Chapter 3 (Episode 0):
"Temporary Periods of Joy"
"Being Irish, he had an abiding sense of tragedy, which sustained
him through temporary periods of joy."
- William Butler Yeats
Kevin was trying his best to avoid Ma as much as possible, telling himself his reasoning had nothing to do with Tommy threatening to beat him worse than Jimmy had if Ma saw his now swollen nose. He realized that he couldn't possibly keep out of her way enough that she would never notice his injury, but he was forced to oblige to Tommy's logic because he understood that Tommy didn't want Ma to worry. He also understood that all she did was worry, so much that she stopped caring all together. Assuming that it was hard work raising four raging Irish boys, he thought it best that his mother believed her sons would never try to kill each other, whether that was true or the contrary.
Fully aware of the possibility that he had obtained a concussion, Kevin decided to call it a night early and turn in. That is, granted Sean wasn't around to bust his balls about the night's earlier events.
"You can be a real idiot sometimes, Kev."
Kevin took one look at his little brother and knew that he was stupid for thinking he'd be able to go to bed in peace. He spun around immediately and began to leave when Sean called him back.
"Come back. Come back. I won't bother you." Even still, Sean's grin told Kevin otherwise.
He climbed up to his bunk bed, subsequently pulling out his phone, hopelessly checking for messages from a woman he knew he would never hear from again.
"Can I ask you something?" Sean stood and leaned his arms on the bed rails next to Kevin.
Kevin looked him over, impatiently, but eventually nodded.
Before speaking, Sean looked over his shoulder, as though he could detect an eavesdropper by simply looking at the door. "Why does Jimmy get like that?"
Kevin mounted his weight on his elbow and narrowed his eyes, as he questioned, "Did you just ask me why Jimmy gets like that?"
Sean threw his head back as he rolled his eyes. "C'mon, you know what I mean."
"What I know is there's somethin' wrong with your head, Sean. Leave me alone." He fell back onto his pillow only half-expecting Sean to obey him.
"Whatever. What's your problem?"
"Nothin', just shut up!"
Sean put his hands on his hips. "Is this about that girl?"
Kevin shot up again. "Where were you tonight when this happened?" He asked, pointing at his nose. "Or are you just stupid?"
The smile fell from Sean's face, indicating to Kevin that he had finally made an impression. "Fine. Be that way."
Tommy wasn't ready to call it a night. He sat hesitantly on the edge of his bed, gazing out at the dark night wishing he had somewhere to go and something to do to curb his restlessness. He had nothing, which meant that he had nothing to distract him from his thoughts of Jenny.
Jenny was a sweet girl: sweet and off limits, making her Tommy's metaphorical forbidden fruit. There were so many factors pulling them apart that pursuing her was like defying the laws of attraction. It was dangerous, it was ruthless, and it was outrageous.
Tommy sighed and rolled his eyes, as he thought, if only the dangers of a woman were enough to keep a man from taking the risk.
He sunk from his bed to his knees, searching the floor for the correct pocket of jeans in which he left his wallet. He stopped briefly in the bathroom on his way out the door, colluding with the mirror in running a comb through his dark hair. He peered at his reflection dismally, concluding that his expectations were even less than his hopes. Nonetheless, he knew as long as temptation flaunted itself before him, he'd be powerless.
He crossed into the kitchen and kissed his mother on the cheek that wasn't covered by the telephone. "Ma, I'm goin' for a walk. Chain the door behind me, okay?"
"I'm tellin' ya, Rita—" Helen grabbed at the air, reaching for Tommy, as she placed the phone against her shoulder. "Tommy, don't you dare take your brothers! Seanie's got school in the mornin'."
Tommy waved his hand, assuring her, as he threw his coat over his shoulder, "I'm goin' alone. Chain this door." He repeated, locking the knob and dead bolt before he closed the door behind him.
Reaching the street, Tommy appreciated the cold air on his bare arms and for a moment, he debated on whether to put on his coat. But Tommy was a man of reason, practicality, and common sense. He didn't do things because they seemed like an alright idea at the time like his brothers did. He made every decision based on a knowledge of consequences for his actions. If I don't do XYZ, then ABC will happen. He lived his life with the goal of avoiding ABC, which could only be one or all of three things: catching a beating, death, or the hurting of the people he loved. It just so happened that his sentiment, avoiding beatings, death, and hurting his family, meant a different kind of hurt that resulted from protecting everyone. Because he didn't protect everyone for himself, he slipped his arms into his coat and buttoned it up to his neck. He was at his family's disposal and he couldn't be who they needed him to be with a cold, even if a cold was just what he needed.
Tommy strode steadily down the block, telling himself every few feet that he could still turn back, change his mind, or carry on passed the diner if he got cold feet. However, he hadn't any reservations except for those telling him that he shouldn't feel the way that he does for Jenny.
She was a married woman, whose status had graduated to widow without her knowledge, making her determined to honour her wedding vows no matter how much Tommy wanted her to belong to him. Tommy could so easily tell her of Teach's awful fate, but he'd rather leave her longing for warmth in her lonely heart than to break it all together.
