Dermott Duggan glanced over his shoulder as he went to open the door. Behind him everything was in order. The long bar with the brass rail at its base gleamed in the soft light. the four tables and eight chairs against the opposite wall were neatly aligned. The glassware necessary for a night’s worth of shots and beers sparkled in orderly rows. If all was not right with the world, it was at least all right with Dermott Duggan’s bar. Feeling satisfied with himself Dermott opened the door. Then he flipped the switch that lit up the bar’s neon sign. the sign bore one word: Duggan’s.
The evening was mild and a gentle rain was falling. Just the way April weather should be, Dermott decided. He bent down to pick up the newspaper that had been delivered a few minutes ago. The delivery boy had taken care to put it far enough inside the doorway so the the rain would not soak it. Considerate lad. Worth every bit of his fifty cent weekly tip.
Dermott looked at the headline. Another political bigshot was going to jail. Then he turned to the sports section. The home team had lost again. He wondered if he would ever be effectively represented in either area.
As he walked to his place behind the bar, the paper tucked beneath his arm, he checked over his establishment once again. There were a hundred or so inspections every night. Pride of ownership, he decided, was a virtue that must remain unflagging.
Everything was right. In orderliness Dermott found security. Again he raked the premises with his critical glare. He almost dared something to be amiss. He was chagrined when he found something that was. Amiss, that is. Donnely’s mug was an inch or so off center. Some careless sot must have bumped into it. Dermott wondered how he could have overlooked such a thing. He muttered indignantly and walked over to the half full, cut glass beer mug. The beer was quite flat and a tracery of dried foam decorated the top half of the mug, which was as it should have been. But a semicircular stain on the bar surface revealed that the mug had indeed been moved. With an air of superior righteousness Dermott Duggan returned it to its proper place in the universe.
He would be vigilant. Should the malefactor commit his crime again, intentionally or not, Dermott would pounce on him.
His patrons all knew his rules. Duggan’s was a bar where you came to do only two things: drink and talk. There was no food, no television, no music, no gambling, no games. You drank and you talked to your neighbor, or left him alone. And you left Donnely’s mug and his spot at the bar strictly alone, in case he should ever come back.
Dermott had some time to kill before his first customer came in, so he returned to his newspaper and matters secondary to sports and politics.
A big movie star was in town promoting his new film at an invitation-only party being held at a posh club that would be filled with notable people. Dermott hoped that they all choked. Or got food poisoning. Or diarrhea. Anything that would keep them and their foolish games from taking up valuable newspaper space.
The district was getting a new police commander. Dermott knew this would affect his payoffs, but just how he wasn’t certain.
The gang of vandals that was working the neighborhood struck again last night. Dermott knew exactly how this would affect his insurance premium.
He was starting an article on welfare cheating when old man Szent walked in. Szent was a Czech who in fleeing from the Russians to America had stopped for a number of years in Ireland. While he was in Ireland he learned to enjoy places where a man could brood or be gregarious according to his mood and have his sentiments indulged by an obliging barman. Which was why he frequented Duggan’s, although he had done nothing but brood since he first came into the place.
“Good evening, Dermott,” Szent said.
“Good evening, Szent. the regular?” Dermott asked unnecessarily.
“Yes. Donnely’s not come back, I see.”
“No. He has not.”
Dermott put a bottle of beer and a glass at the far end of the bar. When Szent first came into the bar he asked Dermott if he carried Urquell, the fine Czech beer. Dermott said he did not, but that he could call over to the liquor mart and have them deliver some if Szent would bear the necessary expense. Szent said that would be fine with him and thanked Dermott for his solicitude. Dermott said it was nothing at all; he believed the pleasure a man took in his drink should be diminished in no way. When the Urquell came Dermott set it before Szent along with a just cleaned mug. Szent poured the beer slowly, with great anticipation, watching the head build. When the mug was topped precisely to his satisfaction he put the bottle aside. Szent let a moment of respectful silence pass. He then put the mug to his lips and drank. Scarcely a third had been consumed when he put the beer down and with a sigh asked Dermott to bring him a bottle of Harp, the fine Irish beer.
From overheard mutterings, Dermott knew that old man Szent brooded about some horrible thing his son had done. While he would have liked to know what it was Szent’s son had done, his respect for a customer’s right to privacy forbade him from asking. Dermott also knew that Szent would like to ask him why Donnely, a man never known to leave a drink unfinished, had one night suddenly left in the middle of his first beer and had not been seen in the three months that had passed since then. Szent thought that Dermott knew, but he, too, respected privacy too much to ask.
