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Page Turning in The Hammer

I was recently invited to attend the Page Turner Panel at The Westdale Theatre as part of the 2021 Hamilton Film Festival. Also on the bill were Colin Chilvers and Aaron Lam. Colin is an Oscar winning SPX artist who’s recently penned and auto-biography : Believing A Man Can Fly. Aaron co-authored this book as well as one of his own delving into the world of soundtracks for action cinema. Many thanks to Nathan Fleet for planning and hosting the event; and all the folks who came out:)

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Crawls, Festivals, & Radio

Hey folks, just a quick update on all thing “hardboiled”. Writing is a little difficult as I broke my wrist a week back, and the plaster cast has mostly mobilized my left hand. But I am slowly on the mend, so I will hopefully get back to my more regular writing schedule soon.

In the meantime, I’ve been busy planning to attend a couple of upcoming events. Friday October 15th, I will be at the inaugural Book Crawl in Hamilton, ON. Modelled on the popular Art Crawl, this event will feature 30+ local authors selling their books along the very funky Ottawa Street business district. Come on out and say hi, and grab a copy of When The Luck Runs Dry if you find yourself in The Hammer on the 15.:)

A couple weeks later, I’ll be at another event in Hamilton. This time I’ll be part of the Page Turner panel, an event programmed as part of the long-running Hamilton Film Festival. I’ll be there along with Aaron Lam and Colin Chilvers. Chilvers is an Academy Award winning SPX specialist with a long and varied career that began back in the late 60’s when he worked on The Battle of Britain. It should be a fun and entertaining afternoon at The Westdale Cinema, and we’ll be doing a book signing afterwards, so hope to see you there. Details and links for advance tickets can be found at: https://www.hamiltonfilmfestival.com

Recently I caught up with James Tennant, host of Get Lit on 93.3 CFMU-FM. We chatted for about 30 minutes and the on-air broadcast should be late October. It will then be available via podcast. Here is a link for the show page and archived shows, and I’ll update the blog when the on-air date approaches. https://cfmu.ca/shows/9-get-lit

More updates soon-till then think good thoughts!

Stephen

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Fallen Angels: a work in progress.

Hey folks , I hope everyone is well. I had a few days in Hamilton, and attended the Authors in the Park event. The rain held off just enough to squeeze the sale in on Aug 1 .Then the heavens opened to unleash a torrent of rain and hail. I had my friend Jane Smythe at my table with her hand-made jewellery, and I made a brisk trade selling copies of When The Luck Runs Dry. Thanks to Hamilton: Our History for organizing the event and Hamilton Film Festival for the loaner of a table and chairs.

I am back in Montreal now, enjoying the weather, and working away at the sequel novel: Fallen Angels. If you have read: When The Luck Runs Dry, or watched the film: Lucky 7, you will recognize some characters and settings in the follow-up book. It is still in first-draft stage, but I’ll paste in a tease scene. Enjoy!

Stephen

The Big Top. It’s an old greasy spoon breakfast and lunch emporium in the core of Hamilton. Down at the corner of Main and Sherman. It used to be a go-to spot for late night partiers who had stayed out until the next dawn. Back when the city was a hub of bars, nightclubs, theatres and mobsters. All of that has pretty much disappeared now by the 1990’s, except the mobsters part. Although after Lucano got bumped off last year, they have been laying low. But they were still there, if you looked for them.

The restaurant was joined by a coin laundry business on the bottom floor of this old mid-sized building; with a few floors of low-rent flats above. Across the street is a large newer generic drug store, one of a chain that seem to be sprouting all over the province. I can see a few folks straggling to and from the small parking lot that runs parallel to Sherman along the side of the pharmacy. I have a clear view from my small banquette halfway down the dining area of the Big Top. Over to my right is the old cash box and countertop dining area, with the fry cook further back. He is toiling away now scraping with a stone at the stainless-steel fryer top.

