny” but something seemed to be in the air which was causing me to act like a cross between Sophie Tucker and Andrew Dice Clay, which now that I think about it, would make one hell of a picture. Now, during all of this, some young lad, thirtyish, with sunwashed hair and a George Hamilton tan had been eyeing me, obviously attracted by my Irish locks and native good looks. And he was extremely easy on the eye. Extremely. Very extremely. I caught him staring so I figured I’d beat him to the punch.
“So Mr. Chips, where’d you get the tan in the middle of a winter from hell?”
“In the Caribbean. Jamaica to be precise.” Oh Christ. The accent damn near floored me like a English tank rolling over a Shin Fenn rally.
“Well, bless me holy prayer cards, you’re a fecking Limey.”
Just what I need on St. Patrick’s Day. An English lad taking up as an Irishman, pretending he’s something he’s not. (Next thing you know we’ll have Richard Simmons prancing about as the Sugar plum fairy.. .oh. . . well, better not go there.) Now I have a bit of tolerance for most things English.. .English muffins, English ales, most music from there, especially the Beatles...and I’d definitely have Paul McCartney’s child or at least “drop my knickers for him if ever he’d ask” (The Beatles were the best thing that ever happened to the English language by the way... “Here, there, and everywhere” has got to be the best love song ever written.” They could make words dance and music breathe as if it was air itself. And also “Close your eyes and I’ll close mine, good night, sleep tight...” Oh hell, I am digressing again). But this “bloke,” he had those eyes that seemed to be warmer than London, and he had a way about him that, well, I could forget what he was for the moment. He smiled at me and as he asked the next question I think I got a little weak-kneed, which so rarely happened to me.. .honest.
“You’re not American?”
“What makes ye say that, love?” the thick brogue mimicking the question.
“Maybe your accent gave you away.”
“I could be an actress, and this could all be an act,” letting him hear another possibility.
“Maybe, but having spent sometime in Ireland, I think I recognize the real thing when I hear it.”
Spent some time in Ireland.. .hmmm, could mean he was a soldier, stationed in Ulster... could mean... “And you’ve got some wit. You bring that with you, or has America sharpened that tongue of yours?”
I.. .pause. . .I.. funny, no words were coming.. only a hint of familiar drool forming at the corner of my...
“By the way, I happen to like the drawing. It’s darling. Is there a story behind it?”
“There’s a story behind everything, love.” And forgetting the possibilities of his past he had planted, I plowed on. “You want the shilling version or do you want the five crown telling?”
“Oh, by all means, the full tour. I love a good story.”
And so I started, still giving out drinks and ringing the register all the while, but not really paying attention to anything but what I was saying and how he was listening.
“We lived in Dublin until I was eight. My Da, my mum and me. My Da worked in the sewers and my mum took in laundry.” And as I recounted my little tale, drawing him into the little web of a world I had long since put behind me, I found it impossible to spin my story and maintain the accent at the same time, so it gave way to my “Americanized speech,” me being able to resurrect it occasionally for effect.
“I helped me mum and we got by as best we could. And we would have been fine, except my Da had as his personal goal in life to keep all the local pubs well heeled. My mum did as well as she could, but it was very hard for her. It was a rare time when I can remember having a new pair of shoes or even a pair that didn’t have a hole worn so wide that the Liffey River run through it every time it rained. So money that could have gone to having better things went for his drinking. And in between not having enough, and his occasionally beatings just to prove that a drunk Irishman can still handle himself a bit, we were hit pretty good on all sides. This was how it went for as long as I can remember. I often asked her “Mum when can we leave here?” But my mum wouldn’t hear of it. She was too tired and too afraid to do anything about it. Now when I was eight my mum had saved enough to buy herself a car. It would help her do more business for herself she told me Da. Leaking enough oil to keep a grung band’s hair well groomed and making enough noise to pass for their music as well, this car was the biggest joke since Tiny Tim married Miss Vickie and the biggest piece of shit since Hitler gave up oil painting.. .and don’t mind you she paid what was thirty dollars in this country for the damn thing, my Da still gave her the devil for buying it.”
“Think you’ll be out on the town, do you now, Seanna? Think you’ll be caring on when you should be home cooking and taking care of the house?”
