Authors: J. B. Reed
An Irish Tale of Love, Murder and Revenge
J. B. Reed
2014 by J. B. Reed
ISBN - 10:1495432157
Dedicated to my own little Irish Mama
Bessie McCoy Belcher
The grand lady, in her signature black silk pajamas, with a tiny green shamrock on the lapel, lay in her bed, nearing her last moments of life. She now spoke in whispers, to her only child, her cherished daughter, Rose.
"It’s nearing time to pay the piper my dear."
"Mama, please, don’t speak of such things.” Rose attempted to quiet her mother, but the lady would not be silenced.
"My darling Rose, there is much that needs to be discussed; there is much that you need to know, before…..well…before I make my departure."
As the lady lay in her bed, her once blazon red hair now mixed with strands of snow white, is as nicely coifed now as it had been for over thirty years. She gazes toward bay windows, her emerald green eyes as clear as they were when she was a young girl in her twenties, only now there was pain in those beautiful eyes. Not the pain of her impending death but pain of thoughts racing through her mind, thoughts that now she must make known to the only person who has ever mattered in her life. The lady had lived a full life, a life filled with many ups and downs, joys and sorrows, not unlike many normal forty-six year old women. This lady’s life, however, was anything but normal. Many times, she had thought of death and how she would meet her end, but not one time had she thought ovarian cancer would be the killer that would take her out. This lady, you see, was without question, one of the deadliest Irish American assassins in the US.
Vivian Irene Clancy was born of Irish immigrant parents. The working poor. As a child, growing up in New York’s Hell’s Kitchen, Vivie learned from an early age that she stayed with her own kind. The Irish stayed with the Irish. Bigotry was deep rooted in those days and it was preached to you daily. By the time Vivie was a teenager she had learned that you never considered mixing with someone unlike yourself. She also learned that others, even those of your own kind would go out of their way to do harm to you, if given an opportunity. Women had very few options in those days. The best you could hope for was that a man would find you appealing enough to marry you and allow you to bear his children, cook his meals, clean his house and take care of his every need, until at last blessed death would come for you. A woman’s only other option was to become a nun and marry God. It was a coin toss. Most women wanted children so they chose the first option.
The young Irish men of Hells Kitchen were not what one would call eligible bachelors. Most had a criminal record by the time they had reached the age of 15. Vivie wanted more out of life than to be someone’s sperm bank, housekeeper and cook. With a ninth grade education, she was not sure how she was going to achieve this but she knew she would. Vivie had to drop out of school to help her mother and father care for her brothers and sisters. At 16 Vivie got a job at Flannery’s Pub, just to help keep food on the table. The pub was good for Vivie, not only financially but also socially. Vivie was outgoing and vivacious, some would have called her a tease but she preferred to think of herself as customer friendly. While she may have taken the flirting a little further than she should have at times, she was still a good catholic girl and most of her customers knew this. Vivie was saving herself for the “right” man, and hoped he would come into her life while she still had enough life and energy to enjoy him. There were days when she began to doubt that would ever happen.
One evening while working at the pub two men came in that Vivie had not seen around Hells Kitchen One man was older, mid 40’s was Vivie’s guess, dark, Italian, probably Sicilian. The other man was younger, late 20’s, early 30’s, definitely Irish.
"May I take your order, gentleman?" Vivie asked, never taking her eyes off the handsome Irish stranger.
"I’ll have a coffee, black, sirloin, rare, and a piece of that apple pie, sweet cheeks", the older man gave Vivie his order, with a wink.
"I believe I’ll have the same, but give me a piece of the cherry pie please Miss." The Irish man handed his menu to Vivie and smiled the most beautiful smile she had seen in her life.
As Vivie waited on their order to come up she could not keep her eyes off the stranger and it seemed he could not keep his eyes off her. Although he was deep in conversation with the other man, he kept his eyes on Vivie. After the two men had finished their dinner and left the table, Vivie walked to the table to clear their dishes. Under the plate of the older gentleman, she found a fifty-dollar bill. That was the biggest tip she had ever received. The patrons at the pub were not financially well off and the best tip she had ever received was a five spot. She quickly placed it in her pocket, thinking that it must have been the tip for both men. As she picked up the second plate, she found a second bill, a one hundred dollar bill. Vivie looked toward the window of the pub. The handsome Irish gentleman was standing at the window smiling at her, that wonderful, beautiful smile.