There always seemed to be something prying itself between them, demonstrating their forbidden love as a reality and not just a poor comparison to Romeo and Juliet. If it wasn't a right time, if one of them was seeing someone else or Tommy was occupied with getting his brothers out of trouble, it was Jenny's father interfering on Tommy's chances with the girl of his dreams. It wasn't that he was stupid. He knew exactly how foolish it was to hope for something that he didn't deserve and wasn't lucky enough to obtain. It was that he wanted Jenny so much that giving up on her was the equivalent of giving up breathing. He needed to believe that his fight for her wasn't entirely over, if not just to survive, which, on second thoughts, probably made Tommy the stupidest man alive.
Hesitating awkwardly in front of the diner with his hand poised over the door handle, Tommy locked eyes with Jenny. She held a pot of coffee and a mug in either hand and faced him, almost paralyzed in her tracks. Tommy thought she could have appeared as ridiculous as Tommy felt, if she was capable of looking like anything besides breathtakingly beautiful.
Then, just as quick as it came over her, the resemblance to a deer in headlights dissipated as if she had just emerged from fog on a dark road. She smiled at him, though it wasn't happily like she wanted to see him, but politely like she would to any one of her customers. It was so natural, except a glint of something in her eyes unveiled that he had been on her mind.
Tommy was climbing onto a stool, despite not being able to remember when he'd entered the diner. He leaned on the counter with his elbow casually supporting him, gliding his other hand down his chest to his belly to soothe and suppress the combination of butterflies and sick that always upset him when he was near her.
"Hi, Tommy," Jenny said, sounding like she was greeting an old friend, which was the way things were supposed to be. However, both of them were wiser and the friendly show would only fool the other occupants in the diner. "What can I get ya?"
"Coffee." Tommy choked, feeling small under her speculation. "With sugar."
She smiled again. "With sugar? You tryna stay awake all night?"
He chuckled, shifting his eyes to the side and back at her lovely face. "On second thoughts make that decaf."
She poured him a cup and placed it in front of him on a saucer. "You want somethin' to eat?" She asked, dropping sugar packets next to his mug.
"Hmm," He touched his lips coolly, while he thought. "I could really go for somethin' greasy right now."
She laughed, pushing her hair behind her shoulders and crossing her arms. "Don't pretend you have to think about it. I know you Tommy Donnelly. You want a large order of fries and then you're gonna smother it in vinegar."
"Large order a fries? Good suggestion. I'll take that!" He kidded, enjoying watching her dimples emerge in her soft cheeks.
"Comin' up." She grinned, moving toward the kitchen only to have something pull her back.
"But wait." Tommy brushed his fingers over her arm, grabbing for her. "I'm gonna need some help finishin' 'em."
"Somehow I doubt that." She disappeared into the kitchen with a smile on her face that Tommy knew would torment him for days.
It was only after she left that Tommy noticed there were two other men in the diner.
"How's it goin', Sam? Brian?"
The nearest man smoothed a hand over his white hair, as he elbowed the man beside him. "Hey, Brian, look who's got his head out of his ass?"
Tommy sucked on his bottom lip, trying to hide his smile. "Very funny," he told them, as Jenny returned with his fries.
"How's your mother doin', Tommy?" Brian asked him, leaning forward so Tommy could see him.
"She's good. Thanks." Tommy answered, winking at Jenny while he watched her take a fry from his plate. "How's your family? Kyle's graduatin' this year, ain't he?"
The man got up from his stool and took up a seat next to Tommy. "Good memory." He told him, while he got himself settled. "Listen, I wanna ask you and your brothers a favour. My brother-in-law, Paddy, died last night. I wanna have the wake at the firecracker. What do ya say?"
Tommy was caught off guard. "Of course, Brian. Anythin'. Is your sister still around? Mary, right?"
"Mary passed in '83. You're a good boy, Tommy. It means a lot. Paddy loved that bar back when it was still Donnie McHugh's. I think he'd like that idea."
Tommy patted the older man's shoulder. "You got it, Brian. Leave it all to us. We'll take care of it."
Brian returned the smack on the back and then carried on toward the door. "I knew I could depend on you."
Sam followed his friend out, handing Jenny a couple bills and telling Tommy to "keep those knucklehead brothers of your's out of trouble, hey?" before they both left the diner.
They remained in silence for at least a minute before Jenny cleared her throat and picked up a rag to wipe down the bar. "Paddy Stanton. My dad will be upset."
"Yeah? Were they friends?"
"They had a falling out in '98, but I'm sure he still wouldn't mind me sayin' that we'll supply the food at the wake." She smiled, almost rebelliously, before turning her back on him.
You may have noticed that I reformatted the story and changed the title. I've decided to write something for each episode of the series and include some added scenes that I think would be awesome. Let me know what you think of this plan. But either way I'm doing it, whether or not anyone reads it. This is my favourite show and I hope I can make you see what I see throughout my portrayal of the Black Donnellys.
P.S. it may be helpful to go back and reread the other chapters if you have read them already, because I did some serious editing. Hope you like it!