“Let me know when you’re ready for another,” Dermott said.
“I will,” Szent replied.
Duggan’s other customers never bothered Szent when he was off to himself in the corner of the bar. An old man muttering into his beer did not invite social contact.
Actually, while he slowly put away his customary four bottles of Harp, Szent was communing with God. Dermott knew what Szent was doing and he did not find it strange. If God was everywhere, why couldn’t He be in the tangles of an old man’s bushy mustache as he sat sipping his beer? Szent would of his own volition engage in conversations on a mortal plane when in Duggan’s, but not very often.
The welfare cheaters, the paper told Dermott, were costing the taxpayers millions of dollars a year. He reflected that in all likelihood there was not a single human activity that did not cost the taxpayers millions of dollars a year. After all that was a taxpayer’s reason for being: to pay for everything in sight. And all that was invisible for that matter.
“Good evening, Mr. Duggan,” a young female voice greeted him.
“Hello, Dermott,” came a male voice in counterpoint.
“Hello, Bridget. Hello, Terry,” he responded. “How are the plans for the wedding going?”
“We’re here to do some further planning,” Bridget said.
“We can’t face the awesomeness of it all without a drink or two,” Terry grinned.
“The couple that drinks together, eh?” Dermott asked.
“Sure,” said Bridget, “how about if we held the reception here?”
“Hold the bloody ceremony here if you like,” Dermott said.
“Don’t tease him, Bridge,” Terry said, “or he’ll hold us to it.”
“And what makes you think I’m kidding, Terry Riley?”
“Two Michs, Dermott,” Terry requested. He carried the beers over to the table nearest the door.
Two kids with the grand intention of spending the rest of their lives together, Dermott thought. Maybe they’ll make it. They seemed to have the same taste in bars. It was a start.
Before Dermott could get back to his paper, two more customers came in. Dan Morgan and Dan Jr. There was no mistaking them for anything other than father and son, the physical resemblance being uncanny. A few wrinkles and grey hairs and a pound or two of flesh were the only noticeable differences. It was as though they were built from the same kit, each model taking twenty-five years to complete. Personally, the two differed on a number of points, the reconciliation of which sometimes required a number of drinks.
“Well, if it isn’t the Morgans, pater et fils,” Dermott said.
“Yes, it is the Morgans. It is all right with you if a man has a drink with his son, isn’t it?” asked Dan Sr.
“If the man has money and the son is old enough, it is,” Dermott said.
“Actually, Dermott, it’s my turn to buy, if you think I’m legal of course,” Dan Jr. said.
“Legal and probably legitimate as well,” Dermott said with a grin for both Morgans. “Two shots and?”
“Two shots and,” Dan Jr. confirmed.
Dermott put the whiskeys and beers on the bar and left the Morgans to themselves. Before going back to his paper he looked out at the night. It was still raining, heavier than before. Not too many people tonight, he thought to himself. Although a little rain in the face was no reason to keep a man from stepping out for a drink. He was sure any number of brewers and distillers would back him on this point.
The Girl Scouts expected their annual cookie sale to be a record breaker, and that was news. At least that was what was in Dermott’s newspaper. Bless the little darlings. Honing their powers of persuasion to be used in other ways in later years.
Maybe Donnely had run off with a Girl Scout.
Szent, alone in his corner, asked himself the same question he had been asking himself, and God, for two years: why? After two years of questioning, he did not have an answer. It was beginning to get to him.
Szent was a man who endured, he liked to believe. He endured the communists in his native Czechoslovakia. Until he decided to flee. He endured the death of his wife. Until he found that visiting her grave brought him as close to her as he had ever been. He endured having to drink foreign beer rather than his beloved Urquell. Until he realized that he really preferred the foreign stuff.
But his son, his son was becoming unendurable and what was worse Szent could see no way of bypassing the situation. His son Mikhail, now anglicized to Michael, had left his job as a machinist. It was a very good job. Szent thought he should have stayed at it. The situation was corrupted by the fact that Michael had left his job in the company of his former foreman, who was now his partner, and much more Szent suspected, in a flower shop in San Diego.
Szent could not understand how such a thing could happen to him. Or to Michael for that matter. Czechs were not supposed to be that way. Szent had never known a Czech that was one, at any rate. But there it was. He would either have to live with it or go around it. For now and the last two years, however, he did not see how to do either.