Two weeks passed and every day Vivie hoped the handsome stranger would walk into the pub again. It was not until a month later on the exact same date that he did return, only this time he came in alone. He sat down at the counter and ordered a cup of coffee.
"Hello.” Vivie responded, her face lighting up like the park at Wrigley Field during a night game. ”I hoped you would come in again. I wanted to thank you for the generous tip you left me."
"You’re very welcome. I always leave a tip that equals the service I receive."
"You think the service I gave you equaled one hundred dollars?"
"I certainly do."
"Will you do me a favor and let my other customers know this?"
The stranger laughed and agreed that he would.
"May I ask your name Miss?"
"Vivie…..Vivian, but everyone calls me Vivie."
"Well Miss Vivie, my name is Michael, and it’s a true pleasure to make your acquaintance. How long have you worked at the pub?"
"Five years, last May."
"Are you married Miss Vivie?"
"Oh my, no.” Vivie said, slightly blushing.
"I’m sorry, did I embarrass you?"
"No not really. I’ve just never been asked that question."
"Truly? I find that hard to believe."
"What about you?"
"What about me?"
Vivie laughed. "Are you married?"
"No, no. I have never found a woman willing to put up with the likes of me."
"Now I find
hard to believe.” Vivie said, leaning forward, being just a tad customer friendly.
"Vivie? Will you come back to the kitchen? I need your help for a minute back here girl". Shawn Flannery, the owner and cook of the pub, yelled from the back of the kitchen.
"I’ll be back in just a minute Michael". Vivie went through the double doors to the kitchen. When she returned to the counter, Michael was gone. She walked over to clear his coffee cup when she noticed under the cup, he again and left a one hundred dollar bill. Vivie was beginning to become concerned. “Why is he doing this? Why is he leaving her tips like this? What does he want in return? No one leaves tips like this and expects nothing in return. Who is this man, what kind of job does he have that he can leave tips like this? He must not live in Hell’s Kitchen because she has only seen him in town on a couple occasions. She doesn’t even know his last name.”
Vivie did not discuss Michael with anyone, especially not with Mama. She knew what Mama would say and she did not want to hear the preaching. She had no girlfriends to talk to. Most of the girls her age were either, running around with the boys in the neighborhood, getting pregnant, working the streets or they were getting ready to enter the convent. Three weeks had passed and she had not seen anything of Michael. He is all she can think about; and why he would leave her one hundred dollar tips. One afternoon on her way home from the market, a small black T-Bird rolled up beside her on the street. She heard a whistle and ignored it. She heard a whistle again, and again she ignored it and kept walking. Finally she heard;
"Excuse me Miss, may I get a piece of cherry pie and a cup of coffee?"
Vivie stopped and looked over at the car…."Michael?"
“Vivie?" There was Michael, smiling that beautiful smile.
"What are you doing here?"
"Now Vivie, do you think I only exist in the pub? I know you have a life outside of the pub; surely you know I do too."
"Don’t be snide Michael."
"Okay, I’m sorry. Where you headed?"
"May I give you a lift?"
"Are you upset with me Vivie?"
"Now Vivie, I don’t think that is entirely true. Tell me now what have I done to upset you? Will you not at least tell me that? Let’s go across the street to the park and sit and talk; may we do that?"
Vivie thought for a moment, it is broad daylight and people are all around so it should be safe. "Well, I guess that would be alright."
Michael got out of his car, carried Vivie’s groceries across the street, and sat them on the park bench. As they sat down Michael asked again, "Now, what have I done to upset you so?"
"Why are you leaving me one hundred dollar tips?"
"I told you, the tip I leave depends on the service I receive."
"The last time you were in, all you had was coffee."
"But the service I received was excellent."
"Michael, cut the blarney."
"Okay Vivie. From the first time I saw you I could tell that you were a good girl….you know what I mean by that, don’t you?"
"I think so."
"And you are working at the pub because you are helping your family, are you not?"
