"Hey, Hickey! What's going on there, son? I hear you been hitting the 8:30 Masses with the roll-outs from Wrong's Tap*. Last time I was in that bucket o' blood was after Janey graduated from Queen of Peace. I was in there with three guys from the Assessor's Office and was still handcuffed to Mr. Booze. Twenty years. I miss it not. Saw your cousin Willie at that benefit for the Madden kid that got hit on his bike over by Monroe Park. Tommy, the fourth grader at St. John Fisher - he's Okay but he has to wear that Halo Gizmo for his neck. Willie's boy is in Paraguay with the Peace Corps, I hear . . ."
Mass on Sunday, coffee salons at Kean Gas Station on 111th, grocery stops at County Fair on Western Ave, Kennedy Park softball, and Mount Greenwood Hardware trips invariably get sauced by piquant tales that eventually and satisfyingly meander to a point. Yesterday, at 10:30 Mass on the Feast of the Ascension provided this yarn from a former Cook County insider, Vietnam War hero, member of AA, and practitioner of the dying art of south side giggle weaving. Allow me to pick up the thread. I merely punctuated the yarn with nods of assent or stutters of laughter; therefore, this should be taken as a soliloquy.
". . . Big Boy. Hell, of a football player and I can not understand why he did not get a ride somewhere, but his brain works OK, I guess. I'll bet the CIA or NSA is grooming the kid to be spook. True. That's why all the spooks doing the spy stuff seem to come from the Peace Corps. Didn't know the kid had Spanish. Like I was saying, the last time I was in Wrong's Tap was twenty-five, or thirty years ago. Remember Bubs Murtaugh? Murtaugh with U. He was a few years older than me, when you and Willie and Terry played Irish tunes in Sons of Reilly's Daughter at Boz's joint? Bubs went to St. Lawrence and played with Neusback. He was from St. Dennis Parish and lived near the tracks on 83rd and the Southwest Highway.
Bubs got full ride to St. Procopius, well it was St. Procopius and it's now Benedictine out in Lisle. He was an animal; started boozing in 5th Grade and sniffing Bell's Cleaning Fluid. His Old Man threatened to send him back to the Old Country and work the farm and shit. Bub's finally got tossed in his senior year at Proco and his Dad got him on Streets and San. Old Man Murtaugh was a Raw Jaw from Mayo, who had some drag with Jackie Daley and Kellam when he was alderman in the 18th.
Bubs was a good earner for the Ward and got a job after a few years in Finley's Office, just when all that money grabbing crap hit the papers. Bubs had only been on the job for year or so and G had eyes on him and three others and it looked like he might get tagged and have to sit for a few semesters up in Club Fed, Wisconsin. We went out to forget his troubles and Bubs marinated his brain, along with the rest of us Mike Quinlan, Traffic Cosgrove, Bubs and me.
We're at Wrongs after closing Touch of Green and Chez Joey and I got polio of the brain from the pitchers and the Happy Cossack shooters, so Mike Quinlan takes me home . . .I think. Quinlan could have taken me back to my old house in Visitation and I would of woke up to breakfast with the Washington family, but he was not yet the mean bastard that he is today. Quinlan goes back to Wrong's, after slowing down to thirty and dumping me on the lawn and Bubs is blubbering to Traffic and Q-Dog, like a fat girl not going to prom.
'I ain't took a dime! I woulda. . . but them tight, fixed bastards that is . . . never gave me chance a the gelt and, now, my Old Man is pissed at me for killing a good job and I told him I DIDN'T DO NOTHING!' And on and on, I guess, . . .like I said, I'm at home sleeping in my clothes on the basement couch and awaiting the for-sure execution from Marnie, when she sees the cut of me in the morning.
Now, Bubs has been named on TV by Ron Magers and his name was even mentioned in Royko and he's a public figure now. He's an innocent, drunk lard-assed public figure. A giant sized Victim and Patsy all set for the shafting to come.
So Bubs, a practiced Drunk Driver, who has taken out more than several sections from the fence that eats cars on 111th over by Mount Olivet, gets in his Pontiac and listens to the little wizard in the brain control tower telling him it's a great idea to go buy a dozen shrimp and off he goes to the Calumet Shrimp Shack on 95th & Chicago Ave**. by the bridge on the Harbor.
The Angel F#$%ing Gabriel takes the wheel for Bubs and drives the Ponty over east without killing anyone.
Bubs and the Guardian angel drive the shrimp back, somehow, back to the neighborhood to dine je suis ivre behind the steering wheel and Bubs shoves the greasy catfish bait loaded with coctail sauce into his hole and tosses the sauce heaped tails!
Now, Bubs has gallons of Old Syle, about a pint of vodka shooters and a good pound and change of sauce-soaked shrimps packed into him and he goes 'night-night' with his giant buffalo head on the driver's side window.
'OH SWEET MERCIFUL MOTHER! He's BLOWN HIS BRAINS OUT!!!!!!!!!!!!!
There's about ten neighbors and his Old Man yanking Bubs out of the drivers seat.
It's Daylight and Mrs. Higgins was walking her dog Chappie over to the tracks on Southwest Highway for his morning constitutional and sees Bubs' Giant Head covered in red! With Red smeared all over the driver's window, because Bubs never opened the window while tossing his shrimp tails! There's cocktail sauce all over the window and bits of shrimp! They thought Bubs pulled the Dutch Act because of the spotlight on him!'
Never, was charged. His Old Man beat the living shit out him for the scare he tossed into him, and he had a hangover that would kill a Polish girl. Bubs retired two years ago and still lives in his folks' house over in St. Bede's near Durkin Park.
Yeah, I stay out of Wrongs Tap. How's your kids, Hickey?'
* Click my post title for Wrong's Tap