He raised his glass. He was probably trying too hard. The answer was probably right in front of his face.
“Dermott, another beer, please,” Szent said.
The new bottle of Harp was placed in front of the old man and the empty was taken away. Dermott assumed that Szent was talking to God again. He wondered if the old man in the corner talking to God bothered any of his other customers. It’ didn’t bother him. He thought it showed a great deal of class on God’s part to offer a man solace in so humble a place as Duggan’s. Besides, God never spilled beer on the floor or became unruly. On the other hand, God did not add much to the cash register.
“Father Lonnigan,” Bridget said.
“Father McGuire,” Terry iinsisted.
“Father Lonnigan,” Bridget repeated.
“Rabbi Cohen,” Terry suggested.
“Now you’re being silly,” she said.
“Yes I am,” he said, “but we’re going to have a hard time getting married if we can’t agree on who will perform the ceremony.”
“But Father Lonnigan baptized me, gave me First Holy Communion and Confirmation,” Bridget argued.
“And Father McGuire has done the same for me.” Terry rebutted.
“But …oh, hell!”
“Rabbi Cohen?” Terry inquired.
In the midst of their laughter, Terry realized that her sense of humor was one of Bridget’s saving graces. It bestowed humanity upon her physical beauty, made her someone who could be approached and known. It was one of the reasons he loved her.
“We could live in what is commonly referred to as sin,” he said.
“No, we couldn’t. At least I couldn’t.”
“Well, it wouldn’t be very satisfying living together if you weren’t there,” Terry said.
“It has nothing to do with you, Terry. Hell, of course it does. I want to live with you, but I want it to be the way I was taught that it should be.”
“Can’t you separate yourself from all that catechism?”
“I guess not. Those sanctimonious Sisters of Mercy must have drilled it into me too well; they were always more intense with the girls, you know. Marriage is too much a part of me to disregard.”
For a moment they were silent.
“You do want to marry me, don’t you, Terry?”
A slow smile slid across his face. “Sure.”
“Thanks,” she said, smiling again, “you just saved me from heart failure.”
“The least I can do for the woman I love. But that brings us back to where we started. Since we are going to get married, who will have the honor of performing the ceremony?
“What we could do,” Bridget said, “is call the good fathers and see if the four of us can work out something.”
“Right,” Terry said.
He walked up to the bar where Dermott was reading an article that proclaimed that tap water contained hazardous chemicals and was unsafe to drink. Amen to that Dermott thought, finishing his beer.
“Dermott, I’d like to use your phone to call the rectory at St. Vincent’s.”
“They’re through hearing confessions for the day,” Dermott said without looking up from his paper.
“I’m an innocent, Dermott. What would I have to confess? I want to see if Father McGuire and Father Lonnigan could come over and have a drink with Bridge and me. We have something we want to talk to them about.”
Dermott lowered his paper and gave Terry his full attention. “Priests here?”
“Sure. Why not? You’ve had priests here before.”
“Only after funerals.”
“I’ll get them to dress in civvies, okay?”
“Well, I wouldn’t want word to get back to the parish that I wouldn’t serve priests. All right. Go ahead and use the phone.”
Priests and bars, Dermott mused. A bad combination. Priests were inhibitors. People looked at priests and saw ‘Thou shall not’ written across their foreheads. Including thou shall not buy that extra drink, the one that makes up Dermott’s profit margin. Worse still, the priests might feel the need to have a few belts themselves, and what kind of example would that be? Maybe if they came incognito it wouldn’t be too bad. And if they got into their cups they could confess to each other.
“Dan, I need your help.”
“I know, Dad, I know. Let’s go over it again, huh?”
Dan Sr. knew there was no point trying to rush his son when he was making up his mind about something, but he was becoming impatient.
“Okay, here it is. I want to buy a three flat.”
“On Gage Street.”
“Right. I want to buy it, fix it up, and have it as a source of income for your mother and me when we retire.”
“That much sounds reasonable. But Gage Street is in our old neighborhood, the one we left because it was going downhill. Then there’s the fact that you want me to invest time and loan you some money when you know that I plan to use all the time and money I have to open that pub that my friend Mike and I have been talking about for a year.”
“Dan, I know you have plans for yourself, and I admire you for your initiative. I wish that I had been the same way, but I wasn’t. I’m doing my planning now. It may seem a bit late. It will take all my money, and some of yours to swing it, but I think it can be done. And I think that you should recognize the courage it takes for a man in my position and my age to try something like this. Dan, I need your help.”
