...who could write a much better book in German about moving to Chicago, I'm sure.
An excerpt from my unfinished and unfinishable novel. This version in 3rd person. I think. Its been a while since I learned all this grammar stuff in school.
There was a traditional looking pub kitty-corner from the hostel in the alley. Well, there were two pubs, but the one directly across the street was a bit dodgy to be sure. It opened at eight am and had a rough looking crowd. The pub on the corner, however, had bright green paint and cheerful lettering, so she ducked in one afternoon with the daily newspapers. It was time to find an apartment, but some food was in order.
She had previously called Anna, her old roommate back in Chicago:
Rose: “I don’t think I made the right decision. Something is drastically wrong. I’ve haven’t eaten in three days.”
Anna: “You have to eat something or its not going to get better. I know how you are. You won’t last long on Guinness and cigarettes.”
Rose: “So far its been working fine. I’ll just keep it up until my return ticket comes around in a week and a half.”
Anna: “You never intended to use that return. You go to a pub right now and get some stew. Don’t they love that stuff over there?”
Rose: “Fine. For you, I will try some stew.”
Anna: “And call me tomorrow. Love you. Don’t drink too much.”
Rose: “Love you too and…Anna? Thanks.”
Rose created a mild stir when she came through the pub, it was obviously full of regulars and she was a stranger to them. The barman took her order, however, and he actually had stew so Rose was forced to order it. He gave her the total, took her money and gave her some change. He said he would bring it over to her so she left a two pound tip on the bar, considering she was ordering a meal and a pint. Settling into her booth with the rental listings and her duty-free cigarettes, she noticed the barman sending the bar partition flying and lumbering over in her direction.
“You left your change on the counter there missy,” he said, slapping the coins on the table.
“It was a tip, for you…” Rose said, trying to explain.
“No tips here, I’ll have your stew up in a moment. Do you want Irish bread and butter with that now?”
“Yes please, thanks-very-much…” Rose managed to say as her cheeks flared again.
Who in their right mind would turn down an innocent tip, Rose thought. Perhaps he was the owner, she surmised. She would have to get better at figuring this out, because as a former waitress, it was not in her nature to not tip at all.
The stew came over and although it looked and smelled perfectly fine, it smelled like food and her stomach turned over. She tried taking a few sips of the gravy like broth, and that managed to settle. She had a few bites of bread and started in again on the listings in the paper. Unfortunately she also had a city map laid out next to her, in order to tell what part of town the rooms to let were in, and this gave away her tourist status quite a bit.
About a half hour into her search, getting frustrated by the acronyms and abbreviations that were partial to Irish papers, she looked up and caught the eye of a weather-beaten but young looking man at the bar. He took the opportunity to dart over to ask her something.
“Are ye waiting on someone?” he asked, smiling with his eyes but trying to stay very serious.
“Umm, no I’m not,” Rose replied, not sure if he would be the reason why she would have to leave. No one had bothered her so far and she had high hopes for this pub.
“You what? What are ye doing in a pub by yourself at this time of night? Certainly your boyfriend is coming to meet ya.”
“No I am actually just trying to make out these rental listings, I’m looking for an apartment or room to rent.”
“Oh now be careful with that. Do you know what neighborhoods are total kips? Do you know what yer looking for at all?”
“Umm well I think I do?”
“Let me join ya if you don’t mind and I’ll give you a few pointers is all. My name is BER-nard.” He pronounced his name emphasizing the first syllable. Rose didn’t recognize it as a boy’s name at all. She paused.
“Oh Ber-NARD!” she exclaimed. “We call it Ber-NARD in the States.”
“Whatever you like love. Now listen, the Northside…”
And Bernard went on and on explaining where the crime was rife in the city, where all the stuffy noses-in-the-air poncy types lived, what would be too expensive and what would be sheer suicide. Rose was really grateful, and the pints kept coming from the bar as by magic.
A few hours later she had been introduced to everyone in the pub, from the haggard looking woman with her shopping bags, food thawing as her evening went on in the pub, to the tooth deprived man with the bodhran (Irish hand drum) and the mean looking woman who happened to have an excellent voice. A great Irish music session (seisiún) broke out and Rose was treated to a mixture of both Irish classics (rebel songs included, as this was a blue collar crowd) and some American covers. Rose took reams of photos on a disposable camera, and had never been so happy to be in Ireland in her life. This is what it is all about, she thought, taking yet another cigarette from Johnny, Bernard’s friend. This is the true Ireland, she whispered to Bernard, toasting her singing comrades.
As the pub closed, she was quite comfortable walking the ten or so feet to the hostel’s door, and she bade everyone good night and told them that she would see them later. Bernard grabbed her hand and ran her down the alleyway, past the hostel.
“I have something to show ye Rose, come with me!” he exclaimed as he dragged her down the way.
“All right all right hold on - my shoes!” Her high heeled boots were getting caught up on the cobblestones but she managed to make it down the alley with him.
Bernard rounded the corner and started up the steps to a B&B on the next road.
“Nononononono…what is this?” Rose said. Her jolly mood from a few minutes ago suddenly turned sour.
“Listen buddy, I have a room in that hostel over there. What gives you the right to think that just because I met you in the pub and…I thought we got on great but…I really need a friend right now.”
“Listen Rose I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry it was stupid I know. I just really really like you is all. I’m sorry I won’t do it again.”
Rose composed herself and looked at his sad puppy dog face. He did seem honestly sorry for getting caught up in the moment. But she was still careful to keep her distance.
“Come on let’s take a quick walk along the river before you turn in, and we can plan what we’re going to do tomorrow!”
His childlike enthusiasm won her over so they set off for a walk along the Liffey headed east, away from town, closer to some of the older neighborhoods. They made plans to check out some of the lesser crap-sounding rooms for let, and also made plans to go to Trinity College to see the Book of Kells, which apparently Bernard had never seen. He had never even been inside Trinity College, even though the gates were open to the public every weekday.
At the end of the pier there was a shrine to Mary, and although Rose didn’t want to walk out that far in the dark, they sat for a moment and reflected on a great evening and wonderful new friendship. Then Bernard tried to tackle her but she gamely shoved him off and set back down to the hostel. He followed in her wake, apologizing. This was going to be a difficult friend to keep, Rose thought.
(c) 2010, Discombobulation Station
With apologies to my Irish friends who will probably find offence at my oirush dialogue.