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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Namesake

This is my entry for the Where Sky Meets Ground St. Patrick's Day Blogfest and Alexia Chamerblain's St. Patrick's Day Blogfest  that I found via Colene Murphy. (I know, two for the price of one).  The idea came to me via a writing prompt from the fiction writing workshop I'm taking this month.  The promp was: "Arriving late to your daughter's wedding."  Click on the links above to read more St. Patrick's Day fiction.

The useless alarm clock lay in pieces where it landed after bouncing off the wall.

Grabbing at the bedside table, he stumbled out of bed, swearing as a half-empty Guinness clattered and rolled off the side. Limping around the puddle forming on the rug, he felt his way down the windowless corridor to the bathroom, dunked his head under the faucet, rubbed dry with the graying towel hanging next to the sink, squirted toothpaste onto his tongue and rinsed before lurching back down the hall for the tuxedo. As he stabbed onyx studs at the cuffs of a starched dress shirt, the hiss of air breaks echoed out front.

“Shite,” he muttered, struggling into his pants. Stuffing bare feet into a pair of rented leather dress shoes, he grabbed the jacket and tie and ran for the door, opening it to a blur of white and yellow as the 9:15 local hurtled passed. “Sweet Mary!” he moaned. “It’s Saturday. There won’t be another for an hour.” Stuffing the bow tie  into his pocket, he jerked down the steps, turned and trotted backwards, waving a raised thumb at passing cars.

If only he hadn’t promised.  But those liquid blue eyes had peered up the same way they had when she was a wee one, and she’d pleaded. “Just for tonight Da. Would you lay off the sauce so you can walk your only girl down the aisle in the morning? After that it’s back to the pub with you for all I care, but I’m begging. Could you do it right this once?” God help him. If that sour pickle of an ex-wife Margaret had asked, he would have spit, but he’d never been one to say no to Bethie.

Poor Bethie he thought, as he struggled down the street. T'is her fault. After all, she's the one who arranged his ride home with Her-Boy-Tom's university buddies.  She should have figured they would want to continue the celebration at the pub.  True, he could have walked to his room from there, but when Her-Boy-Tom’s friends invited him in for a drop, well, wouldn't it have been rude not to partake in their hospitality?  Of course Tom himself would have known enough to see me home first, but he wasn't there now was he?  Such a nice young man, but not available to put the chains on his soon-to-be-Father-in-Law on the eve before his own wedding, and that's the shame of it, I suppose.

The bank clock on the corner read 9:35. Still time to make it if some blessed soul would stop and offer a ride. If only his damn head wasn’t yammering like a smithy’s anvil. As he stumbled down the street, sweat slicked his face. The odor emanating from his armpits put him in mind of the rug at the pub after closing time. “Just keep going,” he muttered out loud as he peered into Blaine's Hair Emporium..  The clock inside read 9:45. Brides never go down the aisle on time, right? Surely Bethie will wait for her old Dad?

Five minutes later, he wrapped an arm around a parking meter and bent over, wheezing. Far in the distance, the Celtic flag flying above the doorway of the Irish pub they’d stopped at the night before lifted in the wind. “I know! It’s St. Patrick’s Day. It's an early open. Someone will give me a ride to the church,” he croaked, forcing his faltering legs to move. “Just for a ride. That’s all.” A blister stung his sockless heel. Kicking off his shoe, he reached for it and pitched forward, landing palms first on the sidewalk where for a startled moment, he rested a cheek on the cool cement before forcing himself to stand.  He shuffled the last hundred yards to the pub holding one shoe.

Tugging at the tarnished brass handle mounted on the oak door as the bells from the town hall chimed, the shaking man paused at the entrance, allowing his bloodshot eyes to adjust to the dim light.  “Billy Boy!” Jimmy the publican called. “What are you doing looking so hot and bothered this early? Thought you'd still be sleeping off last night.  Here’s a cold one for the cure.”  The clock above Jimmy's bald head read 10:01.

As the foam-topped schooner glinting on the mahogany bar reached out its magnet arms and pulled him forward, he shook his head and uttered a deep sigh, whispering: "What's to be done?" 

