The long dead Irish writers. Their larger than life, smoke
darkened faces, stared down at her as she poured drinks. Pulled
taps. Listened to the voices. Politics and art. Books. Voices spewed
with Jamison’s ease.
Her mother hoped for her to be a doctor. A nurse. A secure life
married to a higher purpose. It was a debate whether it worked out.
Arguments to be made on either side.
An Irishman with eyes that caught every available light. Marriage.
Death. Lights diminished. An Irish named bar. It didn’t matter if people
knew her story. This tiny Japanese woman kept them quenched. Drank
with the best of them. These brilliant, ruined storytellers.
Her story was not important. She wanted to record stories heard in
the bar’s muted light. Commit them to memory, and the red notebook
she kept near the register.
The Tribune’s obit man wrote at the bar. Late afternoons before it
got crowded. Built histories of lives public and private. Imagined
stories that remained buried.
He was polite to her. Almost old fashioned in his way. I wonder, he said.
I wonder if this Irish lass ever experienced love. Had a suiter. This
Mary Catherine. A lovely name, yes? He looked around the room. A
fitting name. She poured another Guinness and set it before him. He looked
down at his watch. And a bit of Jamison’s. For the road, as they say.
She brought the bottle and poured. Join me? he asked.
She poured another. To Mary Catherine, then. They touched
glass to glass. To stories untold, he said. Cheers, she told him.
She emptied her glass. Another? she asked.