Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Sneak peak: "Hannigan's Fight" - on sale now.

            Hannigan sat his elbows on the old, wooden bar. He could see himself through the amber bottles. His beard was full. Grey. He looked like Santa Claus. A starving Santa Claus. He smiled at his friend Mick behind the bar. Mick splashed another dose of Jameson’s into his glass.
            The Shannon Arms was crowded. Saturday night, so the college kids were there. Hannigan sighed and threw back the whiskey in front of him. It went down smoothly and landed with a thump in his subconscious.
            He was trying to ignore the argument going on at one of the tables. Everyone was trying to ignore it. It was getting harder. Hannigan craned his neck and got a quick glimpse of them in the mirror. Young. They were in their mid-twenties – maybe. The girl was dressed far too fancy for an old Irish bar. The boy was dressed in jeans and a wrinkled shirt. The kind you have professionally wrinkled. He oozed money. And he was getting louder.
            “You think you’re something, you stupid bitch? You’re nothing. After tonight, I will never see you again. And you won’t see me.”
            Her voice was soft.
            “It’s not over … I’ll …”
            His laugh was mean-spirited, an elbow to the ribs. He smiled at his friends leaning on a booth.
            “It’s over when I say it’s over, whore. I go back to my mansion, and you can go back to sucking dick at the club, and it will be like none of this ever happened. You’re nothing. You’re trash. I should never have associated with someone like you. You’re nothing but a gold-digging bitch. And that’s all you’ll ever be.”
            Hannigan felt the eyes on him. The regulars at the bar knew. He could also feel his jaw muscles tightening. Ah, well … another resolution broken. He flexed his fingers and stood up slowly. He was not a huge man, but his arms were knots of muscle. He was wearing work pants and an old plaid shirt. His face was not like Santa’s now.
            When he saw Hannigan, the boy looked up and smirked. Hannigan forced a smile. He was a big kid. He looked strong. He smelled strong. Like expensive cologne and money.
            “Evening, kids.”
            The girl had a gentle plea dancing in the corners of her eyes. The boy was like so many Hannigan had known. He was what happened when you never have to work. When everything is given to you and life is a continual party. He was gym-strong, but his hands looked soft.
            “Good evening, old man. Very polite. Now, please go back into your alcoholic hole, you old fuck.”
Hannigan felt the surge and smiled a little.
            “Well, here’s the thing, lad. This is my bar … our bar. My brothers on the rail and I consider this place home. We don’t like people disrespecting our home. And I sure as hell don’t like hearing someone talk to a woman like that. I sure don’t.”
            The boy stood up. He was several inches taller than Hannigan and broad shouldered. His skin was baby pink.
            “There are no women here. Just some old, drunk bitches and this whore I fed for a little while. I’m done with her now … as I was just explaining … she’s used up. She’s only fit for niggers and old faggots like you, now.”
            Hannigan looked into the boy’s blue eyes. Every muscle in his body ached for blood. He looked through the boy’s eyes and saw the privilege, the things that had been given to him. Things he did not deserve. Things that had turned him into a parasite. There was complete silence in the bar. Hannigan broke it.
            “Touch me.”
            “What the fuck did you just say, faggot?”
            “I said ‘touch me’ … push me, punch me, slap me … whatever it is that pathetic, pussy little rich boys like you do. Do it. Now.”
            The punch was loopy and wide, but Hannigan didn’t duck. He took it on the cheek and smiled at the boy. Then he drove a straight right into the boy’s face. It sent him sliding across the bar floor. He stood up slowly. Hannigan’s hands were by his side. The boy adopted a boxer’s stance and grimaced hate through his bloody teeth.
            “You just made the biggest mistake of your life, old man.”
            “Possibly …”
            The boy charged and Hannigan waited until just the right second to step aside. Momentum carried the boy almost to the door. He stood up fuming, laughter pounding in his ears. He reached for the holster at the small of his back, but someone behind him neatly plucked the gun from his hand. He stood, confused for a moment, then he charged again.
            This time Hannigan planted his feet and put everything he had into another straight right. Then a left jab. Then an uppercut that knocked the boy over a table. He stood up unsteadily.
            “We don’t have to keep this going … you can apologize and leave. We’ll make sure the lass gets home.”
            The boy blinked and shook his head. His nose was swollen and blood streamed down his face.
            “Fuck you.”
            He grabbed the girl roughly by the arm and pulled her up. Hannigan’s grip on his forearm was a vise. The boy’s friends were starting to look around nervously.
            “That wasn’t one of your options, son.”
            The kick surprised Hannigan. His ankle buckled a bit, but it surprised him more than anything. He’d given the boy a chance. A chance he was too stupid to take.
            The thick, rough fist that wasn’t holding onto the boy’s forearm smashed him in the ear. Blood began to trickle out. Hannigan grabbed the front of the designer shirt and hammered six hard lefts into the kid’s stomach. He let go and the boy fell – conscious, but unable to stand. Hannigan lifted him off the floor with one hand.
            “I know talking is going to be hard for a while. Hopefully, you can listen. You don’t talk to a woman – any woman – the way you spoke to this pretty girl here. And you don’t ever come back here. This is my bar. Your friends, who did an excellent job watching you get your ass beat, by the way, can drag you out. Next time I see you, the paramedics will take you out.”
            With a shove, Hannigan sent the boy sailing toward his friends. They held him up. They obviously did not know what to do. Hannigan took a step toward them, and they all flinched. Then they dragged their blood-soaked friend out of the swinging doors.
            Hannigan looked at the young girl.
            “Do you need help?”
            She stood silently, looking at Hannigan with wide eyes. Then, she picked up her purse and left. Hannigan went back to his bar stool and sat down. There was a fresh drink waiting, and Mick was smiling.
            “That was a good one, you old mucker. You think it’ll take?”
            “Probably not.”
            “Well, you done good, mate. Adds a little excitement to the evening.”
            Hannigan smiled.
            “Same old shit.”
He drank his drink and took the towel-wrapped ice cubes for his knuckles. An hour later it seemed like a dream. Then, it was.