“And no matter what she said, every night he would come home and accuse her of being out looking for “mischief with other men.” I didn’t understand what he meant at the time but I knew it was evil. And looking back at my diaries years later I realized what he was saying, and what those words he called my mother meant. He took to taking her money from her every night when she got home, saying if she could squirrel enough away to buy a car, who knows what she was doing with the rest, But she managed to hide some money away for Christmas presents. And after buying them, she kept them hid in the trunk of her car so that he wouldn’t find them, what for keeping him from getting angry, or worse, taking them and selling them back for money for his whiskey. Now it was the day before Christmas and my Da had promised at least to bring a Tree home which we would decorate as a family together. By the time nine o’clock came and went I was worried that Da had forgotten the tree, and all I could do was stand there at the window and wait for him. My mum seemed almost happy that he wasn’t home and fmally she got me to sit with her at the table and sing carols with her. I especially liked one in her old Gaelic. It sounded so peaceful.
“Codail a leanb tá’n beacog buide Ag crónan an clap soluis dun...”“Sleep, o babe, for the red bee hums, the silent twilight falls...” I found myself leaning in my chair towards her and placing my head on her shoulder... But all that quiet was shattered by the squeal of cal’ tires and the sound of the fence out front being smashed through. I went to get up but my mum grabbed my arm so firmly that I thought it would break and she continued to sing the song, now with some sense of urgency.
“Doirce anois is sceac ‘ii fir glasis As radarc le caipini ceoige...”
“Dusk is drawn, and the green man’s thorn is wreathed in rings of fog...” Then, suddenly, the door of our house swung open and there stood my Da, his large frame silhouetted against the foggy air which now seeped across our wooden floor.”
“Da, you’re home. Where’s the tree, Da?”
“Tree, why there were no more trees left, Erin.”
“Da, we’ve got to go back out and find one.”
“Erin, I said there’s no tree. So let that be the end of it.”
“Dammit, Seanna, can’t you keep this fecking brat quiet. I told you I didn ‘t want to have children, that I wasn ‘t a man that should be a Father to any child, but you had to go and have one.”
“Please Michael, it’s Christmas.”
“I don’t care f it’s All Saint’s Day, the truth is the truth. I never wanted this. None of this! I didn‘t want it.”
“And as he stretched his arms wide I could see a look of hate in his eyes that I had seen so many times when he looked at my mum. And now.. .he used the same look for me. He seemed to know that I realized his empty heart for he looked at me with a cold stare and with a voice that could freeze ice slowly exclaimed, “This isn’t what I wanted. This is a sin. It’s a bloody, stinking sin.”
“And with that he turned and walked to the still open door, stopped, and turned round. He glanced at us both for just a second with a look of sheer glee, walked to the old clock sitting on the mantle and reached under it. My mum started to get up in desperation but the clenched fist extended to her stopped her cold. He took out from underneath some money she had hidden and the key to her car.”
“Thought you could hide it from me. Well now, you can hide from me all you want, because I’m not bloody coming back, you hear me. This is a sin.,,”
“And with a slam he was gone. My mum sat there frozen in fear, in hurt, feeling the stone cold heart she knew he always had but had always hoped would warm once I was born. I ran to the window seeing for the first time my Da’s car smashed through the fence, smoke coming out of the front, obviously never to run again. And as he squealed away I heard him singing “Oh Danny Boy.” I felt like my whole life ended right then and there. My Da gone, no Christmas tree and no decorations. And seeing my mum sitting there with tears streaming down her face, me not knowing that Christmas had just vanished in the trunk of her third hand car, she fought the need to scream out, desperately trying not to fall into hysterics. I watched her for a long moment, then I went to the kitchen and took out my wax crayons. I took the crayons... and drew.,. a Christmas Tree. I drew on it different colored lights. I drew on candy canes. I drew on any number of wonderful and joyous things, all the decorations we would never have that Christmas, taking extra care to draw the golden star which sat atop the tree. And I drew my mum and me standing beside it. And when I finished I walked back to the front room and saw that my mum was still there at the table unmoved for these several minutes. I went up to her and sat in her lap and showing her the picture I explained “Mum, we don ‘t need a Christmas Tree. This can be our Christmas Tree. All I want for Christmas is you.” And after a long hug, which seemed to dry her tears, I got up and went to the wall, and with a bit of tape and taped it to the wall. I stood there unable to smile for myself, but managed one for her. My mum seemed to appreciate the effort because she forced one for me as well, And drawing me up, she sang her song again, this time with a clearer, more steady voice than before,”
“Gus golann go bog an suan-port do cbs, A gabaim mo graldin duit...”“And weeps to hear the sad sleep tune I sing O love to you.”
“And she kissed me and sent me off to bed. Sometime in the night she climbed in with me and we spent that night not dreaming of things that never were and never would be but of things that someday could.”