It is 10:00 so it’s a bit of a lull time here for the staff. A good time to show up for a bite in my humble opinion. I haven’t eaten much of my Big Breakfast Plate, however. Other that most of the stack of pancakes, even with the fake maple syrup drowning them in a pool of sticky sweetness.

I catch the eye of my waitress; Eileen I think her name is. She may have worked here since this place opened it’s hard to tell. She looks the same as when I first would start coming here on the occasional day, we would skip out on some afternoon classes at Cathedral High School. We’d either come here and hang out or wander down to Papa’s Billiards on Charlotte Street; there we would shoot a few games of snooker and maybe munch on a cheeseburger and fries at the old stainless-steel counter, spinning around on the stools in a never-ending circle of personal amusement.

But today, stool spinning is the furthest thing from my mind. What I need is a refill on the dark swill of coffee they serve here. The bullshit with Brian had kept us up late in the night, but I had arisen early enough anyways. I left Julia to keep sleeping and snuck off down the street to sort out my thoughts. I manage now to catch the eyes of Eileen as she if prepping coffee machines for the lunch rush in an hours’ time. She grabs a carafe and hustles over and tops up my mug. She pulls the Hamilton Spectator that is protruding out of her apron pocket, and places it in front of me. It looks like it’s already been passed to a few customers that morning.

Eileen: “All the news that’s fit to print.”

She walks away and I sip the scalding hot brew, pushing my plate of food aside as I open the front section of the paper in front of me. The selection of news is the usual gripes about how hard done by the city was and the pronouncements of entitled smallminded city councillors, some who have been in power ad-nauseum as this town had no term limits for politicians. Or mobsters. It seems they’ve been around even longer; except they could be replaced. By the barrel of a gun.

But read on I do, even settling for a few moments on the obituary column. But that’s not somewhere I want to dwell to long, so I decide on a read of a lengthy analysis on The Ticats early exit from the quarterfinals in the CFL playoffs last weekend. There will be no Grey Cup parade in steel-town this November it seems, and there is much handwringing and whining in the sports column to make some drama out of it.

It is an amusing read, and it’s only in the back recesses of my mind that I acknowledge hearing the entrance door squeak and footsteps approach my table. But I do hear the vinyl seat cushion strain under the weight of someone sitting down opposite me. I peak around the side of the newspaper to see Harry. His right hand reaches out to grab a stray piece of toast, and he dips it in messily in the uneaten egg yolk on my plate. Harry munches away, eating the toast. He grimaces and looks up now at me.

Harry: “The yolk’s a little runny, wouldn’t you say? “

I have no answer for him. as he takes another piece of toast and sneers at it. He looks over to the side of the tabletop and grabs a bottle of HP Sauce. He proceeds to dump a generous dollop on my plate and dips the toast. Harry smiles now as he eats it. Now he grabs my coffee mug and inspects it and sneers. He dips his finger in it. He looks towards the counter and waves a hand at Eileen, catching her eye.

Harry: “My friend’s coffee’s gone cold… “

Eileen walks over with the coffee carafe. She fills my cup and turns to leave. Harry puts his hand on her arm stopping her. He motions to the plate of milk containers on the table.

Harry: “And he doesn’t want this milk anymore, he’d like some cream.”

Eileen retracts her hand from Harry’s grip and her smile turns into a sneer as she looks at Harry while taking cream containers from her smock and dumping them on top on the milk.

Eileen: “Anything else your friend would like?”

Harry “Yeah. He forgot to order a side of sausage and toast. White toast lightly buttered and jam-lots of jam. Just put it on the bill for him.”

Eileen shakes her head and withdraws, while Harry mixes cream into my cup of coffee. He drinks from it and stares at the outside headlines of the Spectator which I am still trying to read

Harry: “Lots of bad news in the old rag this morning friend? “

I ignore him and keep reading. If Harry is here for a reason, I’m sure I’ll find out soon enough. We sit there is silence for a few minutes, then Eileen returns with the plate of sausage and toast and places it in front of me while I move the newspaper aside. Harry intercepts the plate as it hits the surface, and he slides it over to himself.

