Sunday, April 27, 2014

My Lady Friends

       


          Catalpa is your typical Irish bar located in Hell's Kitchen New York. It's got your knotted wood bars, brass rails, New York sports memorabilia and Black 47 round the clock on the jukebox. Its filled with local firemen, cops, construction workers and sordid souls, served by off the boat Irish bartenders. The romanticism of the bar explodes in the winter. It is decorated in pine boughs and glittering white lights. The fireplace roars constantly giving off rustic smells  and a smokey reminder of winters past.


         Gerard Murphy and Ciaran Mullen, eyes to the ground and hands in pockets walk into the establishment on West 55th Street, not only to escape the cold, but on a mission of another kind. However, Gerard immediately falls in love.

          "Jesus Christ, how can you tell you love this place that much we just got here?" Ciaran's Boston accent almost stops every head already three deep into their drafts.
          "Not the bar, idiot, the girl." Gerard points to a woman tending bar.
          "How can you tell?"
           Gerard, not ever taken aback by emotion stares at the woman behind the oak bar. She tucks her short, coffee colored hair behind her ear. She's wearing an evergreen dress shirt, cuffs rolled, buttons undone enough to entice, showing the small gold cross to get the point across. One claddagh ring adorns the right hand that waits for  the Guinness pint, the other hand is free of rings, to Gerard's joy. Her smile and her eyes, Gerard concludes, are equally as bright and welcoming as Sirius on a moonless July night.
          Ciaran fails to see Guinevere in front of Sir Lancelot. "She's basic. She's a bartendah."
         The two now draw even more attention to themselves because they are not only blocking the door but also getting snow all over the floor.
          "You two better move along to some seats before Doc sees you dripping on her floor." A worn man turns his head slightly to look at the 30 year olds from Boston's Southie neighborhood.
          Gerard and Ciaran move along to the closest bar stools, placing their bags next to their stools.
          "Is that Doc?" Ciaran points to the bartender who has stole Gerard's heart.
          "It is and don't let her smile fool ya. She'll knock you into next week if you look at her crooked. But she'll smile at you the entire time she's kicking you're ass in." The man gives a cheers motion with his shot glass before emptying the contents into his belly.
         "Does she give spankings, cause I think that's what Gerard here is looking for." He laughs and smacks a very red faced look alike of Colin Farrel.
          "You dish it but can you take it?" Like Frazer in the 15th round staring at Ali, Doc stands there waiting for a response.
          "You see what they did to your floor, Doc?" The old man pushes his empty glass to Doc who already has his refill.
          "These two chowderheads have quite the nerve showing their face in here." She continues to busy herself filling glasses with potions and brews.
          Ciaran turns white.
           Doc continues. "With the Pats kicking the life out of the Jets Sunday, you best return the r's to your vocabulary or find yourselves wishing you were back in the village."
           "Excuse me. Excuse me one moment, "Gerard pauses looking for her to give her name."
          "Doc." She learns onto the bar.
          "Excuse me, Doc. Did you just say I should return to the community we all know as Dawchestah? You just met me and you assume that? I will have you know that I hail from Savin Hill." He waits for her response.
          "Stab-n-kill? Part of Dawchestah, aint it?  Had a kid in my unit from there. Good people." She seems transfixed at this creature who seems he might be able to keep up with her insults. 
          "Doc. Phone." One of the other bartenders yells to her, kicking her out of her curiosity.
          "Be right back. Jimmy'll take care of ya." She walks to the phone, leaving Gerard even more infatuated with this New York enigma.
          Jimmy places two pints of Guinness and two shots of Jamesons in front of the men. He stands and waits for their hands to reach for their wallets. "It's not a gift."
          "Oh, right. Um, and get our friend here a round." Gerard points to the old man. Gerard takes two twenties out of his wallet, enought to appease Jimmy. Jimmy turns his back to retrieve some more whiskey. He hums to himself as he pours three fingers into the glass.
          Gerard swallows hard and then sings along. "Nous sommes des dégourdis, nous sommes des lascars,Des types pas ordinaires,
Nous avons souvent notre cafard, Nous sommes des Légionnaires."

