The Weekend

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Mystery and Crime  |  House: Booksie Classic
Six long time friends rent a house in upstate New York for a long weekend. Secrets, lies and resentment threaten to bring the good times to an end and rip the group apart.

Submitted: January 31, 2019

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Submitted: January 31, 2019

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The Weekend

 

 

Six friends return to a house in Kingston, upstate New York for a long weekend over Memorial day. Much has changed in the decade since this crowd last rented this same house. Marriages, divorces, children and just life in general but all are excited to get back together for a few days of drinking, memories and relaxation. None more so than Johnny Nolan, the self appointed Ringmaster of the ensuing circus.

Johnny frantically paces the floor of his Brooklyn basement apartment while chain smoking and making phone calls. Brian Dunn picks up and says, “ Pain in the ass, worse than my wife! I told ya I can’t leave early. I’m in the middle of a job and I’m two days behind. Best I can do is Thursday night and that’s if I’m lucky. I got walls to paint and prime and bathroom fixtures that gotta go in and ain't here yet. These basement renos are killin’ me Johnny!” Brian owns a contracting company on Staten Island. It’s all basement and backyard renovations but it pays the bills for him, his wife Cathy and daughter Olivia. Brian works hard and never complains but can rarely get away for three minutes let alone three days. Johnny can barely contain himself. “Ok, ok whatever brother.” he replies. “I got some steaks and ribs from the butcher up on the avenue and two 30 packs to start us off. Jimmy never called me back so, I figured I grab a ride with you and we go up early Tomorrow morning and set up and hang out.” Brian responds, “ I spoke to Jimmy this morning. He’s busy with work. Can’t make it til Friday night around 5ish. Same with Sully he gets off at 7 Friday morning and is gonna head up then with Beth. Maybe talk to Ally she’s off tomorrow ride with her? Maybe you even get lucky kid.”  Brian Dunn laughs at even the very thought of that prospect. Johnny laughs as well and answers, “I was goin’ over to Mac’s later anyway so I’ll check with Ally.” Brian says, “ ok later, and Jimmy’s bringin’ a box of cigars and a nice bottle of scotch too! Thanks for doin’ this Johnny Boy, gettin the band back together. Should be a good time. Now do me a favor and stop breakin’ my balls!” with that the two friends hang up and Johnny goes about more frantic phone calls, cigarette smoking and arrangement making before heading over to Mac’s to see Ally.

Mac’s, short for MacDonald’s Pub is a neighborhood beer and shot joint. A local favorite serving  cheap beer,  crappy burgers and not much else. Allison Morgan is a part time bartender there as well as a substitute teacher, besides Johnny she’s the only one of the crew who still lives and works where they all grew up. Ally is the little sister of the group but also always one of the boys. She doesn’t take any crap and can hold her own with flaming curly red hair and a personality to match.  her and Johnny Nolan spend a lot of time together. Kind of thrown together through the passage of time and also the fact that they are the last standing of the old gang from Saint Mary’s Prep with no spouses, kids or serious partners to speak of. A pint is poured for Johnny half a second after he steps through the door and he posts himself in his usual corner spot. After a sip he explains to All, “We’re all set the place is ours from tomorrow til Monday. Nobody can make it til at least tomorrow night though so it’s just you and me bright and early Ally Girl!” She smirks, “Well, Lucky friggin me ha! Seriously John you gotta get a license and maybe a real job while you’re at it too. I’m always stuck with you, always cartin’ your sorry ass around. Maybe I got shit to do huh? How bout that?” Johnny laughs it off and asks, “Christ who pissed in your Corn Flakes?” and a “real job might cut into our quality time or at least my “Miller Time!” Ally exhales deeply, “Sorry Johnny, I just can’t wait to get outta here. Of course we can ride together but not before 10 and not before you tell me the rules of the road. Johnny thinks quick and answers even quicker, “No smoking in the car, no food in the car, gotta have gas money and can’t touch the radio. I got it.” “And coffee” Ally adds, “tons of good coffee not that Starbucks shit either! I’m bringing my french press and if you make fun of it then none for you. Now gimme one a them smokes and come outside with me. You can stay upstairs at my place on the couch tonight too. It’s just easier. Johnny stands and salutes, “Yes Boss!” as they walk out to smoke Ally says, “Thanks for this Johnny. I really need this weekend.”

