Wednesday, April 08, 2009

The Streak - 23

You wouldn't really know it was a different kind of bar. It was an Irish bar, to be sure, but lower-key than most. It didn't have any of the usual stupid shit you'd see in a bar like this: the garlands of paper shamrocks tacked up on the walls; the Big Buck Hunter game with its garish, safety-orange gun; the strings of Coors Light pennants trembling in the AC breeze, prayer flags of the unenlightened. This bar was sober, if it could be said. Its only concession to idle, drunken diversion—not counting the staggered rows of bottles behind the bar—was the dartboard in the back, shut up in its mahogany doors.

Evan and Kyle walked in and nodded to Sean, the bartender.

"Guys," said Sean.

They sat while Sean poured their usuals: Johnnie Black on the rocks for Evan, Makers and Coke for Kyle. Beside them sat Big Bill, also known as Old Bill, resplendent as always in a three-piece gray herringbone suit; pocket square, navy tie and silver tie clip; cuff links and shiny, shiny shoes. Big Bill was a man of significant height and girth, ruddy-faced, with an impeccable shock of white hair and a thin, white mustache. He was exquisitely groomed: manicured, barbered, professionally shaven. He exuded deep, old New York, that fading world of fraternal honor, whiskey and cigars, handshake deals and backroom machinations. Few people knew what he does or what he did. There were rumors that he was a disgraced former assistant deputy police commissioner, sent to pasture by the IAD. Others thought he was high up in the Westies, and managed to stay alive and out of jail by force of charisma and the judicious dispensation of favors. The sentiment existed that he could have you killed, but that he could have you resurrected, too. In fact he was a union man. A Teamster. Much lay behind this deceptively prosaic title; he held the keys to every door and floated through the city like a ghost. To shake his hand was to be granted probational entry to everywhere.

Big Bill swiveled toward them slowly and placed his left foot on the floor.

"Fellas," he said.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Should I tell Harry V you found his digital watch?