Harry: “All that bad news in the paper upset his stomach, gave him a little indigestion. Better just leave that here till his stomach settles down.”

Eileen: “Maybe it isn’t the news, maybe it’s the company he’s keeping.”

Harry laughs.

Harry: “I’ll let him know! Oh, and he could use a clean knife and fork when you got a moment sweetheart.”

Harry winks at Eileen and her sneer is now turning into a scowl. Or maybe it’s the other way around? Either way, she is unimpressed with Harry’s demeanour to say the least, and she grabs the cutlery from the next booth and places if loudly down next to him. She turns quickly on her heel, but Harry is non-plussed as he now digs into the food. I go back to the Spectator and start to read an article that makes me chortle lightly.

Harry: “Something funny Lucky?”

Me: “Yeah. I’m just reading this article about some guy that croaked last week. Tripped on his way down the stairs in a Chinese restaurant late one night. The owner thought he had skipped out on the bill, so didn’t go looking for him. The cleaner found him the next day. “

Harry: “That’s funny? “

I lower the newspaper now all the way down and gaze at Harry.

Me: “Yeah. It’s funny to think one minute you’re sitting enjoying some food in a place, and the next you’re lying stiff at the bottom of a stairwell with a broken neck.”

Harry: “Staircase is a few yards away. How you figure you can pull it off. “

Me: “Maybe you’re right. Guy could just as easily choke on a sausage though, couldn’t he?”

Harry: “Heard that happened to some gear- box in Toronto last year. What do
you expect trying to eat something down all in one bite?”

Harry laughs at his own sick humour.

Harry: “Kind of like the Andreoli brothers last year, no? They sure bit off more than they could
chew; didn’t they?”

Harry laughs again, and I lift the newspaper back up. But not far enough to stop me seeing him he begin to pick his teeth with a matchbook. He has downed that breakfast in record time it seems.

Harry: “Funny the stuff that don’t make it into the paper. Like some pissed-up Irish copper hanging out with a crack-whore all night, and his dumb-ass brother busting in and messing up the joint.

I lower the newspaper again.

Me: “I should have put my complaint through the Better Business Bureau?”

Harry:” Look. I’m just a messenger. I got better things to do than hang around in a greasy spoon staring at your ugly mug. The Reverend wants to see you about it tonight at the Domenica-ok? “

Harry gets up to leave now and burps a rancid belch as he down the coffee. He wipes his mouth with the side of his hand and looks at me

Harry: “Don’t forget to leave a good tip when you leave. You know how much they pay people these places? Peanuts.”

Harry throws his match book on the table as Eileen glares in his direction. He makes his way through the front door and onto the sidewalk. I fold up the newspaper, and neatly place it on the outside of the table. I throw 30$ down on top of it, figuring that should more than cover the bill for the food and the stupidity of Hary’s impromptu appearance. I get up and walk out, and luckily Harry is nowhere to be seen so I can walk away with only the roar of car traffic to accompany my thoughts.

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Authors in the Park

Gore Park 1860

Hey folks all is good here at HardBoiled. I am working away slowly on the follow-up novel: Fallen Angels. I’ve been attending some writing workshops with the Quebec Writers Federation as I am now relocating full-time to Montreal.

I am in Hamilton this weekend , and will be participating in a cool event featuring local writers called: Authors In The Park. The show takes place Aug 1 from 1-4 pm and will feature a plethora of local talent hawking their wares, including your truly.

Swing on by this Sunday and say hi; and pick-up a signed copy of :When The Luck Runs Dry. The event takes place in Hamilton’s historic Gore Park, steps away from the Hunter Street Go-Transit station. Hope to see you there:)

Stephen

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Read All About It!

