Public Service…The beginning of Chapter Six…unedited…

O’Shea’s sat in the middle of downtown. I pulled into an empty parking spot, and we walked up the steps that led into the pub. The place was packed. Titan, the densely muscled bouncer, stood next to the door. His massive arms crossed, he watched as the hostess checked people in. 

His eyes took us in, and he frowned. I gave him a grin and lifted my chin at the door. He tilted his head at it, and we walked on in. Paddy was behind the bar talking to customers, taking orders, and mixing drinks. He grinned and nodded at us. Lilly walked over to him. Paddy noticed the ring, and a huge smile crossed his face.

“Aye, lassie! He finally did it,” he shouted, as he wrapped her in a bear hug. “Welcome to the family!”

I watched as tears wet my uncle’s eyes, and he walked over and hugged my neck. “You did good, old son. Finally, you met your match. Go in the back, Esther will want to know.”

I took Lilly by the hand, and we made our way to the back. Every table was full, and as we walked through the throng of people, I noticed some folks I had never seen before. In the back corner of the room, at a dimly lit table, several people-all wearing fedoras-watched as the others in the room conversed, laughed, and cajoled with each other.

None sat with their backs to the wall, and all faced the doorway. Esther saw us and stood at her table. She waved at us, and Lilly waved back. As we drew near, I turned and looked back at the table of stoic men, and their eyes met mine. I gave them a nod, but none of them nodded back. 

“Come, sit Konan. We have much to discuss.”

“Oh,” I said as I pulled out a chair from the side of the table. “What do we need to discuss, Esther.”

“First off, why didn’t we get a notice you got married?”

“Because it happened today? Some events have happened that made us put a rush on it. I’m sorry, Esther.”

Esther held Lilly’s hand and rubbed the ring with her thumb. A tear wet her eye, and Esther licked her bottom lip.

“I remember when your father bought this ring, son. He was so proud to give it to your mother, and now, you’ve given it to your wife. It looks fantastic on you, Lilly.”

“Thank you, Esther. He forgot to put the ring on in front of the JP, but he remembered at the county morgue,” she giggled. Esther threw her head back and laughed, and said, “He’s a chip off the old block, that one.”

Esther leaned over and kissed Lilly on one cheek and then the other. She held both of Lilly’s hands and said, “Welcome to our family, sweetheart. I’m proud you are one of us. Take care of him,” she whispered. 

“The place is packed,” I said. Esther nodded her head and said, “It is. I noticed you saw the table with the Fedora Club at it.”

“Yeah, they’re hard to miss. Who are they?”

“They’re from South America, I think. They’ve been hanging about, but they haven’t made a move yet. As soon as they do, I’ll call you.”

My phone rang, and I looked at the screen. I didn’t recognize the number, so I pressed ‘end call.’ Paddy made his way back to us, with two plates of steak and baked potatoes drizzled with cheese and topped with bacon bits and a mound of butter. Sour cream was on the side in a small container.

“Here’s some hearty grub for my married nephew and his blushing bride! When can we expect little ones?”

“Soon,” Lilly said, taking one of the plates from Paddy. “We’ve got a chance, but not a great one, so I plan to maximize our efforts to add a child to our future very soon.”

Paddy and Esther laughed, and Esther leaned over and said, “Are you planning on arresting her, Konan?”

“Why would I arrest her, Esther?”

“Because son, it sounds like she’s going to use you for her gain. You know, like a pimp uses his girls for his gain.”

I got choked on my steak and turned my head to cough. Lilly snorted and covered her mouth. I took a sip of my sweet tea and said, “The only difference, Esther, is that I’m married to her. Her gain is mine also.”

“I knew you would have an explanation, son. You always do.”

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