           "Supposed to impress me?" Jimmy asks as his hand steadies the draft.
        "Had an uncle who joined the French Foreign Legion. When he came back, he made us all memorize that song." He looks at the bar, not sure if his attempt to build a bridge worked. The overturned shot glass for a free round proved it did.


          The two sit and take in the atmosphere, seemingly trying to blend in. Their bags now sit away from their stools and they have made friends with the old man, who they now know as Mr. MacManus.
          "So, Mr. MacManus. We're here looking for work. Our friends told us that we should ask for someone named Frankie." Ciaran gets right to the point.
          "What kind of work are you two looking for here?"
          "What Ciaran meant to say," Gerard starts as he keeps an eye on his wandering princess, "is that we were told he could help point us in the right direction." Completely ignoring the rest of the conversation the on his way to drunk Ciaran and the old man are having, Gerard looks to Doc and summons her over.
         "Could I get anotha, love?" The "love" slips out and he doesn't care.
She takes the glass and  places a new one after running the tap a second. He swears, that even under the dim bar lights, when she brushes her hair behind her ear, she is blushing.
          "You said before someone in your unit was from Southie?"
          "Yeah." She is not going to be forthcoming with the details.
          Before he can ask again, a tall very Irish looking man enters. Both of the men recognize the man as the cop they spoke to before.
          "Hey Donnie, so you're the one who told these two to stop by here?" Doc smiles at the man who immediately goes to the jukebox. "Can you play something other than Dave Matthew please?"
          "How about some Neil Young? And can you get me a Black and Tan and uh, a Jamesons, double." He turns to the Internet jukebox that has been playing nothing but The Pogues and U2 for the last hour.
         "Neat?" For a simple drink order, Doc looks a little concerned.
         "Yeah, definitely not on the rocks." The first strained notes of The Christmas Song by Dave Matthews echoes.
         "Ok, the only Dave Matthews song, hear me?" The black and tan settles, the Jamesons poured and Gerard is delivered his Guinness.
         "So you go by Gerry or Gerard?" She asks wiping the same spot in front of him with the bleached wash rag.
          "Depends on if you want me to ansah." The two look at each other and then look away quickly.
          "Jesus Christ, I feel like we should start listening to fuckin' New Kids on the Block. What are you two gonna ask each other to the formal?" Jimmy walks to the kitchen.
          "Sorry, it's why I keep him around." She places the towel on her shoulder.
          "So before, I was askin', Doc..." He leans onto the bar, closer to her, ignoring that Ciaran and Mr. MacManus are now talking about storming the beaches of Normandy.
        "Navy. Hospital Corpsman. Served three tours with a Marine company in Afghanistan. The nickname stuck."
          "You, with Marines?"
        "That sounds like a vote of confidence." She removes the towel and slaps it onto the bar.
         "No. I didn't mean that. It's just that, I mean, if I were your father and I knew you were riding around in the desert in a tank filled with Marines."
          "You think we had time to think about that?"
          "Yes. As an expert of male behavior and thought of the sexual nature, yes, I do." He takes a long sip of the Guinness.
          "So, what are you thinking right now?" She smiles at him with that astral smile. Next to Gerard, Donnie lets our a loud laugh. When he does not answer, she reminds him. "Except for the guns and the occasional IED, it ain't no different than sitting in a bar you the lot of you all but without the beer. So, as I told my father, Khandahar might be a little safer."
          "Point taken." He quits while he is ahead.

          "You two have bags. Where you stayin'?
          Gerard shrugs.
          "You two lookin' for work? I think they're looking for part timers for the holidays." She leans on the bar, this time their elbows touch.