Things are chugging away slowly but surely here at Hard-Boiled. We picked up some nice press in the Hamilton area recently. A few weeks go I spoke with Hammer D20 about the new book: “When The Luck Runs Dry” for Cable 14. If you missed the show live, this link will take you to a podcast of the show w host Stevan Sobot: https://cable14now.com/video-on-demand/video/?videoId=5760

This week we have a nice feature in the Hamilton Community News/Dundas Star courtesy of Cara Nickerson: https://www.hamiltonnews.com/community-story/10389549-former-dundas-filmmaker-stephen-hayes-debuts-gritty-first-novel/?fbclid=IwAR2VEd9xgq5ShB1QPZASF-FHT6DHFeJuiYSCnGdyaY3f87kMDs4W_7J4I1Y

We picked up another outlet as well for the books: Cafe Domestique in Dundas, On has signed copies ready to go. Just ask the ever friendly Krys Hines and he will fill you in: https://cafedomestiique.com

Books are still available at The James Street Bookseller: https://www.jamesstreetbooks.ca and Paisley Cafe: https://paisleycoffeehouse.com so happy reading! E-book and film links for I Tunes are in the menu above. Oh and here is the article courtesy of Cara Nickerson & The Dundas Star:

Former Dundas filmmaker Stephen Hayes debuts gritty first novel
Cara Nickerson
Dundas Star News
Monday, May 10, 2021
Author Stephen Hayes’ debut novel, ‘When the Luck Runs Dry’, begins with a literal bang. A mobster has been shot dead on one of the piers near Hamilton’s Stelco plant, and the main character has been framed for his murder.

The gritty, self-published neo-noir novel is an adaption of Hayes’ 2012 film ‘Lucky 7’. The film, like the novel, is set entirely in Hamilton, which the former Dundas resident said was the perfect place to tell his tale.

“I thought Hamilton made a great setting, and had a great background visually,” he said. “The crime setting is also quite rich; maybe not in a good way, but there’s a lot of material there.”

In 2012, Hayes took ‘Lucky 7’ to several international festivals and was working on a sequel script, ‘Fallen Angels’, when he was in a severe accident and lost his left leg.

“It knocked me out of doing much for over a year or two,” Hayes said. “After my accident, I didn’t go back to work in film. I retired from being a technician, when I had those life-altering injuries.”

Hayes turned his focus to writing. He began working on several different scripts before he decided to adapt ‘Lucky 7’ into a novel. Hayes found that moving the story from a film to a novel gave him more creative freedom.

“We did a two-hour crime movie, but there was actually only one gunshot on screen,” Hayes said. “It costs money to do even one gunshot, with insurance and police you have to have on duty and special effects …”

Those barriers don’t exist when you tell a story through a novel, he said. However, Hayes discovered that getting his book into print has its own challenges when he submitted his manuscript to publishing houses.

“Some will never get back to you,” Hayes said. “Some might take two years get back to you.”

Hayes didn’t wait to hear back from any of the publishing houses and pushed forward on his own.
“Overall, it was a pretty good experience, but it was a total learning curve from doing a movie,” Hayes said.

Other than commissioning an artist from Hamilton’s Dundurn Press to design the cover, Hayes has done all the work for his first book himself, taking it to the presses and has been doing all the promotional and distribution work.

With his first novel on the shelf, Hayes is looking toward his next project: converting three of his scripts into novels, including ‘Fallen Angels’, the sequel to ‘When the Luck Runs Dry’.

“I want to move on,” Hayes said. “I got all the work done. Now it’s time to get it out there, work on promoting it and then move on to the next one.”

Hayes’ first novel is currently available in Hamilton at Paisley Café and James Street Bookseller.

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Spreading the word. Literally.

Hey folks, I hope everyone is well. It has been a busy few weeks for your humble author. Between vaccine jabs, medical appointments, and transitioning to a new residence in Montreal it has been difficult to keep the blog updated.

I squeezed in an interview with Hammer D20 that is live streaming this weekend, and I will tell you more about that (and hopefully provide an archive link) on the next blog.