“I don’t doubt your courage, Dad. Not at all. But maybe you’re reaching for something that is not there. How do you know the building will be worth anything even when it’s fixed up?”
“I’ve been trying to tell you. The neighborhood is coming back. A lot of sharp investors have been seeing that those buildings were put together with the kind of craftsmanship and materials that can’t be had today. You can buy one of those places for a good price, renovate it, which shouldn’t be hard for two trained carpenters like us, and you’ve got a place that will net you three – four hundred dollars a month for each apartment.”
“You really think that the whole area is coming up?”
“Yes, the whole area. New people, people with money, are moving in. The people who have been living there won’t be able to afford it once the area has been fixed up. And the building I’m interested in is an absolute gem.”
“You know, it’s pretty funny, Dad. We got out of there because we didn’t like the kind of people who were moving in. Now we discover that the place is some kind of architectural treasure trove so we move back in, displacing the people who live there now.”
“So where the hell will those people go? Out to the suburbs where they belong? Where there’s no grand Victorian buildings for them to ruin? That would be pretty funny. Kick the minorities out of the cities. Make them live in plastic, pre-fab suburbia.”
“That would be ironic, wouldn’t it?” Dan Sr. said finishing his beer.
“Okay, Dad, I’ll help you. But you’ll have to make some concessions because I’m going to follow through on my own plans too.”
“What do you want me to do?” Dan Sr. asked.
“I want you to get my old room ready for me. Don’t grin at me like that. I can’t afford my apartment anymore. I’ll also have to sell my car. So we’ll have to double up when possible and have Mom give us lifts when need be. If we can work that out and I can learn to live without sleep for a year, I think we can both make out.”
With more emotion than a man usually shows to a grown son, Dan Sr. said: “Danny-boy, I love you.”
Six people, including three policemen, were killed in an Italian wine growing district. The owner of the vineyards in question proposed to shorten the workers’ lunch period. When an argument broke out between the two parties, the police were called in and fighting began, leaving six dead. More trouble was expected. Dermott had only passing interest in the news item; the small stock of wine he carried came from California.
He put his paper down and went to tap himself another beer. Where are you, Donnely? Your conversation could save me from a life of reading newspapers.
“Ah, Duggan, if you’re drawing that beer for me, draw one for Father McGuire as well.”
Dermott looked at the two men who stood just inside his doorway. they were both wearing golf clothes. Each held a brightly colored umbrella. They both had soft faces and sharp eyes. Lonnigan was tall, McGuire was short.
“This beer is for myself,” Dermott said.
“Have you no pity for two world-weary clerics, Duggan?” Father McGuire inquired.
“You two? The most pitiable thing about you is that you had to play your golf in the rain.
“You don’t have proper respect for the Church, Dermott,” Father Lonnigan said.
“The Cardinal can drink free here any time he feels like coming in,” Dermott retorted.
“And the Cardinal’s assistants in doing God’s work?” asked McGuire.
“They pay!” Dermott roared with laughter.
The two priests chuckled. “Cupidity is a sin, you know, Dermott,” Father Lonnigan chided.
“What isn’t, Father? God gave us Ten Commandments which was reasonable enough, but why did He have to give us a million priests to confuse the issues?”
“And you wonder why we don’t see this one at mass on Sunday,” Father McGuire kidded his companion.
“The lambs from your fold who called the two of you are over there,” Dermott pointed. “You can all sit at the bar together.”
The priests along with Bridget and Terry filled the seats at the bar between Szent and the Morgans. Donnely’s mug was on Dan Jr.’s left. Next to the mug was Dermott’s paper. The place was looking fine and it was a busier night than was expected.
“We can share the ceremony,” Father McGuire explained. “It would be no more difficult than Dermott drawing another beer for Father Lonnigan and myself.”
“Aren’t you the subtle one, McGuire?” Dermott inquired.
While Dermott was at the tapper, Dan Morgan Sr. joined the conversation.
“So the kids over there are getting married, eh?”
“By two priests, if you please,” Dermott replied.
“I imagine that pretty soon Dan Jr. will be tying the knot.”
“Is that right, Dan?” Father Lonnigan asked.
“It will be a while yet, Father,” Dan Jr. answered.
“It will be quite a while indeed before my son gets married,” Szent muttered more loudly than he intended.
“Did you say something, Szent?” Dermott asked.
