The Bridge

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Other / Mystery
5.0 6 reviews
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This is a piece of Flash Fiction

A Cup of Joe… Dennis De Rose

Damn, this wind is a bitch. Sure appreciate my Joe tonight. I know that guy… “Hey, you look cold. Wanna share a cup of hot coffee. …Got a big thermos right here. It’ll take the chill off for sure.”

“Yeah, I got some time to kill and this wind is a bitch, know what I mean?”

“I was just thinking the same thing. Cop a squat, there’s plenty of room and it’s out of the wind. Hope you like your coffee black. Name’s Julius, Julius O’Leary. …Nice to finally meet you.”

“I think I’ve seen you before too, walking the Gate, right? And thanks for the coffee. My friends call me Johnny, Jon Moran. Say, O’Leary, that’s a common name but seems to me I remember an old story about a cow…”

“Let’s keep that under your hat. Not many people know that about me but I am related to the Mrs. O’Leary, of the big fire O’Leary’s. We emigrated from Chicago to the bay area in the early 1870’s. It was either that or be run out of town on a rail with only the cloths on our backs. We didn’t waste any time skedaddling, at least that’s what I was told. …How about you, Johnny?”

“Well, I’m not proud of my heritage. I am a direct descendant of Jack Moran. Do you know who he was? They called him Jack ‘Legs’ Diamond; he was a bootlegger and a gangster. He was snuffed out in ’31 by an Albany flatfoot and I am his great great-grandson. The family hightailed it here just after he was killed. Wanna hear the best part, I work for the ATF.”

“Wow, ATF, who would a thunk it. I retired six years ago, Fire Chief for Station 51. …Funny, huh? Would you believe it if I told you all those years no one made the connection between me and the Great Fire? Johnny, see that guy over there? The guy with the thin jacket, he doesn’t seem to be too sure on his feet. He looks like he’s three sheets to the wind. I bet he could use a cup of Joe. What d’ya think?”

“Julius, I think I’ll give him a holler. Hey you, want a hot cup of coffee?” He’s looking this way, guess not cause he’s still walking away from us. “He looks like he’s in tough shape. Let’s try again, both of us this time.”

“You want a cup of Joe? You look like you could really use it and it won’t take but a few minutes!” The man’s stopping. Here he comes, good.

Hey man, have a seat; here’s a big cup of hot black coffee with your name on it. That is, if you don’t mind sharing my thermos cup. At least it’ll take the chill off. Name’s Julius, this here is Johnny. What’s your name, pal?”

“First of all, I ain’t your pal. I don’t know why I even bothered to come over here in the first place. I got someplace important to be and you guys are keeping me from my destiny. Name’s uh… never mind. I’ve gotta go in a minute anyway. But before I do, I need to add a swig to this coffee. I like to lace mine with a shot of Ten High.”

“All we did was ask your name. We didn’t mean to pry. Do you always carry a whiskey nip in your pocket?”

“OK, I guess I can tell you my name, it won’t matter anyway… Geoff Murray if you must know. And yes, I always carry one in my pocket. This is my last one.”

“Johnny and I were just talking about our family heritage. What’s yours if you don’t mind me asking?”

“I do mind and here’s your cup back. Ah… thanks for the coffee. I’m almost there, only 220 feet to go. …Gotta go.”

“What did he mean by that?”

“Julius, I don’t know, maybe we never will. Forget him, just another drunk. So… tell me, why do you walk the Gate? I see you quite often.”

“Well, remember I told you I retired six years ago? My wife was diagnosed with leukemia five years ago. I was taking care of her but she lost the battle last year. We walked the bridge regularly. In fact, I met my wife on this spot almost 45 years ago. Now I walk it to think and remember. On sunny days, I sit here, read and drink coffee. Gee, I didn’t mean to spill my guts. What’s your story, Johnny?”

“OK, I’ll try to get through this. You probably saw me walking a big Irish setter. His name was Red; he dropped dead just two days ago. Give me a minute… You’re the only person I’ve talked to about this, other than my wife. I was sitting at this very pillar, reading; it was early morning. After a while, I nudged Red to get him up and moving… but… he… he just laid there. I placed my hand on his chest. Nothing! I don’t even remember walking over to the phone and calling the bridge guard. I think he drove me home with Red in the back. We cremated Red yesterday. I don’t even know why I am here today. Old habits die hard I guess. Did I tell you Red was 15 years old?”

“Johnny, I’m awfully sorry about Red. If there’s anything I can do...”

“I feel the same way about you, Julius. It must be really tough with your wife gone. I don’t know what I’d do if something were to happen to my Carla. Just thought of something, how about we do this again on Wednesday, same place, same time? I’ll bring coffee cake.” …But what about the other guy?

OK, Johnny, it works for me. See you then. I’ll bring the Joe. See ya round.” …But what about the other guy?

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