CHAPTER #7 CLANCY’S BAR AND GRILL
I was dropped by that old pharmacy guy, then walked down the side of the levee, across the two-lane and through the doors into Clancy’s. I was hoping Dog was waiting, because I had a story to tell and only The Dog Man would believe me.
He was nursing the last bit of color from a third Bloody Mary. He liked to line the glasses. He looked at me and his face lit. “What the fuck, I thought you were dead.”
“Shit, Dog, can’t get rid of me that easy.”
“Shit, I couldn’t get away from her fast enough. I mean, don’t get me wrong, she was a great lay, especially when she turned up the heat, and I don’t mean room temperature, if you get my drift.”
“The destruction of the bedroom was totally out there. When she and I came together, I mean the sky opened up. But after, she turned into what they all turn into, a clingy, never-get-enough babe.”
“I get you man,” Dog said and sipped at the ice. “But shit, Dog can’t believe you banged Ya-melt-a.”
“Believe it, pal.”
I dug into my watch pocket and pulled out a broach. Ya-melt-a wore it every broadcast. It was the size of a quarter, the general shape of two bananas and made of platinum.
For Sundog, it was the clincher. “Where the hell’d you get that?”
“Took it from her coat.”
“Is it the very one?” Sundog examined it with the eye of a jeweler.
“Is, and to prove it let’s watch the news to see if she’s wearing it.”
I turn to Clancy. “Hey Clanc, turn on channel seven news.”
“Sure as shit, buddy,” Sundog whispered. “You banged the great Yamelda Keating.” The Dog Man held the pin up once again. “You fucking well did it.”
I scowled. “Wasn’t as good as I thought it would be.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean hell, all us been dreaming about doing it to her for how long? When she and I got down to it, she was a little better than most but much more demanding. I held my own until the third time, but after I wanted out. I would have run, but we were stranded, so I fell asleep.”
“You fell asleep?”
“All I know is she wanted more and I was completely washed up. Am I gettin’ old?”
“Shit man. When you were done, you should’ve given ol’ Dog a call. He would have come over in a second.”
The Dog Man, prowler-of-the-night, wild-man-of-the-south-side, professed unequaled lover in three western states, forgot he’d spent the night passed out on Clancy’s floor. Had the flood reached Clancy’s, Sundog would’ve floated away with the wooden bar stools and all those half-empty bottles of booze. The only reason why Sundog was alive at all was because of his fourth Bloody Mary.
He pointed at the screen. “You’re right, she’s not wearing the pin.”
“She-it man, if you’d just given Dog a call.”
I looked at the TV as Yamelda was rounding out the day’s news. “Now that I’ve had her, she doesn’t turn me on any more. I kinda’ wish last night never happened.”
Sundog had a gleam in his eye. He had a catch to his voice. I’d seen it too many times and lately with Cindy. The Dog’s blood was up. Nothing short of a woman in his bed was going to satisfy him. Maybe I could distract his one-track mind for a moment.
I lowered my voice and pulled up close to Sundog. “I did get into Tenican Heights.”
“Are you serious?”
“Got a pile of goodies.”
“Coulda’ gotten lots more if you were along, but I got enough to get us a good chunk of some of that Peruvian blow, I mean first hand. We’ll have enough to keep us in good coke for a few winters.”
“Where’s it at?”
“I couldn’t fight the currents. I had to stash it on the only dry ground in ten miles. Never guess where.”
“After all Billy and Dog done to her.”
“Far as I could get. Buried it in the garden.”
“In the middle a Tenican Heights.”
Sundogs elated expression drooped. “The middle of Tenican?”
“Far as I could get.”
“How’s Billy and Dog supposed to get it? That place is a bank vault.”
“We put our heads together, we’ll figure a way. I mean we got in all those times to fuck Stalworth’s property up. We could figure out how to get in one more time.”
“Got in with Trunk’s pass, you dick.”
Sundog put his elbows on the bar and rested his head on his hands. “Probably got the place surrounded by now. Getting in won’t be easy. Back out with a bunch of goods, it’ll be impossible.”
We sat with our dilemma until noon, pulling on Bloody Marys and beer shooters. I used a gold coin I’d found the night before to pay Dog’s and my tab. Clancy was happy.
By one, I slammed my last Mary and turned to Dog. “I’m going home and get some shut eye.”
“Dog’ll be working on an answer.”
I stumbled out of Clancy’s, around the corner and up the block to my little duplex. My bed hit me in the face and I saw or heard nothing until later that night when Cindy called.
“Billy, Sundog’s causing trouble.”
“What else is new?”
