Friday, December 16, 2005

Danny at the bar, a very short novel

A long time ago, when Uncle Merlin was just getting his embroidery business up and running, he tended bar weekends at a restaurant in Somerville, just north of Boston. The restaurant was in a neighborhood that was gentrifying, it was part of the gentrification, having been until recently not a restaurant but just a bar for the neighborhood working stiffs. Some of the bar's regulars kept coming around after the new ownership took over and nudged it up the scale. One of those regulars was Danny, a minor villain who made his living sticking up liquor stores---well, actually, his real occupation was prisoner, because he wasn't any good at sticking up liquor stores. Sixteen years ago tonight I got a phone call from Merlin who told me that Danny, temporarily out of jail, had been in for a drink.

Danny, the Rudy’s regular and minor villain is back in trouble with the law, Merlin says.

I've seen Danny only once. In August of ‘85. I was visiting Boston and stopped in to see Merlin at R---'s. Danny and his wife were back early from their honeymoon on Cape Cod. They had drunk their wedding gift money. But they were still celebrating. They sat on the same side of their booth, arms around each other, kissing and giggling, a happy pair except that neither set of their parents was supposed to know they were back. The money was meant to pay a week’s hotel bill. Now they are broken up. A messy divorce involving jealous violence. Danny is on trial for robbery and he’s scared he will be convicted.

The prosecutor’s a terrible bitch, he tells Merlin.

Merlin nods non-committally.

The prosecutor is another regular.


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