by a contributor
Because the Brick. Because the ice machine was acting up. Because it was still early and the place was dead, except for Leroy Jackson in his customary spot at the end of the bar. Because old Leroy would sit there with his newspaper spread out and two sips left in the bottom of his glass and tell anyone who happened to come in off the street just to set a spell and wait, because O’Malley would be back in a jiffy with a couple of bags of ice from the corner store. Because who would need a drink so bad at that hour that they couldn’t set a spell and wait a little bit for it? Because the ceiling fans and window blinds kept everything cool and shady in O’Malley’s place, that was for sure, and it was nice just to come in out of the hot sun and set yourself down at the bar for a bit, take a load off. Because you wouldn’t have to wait but a few minutes. Because it was just the ice machine acting up again. Because O’Malley wouldn’t pay to have anybody fix anything that he could usually take care of himself, like the side door that wouldn’t stop banging shut in the cross breeze, that was just as easy to prop open with a brick from the alleyway. Because who in their right mind would go so far for a few lousy dollars? Because what kind of fool couldn’t get a cash register open without smashing it all to hell? Because old Leroy couldn’t hardly swat a fly, but he might could tell what some crazy fool looked like. Because he was in his customary spot on a hot afternoon. Because the brick was at hand, and O’Malley was not. Because the newspapers couldn’t soak up all the blood.
Jason Newport received an MFA in creative writing (fiction) from the University of North Carolina Wilmington. His nonfiction has most recently appeared on Bookforum.com, and his short fiction and poetry have appeared in many fine journals. He is an English instructor in the Southwestern College Professional Studies program and a contributing editor for the Chautauqua journal.
See Jasons’s list of 5 Things You Should Read tomorrow in our ongoing contributors’ series.