A continuation of this story from last Friday.
The plan was for Paul to meet his friend Ed Doherty in front of the TNT Tap, which unlike most of the other taverns in the neighborhood was located in the middle of a residential side street next to a railroad viaduct. Ed was late, as usual, and Paul had to stand in front of the tavern as the neighborhood men entered after having had their dinner at home. They liked his costume very much and almost all of them invited him in to show Ryan the bartender. But Grandma Jane had categorically forbidden him under pain of mortal sin to ever set foot in a tavern. In any case, Paul had very mixed feelings about this tavern. There was a rumor that his grandfather had shot someone there once. Not shot dead and not shot on purpose, but while he was messing around with a World War I revolver that someone had brought in. Still, it had seriously shaken his grandfather up. Grandma Jane said that it had probably taken 8 or 10 years off of grandpa’s life and had added thousands of years of Purgatory to his sentence that would now have to be worked off by her. Grandpa hadn’t gone to jail of course. The police hadn’t even been called. It was an Irish tavern and probably a good quarter of the men in the place were police anyway. But it had been a close thing. And for the rest of Paul’s grandfather’s life you could tell when he ran into a drinking buddy on the street, because the invariable greeting was “Hey Charley, I didn’t know you were out of the joint!” to which his grandpa would sort of laugh.
Doherty was coming and Paul was shocked to see that Ed’s mother had dressed him up like Aunt Jemima, with a huge bosom stuffed with pillows, a red dress with many petticoats, a white head scarf, and a charcoal black face.
Ed’s mother was considered odd, as was her son Ed. For one thing, Ed’s mother was actually from Ireland and had a college degree from some place in Cork. For another, she considered herself an artist rather than a housewife and she came from a relatively well-to-do family and liked to say that she definitely had not immigrated to America in search of potatoes. She did watercolors of soft looking foreign places. She was known for having a wicked sense of humor.
Ed was short and a bit pudgy and tended to remind people of a Teddy Bear. But his voice was deeper than the other boys’ and he spoke with an upper class Irish accent that made him sound almost, but not quite, English. His mother had not only taught him to speak well, but with irony. Hanging around with him was sort of like hanging around a fat old Irish poet and hearing his distinctive voice coming out of Aunt Jemima’s face was doubly strange.
—Good evening Beirne, he said to Paul. Nice day for it.
Ed always called Paul “Beirne” and always insisted on being called by his own last name as well.
—Yes, that’s a costume you have on there, Doherty. Did your father see it?