Reynold Junker has had work accepted by Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, Narrative,America, U.S. Catholic, Crannog(Ireland), Italian-Americana, Feile-Festa, West Marin Review, VIA-Voices In Italian Americana, The Herald(Portsmouth,UK), Flash Frontier(New Zealand), Skive Magazine(Australia), Ky Story(Christmas anthology), East Coast Literary Review,Bethlehem Writers Roundtable, Hippocampus, Emerge Literary Journal, The Bookends Review, Boston Literary Magazine and 50-Word Stories.
He lives alone on a very steep hill overlooking Silver Lake in Los Angeles, California.
A Clean Well Lighted Pub…Only a Songs Worth
By Reynold Junker
Trying to close and lock the door behind him Michael O’Hara fumbled painfully with his house keys. The night was moonless and starless dark and, despite the drink he’d taken, his fingers were stiff with age and night chill. There were too many keys. There were too many memories. He didn’t need all of those keys. He didn’t need all of those memories.
It wasn’t a long walk to the pub but he was slowed by the care he had to take along the edges of the hedge rows that defined the narrow road. But he knew his way well and stumbled just once when his wire rimmed glasses slipped from their wedge against his nose as he climbed the three steps into the circle of light that lit the way to the pub’s front door.
“Oh, Jaysus, Will you look what the cat just drug in,” the younger of the two young men seated at the pub’s bar said to the other. The bar was a small well lighted room more long than square with a bar at one end and an upright piano at the other. The walls of the room were timbered off-white. The floor was scuffed now but had begun the evening with a well-kept amber polish shine.
“Ach, he’s all right. He’s harmless,” the older young man said looking up from his half- finished pint and eyeing Michael O’Hara as he came through the pub’s front door and pushed up to the bar through what remained of the small Thursday night crowd.
Michael O’Hara collected his glass of whiskey and carried it to a small empty table at the upright piano end of the room. He removed his coat and cap, placed them on the seat of one of the two chairs at the table and settled into the other. He raised his glass to the empty chair, drained his whiskey and signaled to he bartender for another.
“Sure he’s all right. Sure he’s harmless until he starts with his singing that terrible old whining song,” the younger of the two young men continued.
“Jaysus you’re in a wonderful mood. What’s so terrible about a song?”
“What’s terrible about it is it was written by a bloody Englishman who never set foot in Ireland. He only wrote it to amuse the Yanks and get them to thinking we’re a country of Barry Fitzgeralds.”
“You are in a wonderful mood and I didn’t know you were such a student of Irish music.”
Michael O’Hara signaled to the bartender.
“Give the man a break,” the older of the two continued. “His wife passed away a while back and his son a short while after that. ”
“So I’m sorry for him but that gives him no right to take all of that out on us. Look at him. He must be eighty at least. Why doesn’t he buy himself a bottle and keep his drinking and singing at home where he belongs? God knows if they took up a bottle collection, I’d contribute.”
”Maybe he just likes some company. He’ll only be a few minutes time, only a songs worth.”
Michael O’Hara coughed twice, leaned into the table in front of him and pulled himself to his feet. He steadied himself into a full upright stance, reached into his back pocket, took a photograph from that pocket and placed it on the table.
“Jaysus, it’s the loo for me,” the younger said finishing off his pint and pushing away from the bar. “I’ll be back when it’s over.”
Michael O’Hara coughed again and began in a shaky baritone voice,
“Oh Danny boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling
From glen to glen, and down the mountain side
The summer’s gone, and all the roses falling
‘Tis you, ’tis you must go and I must bide.”
Only a songs worth.