It’s one-thirty in the afternoon. Nick Donato looks up at the three-story rust colored brick building whose better days were nearly a century ago. He walks down two cement steps from the sidewalk stopping at a dirty brown door. The door has a frosted glass window with a golden colored beer mug. A yellow canary floats on top of the beer foam with the words The Lucky Canary scrolled semi-circle over the top of the mug.
Nick opens the door and steps into the Lucky Canary Tavern. He takes a deep breath of spilled beer, burned pizza, dirty restrooms. Nick walks over to the bar where he chooses a stool at the far end. He calls out to Legos, the bartender, who’s at the other end of the bar, “Hey, Legos, it smells terrible in here.”
“Ain’t you gonna clean it up?” asks Nick.
“Do you always answer a question with a question?” asks Nick.
“Whenever I can, why?”
Nick shakes his head, “Can I get some service? I want a beer, my usual. Slide it down.”
Legos turns his head toward Nick and jabs a forefinger, the size of a German sausage at him, “You can have a beer when I see some cash.”
“I’m good for it. Put it on my tab,” says Nick.
“Good for what? Nothing is what I figure. You ain’t had a job since they tossed your ass out at the plant. The last time I checked, your tab was thirty-six dollars. You can sit at the bar, but you ain’t getting no free beers from me.”
“I can take my business elsewhere. You’re not the only beer joint in the neighborhood.”
“Where you gonna go, O’Leary’s? You don’t fit in with that crowd.”
“When I make my millions, I’m going buy this place and put somebody smart behind the bar.”
“I’ll get my resume ready.”
“Gimmie a break, Legos. A robot replaced me. It’s tough to compete with a machine. One day, Tony’s gonna find a robot to replace you and the robot will be nicer than you. When I hit it big, I’m gonna remember who wouldn’t give me a beer when I wanted one.”
“You gonna hit it big? That’s gonna happen the day the Sox win another World Series. Not in my lifetime, even if I had four lifetimes.”
“Watch your mouth, Legos. This is the Sox year. They got the pitching. They got hitters. They got speed.”
“We talking about the same team that finished twenty-five games out last year?”
“The problem with you, Legos, you got no faith in anything. You got to have hope. If you don’t have hope you don’t got nothing.”
“Whatcha been doing, watching Oprah?”
“Oprah’s not so bad if you got nothing else to watch. One day I’m gonna come here and pull a roll of Franklins and buy everybody a drink but you.”
“This threat from a guy still living with his mother.”
“Technically, I not living with her. She owns the three tenement and the first floor apartment was empty. She let me have it if I shovel snow and pull the trash barrels out to the curb. It’s only temporary until I get back with Stella. It’s only a matter of time till she comes to her senses and realizes what she’s missing.”
Legos laughs, “Ha, I hear Stella moved in with Lenny James. Least, Lenny’s got a full-time job at the warehouse and he’s got health insurance.”
Nick swirls his stool and faces toward Legos, “That’s part of the stuff we’re working out. She’s only with Lenny to get at me because she found out I was seeing Gina on the side. She’ll come to her senses when she sees Lenny’s not the brightest bulb in the deli.”
“You mean the light store.”
Nick thinks about it for a second, then says, “No, I mean what I meant, they got light bulbs in Mario’s Deli. I seen em.”
Lego scratches his head, then shakes it. Legos finishes washing glasses, tosses the dish towel into barrel and says, “I don’t have no more time to waste talking to you. I’m not putting out the salted nuts, pretzels, or the pickled eggs until three-thirty. You wanna sit there and stare at your ugly puss in the mirror, be my guest, I ain’t gonna entertain you.”
Nick says, “I was tired of talking to you because you are at the top of your career and it’s all downhill from here. I’m not like you, I got big dreams. I’m gonna fry big fish. One day you gonna wish you grabbed hold of my shirt tail when I was passing by.”
Legos walks the length of the bar and stops in front of Nick. He folds his beefy and hair covered forearms across his chest. “The only fish you gonna fry will be if you get a job at the fish market. Tell me how you gonna get rich. I need a good laugh.”
“Why should I tell you? You’ll steal my idea and claim it was yours. I’m waiting for Tony Sales. We been talking about this for a couple of weeks. We only got a couple of things to figure out before we strike it rich.”
“You working with Tony Sales? This the Tony Sales who spent three months in the county lockup for fencing stolen garden tools. You got to be kidding me. He’s got less brains than you. You add your IQ’s together you still gonna come up with single digits.”
“Tony took the fall for Angelo Tosca because he and Angelo are tight. Besides, Angelo can’t afford to go down again. It woulda been his third strike. Tony and me might bring Angelo in, he’s got lots of good ideas.”
“The brain trust is gonna strike it rich? I’ll take my chances buying scratch tickets,” says Legos turning and walking around the bar and heading toward the kitchen. He mumbles, “The road goes on forever” as he walks through the swinging door into the kitchen.
Nick counts to ten, looks around, stands up, crawls on top of the bar and hangs down on the opposite side. He opens a mini fridge under the bar and pulls out a beer. Nick finishes the bottle in one long, breathless swig. He climbs back over the bar, opens the mini fridge and places the empty beer bottle back where he found it. He slides back to his stool, wipes his mouth on his sleeve and watches a soccer match from Italy on the TV behind the bar.