          Conveniently, a one bedroom apartment sat empty, looking for two Boston Irish men to occupy it. Even more conveniently, Gerard grew up in and around bars. Ciaran however, knew his way more around the kitchen and found himself elbow deep in empty bowls of shepard's pie. But how and why did these two end up in Catalpa in the first place. And why are they looking for someone named Frankie?
          Six months prior, Gerard and Ciaran found themselves in the outs with Liam Hanafin, the current highest ranking Irish mob boss in Southie. Why? They believed Gerard turned soft  and was simply no longer trustworthy. Ciaran was linked to some suspicious information being leaked to an informant within the Southie family. And in Southie, you just don't retire, you disappear. So, in desperation, Gerard searched for a way out for him and his friend.
          Gerard saw The Departed one too many ones and knew becoming an informant was out. He did however, come up with the idea that they could fake their deaths and move away. It was Ciaran who was told about Frankie, rumored to be the current boss of the Westie clan that still maintained hold on New York. Bus ticket bought, the two packed up, faked their demise and moved to New York City in search of a person they only knew the first name of.

          In the steamy kitchen, Ciaran ate quickly before the dinner crowd. "So I think was able to find someone who can take us to Frankie."
         "And what are we goin' to do then? Seriously, we've made a clean escape. I kinda like livin' normal."
          Ciaran slams his bowl onto the metal sink. "We've got the opportunity of a lifetime. We know everyone in Hanafin's racket. Do you know how much we could make off that?"
          The kitchen door swings open and Doc sticks her head in. Ger, can I get a hand out here?"
          "Be off Prince Charming." Ciaran rolls his eyes.
          
         Two weeks, Gerard has worked at Catalpa and for two weeks, his knees grow weaker and his palms sweat even more each time he sees her. The longest he spoke to her was the night they met. He has so many questions, but rarely the opportunity.
          "I need some help bringing some boxes upstairs." He follows her down into the cellar.
          "What are you doing for Christmas?" She stops and turns. "If you don't mind me asking."
          "Um, no. Just hanging around here. Working if they need it. You?"
          "The painful family Christmas. Why aren't you married? Why don't you have any kids?"
          He packs boxes that she hands him onto a dolly. "So you're not married?"
          "And not any kids that I know of. I should really ask those guys I shared a tank with." She smiles at him.
          "Doc..."
          "Joe. Josephine. But don't go tellin' everyone or I'll tell them all you're a Yankees fan."
           "Joe, thanks."
            "For what?"She starts up the stairs.
            He can't help but stare at her ass in the jeans before he turns and begins to lift the dolly up the stairs. "For helping me out with a job."
          "No worries. You guys find your friend Frankie yet?"
          Gerard stops. "No. I guess we don't need to know that we have this place."
         

          Christmas music plays non-stop on the jukebox.  A handful of people make their way into the bar. Ciaran chats it up with two girls from England while Gerard wipes the bar spotless. Gerard never really had Christmas. His father was not a part of his life and his mother, well, he doesn't even want to think about what his mother did to get the two of them by. The bar is only open until six, so he figures he'll take in a movie to make the day go by.
          At four o'clock, Jimmy waltzes into the bar with some boxes. Before he even sets them down onto the bar, Ciaran is already at them. They can smell the turkey, stuffing, pie and potatoes. Gerard doesn't move from his spot. Jimmy walks behind the bar.
          "Don't fill up on the turkey." He hands Gerard a slip of paper, folded in half. "I'll see you at closing. Give you a ride....Happy Christmas."
          "Yeah, Merry Christmas." He is completely clueless and almost forgets that he is holding a slip of paper.
          "Jesus, look at this food. Come on, Gerard, eat up.:
          Gerard leans his back on the bar and open the note the Jimmy handed to him.

          Please join me for dinner. My place. Jimmy will drive you. Can you grab a bottle of red from the cellar? Merry Christmas - J

          His heart almost explodes. He has never felt like this over a girl. He's been too busy running from the Boston underworld to even think about falling in love. He tells Ciaran he's leaving at 5:30 cause he has to "clear his mind." Really, he's going to take a shower, have a proper shave and find something to wear. He wants to impress her and doesn't want her to think he's just in this for a handout.