Johnny actually does have a real job. He’s a writer, at least he wrote one book. A true crime thriller based on some unsolved murders that were linked to animal sacrifices and Satanic worship in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park. It did pretty well but that was six years ago and he hasn’t written anything worth a damn since. He’s still making money off the thing. Recently selling the rights to make it a multi part documentary for the Forensics Channel. The knock on Johnny Nolan, if there is one is no follow through, lack of ambition or motivation. He’s a good guy and a good friend who just never wants the good time to end. Some in the old crowd feel like he got left behind or just never moved on but not Johnny, he likes his life. He likes things the way they are. Nothing wrong with that.

Johnny and Ally hang out in her apartment above Mac’s they have a few beers and bullshit like always. Old times are discussed and opinions are freely shared about the other members of the group and the various states of their friendships and relationships. Johnny sums up, “I see Dunn and we talk all the time. Sully is still playing the ladies man and wants to hang all night I can’t keep up with him and his schedule is always changing.” Ally shakes her head and states, “Yeah I could never be with a cop. Sully’s cool to hang with but I could never take him serious. Ya Know? And Jimmy is kind of an asshole to be honest. I mean a twice divorced divorce lawyer? Really? He always loved to throw Money around and play the Big Shot.” “Yeah.” Johnny agrees “Big Time Jimmy Garret” Loves to try to embarrass you but can’t pick up the phone or call you back.”  Johnny continues, “Hey, who was it that went out with him? I can’t seem to recall.” Ally puts her head down in mock shame she snaps back “Shut the fuck up Johnny I was like 19 and he was an older guy with money and a car who could by booze. And it was only a couple months so drop it!” With that the two retire to get some sleep before the start of the weekend

 

 

 

 

2

 

The House

 

 

 

Bright and early Thursday morning Ally finishes packing and makes a thermos of coffee for the road. Johnny starts packing Ally’s little green Honda. Ally demands a stop at “The Good Bagel store.” Then they swing by Johnny’s place to pick up his bag plus the steaks and ribs along with 2 coolers and 2 30 packs. Then they hit the road for the 2 and a half hour drive to Kingston. Laughing, listening to music and breaking balls the whole way only stopping once for a much needed piss and smoke break. Around 1 in the afternoon they turn onto a narrow road leading to the house. The property is enclosed by a short stone wall with just a small cut out leading to 30 yards or so of paved driveway where the park the car and walk a short gravel path that ends at the wooden steps up to the deck. Johnny and Ally put their bags down and lean on the railing of the deck for a smoke before unloading the car and heading inside.

Ally tends to putting away groceries and Johnny loads up a cooler with beer. Ally comes out from the kitchen and sits with Johnny in those green plastic patio chairs that everyone seems to have. They each take a moment to look around and take in where they are and how long it’s been. “How many years did we all come here?” Ally asks, Johnny answers, “Three in a row, then life happened. People got busy and just Kinda drifted. Ally responds, “Yeah, I saw Beth for brunch a few months back but it’s not the same. The divorce hit her hard and she’s suburban soccer mom. The twins are cute and all but we don’t have much to talk about anymore.” “I get it, Shit happens things change, Nothin’ we can do. Just gotta go with it. I wish Bethy the best but we were never that tight.” Johnny ends that conversation with the suggestion of walking around. “Let’s go explore and see what’s changed.” Ally grabs two more beers from the cooler and they walk along a path that splits one side leads to an old yellow barn with peeling paint and some rotted out boards on the doors. The other side of the path leads to a grassy area where wooden benches form a semi-circle around a home made recently built red brick fire pit. Johnny points, “Hey, cool that’s new.” Ally looks and then comments, “A fire would be nice. Let’s go check out the barn.”