"I have been where you are now Vivie. Well, maybe not the good girl part, but my sainted mother was. I did have to help support my family and I know how difficult it can be. I respect what you are doing, I respect the type of person you are and tipping you a little more than I would normally is my way of showing that respect. You see, I am one of the lucky ones so if I can share my luck with someone else, then why shouldn’t I? As a matter of fact, Vivie, that’s my nickname, Lucky."
"So that’s all there is to it? You don’t expect anything in return? You’re not expecting any favors from me?"
"I would never expect any favors from you Vivie….unless maybe you want to give me a free refill on my coffee now and again."
"You get that anyway Michael."
"You can call me Lucky."
"I think I like Michael."
"Michael it is then. May I ask your last name Vivie?"
"My last name is O’Bannon. Now, we have been officially introduced. We are officially friends. Do you agree?"
"Vivie, I would truly like to get to know you. I would like to know the life story of Miss Vivian Clancy."
Vivie laughs. "Why on earth? There is nothing to tell. I have had the most boring life ever lived….till now."
"Until, I met, Michael O’Bannon."
"Miss Vivian Clancy you make me blush like a girl."
Over the next several months, Michael would come into the pub to meet with Vivie. Sometimes he would order lunch or dinner, sometimes coffee, but without fail, would always leave the one hundred dollar tip. Other times they would meet in the park, sit, and talk for hours. Michael learned all about Vivie’s life and Vivie learned all about Michael’s childhood but for all she learned, the one thing he did not share with her was his business.
Most of Vivie’s customers at the pub were older gentlemen; widowers, coming into the pub in the afternoon or early evening for an early dinner before heading home to an empty apartment. They enjoyed spending their afternoons or evenings in Vivie’s company. She always made time for them, making them feel special, as if they were her only customer, she new each by name. There would also be families coming in from time to time, celebrating special occasions. This would be rare as money was hard to come by and something as simple as a dinner at the pub was a treat for most families. Vivie would love to see families come in with small children. Playing games and giving the children special attention was a treat for Vivie. It would not be unusual at the end of the meal for her to bring over ice cream sundaes for the children saying they were on the house, when it truth it was coming out of her own pocket. Vivie hoped to have children of her own someday, but finding a husband, now that is the tricky part.
Clearing the tables while closing one Thursday evening, the door of the pub opened and in walked Tommy Flannery, the son of Vivie’s boss, Shawn
Flannery and two of his hoodlum friends, Shane Murphy and Ryan Kelly. Tommy was 21, the same age as Vivie, dirty brown hair and thin. Tommy had been in and out of juvenile detention centers since he was 12. He was known to work for the Westies, the Irish gang in Hells Kitchen, delivering drugs, running prostitutes, beating up the same when they didn’t earn enough money, stealing cars, and anything else his bosses asked him to do. Shawn loved his son but he was beyond helping him. On more than one occasion, Tommy had stolen from Shawn’s cash register. He had also been known to steal the key to the pub, come in with his hoodlum friends and tear the place up just for kicks. Vivie was not sure what to expect when Tommy came in this evening. Shane and Ryan were Tommy's constant companions. Vivie imagined they were more or less Tommy's muscle; both were quite a bit larger. All three were trouble. Shane had been a suspect in three murders but somehow managed to have been acquitted. Ryan was known to deal mostly in the drug trade. Vivie was sure that he used as much of his merchandise as he moved.
"What’s doing Vivie?"
"I’m closing up Tommy. What do you want?"
"Well, now, that’s a good question. Just what do you have to offer Vivie?"
Tommy looked at Shane and Ryan and all three laughed a disgusting laugh.
"I have no time for games Tommy. I have to finish cleaning up and get home."
"Oh come now Vivie, surely you have time to talk to three handsome blokes like us, don’t you?"
Vivie was not sure what Tommy was suggesting but she was becoming more anxious as he continued leering at her. She could smell the alcohol on their breath. Tommy started walking toward her, backing her against the wall next to the double doors leading to the kitchen. Vivie watched as Ryan walked over and locked the door to the pub. Tommy placed his right hand on the wall above Vivie’s head.
"You know Vivie, I’ve always fancied you. I don’t know why you waste your time working for the old man in this dump when you could be working for me. If you played your cards right girl, you could be my highest paying whore."