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Thursday, March 3, 2011

Enough to Face the Sun - Chapter 1

Not to be outdone by his brother Mark, whose cartoons will appear regularly on The Buzz, Steve Siciliano today makes this offering, an excerpt from his novel-in-progress “Enough to Face the Sun.” Steve’s first novel, “Putting Butterfly Wings on The Thinker”, will be published in April, 2011, by Siclianos Market Press.

“Christ, it’s hotter than hell out there.”

When Charlie Reynolds’ voice shattered the late afternoon quiet I looked up from my crossword and saw Paul, the bartender, wince. Charlie sat down on the corner stool, slapped his palms on the bar, looked over at me and nodded, then brought his hands together and cracked his knuckles.

“How’s it going today, Pauly?”

“Just fucking wonderful,” Paul said. “Making people happy.” He put his newspaper down and began pouring Charlie a draft.

“Whoa there, buddy. Don’t want a beer.”

Paul took a deep breath then dumped a half glass of beer down the drain.

“Gin and tonic, barkeep. Lots of ice.”

“What kind of gin?” Paul held the empty beer glass in his hand while Charlie passed a thick finger across his cell phone. “What kind of gin, sport?”

“Uh, that new one I told you to get in. Anyone know how Detroit did today?”

“Lost three to two,” I said when Paul didn’t tell Charlie the score.

“Fuck! Lost another one. How’d the Cubbies do?”

I was about to answer but when Charlie started texting I went back to my crossword. Paul put the gin and tonic in front of Charlie then walked back to the middle of the bar and picked up his newspaper. Charlie put his phone down and took a sip of the drink. “Damn, this is good gin. Selling a lot of this, Pauly?”


“You’ve got to be kidding me. It’s popular as hell at the club.”

“That’s nice,” Paul said.

“Guy at the club turned me on to it.”

“That’s nice.”

“I can’t believe you’re not selling it.”

“That’s nice,” Paul said.

Two men in suits came in and Charlie swiveled his stool and watched them hang their coats on the high hooks on the side of a booth. Paul slowly put his newspaper back together then glanced up at the sports scores running across the bottom of the muted television screen before walking to their table.

“How’s the crossword?” Charlie asked me after he swiveled back around.

“Hard,” I said. “Fridays are always hard.”

“Never got into them. My old man did them all the time. Hell, he probably still does.”

“It passes the time,” I said without looking up.

“How’s business?” Charlie asked. “Cigar shop, right?”

"It's getting better," I said.

Charlie’s phone rang and I worked on the crossword while I heard about his round of golf in the morning, how hot it was on the golf course, about the lunch at his club with the “docs”, how he had impressed the docs, how he bought a new pair of shoes, about a new set of clubs that he looked at but didn’t buy, about how the Caddy was still making a noise, how he ran into Fred Peterson at DeMario’s, that he forgot to pick up “your god damn shampoo”, that DeMario asked him to go to Vegas, that Fred asked him to go fishing Sunday, and that they would have to take the kids to the “damn water park” some other day. With that, Charlie put the phone done, the conversation over. “So you’ve been open what, about a year now, right?”

I nodded.

He picked up his phone again then set it back on the bar next to his drink. “Most new businesses fail within the first year. It’s a fact.”

“I’ve heard that,” I said.

“Has the smoking ban hurt?”

“Probably a little.”

“God damn government keeps taking away our rights. It should be up to business owners to decide if people can smoke in their own joints. Right Pauly?” Paul was restocking liquor and didn’t say anything. Charlie looked at his phone again. “What are you drinking?”


“I can see it’s beer, chief. What kind of beer?’

“IPA,” I said.

“Tried an IPA once. Too bitter.”

“IPA’s are hoppy.”

“Nothing like the Silver Bullet.”

“Well, to each his own.”

“Can I buy you another one?”

“No,” I said. “I have to get going.”

Charlie’s phone rang again. He went over to a pool table and caromed the cue ball off the bumpers while he talked. Paul put his newspaper down and walked up to me. “Going to have another?”

“No, I’ve got to go.”

“How was it today?”

“Slow,” I said. “About two hundred when I left.”

Paul nodded. “I was slow too. No one wants to go out in this heat.”

“Well, Charlie’s here,” I said.

“Fuck him. How’s your new guy working out?”

“Good, he knows his shit.”

“Well that’s got to help.”

I took a five out from my shirt pocket and laid it on the bar.

“This one’s on me,” Paul said.

“Come on, Paul. I can afford to buy a beer.”

“I know you can,” Paul said.

I noticed one of the men in the booth looking over at us. “I think those guys want another.”

Paul walked away and while he was mixing the drinks Charlie walked back pumping a clenched fist over his head. After he sat down he clapped his hands together then snapped his fingers.

“Just landed me a huge account.”

“Congratulations,” I said.

“Hey Pauly I want to buy the bar a drink.” Charlie swiveled in his stool, “this one’s on me fellas,” then swiveled back. “How about you?”

“No thanks.”

“Damn, I feel like a cigar. Did you get those Opus X’s in yet?”

“I told you they won’t sell them to new shops.”

“They’re great fucking smokes. Ever have an Opus X, Pauly?”

“Thanks for the drink,” one of the men called out.

Charlie swiveled and raised up his glass. “My pleasure. Cheers. What do you fellas do?”


Charlie chuckled. “I’ve got a shit ton of lawyer jokes.”

“I bet you do.”

“I sell drugs,” Charlie said.

“Thanks again.”

“You guys ever have an Opus X?”


“How about a Cuban? Cubans are awesome. Remember that Cuban I gave you Paul?”

“It was shit,” Paul said. “Counterfeit.”

“No fucking way!” said Charlie.

The man glanced at his watch and looked at Charlie. “I don’t smoke.”

“Really? Not even on the golf course?”

“No,” the man said. “I love the smoking ban.”

Charlie moved his drink and phone to the high top table next to the booth and argued about Michigan’s new smoking law with the lawyer. One of the neighborhood bums came in and when Paul refused to serve him he told Paul to get fucked. After the bum went back outside he pounded on the front window and gave Paul the finger. I finished my beer and put the empty pint glass on the inside edge of the bar. Paul walked up, took a deep breath, and picked up the glass.

“Some people are hell, Matthew,” he said.

Steve Siciliano is a merchant, philosopher, and writer. He lives in Grand Rapids, MI with his wife and two dogs.

1 comment:

  1. Love it Pop! I especially like the Charlie character. Not sure how much it helps that I'm drinking a Bombay and Tonic while reading it.

    Keep going!