Nick Donato and Tony Abatti, lifelong buddies, sit at the corner table in The Lucky Canary. They grew up in the same four room, cold water flat, three decker apartment building on Spring Street in the city’s Italian neighborhood. Nick on the first floor, Tony on the second floor. You’ll find The Lucky Canary a bit further down Spring Street from the tenement building where Nick and Tony grew up.
The Lucky Canary is a bar, some might call it a tavern, and others may call it a dive. It is forty percent owned and managed by Legos, the burly, grizzly bear sized bartender. He’s always been known as Legos since he became the face of The Lucky Canary. No one is sure who owns the other sixty percent of The Lucky Canary. Legos refuses to talk about it. The ownership is subject to all kinds of rumors and speculation.
Roxie Mantani, blues singer, sits at the bar sipping a San Pellegrino. She turns and glances at Nick and Tony. She turns back toward Legos and says, “What’s with those two? We need to call 9-1-1?”
Legos glances at the corner table, Nick and Tony stare at their beer cans, not saying a word. Legos says, “Something wrong with the cheap beer?”
Nick shakes his head. Tony shakes his head.
“Why are you guys so quiet. You got COVID or something?” asks Legos.
Tony glances over, “What’s clover ridge?”
“Where you two been for the past year? It’s all everyone is talking about,” says Legos.
“I ain’t been talking about it. Nick ain’t been talking about. Is that a new STD? If it is, I’m not worried, I use commas,” says Tony.
“You mean condoms,” says Legos.
“Me and Nick might be ex cons, but you got no right to disrespect us,” says Tony.
“What are you talking about?” says Legos wishing he hadn’t started the conversation.
Roxie taps Lego’s forearm, “You know where this going?”
Legos nods. He whispers, “I can’t help myself.”
Tony taps Nick’s arm, “You heard Legos say cons are dumb, didn’t use?”
Nick looks up, “He might be right. I don’t know how I got myself in this fix. I wasn’t thinking right. My life is over as I know it. I’m going down the toilet. I’m lower than the Sox and they finished in last place. I’m . . .”
Legos says, “Roxie and me don’t need the drama.”
Tony says, “Some kind of friend you are, Legos. Where Nick’s going is worse than Cedar Junction and that’s the maximum security prison.”
“You sure Nick’s not sick with the virus that’s going around?” asks Legos looking under the bar for facemasks for Roxie and himself.
Tony shakes his head, “No, we both got tested. We don’t got an STP and we got auntie’s jeans. The doc told us we must have been simpatico, that was the words he used.”
Legos says, “You mean you both had the virus, and you were asymptomatic. Now you’ve got the antigens.”
Tony taps Nick on the arm, “What’s Legos talking about? Mylie Cyprus or her sister Wendy Cyprus? I never been with either one. I wouldn’t mind hooking up with Wendy.”
Roxie taps Legos forearm, “I’ve seen this before. All the symptoms are there. Acute depression, hopelessness, despair, and believing your life is over. It’s seldom fatal.”
“You serious?” asks Legos.
“It only affects men,” says Roxie.
Legos looks puzzled, “A male disease? Help me out?”
Roxie says, “I’ll give you a hint. It begins with a C. Keep Nick talking and you’ll figure it out.”
Nick looks up and over at Legos, “Legos, you ever set a date to get married? If I get married, I’m sposed to stay married. It doesn’t stop when I die. I’m married forever.”
Legos glances at Roxie, “Ah, C for commitment. The scariest word in a man’s dictionary in addition to pregnancy and STD. I should’ve known. I’m a bartender. A bartender is the cheap version of a psychologist for men.”
Roxie smiles, “You can’t help yourself, you’re part of the species.”
Legos nods and speaks softly to Roxie, “That’s what this is all about. Nick doesn’t want to get married. I’m gonna guess Tina has no clue as to how Nick feels.”
Roxie says, “The closer he gets to the wedding date, the worse it’s going to be. Tina’s so excited she can’t read the warning signs.”
Legos looks over at Nick, “I remember you proposing to Tina and you were the one who went to Father Pat to set the date. You should have thought about all this before you made those decisions.”
“What decisions, I didn’t make no decisions. I admit I made them, but that’s not the same as making them,” says Nick.
Roxie taps Legos forearm, “What did he just say, I don’t understand him.”
Legos says, “Nick talks like he knows what he is talking about, but he has no clue what he’s saying. Maybe it’s pregame jitters.” Legos looks over at Nick, “Nick, you talk to Tina about how you feel?”
“I’m afraid to. I never seen her happier. She’s spends all her time planning the wedding. She already got three friends who served time with her in the women’s prison to be bridesmaids. What’s worse. She been talking to me about me finding a real job. I never worked steady in my life. If I had to work like everybody else, I can’t spend my days in The Lucky Canary. Bartenders sposed to give advice. What advice you got for me,” pleads Nick.”
Legos is about to answer when Bogey walks in. He stops at the entrance and says, “Bogey’s here to bring the cheer.”