St. Paddy’s Day (Chapter Fifteen)



The Major

To view the previous chapter, click here.

Voula’s was a Greek joint located just outside of Coysville on the road back from Marlborough.  It was a typical Greek diner found just about everywhere in the Northeastern United States.  Grandma was at the register, and everyone knew her as ‘Ya-ya’.  The waitresses were all cousins brought over from the Hellenic Republic or middle-aged Irish women who had been properly indoctrinated.  The busboys tended to be Hispanic. Occasionally olive-skinned man named either “George” or “Nick” could be spied through an open door sweating away over the grill.

The owner herself, Voula, lorded over the establishment, visiting tables, chastising staff for various sins, and generally making her presence known.  She had fiery orange-red hair, and she was clearly a force.  No one challenged Voula on her turf.

Dr. Pat and Mick sat at a booth. They were regulars there, and were treated as such.  Mick had a souvlaki platter with Greek potatoes that oozed golden butter in front of him.  Dr. Pat (in no mood for beef) chose a simple Greek salad and a small potion of spinach pie.  Although there was evidence that the doctor had moved the items around on his plate, it was plain that he was not eating much.

Dr. Pat then told Mick everything.  For once, Mick sat still and listened to it all without offering jokes or sarcastic comments.

“That is why I cannot accept this award tomorrow,” concluded Dr. Pat.  “I believe I could get away with the whole thing.  But I could never really put this incident behind me.  Some day Sharon might remember what happened.  Besides, it can’t live with it anymore.  It’s killing me.”

The nearby jukebox usually played a fairly limited selection of bazuki music.  Tonight, for some reason, it was blaring the Chieftains singing “Take Me Back to Old Mayo”.  It dawned on the two men that this was a concession to the upcoming feast day.

Mick sat silently for a time, and cut up a large cube of marinated beef.  He then rolled it into the pool of tzaziki sauce on his plate.

“See that’s where you’re wrong, Pat,” he said finally.  “You need to put this behind you.  This award is the way to do it.  This town needs this.  You’re a bona fide hero now.  You can’t just walk away from that.  Coysville is dying – but no one is willing to acknowledge it out loud.  I’ve lived in this industrial town all my life.  I can see the handwriting on the wall.”

Mick paused to take a drink of his beer.  “This sort of thing is happening to industrial towns all over this part of the country.  Pat, this town needs something.  Please – please, accept this award,” he pleaded.

Then, after a pause, he added: “And for God’s sake, keep your friggin’ mouth shut about this snow bank thing.”

Dr. Pat’s head was killing him.  Still, he broke into laughter.  “You’re a born orator, my friend.  Perhaps you should give the speech tomorrow.”

“That mean you’re doing it?” asked Mick hopefully.

“You have sufficiently convinced me,” replied Pat.  “But, I have no idea what I’m going to say.”

“That’s easy.  You just tell them that you were born…”

Dr. Pat cut him off.  He could tell that Mick was about to launch into a long one.  “Listen, Michael.  I don’t know how to thank you for everything you’ve done for me this week.  I don’t know how I would have gotten by without you,” he said meaningfully.

“Forget it,” replied Mick with a wave of his fork (containing speared lettuce, tomato and onion).  “It’s what brothers do for one another.”

Dr. Pat could only nod and smile.

Coming soon in Chapter Sixteen: Person of the Year.

— The Major

©2001 The Major


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