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Fred Zackel
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hollywoodharry.jpg
Art by Steve Cartqwright 2018

Hollywood Harry’s Bar and Grill

 

Fred Zackel

 

     The waitress said, “After he retired, Hollywood Harry owned this bar. He was the greatest guy in the whole world when he was sober. But his drinking cost him his marriage.”

     The waitress said, “Harry was always a drinker. Then he got a job being a bartender, which didn’t help. Then she walked into the bar, got a job as a bartender, and it was love at first sight. Didn’t help him that her mouth could suck thirty pounds of pressure per square inch, sucking water through a straw.”

     Chris said, “He married her?”

     “Whenever you do something because it's the right thing, always ends up being the wrong thing.”

     "She got pregnant?"

      "You got it."

      “Still boozing heavy, Harry and his new bride had a fine life, even a couple kids, for a few years. Then she got religion, went on the wagon, took the kids with her when she jumped on board, and left him alone crying in his beer. That’s when he took to very heavy drinking.”

      “Then what?”

      “Harry worked weekends at the church. An usher, he passed the collection plate.  He had been in the Knights of Columbus for years. But at a Knights meeting his wife shows up. Looks good at first for them getting back together. He got drunk. They start talking, voices getting louder and louder. But then he smacks his wife in front of everybody, punches her to the floor, and then kicks her.”

     “Wife beater.”

     Janice nodded.

     “He choked her so hard, she couldn't speak for three weeks.”

     “She have him arrested?"

     Janice shook her head. "But she got an uncontested divorce. Well, she walked out on him first. She said she was going to the store to buy some Coca-Cola and Twinkies for her kids, only never come back.”

      "He had to raise the kids on his own?"

      "He sucked at it, too. He used to lock his daughter in the attic when he went to work. Admittedly, being a cop, he could come home at odd hours, let her out, but she grew up hating him.”

         "He tried strangling her once. Well, he beat her up bad first."

       “She ran away, right?”

       “Long gone and never a postcard.”

       "He'd bring these women home, say to the kid, this is your new mother. Harry went through many women who wouldn't stand for that shit.”

       Chris shook his head.

       "After their divorce, he lived the rest of his life with a huge hole in his chest. He tried to fill the hole with whisky, writing, friends, other women, and frantic trips between Detroit, Chicago, and Youngstown, but it never went away until he put a smaller hole in his head."

      “Ate his gun,” Chris said glumly.

      Janice shrugged. “It’s what cops do when they get depressed.”







Fred Zackel has published more than a hundred stories, poems & essays, and a dozen or so novels. Most all of his writings are on Kindle or the Web.

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