Going Home to Friends – MWBB

It’s been some time since an update, but there is still writing being done. Recently, there was a fun holiday. St Patrick’s day was a theme for the Mid Week Blues Buster last week, and the song of the week was specially chosen to go with it.

The song of the week was from the Pogues, called Sally MacLennane

“Kiss me, baby, I’m Irish!”

For the 3rd time, Johnny tried to stand up straight as the waitress brought another trio of green beer towers. She just rolled her eyes playfully right back at him. “The only thing Irish in you is the whiskey, bless your heart.”

Any further flirting from him was cut off as the Irish punk band in kilts and mohawks started another set. An electric guitar screams out the notes of a series of classic Celtic drinking songs, with the flying fingers of a bagpiper keeping a toe tapping harmony. The yearly parade had ended just down the block, and people from the street were pouring in with faces painted and all manner of green accessories. Before long, the bar was a throng of celebration, with a din rivaling that of the band on stage.

Within a tiny island of stillness, one older man sits on a stool at the bar, with hair the color of snow and a sweater that had seen too many winters, looking at a stack of old pictures. With each picture, he raises one glass of dark beer and takes a drink. Another glass sits next to his, filled to the top, like it’s waiting for someone to sit down and drink. Every time the bartender passes by, they trade a few words about whoever is in the current picture. Some of the yellowed photos cause a loud guffaw at a shared memory, but more than one causes the two men to make the Sign of the Cross across their chests, and for just a moment they pause and forget the pressing mass of patrons.

Such a sight was soon noticed by the trio of college students at the nearby table. Johnny wobbled through the crowd over to lean on the bar, over the shoulder of the white-haired man. “You gotta drink that beer before it gets warm, you know!”

Softly, blue eyes turn to face the young man with bouncing shamrock antennae. “Lad, tha’ beer there is for another. Used to live in this neighborhood, too, a long time ago. We used to drink right at this very bar, and talk about women and the world.” Even though the bar is painfully loud, the old man’s voice is strong to the youth leaning close.

“What’s with the pictures?”

“These are people from long ago. Some go back as far as when Charlie here was barely tall enough to reach the top of the bar. Right, Charlie?” The bartender nodded and smiled wistfully as he passed by with 4 pitchers of beer precariously held in practiced hands.

“In fact, young man, I’m going out to see them again, just as soon as I finish this drink. Can I buy you and your friends another round of…whatever those things are?”

“Sure, Gramps. If you’re buying us drinks, you’re my new best friend!” Johnny weaves back through the crowd to collect his friends. When the 3 make their way back to the bar to thank their new friend, the old man has slipped away into the crowd. At the bar, though, 3 emerald towers are waiting, surrounding the stack of pictures. Unsteady, Johnny sloshes his beer all over the pictures. “Guess he went to go see his friends.”

The topmost picture, now stained a sickly green from the beer, shows only white marble stones, carved precisely and all in orderly lines, filling an entire field.

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