We have a couple of shops selling print copies of : When The Luck Runs Dry in Hamilton, ON. I hope to have some more outlets, including some in Montreal in the future. Alternately, you can read the book by clicking above in the menu; links for e-pub platforms, mail-order service, and for the film LUCKY 7 (2012) all all there for your perusal.

Our friends over at the Paisley Cafe in Westdale have been doing a swift trade selling copies and cappuccinos, many thanks to Sarah (and crew) for helping get the title out! https://paisleycoffeehouse.com

We also are in stock at the very cool James St. Booksellers in downtown Hamilton. Contact Monique for curb-side pick-up of a hard copy and take a peak at the very cool interior that is one of the main locations of the Apple TV Series: GHOSTWRITER: https://www.jamesstreetbooks.ca

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E-Book Release & Print Pre-Orders

The E-book release of: When The Luck Runs Dry is active as of March 17, 2021. You can find it on Apple Books, Kobo, and Kindle by clicking on the menu at the top of the home page. There is also a menu to contact us to pre-order a print copy of the novel, click on Print for the details. As well there is a Watch menu if you are interested in the original Neo-Noir film: Lucky 7 (2012).

I hope to have some news on retail outlets in the Ontario and Quebec region that may carry the title this Spring; more to come on that later. Thanks for the awesome support folks, and I will have another update in the near future. Cheers, for now!

Stephen

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E-BOOK Pre-Orders are AVAILABLE Now

Hey folks, things are progressing along with the upcoming publication of : When The Luck Runs Dry. The official E-Book launch is March 17th, 2021. A nice St Patrick’s Day gift for everyone it seems. Pre-orders are available now. Just go to the menu at the top of the main page for the E-Book and a movie link for the original film: Lucky 7. A date for the paperback print edition of the book is still being sorted out, as well as some kind of “official launch” in these pandemic times. Also to come, are details on retail outlets in Southern Ontario and the Montreal region, so stayed tuned:) Any other enquires can be directed to me at: shayes7@protonmail.com or browse around on the blog here to find out, more and to hunt down our social media links. Cheers for now!

Stephen

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Sneak Peek II

So, here is a sneak peek of the cover art from the upcoming novel: When The Luck Runs Dry. It’s a modern twist on a 50’s pulp detective art work style from artist Jeremy Bruneel. We hope to have titling and typesetting finished this month, and a publishing date sometime in March which is TBA.

Artist: Jeremy Bruneel

I’ve had enquiries about the original 2012 film Lucky 7 that the book is based on. It is available currently to view through our distributor Factory Films. You can’t read the book yet, but you can view the film here on I-Tunes NA: https://factoryfilmstudio.com/portfolio-item/lucky-7/ And click on the Contact link on the top of the page to get a hold of us and for our social media links. Until next time, think good thoughts. And here is another sample from When The Luck Runs Dry :

We bundle ourselves into Julia’s car and head out towards Main Street and St. Columns’. That’s an old church in the core of the city, the original Catholic cathedral for the Irish of Corktown and the surrounding diocese. I am well acquainted with this place from growing up and being forced to attend every week (sometimes more, depending on the dates of certain important religious events, plus funerals, baptisms and weddings, you name it, and it was all an excuse to be dragged off for some religious indoctrination).

I watch Julia prepping her music notes and looking up hymns. She is facing me, oddly enough, though I am at the back of the loft. She has a nifty little rear-view mirror so she can see what the priest is doing on the alter when the service starts.

And speaking of starting, Julia now hits the keys and pedals and the old pipes built into the church groan to life and blast out their sound. I’m right beside them and figure this isn’t the best seat now that the music has started. I go to move forward, and something falls from my jacket with a clatter. God dam it’s that cell phone, and I never thought to turn it on.

