J.T. Townley


So I’m down at Mack’s last Tuesday, bellied up to the bar. Back at the house Nora’s been busting my chops, she’s crying and screaming and carrying on again, and it’s all more than I’ve signed on for. Now I’m down here at Mack’s putting the hurt on a cold one, and in walks this guy, a little wobbly but no cane or nothing, sporting a Giants cap at some crazy angle, thin lips pulled back into a grin that stretches from ear to goddamn ear.

“This guy’s got a nerve, eh Mack, heat of the goddamn pennant race.”

Only Mack ain’t listening, he’s down at the other end of the bar pouring this bozo a beer. I look left and look right, only ain’t nobody on the stools next to me no more, they’re down there clapping this bozo on the back and listening to his goddamn stories. Dodgers are down two games to those sons-of-bitches from Frisco, and they’re all jawing with some geezer in a Giants cap. I chomp down on some nuts and slosh beer around in my mouth till I can’t stand their yakking no more, then I sidle down to the other end of the bar and ask, “Who is this bozo, Mack?”

Mack don’t even look at me, just pours the guy another beer like he was Willie goddamn Mays or something. The guys are all ears while the geezer goes on about one goddamn thing after another, his homers and batting average and favorite goddamn bat, the guy won’t shut up, it’s all hitting, hitting, hitting. I lean over to Frank, who’s got a head on his shoulders, and ask, “Who’s this joker think he is?”

“Don’t you know?” Frank says. “That’s the Famous Eddy McCann.”

“What’s he famous for?” I ask, but Frank don’t hear me cause he ain’t listening, so I say, “He don’t look famous to me.”

Then Frank looks at me like I’m from goddamn Frisco or worse and says, “He ain’t really famous, Al. Never played baseball in his life. That’s just what they call him for some reason, since his wife passed. The Famous Eddy McCann.”

I huff a little, cause it don’t make sense, then say, “A guy ain’t famous, he’s got no right to say so.” Then I swell up and stomp right over and sock that geezer in the mouth hard as I can. I’m so goddamn mad I march right outta there without even paying my tab. Outside waiting for the goddamn bus, I can hardly think straight in all the goddamn heat, but the bus is late again, and I’m too goddamn mad to stand around and wait, so I start walking, just walking in the goddamn heat. I don’t even know where I’m going. But at some point it hits me the Dodgers are gonna lose the pennant, we’re all gonna lose the pennant, but there ain’t no harm in none of it. I kinda understand, see, I got it figured out.

When I get home and kick the door in, I lay it on Nora. She’s in the kitchen, sobbing and wringing her hands, and she cowers when she sees me. “Don’t worry, baby,” I whisper, lifting her from the floor and kissing the swollen bruise on her temple, “I’m the Famous Eddy McCann.” Maybe she don’t understand right away, that’s natural, it’s a new kinda thing I’m telling her, plus Nora ain’t a goddamn genius or nothing, never was. So even when I tell her again, “I’m the Famous Eddy McCann,” she just don’t get it.

But, so help me, she will.


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