Gazing at the pub name etched in glass over the colored liquor bottles stacked behind the bar, Bill O'Reilly noted the irony before taking a deep breath, raising his glass and offering a salute to the sign: “Here’s to ‘O’Reilly’s Daughter.’”

I'm not a short story expert and it's all about learning these days.  I'd appreciate any objective criticism you might care to offer...

21 comments:

Bish Denham said...

Ha! Indeed. What is to be done? Good one Liza.

glnroz said...

i kept wanting to push him..

Holly Ruggiero said...

Tisk, tisk I guess it really is hard to change.

Mrs B said...

That was terrific, Liza! I felt as though I was right there with Bill as he selfishly rationalized his way out of showing up at his only daughter's wedding.

I'd have loved to have kept on reading. You had my full attention.

Well done, you!

Happy St. Paddy's Day!
~Mrs B

EmptyNester said...

It was good enough for me to want to smack the crap out of him. LOL I really enjoyed it! Well done! I'm envious!

Robyn Campbell said...

I don't know what to say. I'd read on, Liza. It's very good writing. The first sentence made me stumble for some reason. Maybe play with it a bit. Otherwise, you've got a great short story here. I feel sorry for old Bill and I also wanted to push him down the flight of stairs. You got me, girl. :)Happy Saint Paddy's Day. :)

N. R. Williams said...

I thought this was well written, though sad.
Nancy
N. R. Williams, The Treasures of Carmelidrium, Special .99 through April 30

Helen Ginger said...

This was such a different story. No happy ending. But Bill was true to his character and sad as it was, how could it end otherwise (even if we didn't see it coming)?

Colene Murphy said...

Wow! Very different take! I like the twofer too! Thanks for entering! You can count yourself officially entered in the contest too! Awesome post! Well writen!!

Hart Johnson said...

Oh, so sad! Great story though! Tough to be the daughter of a drunk on a special occasion when you need him...

Donna Hole said...

Ah, that was great. Captured the alcoholic's guilt and denial perfectly.

Well done.

.........dhole

Mary Vaughn said...

You really captured Billy's problem an eluded to the effects on others. A true and common sad story.
Great job.

Caroline said...

I think you did a great job capturing the nature of an alcoholic, as well as the sensations he experienced. I sensed no lack of expertise. Lovely.

Pk Hrezo said...

Wow, very nicely told. I'm hopping on over from the blogfest. Nice to meet you and your blog.

Happy St. Patty's Day! :)

alexia said...

Very emotional piece! Well written, I could feel the urgency.

Thanks for participating!

Michael Di Gesu said...

Very well written.

As the other said, I want more. I like your description in the beginning, Nice unusual details. Like slipping into shoes with no socks.

Nice to meet you, Liza. I'm a new follower.

Michael

Jennie Bailey said...

This was so sad! Addiction is such a hard thing to kick. Very well written!! You may not be a short story expert, but you certainly write like one. I'm a new follower!

Carolina Valdez Miller said...

I've had this up for a while so I would remember to come back to it. I wanted to read it when I had time to enjoy it. I knew it would be good, and it was. Lots of tension in this without having much action at all. Just an alcoholic trying to make it sober to his daughter's wedding. So, so sad. I hurt for Bethie and never even met her. You've got an amazing handle on characterization and emotional impact. When he walked up to the bar, I wanted to shout, "NO! Keep moving!" In that moment, you had me by the throat, hoping he'd keep going, even though you know there's a good chance he won't. It's that hope that drives us. So well done!

mybluescreen said...

You really did a good job of building the tension of this guy trying to get to his daughter's wedding. I was genuinely disappointed when he gave up. Nicely done. :)

Kittie Howard said...

Donna hit the nail on the head: you captured the alcoholic and his denial. Wanted to smack him. Well done!

Jon Paul said...

Liza--I could make the argument that it's only good and proper to show up late to read a post about a man destined to show up late (or not at all!)...but I suppose that would be a specious gamble of an excuse.

I thought this was brilliantly constructed and voiced, and crafted so economically! You really did pull me in and I was right perturbed at the end, and sad that he couldn't find his way.

Nicely done, thanks for being a part of the blogfest, and a belated Happy St. Pat's to you also!