         Gerard knows nothing about New York City and was happy to have a ride from Jimmy.
          "What part of the City are we going to?"
          "Meatpacking." Jimmy hums Angel of Harlem by U2.
          This means nothing to Jimmy. He wonders of her family will be there. No, he thinks, they couldn't be. That would be too much pressure for both of them.
          With a nod of approval, Gerard exits the car.
          'Your wine." Jimmy hands Gerard the bottle. "And these. She prefers tulips but I am sure roses will do. She's in 3A" Jimmy hands over a bouquet that he had hidden behind his seat.
          He enters the slightly run-down looking building on 11th street. He rings the buzzer to 3A. When he enters, he can smell pine, perfume and something baking. She is waiting for him when he reaches the third floor. Her hair is not tucked behind her ears and she looks too Irish in her creamy woolen sweater and corduroys.
          "Aren't your feet cold?" He looks at her bare feet.
          "Merry Christmas to you, too." Surprisingly, she hugs him and give him the slightest of kisses on his cheek. His first actual contact with her besides when their elbows touches at the bar two weeks ago, she's muscular and understands how she could "knock you into next week" as Mr. MacManus said.
           He hands her the wine. "As you asked, a bottle of red." And then he hands her the flowers.
          "Thank you so much. That is so sweet. Please make yourself at home." She walks away leaving him to shut the door behind him. It is a simple but spacious apartment complete with brick walls and hard hood floors. He sees pictures and immediately wants to investigate this enigma who now stands before him with a  tray of hot biscuits. He sees stairs and realizes that she lives in a duplex and wonders how she affords it on a bartenders salary. She has the fireplace roaring to counteract the cold Christmas night. He notices no tree, but she does have some random wreaths and a  handsome stack of Christmas cards on a coffee table.
               "Is this the Christmas version of Exile on Main St?" He comments on her lack of Christmas music.
          "I was holly jollied out today." She finishes off a glass of champagne. "Could you open the wine for us? The corkscrew is on the counter."
         He removes the cork from the wine. "The day with your family was good?"
         "Yeah, it was. But as I guessed, it turned into the usual 'you need to get one with your life' session."
         Gerard finds two glasses and pours the red for them. He sets them on the counter. "Do you want that?"
         "Now why can't they ask me that?" She walks over to him and takes a large sip of wine. "I can't hear a thunderstorm without thinking I am going to see wounded in the next five minutes and I haven't slept a full night in five years." She looks at him apologetically and sighs.
          "Let it out."
          "No, you're my guest. You're the one that is supposed to be in the spotlight." She takes his glass of wine. "Come on. Everything is just warming. We can eat whenever."
          She sits on the couch and waits for him to join her before handing him the wine. "So, champagne talking, why are you here for Christmas, and don't be a smart ass and say because I invited you."

