This is Issue 74 of Hope On The Rocks, entitled "Clancey's Tavern".
This issue is Kevin-centric.
612, Clancey's Tavern
My mother’s name was Clancey. She saw herself as a bartender, but she was more than that. Far more.
She opened everyday at 5pm. Everyone around Carson City, Nevada would gather around and enter Clancey’s Tavern. Truck drivers and hard working men mostly, but everyone was welcome. Really, everyone.
She had a waitress named Lilly. She’d come in to serve food and beer, just being the nice girl she was. I had an affair with her once, but let’s keep it at that.
There was a black dude, Elmo, who’d make burgers and steak. Everyone in town knew Elmo and how many times he’d been in prison.
My mother didn’t care about how many times Elmo had been in prison, or how many men Lilly slep with. She believed that everyone should have their chance. And by doing that, she had the most succesful tavern in Nevada.
She died by a stroke a few years ago. I inherited the tavern, but gave it to Lilly and Elmo. I then left Carson City and I’ve never been there since.
I am driving, Chad sitting next to me. The rest are in the back of the pickup truck.
“Sorry about your losses.” I say, keeping my eyes at the road.
Chad, who is looking with sad eyes out of the window mutters a grunty “thank you.”
Conversations like this is always awkward. I don’t know what do say, what to do.
“You know... about Doug and the others...” I say, feeling guilty about the deaths I’ve caused. “I’m sure they’re fine.”
“They’re not.” Chad barks. “Leave it there.”
I sigh. I really don’t want to be forced to leave this group. They’re the first decent people I’ve met in a while.
The last group I met was eating human meat. It was sick. Unfortantley, I wasn’t told before after dinner. I still feel sick, and I think about it every day.
I have a feeling that if I want to stay in this group, I’d need to reveal my secret; I’m not a military vet. I’m a high school teacher. I just know it can get me killed, but today is just a good as day to die as any.
“I have something to say...” I say, taking a quick look at the mourning Chad.
“Don’t care.” Chad mutters.
“I lied.” I say, and Chad now moves his eyes towards me. I have his attention. “I was never in the military. I was a high school teacher.”
Chad is now looking at me, burning with rage. He knows that he can’t do anything right now, as I am driving the car, but he really wants to.
“You’re the reason they died!” Chad says, sounding very angry.
“No, I’m not. Listen, Chad...” I say, trying to make everything allright. I know that’s a lost battle.
“I don’t want to listen.” Chad says, looking out of the window again. “Just drive.”
And I do that. I drive.
“I had a wife.” I say, just looking at the road. There isn’t far to the farm now, but I feel like I owe him an apoligy, so I will give him one.
Chad sighs, but I continue.
“I left her to die. I didn’t even try to save her.” I say, now telling the truth. “What I’m trying to say... I tried to safe those girls, Chad. And if I had to lie to help, I would. I wanted to help.”
Chad looks at me with tired eyes.
“You didn’t have to lie.” He says.
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