An Encounter at the Crown

15 Feb


‘Would you ever be knowing the whereabouts of a fella called John Cattell darlin’?”

Paddy asked the buxom barmaid at The Crown Inn.

“No I don’t I’m sorry to say. But if you want to tell me all about him I’m willin’ to listen.”

She winked at Paddy, who blushed mildly, but enjoyed the flattery and noted the good natured humour of the voluptuous lady.

‘He was ‘ere but he’s gone now,’ declared a voice which emanated from an entity perched on the stool beside Paddy.

It was Ellen’s brother in his usual position at the bar. His voice was hoarse and hardly audible. Years of dwelling in the bar enveloped by a grey haze, had seemingly smoked him like a kipper.

Paddy was visibly stung by this revelation.

‘Then can you tell me where he’s after goin’?”

‘All’s I know is he’s got a ticket to America. He showed it to the landlord the day he left.  He’ll be sailin’ on The Liverpool Lady.’

‘Is it a friend of his you are?’ Paddy enquired downing a hard earned pint of warm beer.

‘No but me sister took a fancy to ‘im once.  Then he took off, disappeared like, broke ‘er  heart. A troubled man, very troubled, dying wife, three littluns.’

‘Sure I know all about that my friend.’

‘The name’s Jacob.’ He held out a crusty nicotine tarred hand, which Paddy gripped firmly.

‘Good man Jacob. They call me Paddy McGuire.  I’ll be on my way home to my girls now. Thanks for your help, though it’s not the news I was hopin’ for.’

‘Hope to see you again Paddy McGuire. They call me Ethel.’ The barmaid declared.

‘Pleased to meet you Ethel, I may well return. That was a grand pint.’

He set off to deliver the bad news to Bernie and Colleen.  He had been hopeful of an encounter with John, but in spite of his disappointment, the encounter with Ethel had lifted his flagging spirit.

The next day, as the weary sun struggled through an unyielding cloud laden winter dawn, The Liverpool Lady set sail for New York.



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