          "Cause I can't go home." The statement he made shocks himself.
         "This is interesting."
          "And why did you only invite me?"
          "And not your weaselly little drunken friend?" She places her wine on a coffee table.
          "Hey. He is my friend." His wine spill onto her sweater.
They both stare at each other for a few seconds before starts to laugh.
          "That never happened in a tank in Afghanistan and Lord knows the roads are really bumpy over there."
           The two of them had been without the sexual company for so long that, at first it was like they had never done it before. After that first few seconds of awkwardness and trying to remember where hands go, they both remembered who long it had actually been for both of them and it quickly devolved into clothes being tossed aside, potatoes being burned and the most passionate sex either of them had ever had in recent memory.  
          It wasn't until after midnight that they finally got to dinner.
          "I'm sorry about your sweater." He shovels the food into his mouth.
          "It's nothing. I meant what I said before though." She places her hand on his arm and he puts his fork down."
           He looks as if he is thinking. He lets out a breath. "That no one has ever made you feel more like a woman than me?"
          "No, before that. About Ciaran."
          "Oh. I mean, he's ok. He runs his mouth a lot."
          "Look, it's after midnight." She looks at the clock. "You know what today is, right?"
           "Boxing Day?"
            His guess impresses her. She takes a small piece of pie off his plate with her fingers. "You ever hear of the play My Lady Friends?"
            "I cannot say that I am that versed in plays." He places his elbow onto the table and places his head on his hand.
            "A Boston boy like you? That was the play that was rumored to be financed by the trade of Babe Ruth to the Yankees."
            He looks at her more like he is remembering being in her arms than what she is saying about baseball.
            "December 26th, 1918." She stares at him. Then she wipes her mouth with a napkin and curls her knees up to her chest on the chair. "Gerard. How do you feel about working for New York?"
            "Working for New York?" He now sits back in his chair, understanding that this conversation is going somewhere.
            "Nothing illegal. Basically just keeping peace, making sure no one goes off the tracks, and that order is maintained." She sips her wine and can see that thoughts in his head running around.
            "I really don't understand you, Joe."
             She puts her feet back down on the floor and moves closer to him. She places her hand out to him. "Let me start by officially introducing myself. Francis Josephine Kennedy. My family calls me Frankie."

         
#


          Francis Josephine Clare Kennedy  was born on August 1st during the harvest festival of Lugnhnasa to Fionna nee Brenan and Joseph Kennedy. Much to mother’s chagrin, the name Frankie was born out of her daughter’s inability to grasp that she had to use the toilet – sitting down. She was born a fighter at only seven months and has not stopped punching and kicking in her 35 years.
    To be honest, Joseph sometimes didn’t think his daughter would live to see the opportunity to run what was left of the Irish stronghold in New York City. At one point she was known as Frankie the cat, testing all of her nine lives. The time she got lost in the Vietnam jungles on a surfing trip , her brief but expensive stint in a German police station, and the Vegas wedding to Martin Lynch, the number two Southie Boss (only dangerous because everyone wanted to kill them after that).  Thankfully after Afghanistan, Frankie settled down her antics, risk taking and dangerous shenanigans that put her father’s heart in a weak state in the first place.

          Frankie can Irish step dance, set a formal place setting for an eight course dinner ,and fire and M14 carbine with accurate precision. She has learned to fraternize with politicians, work back door deals with the local strong holds, and gain the respect of those who wished her failure. She can also charm the pants off any man and blackmail her way into long term contracts when she threatens to tell their wives (and their mothers).

         The state of affairs of the gang formerly known as the Westies in New York City has been relatively quiet and Frankie's main job is maintaining peace between the Irish, the Russians and the Italians, plus the occasional dealings with the Boston Southie Irish. With her father in ill health and her brother a priest, it was left up to Frankie whether or not she would take the reigns or if the role would be turned over to a new family.

          Gerard stares at her, still holding her hand that she offered to him for her introduction.
         She sits back in her seat. "You alright?" She takes a long sip of wine as he continues to stare.
          "You fucking serious?" He empties the bottle of red into his glass.
          "Are you more surprised that I'm a woman or that it was kept from you for this long?"
          "And why are you telling me now?" He pushes his plate away. "You play with us for a while, tell us your secret and then we're outta here?"
          "What exactly do you mean by outta here, Ger?"
          "Ciaran is really your favorite isn't he?"
          Frankie smiles. "Lynch was right about you."
          "Martin?" Gerard shifts uncomfortably in his seat
          "Yeah. He said you're too nervous." She places her hand on his arm. "Darlin', it's you I like."
          "How do you know Martin?"
          "Why don't you tend to the fireplace and I'll find us a nice bottle of whiskey." She stands and takes the dishes to the sink.
          Gerard continues to sit. He stares at the table.
          "Before the spring thaw would be grand." She takes two glasses from the cabinet.
         
