Every Thursday I would accompany the gentlemen to Timothy's Pub. That's where we met.
|Chapter One: Thursday's at Timothy's
Thursday. I hate and love Thursday. I didn't have friends in my office, only guys I tolerated. Jack, Lincoln, and the guy who was called Gross. I wasn't real affectionate to them, nor they to me. But every Thursday we went to Timothy's.
The drive was long. From our office, it was a good half-hour, without traffic. But this was Grand Rapids, and there was always traffic. So, nearly an hour after work, I parked my Cadillac and entered the bar with my 'friends'.
Our host was an old guy. I'd never seen him before, and I was well-known among the staff of this particular building. Not only that, but their waitress was new as well.
"Hey, my name's Maryanne, is there anything I can get you gentlemen tonight?" she asked.
She was lovely. That I noticed first. Short, pale, with big brown eyes and long, dark hair. The smile she wore was forced, but not exactly fake--well, that was mostly a guess. I didn't know her well enough to say for sure.
I blurted, "Well, your number to start with, Miss Maryanne."
The boys chuckled. Lincoln shook his head, but whether in humor or disappointment I didn't bother to ask. I just looked at Maryanne, ready for rejection.
Though taken aback (clearly), she gave a small smile and said, "I'll have to ask for a name first. I won't want to freak out when you call."
I smiled now. "I'm Joseph."
"Well, Joseph," said Maryanne, placing her hands on her hips. "If you find me at the end of tonight, my number is all yours!" Then, she quickly took our drink orders and walked away.
"Damn, Joey," said Jack, "trying to hit that?"
"Not at all," I replied. "I would love to call her. I'd have asked to sleep with her if it was otherwise."
"No man is that honest, lad," was Gross's response. "Men were born lying filth."
"If that's how you feel, Gross," I said. "I'd love to think I was an honest man."
Gross spat on the floor. "Please. Is that why you're last girl left? 'Cuz you were an honest man?"
I had no response to that, at all. I just sat, mostly silent, for the rest of the night. Finally, we got our bill, I threw down two twenties, and went to find the angel I had seen earlier.
She was just coming out of the girl's bathroom. Maryanne seemed surprised to see me. "Oh, yeah!" she cried, grinning. "You're Joseph, who wanted my number." The young waitress grabbed her notepad and went for a pen. "I'm afraid I lost my pen," she hissed, patting all over her waist and belt for it.
"I always come prepared, Miss Maryanne," I cut in, handing her my favorite pen.
"Gracias, senor," Maryanne said with a sigh of relief. "Call me anytime, Joseph." She made a quick movement and tore the paper off the pad. Pocketing my pen without thinking, she handed me the paper. "I get out at ten, though."
"It was good seeing you, Miss Maryanne," I replied.
"You too, Mr. Joseph," she giggled with a wink, as she turned and walked away.
I looked down at the paper, which had her number, name, and a little doodle of a campfire which was incredible for a quick sketch. I threw the paper in my pocket, and smiled.
Chapter Two: Mr. Wellspring
It was a Monday. I hate Mondays. If Monday was a man, I'd frame him for murder. If I was Batman, Monday would be the Joker.
My Cadillac squeeled into the lot at quarter-to-nine, and I was not ready for my daily grind. Three cups of coffee were in my bloodstream already, and I had a fourth in my hands as I walked inside, my papers underneath my arm. I chatted with the secretary before getting into the elevator to my job.
As soon as I reached my floor, I was greeted by Lincoln's strong arm around my shoulders. "'Bout time you showed up, Joe," said he. "Gross called in sick, so its just the three of us."
"Sounds good to me," I replied. "Give me just a minute to get ready." I jogged to the bathroom, where I fixed my tie, combed my mustache a little bit, and smacked myself in attempt to wake myself up a little bit.
As I walked out of the bathroom, I saw Jack and Lincoln both dressed to impress. Jack, who was the shortest of us, was wearing his best tie and jacket, with his thick-lensed glasses cleaned to a fault. Lincoln stood taller than most men, his long beard braided handsomely, and his long hair in a ponytail.
"Are we ready, gentlemen?" asked Lincoln with a smile.
"Never, Lincoln," I sighed.
At the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel, we were the live music. I played violin, Lincoln was our singer, Jack played drums, and Gross was usually on sax. Without Gross, we were an instrument short, but we had entire set lists in case any one of us called sick.
I stood, playing my violin with the rigorous training that I can endured my entire life. I was one of the best, but I did not often care for the sounds of a violin. I prefered the more angelic sounds of a harp, or the deep, cheerful whispers of an acoustic guitar. But that was just me. I've been playing violin for so long that its no longer fun. I imagine my co-workers would say the same.
At break, Jack went out to smoke, and me and Lincoln walked around the dining area. After about five minutes of talking about Lincoln's mother, we were summoned to one of the large, circular tables near the center of the room. Sitting there was an elderly man in a suit, with a cigar in one hand and a pair of glasses in the other. He had us sit down, and then he began.