The house has three bedrooms and the barn has a loft that the girls used to share. Brian Dunn and Johnny used to double up in a room, Jimmy always insisted on having his own room and Tommy never cared either way. The rooms were always first come, first served and since Johnny and Ally are first they take their pick. “You gonna Bunk with Dunn Johnny?” “I guess, why?” Johnny answers. “Cause.” Ally replies I don’t wanna stay in that creepy ass old loft by myself and I don’t feel like crashin’ with Beth.” Johnny responds, “ So what? We’re grown ups let’s steak out a spot first. We can share a room, Why not? Let’s take the back bedroom with the screened in porch in case we wanna grab a smoke late night.” “Or…” Ally replies, “Me and you could take the loft? It might be kinda cool to have some space and be alone. Ya know, in case we get drunk and wanna make out. “Well, that settles that. The loft it is!’ Johnny says with a laugh. Ally is kidding of course. Well, mostly theses two have kissed and fooled around a bit here and there over the years but always put the friendship first and gladly so. They bring their bags to the barn and climb the ricketty old ladder up th the loft. It’s a pretty nice space, 2 twin beds a couple of end tables and a small coffee table and loveseat. The two friends climb back down and walk back to the house for a couple more beers and a bite to eat.

Around 4PM Brian Dunn parks his pick up and grabs a cooler and a backpack out of the truck bed. He puts the cooler down on the deck and greets Ally with a hug that lifts her off the ground. He hugs and slaps Johnny on the Back. Johnny has wasted no time in handing Brian a cold one and they all sit for a few minutes before Dunn unpacks the burgers, dogs chips and dips and buns. He even brought a jar of peanut butter for Johnny. Brian Dunn says, “I know my brother got a jar a week habit and I figured you would forget so that’s for you.” Johnny gratefully responds, “Hey, thanks man.” he continues to catch Dunn up, “ So, me and Ally took the loft in the barn and Beth should obviously have a room to herself. Why not snag your own room and let Sully and Big Time share?”  Brian replies, “Nah, it’s cool Big Time always wants his own room and he’s a whiny baby pain in the ass if he has to share and I almost never get to see Sully so I’ll throw my shit in the back room and save that for me and Sully. Ally announces “Ok good enough I’m hungry let’s eat. The first half of the crew grills up burgers and hot dogs then take a cooler over to the fire pit. They catch up and settle in around a fire. The holiday weekend won’t really start until tomorrow when Beth, Sully and Big Time arrive. The rest of the night is spent catching up, drinking, talking and laughing.

 

 

 

3

 

 

 

The Gang’s All here

 

 

The next morning finds Ally, Dunn and Johnny sitting on the porch outside Brian Dunn’s room lazily enjoying the Coffee and bagels that Ally brought up. Dunn remarks, “This coffee is really good.” Ally explains, “I get it from the shop across from the bar and grind it myself.” “Excuse Us!” Johnny interjects. Ally ignores him, “Some people make fun of me for it and say it’s too expensive.” She nods motioning in Johnny’s direction. Dunn winks at Ally and responds, “Yeah well some people are cheap and have bad taste. Ally and Dunn share a laugh as Johnny defends himself, “it’s 12 bucks a pound man.” “Ya get what ya pay for brother and this is some good stuff.” The rest of the morning goes by just walking around the grounds, blasting music from Ally’s car stereo and having Holiday Cocktails.

Around 1ish, a white Range Rover pulls up the drive and parks in line with the other vehicles, It’s Beth Grant and Tommy Sullivan. Beth comes bounding from the driver’s side with a rolling suitcase in tow and a tote bag containing clinking wine bottles and glasses. She throws her arms around each of her old friends while blowing kisses in the air and screeching with happiness. A much more reserved Sully waves and starts to help unpack the wine and some snacks that he brought. Tommy has been a cop for 12 years and he’s an all around stand up guy. He loves being a cop and having a good time. He still goes out a lot but is a dedicated Gym Rat. Sully to his friends and fellow cops he can totally pull off that tight tee-shirt and shaved head look. Yeah, he’s that guy! Beth is the divorced mom of twin 6 year old boys. Her ex is a realtor and not a bad guy. They remain on good terms Just drifted apart. Not the same people any more. A boring and familiar story. Beth got everything she wanted. Custody of the kids, The big house in some white collar Jersey enclave, new Range Rover and a generous monthly stipend. All without a fight, thanks to Jimmy Garret. Jimmy’s black BMW pulls up around 4. He’s still got a jacket and tie on as he goes about the business of unloading a box of cigars, 2 crazy expensive bottles of scotch and a small case of cards and poker chips. The crew all clap and cheer as Big Time sets up the green felt poker table that’s been in that same corner of the living room since at least a decade ago most likely even longer. Jimmy throws his jacket on the back of a metal folding chair, untucks his shirt and rolls up his sleeves. Rubbing his hands together he asks, “How bout a little Hold ‘em?” as he removes his tie everyone else joins him at the table.