  
          The two sit comfortably on the large sofa, heated perfectly by the fireplace. Gerard sits nervously forward, his glass in hand. Frankie, her legs curled under her sits next to him.
         "Are you upset?"
         "I, it's just...I thought I was done with all of this. I was kind of enjoying not having to look behind me everywhere I walk."
          "Totally up to you what you want to do. You can stay here or you can go back to Boston." She swirls the whiskey in her glass. "Problem is that I kind of like you," she says as she puts her glass on the coffee table. She then removes the glass from Gerard's hands as well and places it on the table.
          "Have you lied to me at all?" 
           The cinnamon eyes that stole his heart the first second he saw her focus on him. She takes his hands in hers. "No. I might not have been up front about everything."
          "Like?" He looks her directly in the eyes.
          "If you're staying, this is a two way street, understood? I know only what I was told about you. And I do believe that before we went upstairs you mentioned something about not ever being able to go back home."
          He looks at her with a half smile.
          "You think I got this far in life by not paying attention to every little detail?"
          "I don't want to bore you with my very uneventful life." He grabs both of their drinks.
          Frankie takes a long sip of her whiskey. She sighs, "How about we talk about all of this in the morning?"
          "Shit, what time is it? I have to be at the bar early for a shipment." He looks around for a clock.
          "Ger, relax, okay. You can stay here tonight. I'll give you the night to think about what you want to do." Her fingers playfully intertwines with his as she rests her head on the sofa.
          "So how do you know Martin, again?" His tone hints at a bit of trepidation.
         "You have to remember I was only 18 when I tell you."
          He smiles, really not expecting what he's about to hear. "Ok, promise."
          "It might have been the lure of Vegas," she begins.
          "You married Martin in Vegas?" He takes a sip of the whiskey as he chuckles.
          "No, his father."
          Gerard almost spits out his whiskey but manages to get some up his nose instead.
           "I told you to remember I was only 18." She laughs as well.
           "Yeah, but he must have been 50!"
           She finishes the last drop of whiskey in her glass. "He was 47 and it was only for a few weeks. We called it off actually just after we came back from the honeymoon. We almost started a war apparently."
          "That must have been awkward for young Martin."
          "Especially since I was dating him at the time."
          Gerard's mouth hangs open.
          "What? Don't give me that look. I joined the Navy after that. But enough about me. So why can't you go back home?"
          He finishes his drink as well. "What did you say about me staying here tonight?"
              

