Nothing interrupts a domino game like an explosion. The Presidents Club. Chapter 4
January 27, 2013
The flickering light in the otherwise dark house came from the television in the living room of Ronald and Miriam Gold. The announcer was saying, “Funding for More Than One Vote was provided by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Liberty Mutual Insurance Company, The Government Literacy Project, and The Thibaut Initiative for Good Government. Additional funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and viewers like you.”
Gold, mashed the button on the remote and turned off the television leaving the interior of the two story bungalow in complete darkness. The eighty-two-year-old retiree held his robe around himself and shuffled down the hall to the bathroom before making his way upstairs to bed.
“I watched an interesting program last night on PBS,” he told his friends at the Louisville Tavern the next afternoon.
When no one commented, he looked up at Louie the bartender for help, “You see an interesting program or two every night on PBS don’t you, Ron?” The other four men continued their game of dominoes, oblivious to the PBS conversation.
“Dammit Woody, you’re always trying to block the game,” Franklin York complained. Frank was a retired chiropractor and the most recent addition to the group. He was also the youngest.
“Shut up and play, Frank. It’s your turn,” responded Woodrow Risk. Risk had retired early from Lowe’s almost a year ago at the age of 62, and had been a regular at the tavern for over ten years.
“There!” York exclaimed as he slammed a piece onto the table. “Let me see you block it now! I’ve been counting the rocks, too.”
“Gimme a minute, asshole. ‘Useful’ it’s your turn.”
“Why you gotta be such a foul mouth?” interrupted Reverend Pritchett.
“Your ears sensitive today, Preacher?” asked Risk.
Ulysses Fishinghawk played his choice of dominoes and remained silent. Now it was the pastor’s turn. As he laid his domino on the table, he smiled at York and said with a chuckle, “When you get home tonight, I hope your mother runs out from under the porch and bites you on the leg!”
No sooner than the retired Baptist preacher had made his play, Woodrow Risk slapped his domino onto the table to emphasize his prowess, smiled and said nothing.
It was York’s turn again. He had passed a few rounds earlier and now had three dominoes remaining in his hand. The others had two each, except for Risk who now had just one. York sat in silence searching for a place to play one of his three pieces.
Behind Louie, just above eye level, the television was on CNN News. The news crawler across the bottom of the screen, ignored by everyone in the bar, read, “Security was tightened at the White House today after the dying words of a former State Department official warn the president, “You’re next.”
Ron Gold broke the silence with a question, “What was Abe’s friend’s name? You remember the man he brought in here with him last year? The young dude.”
Fishinghawk was the first to speak up, “He didn’t say did he? Abe introduced him as his friend, ‘Jay.’”
“Goddamn you Risk! You old son-of-a-bitch! You blocked the game again!”
“He sure did,” intoned the pastor.
“Who did what?” asked the Native American.
“Abe’s friend mentioned his last name and ‘Risky’ here done blocked the game.”
“What was it?” Gold asked from his seat at the bar.
“A double six,” replied York, upset with the turn of events in the domino game.
“No, no, the man’s name, you idiot!” Gold was beginning to get irritated now.
Ulysses “Useful” Fishinghawk, a retired English professor and writer smiled at the confusion of the conversation and decided to contribute to it, “I didn’t think Abe’s friend was an idiot.”
Gold glared at him from the bar.
Louie the bartender joined the fray now, “It reminded me of that football player, the kid from Florida that’s in the pros now.”
“Tebow?” asked the pastor.
“Yeah, something like that,” replied Louie. “Any of you guys going to buy another drink or y’all just gonna play dominoes all afternoon?”
“Why do you want to know?” asked Abe. The aging African-American with thinning, short white hair had walked in and heard the last part of the conversation. He was wiping the lens of his glasses while his eyes adjusted to the dim lighting inside the bar.
Louie’s reply was blunt, “Because I can’t stay open if nobody drinks!”
“It must be five-thirty, Abe’s here,” commented Risk.
York looked up and added, “Yeah, and as usual, he’s just catching the tail end of the conversation.”
Gold smiled and said, “Well, that’s about the only tail old Abe’s getting any of these days!” and they all laughed, including Abe.
Abe repeated his question looking at Thomas Pritchett, the pastor, “Why do you want to know Jay’s last name?”
Pritchett answered, “Ain’t me wants to know.” and pointed at Gold who was smiling behind his upturned glass of beer.
When he lowered his glass, he had a foam mustache and said, “I watched an interesting program last night on PBS.”
In a somewhat irritated voice, York spoke up and reminded everyone, “You already said that exact same thing!”
Risk, who was sitting next to York elbowed him and said,”If you got that good a memory, why can’t you block the game yourself — or stop me from doing it?”
York turned to Louie and waved with his index finger up in the air in a circular motion, “My round this time, Louie.”
Louie began to get the drinks together and Abe took a seat at the bar next to Ron, the eldest member of the group of men whose first names matched former Presidents of the United States. In the background, the clatter of ivory dominoes rattling around on the table announced the beginning of another hand. No one kept score, at least not on paper.
Louie made eye contact with Abe and asked, “Usual?”
“Yeah, Louie, draft Miller Lite,” Abe was consistent.
Gold poked fun and asked, “Abe, why don’t you ever drink a Colt .45?”
“Ron, the last time I had any of that shit was when I drank some with a pork chop at your bar mitzvah!” and the two men with common African heritage shared a laugh. Abe Region took a long slow sip of his beer and looked at the bartender with concern as he asked, “Louie, what was the guy’s name?”
“You mean the creep that threatened us?” Louie clarified, “He didn’t have a name.”
“No, the Dean Rusk guy.”
“Simon Franklin,” Louie confirmed.
“That’s it. He’s dead. I heard about it at work today.”
Dr. George Ridge snapped his cell phone shut and said, “There’s more to it men. I just heard from a doctor friend of mine. Franklin got attacked at the bus stop the other night after leaving here. Died a few hours later in the emergency room at Kene—.”
An explosion in the street ended the conversation.
All was dark inside the Louisville Tavern.
Chapters of the serial are published on Saturday, and Sunday.
You can learn more about FCEtier’s novel, The Tourist Killer, on Amazon.