Author: Bert Broomberg
Drinks on a Hot Afternoon.
It was a scorching hot afternoon, and almost everyone in town was
out to the lake to cool off after a week of tiresome work in air
cooled offices and stores. I had decided not to bother driving
all the way to the lake in my car that needed the air conditioner
to be fixed for the fifth time in three weeks. Instead, I had
come to my favourite haunt, The Spinning Ball, the best sports
bar in town.
"My usual," I said to Vinny the bartender who
immediately pulled me a cold brew.
"Don't fancy the lake?" he said as he gingerly
put the glass of beer on the bar in front of me.
I just nodded and told him about my car
"It's better here, anyway," Vinny answered.
"After two hours in that sun your cool box packs in and then
you're doomed to drink tepid beer. "There's no such risk in
I downed the first beer in half a minute and
ordered another one.
"Not much happening today," I said after
looking around the empty bar. "Not even the regular
"Man, this weather sucks," Vinny replied.
"It'll pick up later, it usually does on days like this, but I
won't make as much as I'm supposed to, Clarence won't like it at
I nodded, but somehow his boss didn't seem to
me to be the guy to give his staff a hard time about serving too
few drinks on a day when there wasn't anybody around to sell them
to. "Does he get on your back about the business?"
Vinny rested his elbows on the bar and said in
a soft voice. "I guess he's okay, but being married to my sister
means he always has to find fault with me. He gets picked on by
my sister, so he needs someone else to pick on himself. I suppose
it's the natural order of things, but I'm the last in line so I
get all the flack. Sometimes it sucks, and on a day like this
he's edgy as hell. But we all have our difficulties. You've got
your car trouble. I've got my brother in law. There must be some
guy who is even worse off. Shouldn't complain about stuff." He
turned around and started to polish some glasses with a cloth
while watching the baseball on TV. He had only finished polishing
about four glasses when the door of the bar opened again and my
old friend Murph came in. He had a gloomy look on his
"Hey Murph, haven't seen you around for a
while," I greeted the man who had been one of the regulars for as
long as I can remember. "What's eating you, man?" I gestured to
Vinny for another beer. "Have one on me."
Murph sat down on the next stool. "Thanks," he
said, both to me and Vinny, who put down the beer.
I knew Murph loved to take out his old jet ski,
so I was surprised to see him in town on a day like that.
"Have you broken that infernal machine at
last?" I asked him. "I'd expected you to be decapitating some
youngsters on that lake by now. The best day of the year for it,
"Nah, couldn't go today. It's too hot for
"Too hot?" I asked him in amazement. "For your
Lorna? She lies out in the sun in that back yard of yours for
hours on end. Man If I spent as much time in the sun as your
Lorna does, I'd be barbecued."
A smile appeared on Murph's face. "Yeah, you
could never take the sun as the rest of us. You always got some
"So what's this stuff about your wife?" This
time it was Vinny who wanted to know. "Anything wrong?"
"No, not really, the doctor just told her to
keep out of the sun for a while." Murph looked dolefully in his
glass as he said it.
"Come on man, speak up," Vinny said
impatiently. "What's up? You're moping like a kid with a full
"She's pregnant, so she's got to keep out of
the sun. It seems they can get those awful spots on their skin,
once they're pregnant; really huge ones, they don't come off
Vinny smiled as he slapped Murph on the
shoulder. "Congratulations. You're going to be a father, you
should be proud."
"Thanks," returned Murph coolly as he looked me
dolefully in the eye. "Fantastic." It sounded as if he had just
signed his own death warrant and with one long gulp he downed his
"This calls for a celebration; whiskey." I
Vinny poured the three drinks and we toasted
the expectant father.
"The next round is on me," said Murph with that
touch of gloom still sounding in his voice. "Make mine a large
Vinney poured the drinks but when he stopped
filling my friend's tumbler a foul look and an impatient gesture
made him continue.
"I said a large one." Murph grunted.
Vinny looked puzzled but kept on pouring until
the tumbler contained at least three normal drinks.
Without talking any more, Murph slowly drank
the booze, dug a wad of banknotes from his trouser pocket and
slapped two notes on the bar.
"This will cover the damage," he said in an
already unsteady voice. "Gotta go now. The wife is waiting." Then
he turned around and left the bar.
When Murp was gone, Vinny put the money in the
till and turned back to me. There was amazement in his eyes as he
"Can you believe that? The man is going to be a
father and he looks as if they are going to put him up against a
"In a way he may be," I remarked. "Figuratively
speaking, they have got him up against a wall. There's nothing he
can do about it."
Vinny looked at me wonderingly. "What do you
"Well can you recall when I had to go to
hospital last year?"
"Do you know what I went in for?"
"Something to do with your bladder, I thought.
You went to doctor Spillman, the urologist."
"That was the version for the boys in here." I
looked into my glass for some moments before I went on.
"So? Loads of people have those."
I sipped from my drink before I continued.
"Yeah, I know, even Murph was having one at the time. I saw him
in the waiting room and we talked about it."
"Shit," Vinny swore. "That's a rotten trick to
play on a man. I guess, he really needed those drinks."