          The only agreement with Gerard staying in New York was that the budding relationship remain a secret. When Gerard would ask Frankie why she would only reply, "You'll find out." She might not lie, but she defintely is not forthcoming about many things.
          A few weeks into the New Year, Gerard decides to tempt fate in the kitchen of Catalpa. Frankie enters the steamy room, head down, reading receipts. When she finally realizes that she has company, she confuses Gerard. Instead of welcoming his steps towards her, she backs away. When he finally has her in the corner between the wall and the dishwasher, he sees a look in her eye that he's never witnessed. When his hand moves towards her, she grabs his arm and spins him around. Once he is face down on a meat carving machine, his body realizes that she also has him in a choke hold.
         She whispers in his ear. "Ciaran is in here, asshole."
          And with that, Ciaran swoops in to "save" Frankie. When he sees that Gerard is in quite the comprimising situation, he backs off a few steps. "You ok, Doc?"
          "Just fine." She removes her arms from around Gerard's neck. "Thank you , Ciaran." Frankie walks between the two men, slams her hand into the door and exits into the bar.
          Ciaran punches Gerad in the arm. "What the fuck was that?"
          "Just a misunderstanding. I must have misread her. I thought, you know, I thought maybe she was interested." He rubs neck.
          "She's out of your league, boy." Ciaran looks out the kitchen door window before continuing. "Rumor is, she's got a high end place in Chelsea."
         "So?"
         "So? How many bartenders you know that can afford anything above a studio in this city? I spoke to that cop who comes in here. He thinks she's one of Frankie's girls." Ciaran crosses his arms.
          "You mean like his mistress?" With lack of clarity from the woman he is falling madly in love with, he isn't sure how to proceed with this except to pretend and go along with whatever scheme Ciaran is dreaming up.    
            "Yeah. So, you messed up my first plan. So I'll have to take your place." He begins to strum his finers on the metal counter.     
           "Take my place?" Gerard crosses his arms and moves towards Ciaran.
          "Well, I was going to use you as my in, but seeing as that your suave moves backfired on you, I'm going to go to her place tomorrow night and apologize  for your crude behavior." Ciaran pokes his finger into Gerard's chest.
          Gerard smacks his hand away. "You're gonna invite yourself to her place and think Frankie won't find out? You don't think he has people watching?"
          "Oh Gerry, naive Gerry. Who do you think is going to tell me when Frankie's gone off to one of his other mistresses?" The finger strumming begins again.
          "No. Not Donnie the cop?" Gerard cannot believe that Ciaran is falling for this. Well, he isn't sure what this is just yet, but knows that Frankie has something planned and Ciaran is moving right into her trap.  "So, what's he want in return?"
           Ciaran stops and avoids eye contact with Gerard.
          "You didn't ask, did you? You think some beat cop just wants to be nice to you? He's gotta want something in return." Gerard returns the punch he received earlier.
          "Ok, so I still have some things to figure out, but this could be our ticket. We find Frankie, we sell our secrets about Hannafin and Lynch and we'll be the one's livin' large boy."
         The kitchen door slams open again. "Laverne, Shirley, I need someone out there for happy hour." She stares at both of them.
          "I'll go." Ciaran takes off his apron and hands it to Gerard. 
          "And no free drinks for every girl you think is pretty." She allows the door to swing behind Ciaran.
      "And you." She points a finger at Gerard. "If you two are done plotting your takeover, I need some Jamo from the cellar." She pushes the door open for Gerard.
          He obeys and walks  close enough to Frankie that his growing attitude of curiosity and impatience chases the breeze that creates as he exits.
          
         Later that evening, with Gerard gone without a word for the night, Frankie denies that Gerard's noticeable irritation is weighing heavily on her, even as she walks up three flights of stairs to his apartment, prepared to sit and wait for him to return.
        When he does return, he doesn't realize that he is being watched. Even when she speaks from the bulkhead above, he does not seem startled.
        "What's with the silent treatment?"
          He doesn't turn to look at her. He unlocks the second lock on the door and walks inside. He leaves the door open.
          Frankie sighs and then makes her way down the stairs. She leans her head against the door jam. "Can I come in?"
          Gerard takes his shirt off as he walks away from her. "It's your place, do what you want." He throws his shirt to the floor. He sits on chair and begins to take off his shoes.
          Frankie walks inside cautiously, she's never seen Gerard in a state like this, but then again, she's never walked with such trepidation around anyone.
         "I'm sorry about before. It's just that...I can't..."
          Gerard stands and storms to her, taking her by the shoulders."You can't what? Pretend to associate with me? Tonight wasn't the first time. I can't stand not being a part of your world, to not know what's really going on up there." He takes her face as gently as he can with his shaking hands.
           Tears well in her eyes as she takes hold of his hands.
            "All I want is to walk down the street, holding your hand. I'm not trying to take away any of your power. Jesus, Frankie, I'm falling in love with someone I don't even know."
           They are both shocked by these words. Gerard's lost breath seems to breath life into Frankie. Tears, streaming down her face, she smiles. "I have an idea."