Games have always been a big part of this group’s dynamic. The guys used to get together for football every Sunday and play poker every Thursday night at the crappy apartment Dunn and Johnny shared in their early 20’s. Even board games and video games got competitive but it was mostly just an excuse to get together. As with most close long time friends, in this circle there is always a good amount of ball breaking and light hearted abuse that can at times go to far leading to a blow up or some long simmering resentment bubbling just below the surface. As Big Time shuffles he takes a silver money clip out of his pocket and says to Johnny, “Let’s settle up and get it outta the way. What do we owe ya buddy?” Johnny answers, “400 a piece.” Johnny made all the arrangements and fronted the cash for the house. Jimmy hands him $500 bucks in mixed bills and says, “Here’s five I’ll kick in extra for food. Beth tears a check from her checkbook and slides it across the table saying “Here ya go Johnny.” Brian Dunn hands him an envelope containing his share, Sully does the same. Ally sheepishly puts some crumpled up bills in Johnny’s hand. A hundred bucks total. “I owe ya the rest?” She asks nervously. Johnny with a wink and a smile responds, “I know where you live.” And that’s that. Jimmy deals, drinks flow and laughter hangs in the air along with cigar smoke for the rest of the night.

The next morning all are up and about early. Now in their mid 30’s none have the ability to sleep in anymore. The house is humming with activity, Sully is making a massive breakfast of bacon and eggs for everyone and Ally is toasting bagels and tending to the coffee. Beth is on the deck doing her morning yoga routine while Dunn and Johnny clean up the wreckage from the night before. Jimmy is pacing around the house searching for a cell signal or a Wifi password mumbling and cursing, “C’mon, son of a Bitch! God Dammit!” Dunn points to a typed up sign posted on the fridge reading, “No Wifi, talk to each other.” Jimmy annoyed, blurts out, “Friggin’ Great! Very helpful” Dunn and Johnny just shrug and laugh. Everyone gathers at the table to eat and make plans for the day. Beth comes buzzing into the kitchen and announces, “None of that for me, I’ve gone Vegan! Beth is known to often make grand declarations or start a sentence mid thought. It drives the others nuts but that’s just Beth being Beth. As she chokes down a chunky green juice concoction She asks Sully to join her for a run after breakfast and he agrees. Garret pushes away from the table and states, “I’m Gonna grab a shower and take a drive into town. I gotta make a few calls and shoot off some emails so I need to find an internet connection somewhere around here.” Johnny protests, “C’mon man, you’re on vacation and it’s a Saturday. Give it a rest” Garret answers, “Unlike you my friend I’m always workin’.” Johnny gives him the finger in response. Ally jumps in, “I’ll go with you lemme get dressed and make a list. I’m sure we need a few things from the store.” Jimmy Garret says, “Cool” and heads off to shower.

Half an hour later lounging in the living room, Ally is standing at a large shelving unit looking at a stack of board games and thumbing through an impressive record collection that is leaning against an old turntable. “Wow there’s some cool shit in here!” she exclaims to no one in particular. Dunn walks over to the shelf to check it out. Just then Jimmy emerges from his room at the end of the hall dressed in tan dockers and a white sweater looking as if he’s going to play tennis. Johnny Nolan looks up from the book he’s reading on the couch and asks, “ Christ sake Jim, Do you even own a pair of jeans?” Jimmy replies, “Hey, remember that time you wrote that book and you had money and were famous for like 3 minutes?” A sore subject but Jimmy Garret loves to push buttons. He can’t help it he always has to take a shot. Never at a loss Johnny returns fire, “Yeah, remember that time when you were not an ASSHOLE? Me neither.” Dunn and Ally crack up and Jimmy concedes, “Nice,good one. He pretends to slap Johnny on the cheek as he and Ally walk out the door.