“No.” A horrifying thought occurred to Szent. They were getting married these days. Those people were marrying each other. He didn’t think he could take that. Cirrhosis would be preferable.
Dermott placed the two beers before the two priests.
“You’ll have to do the job here, you know. This is where the kids want to hold the ceremony.”
“Indeed, Dermott,” Father Lonnigan said, “and, no doubt, they’ll be playing football at the opera house soon.”
“You think my place isn’t good enough, is that it?”
“I can say,” Father Lonnigan said, “that if asked, I could recommend Duggan’s only as a place where a person can drink and be reasonably certain that the glass he is drinking from is clean.” Father Lonnigan held his glass up to the light to check the accuracy of his statement.
Dermott seethed. “Tell him, Bridget. Tell the man who has insulted the honor of Duggan’s bar.”
“Terry and I think it’s a good idea, Father,” Bridget said with a straight face.
“I can see it now,” Terry said, waving his arms. “Father McGuire and Father Lonnigan behind the cash register. Bridget, myself, and the bridal party at the bar. The immediate family at the tables. Dermott at the door, in his tux of course, to keep out the riffraff.”
“As if there’s ever any riffraff in here,” Dermott said indignantly.
“These children must be suffering delusions,” Father Lonnigan said, “probably brought on by a terrible thirst. Two more of whatever it is they’re drinking.”
“Is the Church paying for these drinks, Father?” Dermott asked.
“It’s a mercenary man you are, Duggan; all Irish and no Samaritan, I can see. Would you take money from the poorbox to put in your till?”
“I’m a poor man myself, Father. I work for every penny I get,” Dermott said with pride. “I don’t even have time enough to go play a round of golf. Not that I’d want to. Not like some people I know.”
“Quit your sparring,” Dan Sr. put in. “On an occasion like this the drinks are on me. For everyone.”
“You’re a good man, Dan Morgan,” Father McGuire said.
Not wishing to offend the spirit of Christian charity, everyone accepted Dan Sr.’s offer, including Szent which put him one over his customary limit.
Dermott filled everyone’s glass including the one that Dan Sr. graciously insisted that he have for himself.
“It’s customers like you that fill my heart with joy,” Dermott said.
“And fill your purse with gold,” Father McGuire added.
Dan Sr. cut in to stop another argument from happening. “it’s my pleasure. I’d even pay to fill up Donnely’s mug if you like.”
“No. No thank you. Donnely was never a man to leave a drink unfinished. He’ll be back to finish this one I expect.”
“You know, Dermott,” Father Lonnigan said, “after seven years that mug can be declared legally dead. Then we could hold a wake for it if you like.”
“A fine priest you are, joking about someone who might be dead for all you know,” Dermott said.
“I’m joking about the mug not the man. Catholics are not supposed to be idolaters, Dermott.”
“Maybe I’m a throwback to the Druids. Maybe Donnely asked me to save it for him when he left.
“Maybe he ran away with his foreman,” said Szent.
“What was that, Szent?” Dermott asked.
“Maybe he opened a flower shop in San Diego.”
The others at the bar got the impression that Szent was a man who was going to start raving about something. There was a cloud of tension playing about his face. He looked as though he was stricken by some unutterable pain. He was silent.
“Do you know something about where Mr. Donnely went, Mr. Szent?” Bridget asked.
“No,” said Szent. He hung his head.
Father Lonnigan thought to himself that he would ask Szent if he wanted to stop by the rectory and talk. But later.
“Well, I’d like to know where Donnely went,” Terry said.
“So would Mrs. Donnely,” Dermott added.
“Are you trying to start base rumors, Duggan?” Father McGuire asked. “You know Donnely wasn’t married.”
“I also know that Kathy Danaher was doing her best to change that.”
“Do you think he left because of her?” Bridget asked.
“Yes, Dermott. Give us your informed opinion,” Father Lonnigan said. “Perhaps you know more than you’re letting on.”
“For all I know,” Dermott replied, “Donnely was kidnapped. Maybe it was the little green men that got him.”
“More likely it was the little brown bottles,” Father McGuire opined.
“And who are you to criticize a man for drinking, you with a glass in your hand?” Dermott asked the priest.
“But I promise I won’t run away,” Father McGuire said with a smile.
Dermott thought the priest was getting tipsy. He started to worry.
“And if he tries I’ll stop him,” Father Lonnigan said.
“Why should either one of you run away. No one is threatening to marry either of you.”
