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The Night the Lights Went Out at the Tattersall Tavern

By D.C. Brod

It was the end of an era. It was the beginning of a new one. Every columnist who had anything remotely to do with sports, and many who didn't, had written about it. And almost everyone I talked to those days had an opinion to voice. So there was really very little new to say about the first time the Cubs would play under lights in Wrigley Field. I just knew that taking an afternoon off work to catch a three o'clock game wasn't going to be the same knowing I could go to one in the evening. Progress had robbed me of my favorite guilty pleasure.

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Photo by Will Byington
I was going to watch the game on the wide screen TV in the Tattersall Tavern. I couldn't imagine any other place to be. Sammy MacTavish, the guy who owned the place, was the self proclaimed "world's greatest Cubs fan." And although a lot of people could have contended for that title, Sammy would definitely have been a finalist.

I got there around six that night. They had predicted rain, but you couldn't tell by looking at the sky. It was blue and muggy, the way it had been all summer, trapping in the heat and keeping out the rain. A drop of sweat slid down my back as I stepped into the manufactured coolness of the bar. It felt wonderful.

There weren't any tables for two left, so I took up one for four. Ginny quickly found me and placed a fresh basket of popcorn on the table. "Well, McCauley, is this a scotch or a Guinness night?"

"Guinness. I've gotta go the distance." I looked around the tavern, which was rapidly reaching capacity. "See a lot of new faces tonight."

"Yeah," she said and continued in her mild drawl, "let's hear it for media hype."

"Media hype?" I feigned astonishment. "Media hype? Ginny, this is Americana, pure and simple. Apple pies, hot dogs, Chevrolets. Whatever."

She rolled her eyes. "I just hope we get through this night without someone puking on the floor."

I shook my head. "So young to be so bitter."

"I'm not kiddin'. I hate nights like this. You know, even when it's crowded, I usually know or I've seen most of the people before. And I'm here to tell you, this isn't the usual crowd."

I shrugged. "Just because it's packed?"

When she spoke again it was as though, preoccupied with the birth of her own theory, she hadn't heard me. "I'm not sure what it is. For example—" someone at a table nearby was hollering at Ginny to fill his drink order, and she gestured toward him "—that's rude. I'll get to the son of a bitch when I'm good and ready. And you see that older guy with all the gold chains and the floozy?" I glanced in that direction and noticed that the man she was referring to was apparently infatuated with Ginny's rear end. "That guy keeps putting his hands all over me when he's placin' his order. I'm a waitress, not some billy goat in a petting zoo."

I nodded solemnly, "I'd never confuse you with a goat, Ginny."

Download a PDF file to read the rest of D.C.'s story

D.C. Brod is the author of six mystery novels, including her most recent, Heartstone (Five Star, 2005). This story marks the first time Quint McAuley appeared in print; he went on to star in the novels Murder In Store, Error in Judgement, Masquerade in Blue, Brothers in Blood and Paid in Full. This story first appeared in the July, 1989 issue of Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine; it was the author’s first published story. D.C. will give a toast and read from her original work Wednesday, June 4 at the next Lovable Losers Literary Revue.

Posted on Friday, May 23, 2008 at 04:15PM by Registered CommenterLovable Losers Literary Revue in | Comments10 Comments

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