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... with my Nanowrimo Project anyway. Yesterday I Posted a link to their site as "proof" of my good intentions, but somebody of very delicate sensibilities apparently objected to the fact that the excerpt from my submission contained what might best be characterized as a "naughty" word having something to do with a natural bodily function, and the Post has disappeared into the virtually limitless confines of cyberspace.

So, as a public service, I herein present the entire first chapter of my Nanowrimo work with the "offending" word ****'d out.


by SB

Chapter 1, Mary


Imagine the most irratating voice you ever heard, stretch out the syllables and turn up the volume, and it might sound like Mary, coming into the bar at 11 AM for a glass of beer.

"Good morning Mary. You look especially nice today." says David, the consumate bartender.

David, who just recently became part owner of the old Twin Cities neighborhood bar and grill located on an edge of the old-moneyed part of the City, never has anything bad to say about anybody, and is, in fact, a master of the overuse of superlatives, but never mind. Actually, Mary is neither young, nor small, nor cute, and thus looks almost ridiculous enough in her pink jumper outfit with matching bows in her hair to make you think, if you'd never met her before, that she might be on her way to rehearsal for a dramatic production.

That would only be if you hadn't already heard her voice. Then there was no mistaking that Mary was in a category known in those days as "mildly retarded". She had a job at a local hardware store and lived on her own, but her mental age was probably more closely matched to her choice in clothing styles, say a 1940's vintage thirteen year old, than her actual current age in years.

But the other regular customers have known her forever, and David and the rest of young new ownership group from 200 miles to the north have quickly adapted. Being transplants from Minnesota's hard working, hard playing Iron Range they are quite familiar with eccentric people and bar culture.

Rumor had it that the new owners used money laundered from marijuana smuggling operations to buy the bar, which had previously had only two other owners since before Prohibition. Operating under an archaic Minnesota law that allowed it to serve what was known as a 3.2 beer, (less than the 3.5-5.0% alcohol content of regular domestic and imported beer), and offered typical burgers, fries, hotdogs and chili type fare from the cramped outdated kitchen behind the bar. The establishment promised no more than the thousands of other such small neighborhood landmarks everywhere that catered to locals and college students.

David, his closest friend from childhood, Dirty Larry, and Yank, native of a nearby Iron Range town, had all attended one of the nearby colleges, and were more or less drafted into service by the ostensive "real" owner, Brian, who was currently nearing completion of his second stint in prison for drug smuggling. The rumors concerning the source of funding for purchasing the bar were puposely never confirmed nor denied, since they gave the place a sort of outlaw cache attractive to the student clientele, but at the same time, due to the "Rangers" good nature exemplified so well by David, it remained non-threatening to the established neighborhood folks.

Besides Mary, who stopped for a glass of beer nearly every morning after visiting her friend Sister Cecilia at what was probably the only other location besides her workplace that figured into her life, there was always Fitz, a retired postman, seated at his regular table for a couple beers and a few games of cribbage, an Art, who though he lived just around the corner nobody had ever seen his wife. There was Red Ed, a well educated, mild mannered middle aged man with a tremendous red beard who seemed to have no real means of support, but once a week walked the considerable distance downtown with a briefcase, always refusing a ride even in the worst winter weather, and Frank and Frank, identical twin brothers who had inherited a small fortune, whose only apparent disbursements from such funds were directly deposited in the pinball machines in the bar's back room. (David decided it was easier to call them both by the same name than trying to tell them apart, and they didn't seem to mind even though I'm not sure either was really named Frank.)

Other possible morning customers included Jerry, the forlorn truck driver who had spent thirty years bemoaning the loss of his gradeschool sweetheart, "Pierre" a Viet Nam vet and electrician and his father, who was a big shot in city government and thus managed to keep his son on somebody's payroll while he loitered away his time drinking and gambling, and Big Bill and his ex-wife Gina, who had been contentious regulars as a couple, but had neglected to specify custody of their favorite place at the bar in divorce proceedings so they continued to show up at the same time to continue irritating each other.

Supplementing the locals were old friends of the owners who, upon finding themselves in the Cities for employment or educational purposes, preferred to spend their free time associating with persons of common geographic background whether they were currently sweeping floors in a machine shop or studying law.

Then there always the students from nearby school of law and several well known liberal arts schools, including a large contingent of Native Americans from the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota attending one of the schools under a special scholarship program and who found the ambience of the bar run by Iron Rangers to be condusive to their recreational habits.

David's outgoing personality was the glue that held the whole scene together. The other bartenders, including Donna, and ex-gymnist and holdover from the previous owner, and my old friend Berk, a displaced electrician, picked up and played off of David's enthusiasm. I had just shown up one day to visit Berk, and after deciding to stay a couple days ended up working behind the bar on a busy night, and staying at the house Berk, David and Dirty Larry rented a few blocks away.

Big changes for the buisness were anticipated upon Brian's return. Since I had nothing better to do, and had previously been involved in nerfarious business dealing with Brian before his periods of incarceration, I decided to stick around awhile and emerse myself in the culture of this metropolitan outpost of my home town.

The place already had a pretty good lunch and dinner trade, and the bar did a pretty steady business in spite of offering only 3.2% beer. The pinballs, pool and foosball tables in the back room were some of the busiest in town according to the vending company, and just the bar's share of the take from them paid most of the overhead bills.

By 11:45 the kitchen was prepped and ready to go, the bartenders and waitresses were poised, and customers from every walk of life began to stream in.

"Good byyyyyye Daaaaviiiiiid!" Mary is leaving for work.

"Good bye Mary. You be careful now." Shouts David as he pours a pitcher of draft beer, motions a party to an open booth, mentally checks the waitress positioning and looks for the first orders out for his customers eating at the bar.

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