“I don’t want to live in the kind of world where we don’t look out for each other. Not just the people that are close to us, but anybody who needs a helping hand. I cant change the way anybody else thinks, or what they choose to do, but I can do my bit.”
Charles de Lint
“Darlin’, darlin’, and how goes the afternoon? That glass of house red would taste just right. Not a good day so far. George called me first thing, and guess Great Aunt Mary took another stroll. They found her, bout 3 AM, naked as the day she were born, waltzing through the corridor’s, and I guess they had to sedate her. Dear lord above, god help him getting saddled with an ex-stripper with dementia for a Mom.”
Jodee, standing behind the bar stops dead, mid pour of the Pinot Noir…”oh, Uncle Jack, no. How’s he holding up? Anything I can do? I’m here till closing, but I’m free the whole weekend. Would he mind me dropping by with a lasagna? I can run it by the house before I head over to TK‘s. You’re going to her welcome home party?”
“No sweety, past our bedtime. Larry and I are heading to the Antiques market Saturday. He promised me a day of shopping and sex…so I must have my beauty sleep so I’m bright eye’d and bushy-tailed.
But yeah, George doesn’t eat right, and with all this on his plate, I think he could probably starve to death; consummate bachelor that he is. You’re a real darling, ya know that, right? Your Mom would be so proud of you Jo. You’ve come along way sweetheart.”
Jodee leans against the other side of the bar, staring out the window at the empty patio, tears glistening in her eyes, watching this one lone crow hop along the ground, snacking on morsels left by the last table of 4.
She lets out a sigh, and turning back, wipes her eyes, “Did you ever locate that guy from last year? You remember, the old man who came just those few days just at closing?”, as she passes him an antiseptic wipe from the container they keep behind the bar.
Jack adjusts his crossed legs on the stool, wipes the oak bar in front of where he’s sitting, sips a bit of the Pinot Noir, smiles up at Jo “I didn’t tell you? Walked right into the bookstore last week looking to see if I’d display his work for sale on my walls around the store, on consignment.
Sweetheart, I’m going on 73, so I looked him in the eye and said I’d hang his pictures on consignment, if he’d work for me 3 afternoons a week. I guess he thought that was fair, cause he showed up today, and, well, here I am. Don’t know if he’ll show tomorrow, guess we’ll see.
His names Nat Crow, and that ones more than meets the eye. For starters, he is no old man; he’s only 34. Cleaned up and wearing, well we won’t go there. I told Larry we could call him ‘the man in black’.
He showed me some of his paintings, stunning stuff, something to behold. Powerful. Full of feathers, and blood, and dark imagery. But some bad mojo has a hold on that boy’s soul. He’s fractured. His work has this chunky style, big gobs of oil paint, with pieces of garbage and smashed bits of glass …and all the bits are reflecting back this sense of horror, disbelief, betrayal. Truly scary shit, Jo. Hard to say if that’s how he feels, or that’s what he’s seen, or both. He’s carrying a lot in his gunny sac.”
Jodee, turning away, grabs the bottle of Tequila down from the shelf, and stops, looks Jack in the eyes… “Well, if anyone can rid some of the garbage from his gunny sac, it’s you. Don’t know what I would have done without you two after Mom died. You and Larry got me through those dark hard High School years” …briefly glancing at faint scars across her right wrist, she pours a shot of Tequila in a shot glass, wafting it down in one gulp, and smiles at her Uncle, eyes twinkling with unshed tears.
“Oh, one of the archaeologists from the Ministry was in here last night, and I told her about the councils collection of artifacts. I told her I’d ask if you could arrange a viewing. I know, I know, don’t give me that look. She’s different Uncle Jack. She really is. She has some incredible light sparkling inside of her, and she did her Masters on Native Animism. She and I were up talking till 4, well after close. No one was in. I like her. She understands stuff, you know? She and I, well, we clicked. She has overcome some bad shit too. Bad shit. Lost her twin when he was 15 years old, he just left one day and never came back. She never saw him again.”
Jack smiles, and shakes his head, looks out the window at the pair of crows pecking at ground outside on the patio…“Ok. Ok. I’ll see what I can do. No promises though. You know how they are. But I’ll put in a word. She staying in town then I take it?”
“Yeah, she said she wanted to go up to the University, look at some documents or something from that dig they did back in the 70’s, before the subdivision went in. Got her number, and I thought I’d ask her over to TK’s party”.
Unwrapping his black Gucci loafers from the stool leg, and rising all in the same motion, stands and combs his hands through his long grey hair…“Ok sweety, gotta run. Promised Larry I’d be home for dinner tonight, and he’s all in a dither, been years since we shared dinner together during the week. God help me, you know Larry, he has me on that new fad diet he read about last week on Facebook…I’m fuckin’ tired of rice and blawdy beans. Done. The gas? Holy shit. Mrs. Danforth was in last week, and I swear to god she gave me the nastiest look when I let one rip as she was perusing the Harlequins.”
Jodee stands up on the lower shelf and leans across the bar, giving Jack a big hug around the neck…”Love you Uncle Jack, and thank you. Her names Dr. Natalie MacEnchroe.”
Jack ruffles her hair, and grabs his man purse from under the bar…“MacEnchroe? Now that’s an unusual name. Means Crow you know in old English”. Swinging the strap over his head, he turns and saunters out of the bar. Turning at the threshold, he blows a kiss Jodee’s way.
Through the window she can hear his whistling Dixie…Good god, what will the neighbours think Jodee mutters under her breath.
Still shaking her head, she turns smiles to herself, and puts Jack’s dirty wine glass in the tray under the bar.
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