Turners never did know when to mind their own business. No matter how many times Old Nate got his lip fattened for running off at the mouth he never learned and he passed on his wagging tongue to his son Junior. The way I remember it was Saturday night, we were all sitting in our usually places at the bar, as we had been doing for the last twenty or so years, and Junior comes running in practically foaming at mouth with some piece of gossip he must have heard. He immediately hurried towards me and I looked at my friends and rolled my eyes.
“Ned you ain’t going to believe it when I tell you who I just saw over in Browning.”
I rolled my eyes again and grinned at my buddies, “No, Junior I guess I probably will not believe whatever it is you have to say to me.”
He scowled at me, “You won’t be grinning when I tell you.”
“Well, why don’t you tell me then?”
“I saw Carolyn!”
I could feel my smile freeze on my face and hear my friends fidget behind me. Junior didn’t notice and kept chattering.
“That’s not all Ned! She was at the Legion with that guy who just took over the place, and they were looking really cozy if you know what I mean.”
He winks at me and the next thing I know he’s lying on the floor and clutching his bleeding nose.
“That is my wife you are talking about,” I snarl at him.
“Not for much longer is the way she tells it,” he sneers at me as he picks himself off the floor, “She left you and no matter how long you wait she isn’t going to come crawling back the way you think she is. I was just doing you a favor man, telling you where your woman was, thinking you’d like to know, but see if I ever tell you anything ever again.”
The door slams shut behind him as he walks out and I turn and look at my friends. I try to act like there isn’t anything wrong by grinning. They smile and nod at me and everyone sits back down. The noise level slowly goes up again and people return to the pool tables.
“Hey Charlie,” I say to the bartender, “Why don’t you bring us another round?”
“I think maybe you had enough for tonight, Ned,” he says quietly.
“Can’t ever have enough can you boys?” I say look around me to my friends for agreement.
Theo, sitting to my right, rubs the back of his neck and stares at the scarred bar top avoiding my eyes. I look over at Larry and Paul sitting to my left. They are frowning slightly.
“Sometimes you can have enough,” says Charlie staring directly into my face.
“Well, fine. I guess I’ll just go home then.”
“It’s raining Ned have Theo drive you,” says Charlie.
“I can walk.”
“When are you getting your license back Ned?” asks Charlie before Theo can move.
“I don’t know whenever the judge tells me I can drive.”
“He is not going to give a drunk back his license,” says Charlie.
“And I thought you were my friend, but there you go calling me a drunk just like Caro. I guess with a friend like you I don’t need enemies.”
“Why would I be friends with the man who beat up my sister?” sneers Charlie before dismissing me by grabbing a dish rag to wipe down the counter.
“Ned you know we only want to help,” mutters Theo.
“Yeah, yeah, I could really use some more of your kind of help,” I say as I walk towards the door and push it open. Something stops me and I turn and look at them and say quietly, “You know she’ll come back to me. She always does.”
Charlie freezes for a moment his hands on the bar top.
“I know,” he says quietly.