“Maybe you could come get him or we’re going to call the cops.”
“Why would you call the cops?”
“I don’t want to call anyone, but if you don’t get over here quick, I’ll be forced to. He’s busting things up.”
“I’ll be over in a minute.”
“Make it quick. Clancy isn’t here and I don’t think I can handle him.”
“I’ll be there.”
I hung the phone up, pulled on yesterday’s jeans, a plaid shirt, then sprinted out the door. I knew from experience, Cindy wouldn’t call unless things were really out of hand. There wasn’t much time.
The night was cold and soggy. Fog hung over Marysville like a wool blanket. The streets were wet, but the rain had finally stopped.
I sprinted through the front door as Sundog raised a chair over his head to slam it into the back of the bar. “Gimme another Russian or I’ll. . .”
The chair was beginning its arc as I caught it and yanked it from Dog’s grip. I carefully set it on the floor and prepared to fend off his attack.
With a grimace, Sundog spun, almost lost his balance, then his face relaxed. “Billy.”
“Let’s get out of here.”
“Cindy won’t give The Dog Man another Russian.”
I looked at Cindy with phone in hand. She gave me a nervous smile and hung it up.
I slipped my head under one of Sundogs armpits and turned him around. When I got my charge pointed in the right direction, I moved toward the door.
I’d completed the twelve o’clock, six o’clock and finally the eleven o’clock news before Steven Hammer and Frank Johns, the two office messengers, got a bead on Billy.
Frank pulled on his little gray goatee. “All we know about Marlin is sometimes he hangs out in Clancy’s Bar and Grill on the south side.”
Steven sat on the edge of one of the secretary’s desks. I was surprised he didn’t crush the desk. “Marlin’s pretty secretive. What do you want him for anyhow?”
“He might know something about the flood.” I lied of course. I’m Yamelda Keating. I never need to find a man. There was always a long line of ‘em waiting. Searching out a man was a first for me. It was my one, and I hoped only, but I was determined.
“Keep on this, boys.”
Steven stood like he was ready to race out of the office that very second. “Yes ma’am.”
I went into my dressing room and allowed the new girl to remove my makeup, then I kicked her out and tore through my wardrobe for something appropriate.
The station shuttled me three hundred yards across the lake. Since my car was under ten feet of water, the station rented me a Lexus. It wasn’t as nice as my Mercedes, but it sufficed in a pinch. I climbed in the car with my appropriately broken-in, faded designer Levis, pointy-toed cowboy boots, and silver-tipped collars on a cream-colored western blouse. I was dressed to kill and I had my sights on one man. My entire focus was all for Billy F. Marlin. I got the middle initial from Steven.
I found myself getting more nervous the closer I drove to Clancy’s. It was only five miles, but it seemed like it took an hour. I parked as far from the pickup trucks, beat-up cars, and rag-tag motorcycles as possible. I sat in my car getting up the courage to go in. I’d never been inside a bar like Clancy’s. I’d never been inside anything except for the uptown nightclubs. Clancy’s had a dirt parking lot, faded paint and neon sign with two letters burnt out. The outside was enough to make me drive home, but I would never be dissuaded from anything I set my mind to and that bar was no different.
I turned my idling engine off, had a last look in the rear view mirror, got out and walked across the muddy lot to the paint chipped front door. Under the glare of the low watt bulb, I halted, took a deep breath, then grabbed the loose door handle.
I was bent low from the added weight of my plastered buddy. When I opened the door, all I could see was polished cowboy boots and faded Levi’s. Was it a female? I didn’t look too hard in case it was some guy.
Sundog was so out of it, his head flopped in front of my face as I tried to get a better view. I wanted one single look at the rest of the leggy view in case it was some new babe. Just one glance before I took Dog back to my place. I could come back once I got him on the couch.
I shifted my load, flipping The Dog over my right shoulder fireman style and rose to face the last person I wanted to see.
Dog Man slurred in a loud, singsong voice. “It’s Ya-melt-a.”
“Oh, hi.” I slipped around her.
“Wait, Billy,” Sundog yelled, arms flailing as we passed through the front door. “Dog Man wants his chance at her.”
When I got to the corner, I looked back to see if she’d followed. She was half way across the parking lot coming my way.
With Sundog as baggage, I couldn’t move too fast, but I picked up my pace, trying to get around the corner and to my front door before Yamelda could get a bead on me.
I reached the door, pushed it open with my foot, carried Dog in and dropped him on my avocado couch. Once I unloaded my cargo, I raced for the switches, turned off the inside lights, sprinted to the door, closed it, and turned off the porch light. I stepped over to the window and looked out at her silhouette standing with one hand on her hip. I waited in the dark until Sundog moaned on the couch and rolled onto the floor with a thump.