"Hello, gentlemen," said the man. "I'm Judd Wellspring." He offered his hand to us both, and we shook.
"Joseph Calluk," I said, trying to smile realistically. "This is Raymond Lincoln."
"You three make a good band," said Wellspring. "Best I've heard in years."
"Is that a fact?" asked Lincoln.
"Yes, it is," the man said. "Look, I'm in town for a while, and my niece is having a birthday in two weeks. I'm hosting the party, and I still need a band to play. So, if its not too much of a bother, I'll pay you two-thousand apiece and it'll probably be only two or three hours?"
I looked at Lincoln, and he at me, and we both said in unison, "Sounds good."
Wellspring cracked a smile. "Good," he said, taking out a notepad and pen. He handed it to us and said, "Put your names and numbers down there. And that fat guy who was playing drums."
"Do you want our saxophone player as well?" asked Lincoln.
"No, no," said Wellspring. "I hate sax. The noise reminds me of my first wife, that whore."
"Fair enough," I answered. I put down my name and number.
"I'll call you guys this weekend, let you know more of the details," said Wellspring. "But you'll be able to bring one or two guests, if you so desire."
"Sounds like you got yourself a date, buck-O," said Lincoln, nudging me in the side. "That girl whose number you got last week, invite her."
Mr. Wellspring gave a wide grin. "I remember being young. What a time!"
"Mr. Wellspring, your name sounds familiar," I said hastily. "Why is that?"
The man raised an eyebrow. "Well, Mr. Calluk, if you ever read the news, I've just bought the New England Patriots."
"How'd you get that much money?" asked Lincoln, obviously flustered.
"I was the CEO of NaturalChecking for almost fifty years," chuckled Wellspring. "I imagine that's what gave me my fortune."
We said our goodbyes, and headed back to our little platform of redunant music. Lincoln told a few jokes, and then we played for the remaining three hours of our shift.
Chapter Three: The Birthday Party
The day before the party was really boring. I sat around my apartment all day, occassionally inspired enough to grab my gray cat and pet him for a few moments. My brother Thomas came over and we ate chicken salad sandwiches for a little while, as he told me all of the things going on with his life.
At about quarter to five, I got up and decided to get ready. I dressed in my best suit, picked out a rather bland tie, and looked at the slip of paper on my fridge. The name Maryanne and the waitress's number were on the note, and I grabbed my phone.
"Hello, this is Maryanne," she answered.
"Hey, hi, um, hello," I replied hastily. "This is, uh, Joseph. From Timothy's a few weeks ago."
"Oh, that sweet guy in the bowtie!" she chirped. "Yes, I remember you. How're you today?"
"I'm doing, uh, very well," said I. "Listen, are you busy tonight? Because I'm playing at a birthday party and wanted to know if you'd--"
"Oh, Joey, I'm so sorry," she whimpered. "I'd love to go, I promise, but I've got my own birthday party to attend."
I sighed. "Oh. I'm sorry."
"Don't sound so sad!" she squeeked. "Look, I'll make it up to you somehow, I'll--"
"No, forget it, its fine, really," I answered. "Thanks, though, for your time."
"Well, feel free to call me again. Maybe ask me on a date."
"Guess you'll have to wait and see," I whispered before hanging up.
Finally, I heard the sound of Jack's carhorn outside. I ran downstairs, my umbrella in hand, and got into the Jeep.
"The most boring tie in the world," said Lincoln.
"I think he looks nice, Ray," said Mrs. Lincoln, Lincoln's stout, grey-haired wife. "You do look nice, Joseph."
"Thank you, Gret," I said with a smile.
"Alrighty, we just gotta pick up Jessica real quick and we'll be on our way."
Jack's girlfriend, Jessica Loeb, lived not even five minutes from me, and she squeezed into the backseat. As we made our way to the party, Lincoln regalled us with a story of his former life.
"I remember when I lived in Canada. The forest. What a beautiful place! As a lumberjack, I knew very many people. Now, there were two guys who were cousins. Bill and Ben. Ben was the older of the two, and he taught me to play piano. A refined skill for a lumberjack. Bill, on the other hand, he was so jealous of his cousin. Day in and day out, Bill watched Ben in envy. Ben had a good life--a wife, some kids, a nice house and an American car. Bill was divorced and living in the smelly basement of an Arab. So one day, while the two were taking out a pine tree, Bill 'forgot' to shout when he was s'posed to. The tree went and flattened ol' Ben like a pancake. Of course, Bill was blamed and confessed. But I think he learned a lesson that day, as he was arrested while Ben's family watched in horror as the man of their house was shown to them. I think ol' Bill might have finally understood that jealousy makes people do evil things, and that, as a man, you need to rise above that. You need to prove that you're better than the evil example jealousy brings to the table."
"You are just full of stories, Lincoln," I said. "How long did you even live in Canada?"
"We moved there when I was five, and stayed until I was about twenty-eight," Lincoln chuckled. "