Upstate Girl

by Terence Wynne

Harry thought he would quietly slip out of the house for a pint or two at Yellowhook, the pub down the block. Unemployment checks were about to run out. Neither he nor his wife and daughter had any insurance. Tough days in Brooklyn.

Patrick O’Hara was standing at the bar, with a pile of one-dollar bills before him. Patrick was the usher at Holy Angels church where Harry attended now and then. He was a widower in his late 70s and Harry and he had shared pints before.  Harry apprised him of the current situation and took a stool beside Patrick.

“Having no luck, are you lad?” said Patrick. “Have a pint of Bluepoint to take off the edge.”

Danielle, a Norwegian, French, and Italian beauty smiled and gave him a warm greeting as she poured the pint. Bayridge had been a Norwegian stronghold a century ago and there were still a few residents of Norwegian descent. Harry had to admit to himself, it was quite a combination of good looks, smarts, and goodwill. After she handed over the pint, she went back to chatting with two ironworkers at the corner, who were doing shots. They had the name of their union on their sweatshirts and had thick Brooklyn accents.

“Have you spoken with Father Damian at the church?” said Patrick. “The church helps parishioners find employment all the time.”

“I’m still trying to work my network,” said Harry. “Unfortunately, most of them are unemployed as well. The corporate world doesn’t exactly open up its arms to you when you reach your fifties.”

Harry slowly noticed a bespectacled blonde at the other end of the bar. She was fervently reading and delivering texts on her cell phone. She must have been a few decades younger than him. She looked a bit out of place at this blue-collar watering hole.

“Now there is a cute one, “said Patrick. “I would say she is a Mercedes Benz. Danielle would be a Lexus.”

“I’m sure they would appreciate the brand designations you’ve assigned to them Patrick,” said Harry.

One of the ironworkers spotted the blonde and came over to her, slightly strutting, his face a bit blanched from the shots. “Everyone has their story,” he said to her. “What’s yours?”  She looked him square in the eye and told him she was waiting for someone. “You look like a big executive or something special, “ he said. She paused to reconsider and then they started a conversation. Harry could only hear pieces of it. She was from Binghampton, upstate New York, and had come down to be a teacher in Brooklyn. The kids were tough and didn’t listen to her. The parents weren’t always available to talk to. She seemed frustrated as she unspooled her tale to the ironworker. He listened patiently and ordered drinks for her and him. The other ironworker came over and joined in the conversation.

“Hey, Harry! She’s from upstate just like you,” said Patrick. “Why don’t you use your charm and give her a go?”

“First of all, Patrick, with all due respect, I’m married,” said Harry. “Secondly, I’m not exactly a Mercedes Benz myself! I’m old enough to be her father.”

“I’m old enough to be her grandfather, “ said Patrick. “Maybe I’ll go over there myself.”

“Those two ironworkers will not like that, Patrick,” said Harry. “They look like they could have fun bashing our heads in.”

But something inside Harry stirred. Why not just say a few words to her on the way to the restroom. We upstaters have to stick together. He made his way towards the trio. He was a bit scared. It’s true, he still had increments of charm, but he was well into his fifties. She and the ironworkers were half his age.

“Hey, I hear you’re from upstate New York,” said Harry. “I came down here from Syracuse in 1982.”

Her face lit up and she gave him a radiant smile. “People don’t realize how tough is to get a job upstate these days,” she said.

“I think you’ll find the people of Brooklyn very friendly once they get to know you,” said Harry as he made his way to the restroom.

“Whose says we’re friendly?” said one of the ironworkers.

“I read a book about the Brooklyn Dodgers, “ said Harry. “Pee Wee Reese, who was from the south, lived in Bayridge and came to love the people in this neighborhood.”

“Why don’t you talk to Danielle about Pee Wee?” said the ironworker, his face getting redder with each coming second. “I’m sure she’d love to hear about your pee wee”

Harry bid her adieu and proceeded to the men’s room. The ironworkers were husky and all ready to escalate.  And his wingman Patrick would be of no use if they did. When he returned, the blonde was sitting at a table with an African American gentleman, who looked like he might be a teacher. The Ironworkers were back at their previous spot at the bar, flirting with Danielle.

“Looks like you still have it, the old Irish charm with the upstate girl, but not so much with the fellows,” said Patrick with an impish grin.

“It comes out now and then, Patrick,” said Harry. “Would you have helped me if the goons wanted to mix it up?”

“Indeed I would –I would have asked Danielle to bring some ice from behind the bar to press on a black eye and any bruises, but if you needed mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, you would have been in deep shit.”

“If it came to that, I would hope you would be friend and just let me die.”

“Of course.  You would be a goner. But I must say, though, I would miss you dearly.”

“Sounds to me like you want to buy me another beer.”

“We speak the same language. Set this bum up with another Bluepoint, Danielle. He can pay me back once he gets a job. Which, at the rate he is going,  will probably be never.”


About the Author:

Terence Wynne is a freelance cartoonist whose cartoons have appeared worldwide. He lives in Camillus, New York with his wife, Noghma, his daughter, Gabrielle, and his mother, Marianne. His work includes sight gags, comic strips, children’s books, political cartoons, and caricatures. He devotes his time to cartooning, charity, golf, and softball.


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