It’s around 11ish when Dunn and Johnny crack their first beers of the day out on the deck. Dunn says, “Cheers Brother, we’re on vacation!” They clink bottles and lean back. Dunn takes advantage of a quiet moment to fill johnny in on something. “Do me a favor…” He begins, “Take it easy on Big Time ok?” He asks. Johnny questions the request, “What for? I’m just breakin’ balls. He’s a big boy he can take it. Besides, he always takes shots at me. He Loves it.” Dunn goes on to explain, “Jimmy’s in trouble. He’s had a rough few months.” Surprised all Johnny can say is…”What?” Brian Dunn continues, “Yeah, gamblin’, it’s bad. He started movin’ client money around to cover, He’s behind on alimony and child support. I even loaned him two grand outta my business accounts but it’s not enough. It’s all catching up to him. Stunned, Johnny offers, “Holy Shit! I got 20 grand from my book for that documentary. I’ll give em’ like half if that helps float him for a bit?” Dunn replies, “Leave it alone Johnny. I don’t know the whole story so just lay off him and don’t say nothin’. He’s a big boy like you said but this ain't the time or the place. He’ll figure it out.” With that the conversation is cut short by the return of Sully and Beth. Shortly after Ally and Jimmy come in with grocery bags full of salad stuff, fresh fruit, bags of ice and 2 extra packs of smokes for Johnny since everyone who quit smoking just helps themselves to his after a few drinks. After a lecture from Beth on the evils of plastic bags Ally tells the gang about a cool little bar they found in town in case they wanna go out later. Late that afternoon the guys get the fire pit and the grill going and the whole crew sits around eating ribs and sides while swapping war stories about the good old days in the neighborhood and at Saint Mary’s. Out of this a new game starts to evolve, sort of a truth or dare 20 questions kind of thing.

It’s a simple game. You ask a question and the rest of the group determines if the person answering has told the truth. If they decide you’re lying you drink. Beth and Ally made up the rules so beth asks the first question. Giggling, she starts off, “Johnny who here would you fight?” In less than a second Johnny gives an honest answer, “Easy, Big time, I would totally fight big time.” Jimmy returns, “I kicked your ass in sixth grade and we can go again right now.” Johnny reminds him, “That was a hockey fight and Father Ed broke it up before I could even take a swing.” Father Ed was a fixture in Saint Mary’s parish for 30 plus years and the boy’s youth roller hockey coach. He retired to a nursing home a few years back but was always a favorite with the kids as he was only in his thirties when they were young.” Ok next, “Johnny looks around and says, “My turn, Ally, Who here would you Fuck?”  Ally turns red, she’s mad and embarrassed but plays along giving an unexpected answer that leaves the crew speechless, “Ok Nolan, my honest answer is not you! It would be Tommy, he’s a gentleman, He has class and respect.” That shuts Johnny up quick. Beth chimes in, “Bull Shit! Drink Up Girl!” It wasn’t the truth but Ally was put on the spot and her and Johnny always had something but never acted on it. Jimmy piles on, “I agree gotta say that would never happen. Right Sully?” Tommy sullivan is in shock and uncomfortable as Jimmy keeps going, “Sorry babe, you ain't his type. He’s into Albert not Ally.” Sully stands up and screams, “Shut up Jim, Shut the Fuck up! You don’t know nothin’ You don’t know… You don’t know me. Fuck You!!!” Sully throws a beer bottle and falls to his knees crying. With his head in his hands Sully is grunting and groaning. Ally and Beth cradle and comfort their friend as Dunn and Johnny turn on Jimmy Garret. “What the Fuck is wrong With you? Get the fuck outta here! I’ll Kill you I swear, you’re Dead! Dunn is trying to restrain Johnny as he is yelling and grabbing at Jimmy. Dunn instructs Jimmy to just go and he walks back toward the house. The game had gone horribly wrong and the damage was done.