            The dream was nonsensical, but vivid. Beneath the veil of color and noise, he could see himself. There was a haze of cigarette smoke … faces, blurry, floated through the miasma. He could see himself, but he didn’t recognize.
            The Hannigan in the dream was scared. His shoulders were slumped. He looked tired, like he was reaching for a rope and falling short. He was lifeless.
            There were shuffling sounds from somewhere. Then the world tilted, and he was looking into a face he had only seen a few times, the first time when Matt had beaten him in the alley. The last time when he had stood on Bernal Hill and watched a man die: the man who had killed Matt’s father. Still, he could see the face clear as day. Matt Stark. He did not look afraid. He looked like he was carved from stone. Then everything turned a very blood red. Hannigan opened his eyes and saw Mick smiling at him.
            “You dreaming of the devil, mate?”
            “Argh … nah, mate. Dreaming of a good friend. Why?”
            “You were shaking and twitching something awful.”
            Hannigan looked around him and saw a clean, empty bar. He looked at the clock. 3 a.m.
            “Shit. Sorry, mate … I must be getting old. What do I owe ya?”
            “Nothing you haven’t paid a hundred times over.”
            Hannigan smiled, rapped a sore knuckle on the bar, and headed for the door. 
            The fog had set in, and the air was cool. It took the edge off the hangover that had been steadily building. He looked at the sky. He thought about the dream and shrugged it off. He flexed his aching hands and cursed.
            He saw a quarter on the ground and stooped to pick it up. Then, screeching tires, and a bus stop exploded behind him, scattering glass. Hannigan hit the ground hard and rolled. He saw the back of a red corvette just as it rounded the corner. Then, Mick was beside him.
            “What the fuck was that, mate?!”
            “You’ve got me, Mick …”
            “You know who it was?”
            “Well, judging by the phallic nature of the car in question, I could take a guess.”
            “I’ll call the cops, mate … come back inside.”
            Hannigan stood up and dusted himself off.
            “No, brother. Thanks. If that was him, the bar needs no part of it. I’d guess he’s done.”
            “For tonight, maybe.”
            “Maybe … never can tell about these kinds of things.”
            Hannigan didn’t tell Mick that he wanted to be alone. He had been fighting his whole life, but he had never been shot at. Until now. He looked at the bus stop, pulled his collar up and walked home.

            The next day, there was a call to The Shannon Arms. A warning. Get lost or get dead. The rich boy had enough money to get it done. He had said as much. Hannigan thought long and hard, and then he did the only thing he could think of: he kissed his wife, went to the post office, and then got himself lost. He found a furnished apartment in Daly City and started drinking.

Hannigan's Fight is the sequel to The Biker. They don't have to be read in order, but it wouldn't hurt. The Biker is also available in paperback HERE. Thanks for your support! 


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