I set another ale before him and noted that he still was listening, was still awake, wasn’t looking for the nearest door to run away into the night, so I figured I’d finish it out and see if any of this sunk in deeper than the Nautica cologne he was wearing (Which I might add was more “sensual than a dozen mud slides.”).
“For every holiday from that moment forth we would sit at the table and make drawings together which we would hang on our walls. And we drew them together, because no matter what my father said, it wasn’t a sin.., it was a family. Merry Christmas, Da. I hope you found your Christmas spirit in whatever bottle you made friends with for the holiday.”
My eyes had wandered to the window overlooking the cobblestone street which affronted the speakeasy, and pierced through the New England night as if to peer all the way to some Dublin slum where my Father was now resting comfortably, face down in a plate of haggis, dreaming of his life as a wayfarer tramp. I closed my eyes, holding back a flood of childhood unfulfilled expectations. And I reopened them, almost hoping to see the old man seated on the barstool across from me, instead finding “the soft look of the eyes” of a man which seemed to beg me to continue with the story. I could only manage a few more words.
“When we finally got to America, I drew one for St. Patrick’s Day which hangs on the wall as we speak. It’s simple, but it has wonderful memories.” Again my courage failed me and I glanced away, spying Charlie at his post spinning some malarkey and posing like some Gladiator-wannabe for some Meg Ryan look-a-like, and I stared at the window again, at the gents throwing darts in the corner, hitting more drywall than cork, finally down at the pools of cold draft which puddled on the granite slate.... anywhere but straight ahead, straight into the eyes of a near-stranger who now knew something of me that if used in malice could maim more severely than any bayonet thrust in anger.
I spent the next few moments looking down at my reflection in the beer, searching for the courage to explain the rush of emotions which were brimming over like a river several feet above flood stage. And as I wiped it clean, the beer and the saddened image disappearing under my trusty cloth, I hesitated. The moment was a lifetime of eternities and finally, rather than die in the ignominy of exposing one’s soul and metaphorically running naked across a psychiatrist’s couch, I looked up. I looked up, and I looked up at him, and he looked at me, having listened to my every word of my story, having understood the “depth and the breath” of it’s impact. He looked at me, in the middle of this crowded room filled with other stories, other hidden secrets, and I saw in his eyes.. .stars... and an understanding that only comes from the catharsis of a similar epiphany. And before I could ask about his “how or why,” he said, “I see. That’s some story. You like simple things.”
And sliding back into my familiar Irish I replied “I always have.”
“And that explains why you spilt beer over that guy earlier.”
“Really? Well, you’ve got my attention, love. Why?”
“He attacked the picture and he ‘became’ your father for that brief instance.”
“So you’re some Siegmund Freud, are you?”
“No, I just notice things” And seeing how he now emotionally undressed me with his piercing blue eyes, in protection I changed the subject.
“Do you like Yeates?”
“Some. I’m a little culturally deprived.”
“....and paced upon the mountains overhead and hid his face amid a crowd of stars.”
“Does that mean something?”
“Only to me. Most of what I do has little significance to anyone other than me.”
He smiled and nodded his head as if he has similar personal little things about himself that no one else would ever know, except in strictest confidence or heartfelt moments.
“So laddie, let me ask ye. Ever seen “Good Will Hunting”?”
“No, I haven’t. Why do you ask?”
“Just making sure you don’t screw your dance card, that’s all”
He looked at me perplexed, clueless to what “inner meaning” that could have meant, and he raised his eyebrows as if to ask me what planet was that comment from. I put my finger to my lips and blew on it, as we all do when it’s “Shhh,” time to be quiet, and I leaned across the bar, my elbows firmly planted and my hands crossed under my chin to prop up a hardy smile I was casting his direction, and for the first time looked into his eyes, letting them do all the talking. And I must have pierced his reverie of personal sanctum, because his smile dropped and his expression betrayed his earlier self confidence. He seemed a bit uneasy, and in his awkwardness he looked down at my necklace.
“Then surely there’s some meaning to the necklace you wear.”
And taking it in my hand I answered “You mean this little thing?”
“Yes it’s just a gold chain and...a rock.”
My accent failed me again, and so did my wit. All I could manage was “Not a rock. It’s a pebble...just a pebble...but it’s the Berlin Wall to me...”
As I smiled back at him in the quietude of “maybe’s and could be’s,” it’s all I could manage. That, and a simple, single thought.... “if you, love.”
A Collection Shells from Outer Banks NC
My glorious son as a Transformer for Halloween