So, I pick it up and take another seat, turning it on and putting it back in my breast pocket. Moments later it starts buzzing, humming, and vibrating so I take it back out and navigate the screen slowly, ineptly. Looks like there are voicemails, but I have no idea how to retrieve them and I can’t bother Julia now. Inspecting the gadget further, I can see that I also have text messages. “Call me asshole,” it says when I scroll down. There are 4 of these, with a phone number. Must be the Reverend. Time to relocate outside, it seems.

I stand down the side of the church, near the old parochial house, where the priests live, and their maids keep everything in tip top shape. But they’ve been rocked by scandals of sex abuse the last decade, so the recruits for the priesthood have dwindled to a trickle. So, most priests living here now hail from Poland, Latin America or Africa these days, where the grip of Church authority still holds strong and where people may be more ready to join as a way to somehow escape a never-ending cycle of poverty and political instability.

I dial the number, but it’s not Reverend who answers, it’s the mug, Harry. And he is in a pissy, sarcastic mood from the sound of his voice.

Harry: “So, you got the message finally?”.
Me: “No. I just thought I’d check with you and see how the jaw was.”
I am met with silence on the other end for a few moments.
Harry: “Be at Sam Lawrence Park at 10:30. You got that?”
I answer in the affirmative.
Harry: “Oh, one more thing there Lucky. Go fuck yourself.”

The line clicks dead, and I chuckle. Not much of a poet, that Harry, but then again that’s not really a job requirement in his line of work. And maybe I just needed to get to know him better and see if he had a more multi-layered personality. But I have my doubts.

I decide some exercise in in order, so I walk down East Ave. and across Stinson to Wentworth. Here there are five hundred or so steps up the side of the mountain. I huff and puff and wheeze my way up the stairs, swearing to quit smoking all along the ascent. But I make it up in silence to Mountain Brow Road, along which I wander a block further and end up at Concession Street. This is an older business district built in the 1930s along the edge of the escarpment. I walk west past the quiet storefronts and shops and end up coming straight into the top of Sam Lawrence Park. I look around the empty spots as I stand in the parking area, and there, off by the pathway, is the Reverend, with Harry in tow, in the distance and leaning on a railing. His back is facing me as he looks out over the lower city and the industrial stacks further out— past which are the Skyway and Lake Ontario, and on a clear day, the metropolis of Toronto.

I walk up beside him and lean over the railing as well. Reverend looks at me and reaches into his jacket and pulls out a flask. He unscrews it and takes a slug, then looks at his watch.

Reverend: “Didn’t think you were coming Lucky. You got a busy schedule today? Think you can still slot us in?”
You could cut the sarcasm in his voice with a knife.
Me: “Had to go to church, Reverend”.
Reverend almost snorts whiskey out his nose and chortles.
Reverend: “Church? Looking for guidance from above were ya? So, what did I miss?”
I look at him and shake my head.
Me: “Oh, the usual shtick. You know, life and death and how to get your sorry ass to Heaven.”
Reverend looks pensive now and turns to stare off to the horizon.
Reverend: “Getting dead is easy to arrange and there’s plenty of ways to pull it off. But Heaven, there’s only one way to get there.”
My curiosity is piqued now, so I and ask him what that is. He turns and looks me in the eyes.
Reverend: “Through the Pope, you fucking dummy!”

Reverend breaks out into a hearty laugh at my expense, then takes another drink from the mickey. He looks at me and passes the flask and I take a cursory drink from the rotgut inside.
A moment passes and the Reverend motions to the vista spread out before us.

Reverend: “Just look at that city down there, all laid out for ya. Anything you want, right there. Ya just gotta reach out and grab it with both hands and hold the fuck on tight. Coming up here sometimes I feel like a king in his castle looking down on his domain.”
Me: “Got big plans for yourself, do you?”

Reverend breaks out of his reverie and is now looking annoyed. He takes the flask back and deposits it in his jacket. Looks like our little session is winding down now. He turns, looking at me face to face, his expression turning solemn.

Reverend: “Say, you’re on the level about this meeting with the old man, aren’t ya?
Me: “I could ask you the same thing now, couldn’t I?”