“Then that is why he left,” Dan Jr. pounced. “He was having a beer …”
“The last one he ever thought he’d have in peace,” Dan Sr. put in.
“When he was overcome by it all, and he left,” Dan Jr. continued.
“Never to be seen again,” Szent muttered.
“Not at all, damnit, not at all,” Dermott shouted. He was becoming angry with all this speculation. After all Donnely was a good friend of his. Or had been.
“Maybe it was Kathy Danaher who kidnapped him,” Terry said. “You have to watch out for women whose minds are full of matrimony.”
Bridget punctuated Terry’s sentiment with an elbow to the ribs.
“Donnely wasn’t kidnapped,” Dermott complained.
“You said he could have been for all you know,” Dan Sr. said.
“So how do you know that Kathy Danaher wasn’t the culprit?” Dan Jr. asked. “When was the last time anyone has seen her?”
“On Sunday at mass with her mother,” Father Lonnigan said.
“Thank you, Father,” Dermott said. “I didn’t mean for you to get the idea that Donnely was kidnapped. It was just a way of saying I didn’t know where he went any more than the rest of you.”
“You don’t ?” Dan Jr. asked suspiciously.
“No, I don’t. Maybe Donnely was just one of those people who disappears. At the drop of a hat, you might say.”
“Donnely never wore a hat,” Terry said, exchanging a glance with Dan Jr.
“Good God, lad. That was only a figure of speech.” Under his breath, Dermott sputtered about the linguistic poverty of today’s youth.
“Perhaps if you made your point more clearly, the children would understand you, Dermott,” Father McGuire said.
“It’s like you hear about all the time. People just disappear. Wait a minute. I can show you.” Dermott picked up his paper, thumbed through it, found what he was looking for, and began to read: ‘A police spokesman said today that the year-old investigation into the disappearance of Paul B. Stevens has been closed. One year ago today Stevens, a banker, left his office for a luncheon date. The colleague with whom Stevens was to have lunched, James Richards, said that Stevens never showed up. And he hasn’t been seen since. At first it was thought that Stevens may have absconded with some of the bank’s funds, but this was later disproven. The police said they have closed their investigation because they have no leads left to pursue.'”
“Ah, he probably took the money despite what they say,” Terry said.
“Sure,” said Dan Jr. “They wouldn’t want their depositors to think that the employees were making off with the money. So they hushed it up.”
“I wouldn’t put my money in a bank like that,” Dan Sr. said.
“Nor I,” said Dermott.
“Let me know when the Calumny Hour is over,” said Father Lonnigan. “I’d like to pay my bill.”
Before Dermott could collect, a small, plaintive sigh was heard. The sound was so out of place at Duggan’s that everyone looked in the direction from which it came. Szent was toppling from his stool. He hit the floor in a grotesque silence.
Father McGuire was the first to break the thrall that held them. Father Lonnigan followed closely. They huddled over the man, Father McGuire searching for a pulse. After a moment they began to pray. The prayers for the dying were being said.
Everybody watched with a kind of grim fascination, except Dermott. He was calling a Fire Department ambulance. It arrived within minutes. Far too late to be of any help to Szent. Another minute or two passed and a pair of squad cars pulled up in front, their lights flashing. On their heels was a reporter. The police were conferring with the ambulance crew, who had just given up trying to revive Szent. More than a few minutes without oxygen and the brain dies. Dermott had read that in the paper. The reporter was talking to the Morgans and Bridget and Terry, trying to learn what happened.
Poor Szent, Dermott thought, he never had such notice taken of him in his life.
The ambulance crew bundled Szent’s body off with impersonal efficiency. The police asked Dermott a few questions of which he was only vaguely aware of answering. Father McGuire told him that the funeral would be held on Friday at 10 o’clock. The others said good-night and left.
Dermott closed the door and turned off the sign light. He looked around the place. It was in perfect order. Szent’s death had left not the slightest impression. It didn’t seem right to Dermott. After a moment of staring blankly at his surroundings, Dermott went to the end of the bar and picked up the stool Szent had always used. He put it in the storeroom and decided it would stay there.
There was one more thing he had to do. Make a toast.
He walked over to where Donnely’s mug was and picked it up.
“Donnely, old boy, here’s to you. And here’s to Szent. Let us remember him. Let’s remember you, too. Szent’s gone. Maybe you’ll come back. You were my friend. You were not a bloody glass half filled with flat beer.”
Dermott drained the mug in one tilt. Then he put it in the sink to wash.