Who: Sam narrative What: Dealing with the guilt When: Current Where: A bar Warnings: Mild language
Sam's brows set hard over his eyes as he stared at nothing across the bar. This whole month had been a nightmare. He was learning just what an ignorant country boy he rally was, and the idea shamed him beyond expression. Go to the Big City, he had thought. Get a tiny apartment, work an honest job send the money back home. It had been such a simple plan, so simple it was fool proof. Sadly, it seemed hat plan only proved what a fool he was.
There was no longer any work in Cumberland County for Sam Guthrie, prejudice and superstition had seen to that. It wasn't safe to go into the coal mines alone, and what the hell were you to do when no one would go down there with you? You packed up your things and moved on, that was what you did. Moving on was so damn hard if you were a good old boy who just wanted to settle down, work an honest wage and be near your family until the day you turned too old and grey to wield a pick-axe or a plow. That was Sam in a nut shell, a good ol' family boy who just wanted to do right by his Ma. New York was not a kind city to such men.
Wh would have imagined that the little closet he inhabited could cost over a grand a month, who would have thought that the people who worked the hardest were regarded with the most suspicion, who would have guessed that nice guys finished last? Not Sam, who had been raised to believe in the goodness of man. Too bad the city was bashing all thoughts of that, much less hope, out of him. He was behind on rent, he had no money to send home to his family, and on top of it, his last bar fight had landed him community service, time which would be much better spent earning an honest wage. Everything seemed dismal and miserable. At least the bar tender hadn't carded him when he ordered a Miller in a bottle. He would take what comfort he could get.
"Hey, aren't you that redneck who put Jeremy in the hospital?"
The voice jarred Sam from his sullen thoughts and grated his ears like nails on a chalk board. Slowly the Southerner took a deliberate swallow of his beer before turning to face the man. Blue eyes took in his form, bigger than Sam, but softer. What muscle he did have was from a gym, the man had no real idea how to use his body. The knowledge was comforting.
"He started a fight, Ah jus' finished it. Now if you don' mind, Ah'd like to finish mah beer." Sam spoke with a clear Southern drawl, something he refused to let go. Even if he wanted to lose the accent, he was not sure he could, but the accent and slow pace of his words were comforting. A reminder of home, a badge of pride, a banner of hope. Some day he would be back among his people.
"I heard you broke his neck." The man spoke through a narrowed gaze, suspicious and resentful. The eldest Guthrie boy had to fight to keep from rolling his eyes.
"He came at me with a pool cue, Ah hit back with a chair. Wasn' much else Ah could do. Now, Ah'm payin' mah time to the community come next week, so how's about you boys go back to yer table an' Ah'll go back to mah beer and we'll all go home without any trouble. Sounds like something you boys'd be interested in?" He did not want a fight. While Sam was sure he could win it, tonight the last thing he wanted was a fight. He just wanted to sit and drink and think of better days. Days when he would have a hefty check to send home, days when he would not have to lie to his Ma and say nothing happened that weekend, days when he would not have to explain away the troubles which arose when he finished a fight some other fool had started.
"Listen to the man. He may talk funny but he's got a point." The bartender spoke up, glaring past Sam and to the would be trouble makers. They bristled and shied away, back to their spot in the bar, casting the Kentucky boy suspicious and distasteful glances now and again. Sam was about to nod his thanks when the barkeep spoke again. "I think you'd better get out of here once you finish that beer."
Lips setting into a hard line, Sam nodded. It wasn't right and it wasn't fair. He hadn't done anything, and yet he was the one being sent away. Because of what? Because he talked funny? Because he had won a fight someone else picked? Because his ears stuck out a little far? Forget this city, he thought bitterly, taking a long drink from the bottle. Worst mistake I ever came was comin' here. Guess accordin' to Sinatra Ah can't make it anywhere. Finishing his drink, Sam rose and left a bill on the table. It was only polite to tip. He nodded courteously to the two assholes near the door and stepped into the polluted streets, walking to his lonely little apartment. He noted with a bitter smile that on a night like tonight, he would have given anything he owned to bicker with Jay just one more time.