At the same time I turned to help The Dog Man back to the couch, the heavy sound of intent knuckles rapped my door.
“Yes?” I answered through the closed door after the third knock.
“Are you going to open this door?”
I reached for the handle, but I really wanted to snap the dead bolt. I cracked the door.
“I want to talk to you.”
I slipped from the house out onto the dark concrete porch. “What?”
“This isn’t exactly the welcome I had in mind. Can’t you at least invite me in?”
“Place is a mess. Let’s go for a walk.”
“In this neighborhood. . . At night.”
“I’m known. Nobody will bother us.”
That damn Billy and I walked around a block with no sidewalks, few working streetlights filled with shanty one-room houses. Except for an occasional jaunt into these neighborhoods with my entourage, I’d never visited this part of town.
While I tried to get Billy, Goddamn-stuck-up, Marlin to talk, my thoughts kept finding media stories. First, there was the poor-getting-the-short-end-of-the-stick, angle. There was the who-really-owned-the-ghettos story? What about, why the city ignores the needs of this part of the community?
With my brain jumping from story to story, I said, “Thanks for pulling me out of the drink last night.”
“It was nothing.”
“At first I simply wanted to give you a gift for your trouble, but it’s turned into something more for me.”
“I thought we had something real nice.”
“Didn’t you think it was a little more than a roll in the hay?”
“Well, umm, sure.”
I turned to him. “Damnit, Billy, are you going to talk to me or do I have to. . .” I didn’t want to say it. I didn’t want to turn and walk away like I’d done so many times. For some reason, I wanted to stay and work it out. It was a Yamelda Keating milestone.
“I, I don’t know what to say, Ms. Keating,”
“Ms. Keating. . . Ms. Keating? Why you bastard. After last night, that’s all you have to say?”
I was fuming. “Your turn to say something.”
“I don’t know what to say, Yamelda. I guess it wasn’t as good for me as it was for you.”
“What?” I screamed. My little fist from hell unleashed its spring-steel coil and came out of nowhere. Even I didn’t know it was coming. I was surprised when it connected with Billy’s lower jaw.
In the darkness of the unlit street, his knees unhinged. When he crumpled toward the ground, I registered what I’d done. I was so mad I didn’t care. I spun on my high-heeled cowgirl boots, rubbed the sting in my right fist and stomped away. I hadn’t taken three steps when Billy’s body hit the pavement. I didn’t even think about turning.
No one treated me like that. No one used the great Yamelda Keating then threw her away like yesterday’s garbage.
By the time I got in my car, I’d calmed. The drive back to the dock, then getting ferried across the flood to my third story apartment was in a bleakness I’d never before experienced. No one ever turned me down. No one!
I’m Samuel W. Trainer, ex-football star, now simply an old black man. I happened to be sitting on my front porch with a lit pipe as I watched Billy The Kid and some fancy dressed woman have their little altercation. I sat outside because Wilma would no longer allow me to smoke inside my own home.
She’d laid down the law some years back when two things happened on the very same day. The first was the heart and lung association’s study about second-hand tobacco. Sheeit man, someone doctored the test. The second thing that came down the pike in my sixty-nine years, twenty-three years of being married to the same wonderful woman, though she was eighteen years my junior, was menopause. Wilma turned from a loving, demure, selfless woman, overnight into what I could only describe to my pals down at Clancy’s as a screaming me-me.
I’d been sitting on the porch for over an hour when my beer-drinking pal, Billy, walked by with that good lookin’ blonde. Billy with a good-looking woman was not an odd sight. Most every night he had some female on his arm. The odd thing was, she was no teenager. It was just not Billy’s style.
The two of them were in a discussion that’d come to a standoff. The air smelled of anger. Many times I’d seen Billy in that situation. It was always interesting to see how Lover Boy handled himself.
When the woman cold-cocked him, my pipe dropped from my mouth and thudded on the rotted wood porch.
When she stomped away and Billy crumpled to the pavement, I leapt to my feet.
I reached Billy as the woman disappeared around the corner.
I lightly slapped his cheek. “Hey boy, you got to find yourself another kind’a woman.”
Billy was out. I wrestled the kid to his feet and carried him fireman style to his house. I staggered onto the porch, opened the door and since the couch was full, I walked him into the bedroom and dropped him on the swayback bed.
After I got him into a position where his breathing was clear, I looked around. I expected some exotic sex den with red lights, mirrors and soft velvety couches. At the very least, I expected a nice bed, but it was just a dirty bachelor pad.