The wind blew through my hair as I stepped off the curb to cross the empty street. I looked up at the once blue sky. Yesterday it was blue but today it was gray due to the clouds. I slowly pulled the heavy door open to my brother bar, The Firecracker Lounge. My oldest brother, Jimmy, won the bar in a crab game with Donny Mache a year early. It came with rotting floors and a gigantic tax lean. But Mache swore he didn't lose on purpose. There was always something going on there. Today it was wake for some distant relative of ours, the Donnelly's.
I pushed my way through the crowd of people I barely knew and rarely saw. Many of them greeted me as if I was there lifelong friend. I said hello then continued on my way though the crowd. I patted my other brother, Kevin, on the back as I passed him. He turned around and smiled. "It's about time you got here, Allie. I was starting to think you were bailing on us." Kevin was the closest to me in age. I was born three hundred and sixty days after him, so for a whole five days, we are the same age.
"C'mon Kev. I would never leave you guys to go through this awful ordeal alone." I said with a small hint of always thought of himself as a gambler. He always believed he was lucky. The fact that he never won a bet in his life some how never dissuaded him from this notion. "Have you told Tommy yet?" I asked lowering my voice. Kevin just nodded in the direction behind me.
Tommy was the second oldest of my four brothers. Tommy was good at two things. Drawing and getting his brothers and, on occasion, me out of trouble. He was the responsible one in the family. But what Tommy didn't seem to understand was that he'd never go anywhere with the first if he couldn't let go of the second. Tommy was sitting at a table by the wall. His brown eyes had a mixture of emotions in them. Confusion. Anger. And I could see a small amount of humor. But eyes did tell me what I wanted to know. Kevin had finally told Tommy about how he lost a bunch of money gambling. Kevin walked over to the table carrying two glasses of beer. I watched as Tommy instantly started to lecture him. Kevin flashed me a look that told he wasn't really listening to anything Tommy was saying.
I leaned against the bar and scanned the crowd before me. I saw my other brother, Sean, talking to girl by the door. Sean was almost two years younger than and in his last year of high school. Everybody loved Sean. Especially women. Which is why my brothers never let their girlfriends anywhere never him. I looked down farther into the bar. I saw Jenny Riley in the back of the bar, by the pool table. Now Jenny, Tommy's childhood sweetheart, married a school teacher a couple of years before. The teacher forgets to mention that he robs drug dealers to pay off some student loans. He goes into hiding and someone stuffs him into an oil drum. No one had the heart to tell Jenny.
"Hey, Allie." Jimmy said, interrupting my people watching. I turned around to face Jimmy, who was working behind the bar.
"Yea?' I asked.
"Get over here and help me out." Jimmy said as he set a glass of beer down on the bar in front of a customer. Even though I wasn't legally allowed to, Jimmy let me work behind the bar. I enjoyed it as long as I didn't get yelled at my some picky customer. I walked around the bar and helped Jimmy. A few minutes later, Tommy walked over and started talking to Jimmy in whispers. I gave them their space. If Tommy wanted me to know, he would tell me. I discovered that it is always easier to let the person tell you in time, than to eavesdrop.
"Hey! No banging on the machines." Jimmy yelled across the bar at Joey Ice Cream, who had kicked the jukebox multiple times. Joey Ice Cream was kind of a friend of the family. He was always tagging along with one of us but him Kevin were really tight.
"It took my money!" Joey yelled back.
"It's supposed to take your money!" Jimmy yelled again.
"You wanna yell in other ear?" An older man said. He was sitting on the stool directly in front of Jimmy. Jimmy and the old man started arguing. I slowly backed away, awaiting the Irish have always been victims of negative stereotypes. I mean people think we're all drunks and brawlers and sometimes it makes you so mad all you wanna do is get drunk and punch somebody.
After a few seconds it happened. Jimmy punched the man in the face and climbed over the bar to hit him again. As always, once one guy throws a punch, all the guys have to join in. I watched from afar as my brothers, including Tommy, joined the fight. A few minutes later, a voice of an unknown person shouted, "Cops! Cops!" Everyone ran for the front door, while I followed my brothers out the back way and into the ally.