The Reverend turns back to look at the town laid out below, deep in thought. As for me, my own thoughts are of a ship stranded on a reef, slowly taking in water, but not yet aware that it’s sinking.

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Sneak Peek

Well folks I hope everyone is well. We are making progress on art work and typesetting for the up coming Neo-Noir novel: When The Luck Runs Dry. The project is nearing a completion date in mid February, with a launch date tentatively set for March 17, 2021. Due to the pandemic the launch may have to be a virtual event, depending on the Co-Vid situation here in Canada. I am working on the social media sites related to the book, which you can find in the About and Contact menus above. Otherwise I am slowly writing away at the sequel novel: Fallen Angels, and I had a nice workshop with the #QuebecWritersFederation on the weekend that helped move that along. So here is a small excerpt from the upcoming book and if you are chomping at the bit to read it, you can watch the 2012 film version on I Tunes in North America here: https://factoryfilmstudio.com/portfolio-item/lucky-7/

Excerpt:

I step out of the cab into the now brisk air, and the cab driver helps me gather my things from the trunk. He lays them on the sidewalk while I light another cigarette. He reaches into his breast pocket and pulls out a business card and hands it to me. –
Taxi Driver: “Anytime you need a lift, here’s my number. Big tippers like you don’t come around very often!”
He chuckles and slides back into his taxi, pulling away into the darkened night, leaving me alone with my thoughts.
The sign from Farleys’ is lit from the side swinging slightly in the wind. But another light is glowing now from the downstairs storefront, a neon red and violet glow from an illuminated cross in the window. Strange to see. This was and old hardware store last, I remember-—Millers’?
Now as I look up, I see a new sign: The Church of The Universal Prophet. Jesus. You can thank the tax-free status of churches for all these store-front operations. Usually run by some crackpot or another—or some Mafia clan doing some old school money laundering. I try and peer through the drawn shades, but the view is obscured. Yet my ears can make out the sounds of an electric church organ filtering out onto the street. Sounds like an old school Protestant hymn from way back. Well, to my untrained ear at least.
But duty calls, and I turn toward the doorway to the right of the building and open the door. Farley’s is a strange old building, and the main oddity of it is that the pub is located on the upper floor. Many an inebriated patron has taken a tumble down this flight of stairs over the years, but no casualties so far—that I know of, that is. Other than a few livers, but those are a self-inflicted wound.
As I open the door, I hear the organ music from the church being overpowered by some Irish folk rock emanating from upstairs. The Irish—the Blacks of Europe. “No Dogs or Irishmen need apply, etc.” No longer: once shunned like the Italians in throughout North America, now everyone runs out to drink green beer and knows all the words to every song by U2. Kind of funny really. And the music only gets louder as I ascend the stairs.
I round the corner at the top of the stairs and enter a time capsule. The music and lights and pool tables and bar stools: they are all just as I remember them. The two guys tending bar are familiar as well, except a few years older. They’re my brothers, Allan and Brian, and the barfly at the end of the bar—he is still here as well: Alex Quigley. It was Quigley who first notices me standing silhouetted in the doorway, as I drop by duffel bag to the floor.
Quigley: “Well. If it isn’t Lucky 7; like Lazarus back from the dead!”
Lucky 7. That was nickname bestowed on me at a young age, being the 7th kid in a brood of 8. The only one younger than me was Frankie. I was deemed to be the one to bring good fortune upon the family, being the 7th born, but the only luck I seem to have brought was bad. Or so it may seem up to now anyways.
And, just now, my luck seems to not be taking too much of a positive spin either, as my brothers catch sight of me and advance from behind the bar with a mix of shock and anger in their eyes. Allan stands back while Brian advances forward blocking my path.
Brian: “Jesus Fucking Christ.”
Not the best wording for a conversation starter I think, but before I can reply, a flash of fist rises from below and a powerful pain shocks my jaw. And then the lights go out. For me anyways. Some homecoming.

Photo Credit: Sabrina Armani