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...