           Ciaran pours himself a pint of Smithwicks as Gerard plays with a glass of whiskey while sitting opposite him at the bar. Everyone is gone for the night. The chairs still need to be placed onto the tables and there are still glasses to be washed. Jimmy walks out of the kitchen and towards the door.
          "See youse tomorrow." He walks out of the door and out onto West 55th Street.
           Ciaran and Gerard don't move, listening to Jimmy's footsteps grow faint in the early morning hours.
           "You're sure Donnie is going to get her here?" Ciaran takes a long sip of his beer.
           "That's the plan. He's goin' to pretend something is up here and pick her up." He taps the bar and downs the rest of the whiskey. "Sure we'll get her to stay here?"
            Ciaran smiles a very evil grin and removes a handgun that he was keeping tucked away. Gerard jumps off the barstool knocking his beer over.
             "What the fuck is that for?" He starts pacing back and forth. "We didn't talk about that."
             "Gerry, relax. It's just in case she puts up a fight." He tucks it between his back and his pants and fixes his shirt so it doesn't show.
             "Does, Donnie know?"
             "He sent me to the broads who gave it to me." He refills his beer, but stops mid pour when they hear footsteps outside. "Shit, that sounds like more than Donnie and Doc."
              Gerard grins and crosses his arms.
              The door opens and in walks Frankie first. She is followed by Donnie, Martin Lynch, and Liam Hannafin. Frankie is wearing jeans, a turtle neck, and a blazer. On her lapel is an Irish claddagh. The other three are in suits and tower over her.
               "You look surprised, Ciaran."
               As the four walk closer. Ciaran reaches behind his back. Gerard panics.
              "He's got a gun!" He puts himself between Frankie and Ciaran. Ciaran aborts that mission and raises his hands to show they are empty.
              "That gun my lady friends gave you doesn't work. Funny the way it is." Frankie moves past Gerard as Donnie laughs at the Dave Matthews reference.
              "This a set up?"
              "That's the most I think he's ever used his brain, Frankie." Martin walks beside Frankie.
              "Did he just call you Frankie?" Ciaran shakes his head.
              Martin steps forward. "Yeah, I did. Now, Ciaran, apologize to her and then let's go get your things."
              "I can't go back with you."
              Now Liam joins the conversation. "Boyo, I don't think you were being asked, more politely told. But first, why don't you get us all a shot. Any business deal should be sealed with a bit of the water of life." He sits on a barstool as Ciaran continues to stare at them.
            "Now would be nice, Ciaran." Frankie tilts her head in a sarcastic way that makes Gerard blush. "Before we continue though, I'd like to thank Donnie. He was spot on with you guys.
            Donnie points at Ciaran, "I told you, black and tan.
            Gerard looks slightly confused.
            "You see," Frankie begins, "when someone starts to sniff around, Donnie befriends them. He reports back to me with corresponding drink orders. Ger, you got whiskey, neat. Very respectable and to be trusted. Ciaran, black and tan. The bottom of the barrel for us Irish."
           "So now what?" Ciaran asks without touching a bottle of whiskey.
           "After you pour that whiskey, it's up to Liam and Martin. And, if he'll take me up on my offer, Donnie will run this now. Everything. I spoke to my father and, Donnie, you may be more Irish than me. He's willing to give you a chance, if you're ready." Frankie looks around at everyone staring at her.
          "Don't look at me, I made my decision." Frankie looks to Donnie. "Well? I know you're ready to retire, I wouldn't totally disappear until you're feeling comfortable."
          "I don't know what to say."
          Ciaran has the shots lined up on the bar. Frankie walks over and takes the first one as passes it to Gerard. The other's follow suit and pick up their glasses.
          Frankie raises her glass "May you never lie, steal, cheat or drink. But if you must lie, lie in each other's arms. If you must steal, steal kisses. If you must cheat, cheat death. And if you must drink, drink with us, your friends." They clink their glasses and down the smooth, honey colored whiskey. Almost in unison, they all place their glasses on the bar.
          "Gentlemen, I hate to run, but I have a date at the Stardust diner." Frankie hold out her hand to Gerard. "You ready?"
          He takes her hand as his smile radiates.
          "And Ciaran, I expect a payment for all of the rum you've taken since you've been working here. I was starting to think you're a Pirate." Frankie winks at Gerard.
           Liam and Martin nod to Frankie as she and Gerard exit onto West 55th Street holding hands.
          


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