Welcome Home, Jackie Nolan

from Gulf Stream Literary Magazine #10

Inside Crowley’s Snakebite Tavern, Carter watches the man balance himself on a ladder behind the bar, struggling to pin up a banner.

“You need a hand up there?” Carter asks, just as Crowley affixes the edge to the shelf and steadies himself.

“Looks like I got it.”

Crowley jumps down from the ladder, and now Carter can read the sign: “Welcome Home, Jackie Nolan!” He clenches his jaw and takes a deep breath. On the mantel above it, the stuffed copperhead that serves as the tavern’s mascot is mounted on a branch, jaws open, fangs bared, flanked by a shelf decorated with empty bottles of Jim Beam three rows deep. Carter is terrified of snakes, but he’d rather tangle with a snake than welcome Jackie Nolan back home.

Crowley reddens and shrugs his shoulders at Carter. “I know the score and you know the score, but he was a regular here, too, back in the day. He’s got a lot of old boys left around here, and I can’t go playing favorites. Not today.”

“It’s fine,” Carter says. He has willed himself into making peace with the fact that his father-in-law’s release from prison is the biggest event Pelham County has seen in years.

“I can’t have you looking for trouble.”

“Who wants trouble in this heat?” says Carter. He takes a pull from his beer bottle and meets Crowley’s gaze. “I’m just here for the party.”

Read the full text of “Welcome Home, Jackie Nolan” at Gulf Stream Literary Magazine.


One Response to Welcome Home, Jackie Nolan

  1. Pingback: Short Story in Gulf Stream #10 | Steve Trumpeter

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