Tommy sitting on the ground is talking to himself trying both to explain and understand, “I’m not gay. I’m not anything. Father Ed said it helped him to be closer to me and to be closer to God.” Tommy explodes into tears. “I never wanted it, never liked it but what could I do? Then when we graduated he found a younger kid and said I wasn’t special any more. He said if I told I would go to hell. That I was a sinner and a Faggot. The Fairy of Saint Mary’s! That’s what he called me. Sick Fuckin’Bastard! Jimmy saw me a year or so ago in front of a gay bar by his office. I was drunk and some guy kissed me, I don’t know, it just happened. I was confused and ashamed, I still am. Jimmy said he wouldn't say anything. Then he started asking me for cash to keep it quiet.” No one dared say a word. Dunn walks off to the house to confront Jimmy.

This Man, this Cop, this tough guy with a gentle soul and a heart of gold would always be that scared confused little boy. Frozen in time and left behind tortured and tormented by a Demon Priest. Never able to understand his feelings and never wanting to feel a damn thing. In a prison of self loathing and a life of self imposed exile always behind a mask. Tommy would never be whole, never a complete person, just shattered bits and pieces. As he gets to his feet Johnny hugs Sully and says he loves him and he’s sorry. With Beth and Ally the three friends form a wall around Sully as if protecting him from the world. Sully asks if he can spend the night in the barn loft. He doesn’t want to be in the house and needs to be alone to clear his head. Johnny and Ally totally understand and leave their childhood friend to it. As they walk back to the house a beaten and bloody Jimmy Garret passes them without a word, gets in his car and takes off.

The living room is a shambles, Brian is leaning on the kitchen counter sipping a scotch with bloody knuckles having just beaten Garret within an inch of his life.The four of them sit up all night mostly in silence as Saturday night gives way to Sunday morning it is decided by all that it’s best to leave a day early. Ally makes a cup of coffee for Sully and takes it out to the barn, “I’m gonna go check on Tommy and see if he wants to leave.” She tells the others. Ally calls out for Tommy, no answer. She puts the coffee down and climbs up to the loft, no Sully. Maybe he went for an early run she thinks as she passes a row of old horse stalls. There in the third stall hanging from a wooden beam by his own belt is Tommy Sullivan. Dead by his own hand. In the calm quiet of the night Tommy gave himself the peace that life could never afford him. Ally runs back to the house screaming the kind of scream that makes no sound. Dunn gets in his truck and goes for help. Beth stands in the doorway of the barn Crying, “NO NO NO!!!” Over and over in anguish. Johnny just stands guard over his friend in silent vigil. In a matter of hours the whole ordeal is over. In another few days there is a wake and a funeral mass. The streets around Saint Mary’s church are awash in a sea of blue as the NYPD bid farewell to a Brother. Missing from the crowd is Jimmy Garret. Among the rest of the circle of friends there is laughter, tears, stories and drinks as they lay Tommy to rest. Three months later Big Time Jimmy Garret is sentenced to one year in prison for wire fraud and tax evasion. He took a deal to avoid a trial. None of his former friends were there to lend support or stand up for him.

In another kind of prison sits Father Edward McKay. Wheelchair bound and chained to an oxygen tank the retired priest now in his late 60’s watches the world go by out the window of a nursing home. No family or friends to speak of. The one joy the frail old man has is the recent weekly visits he’s been receiving over the past couple of months from a former Saint Mary’s Altar boy that he remembers well and fondly as a good kid. The kind soft spoken visitor always brings the newspaper and fixes Father Ed a cup of tea. He never stays long just enough for a chat but it gives the lonely old priest something to look forward to. At the end of a friday morning visit the young man says, “Goodbye Father.” as he puts his black leather gloves on he adds, “Bless me Father for I have sinned.” Reaching out with gloved hand the now grown man, and former Altar boy  bends and pinches the hose of the oxygen tank with his thumb and forefinger depriving Father Ed of air. “SHHHHHH, Just let go and die you sick old fuck.” It takes about a minute and a half for the old priest to gasp his last and slip away. The visitor calmly walks out into the sunshine of a crisp fall Friday Leaving Father Edward McKay on his deathbed to meet his maker. Walking down the street Johnny Nolan stops in front of a subway station about to catch the F train and head home. He pauses for a moment and hands a homeless man a five dollar bill and a brand new pair of black leather gloves. “Here ya go buddy have a great day!” Johnny says as he walks down into the station. Johnny Nolan did two good deeds that day.


© Copyright 2019 John Nash. All rights reserved.

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