I took another sip of my beer, set down my glass and leaned back in the wooden chair. I glanced around the bar, soaking in the feel of it.
The place was small, and crowded even this early. It was Friday, after all. There was already a line to get to order from the single bartender, a college aged guy with a shaved head, a full beard, and a pierced eyebrow.
I love this bar. This was one of the first places I had gone to meet people when I first moved here, and it was still one of my favorites. Small, and crowded, but with a great, quirky atmosphere. The plain acoustic ceiling tiles had each been painted a different bright color. The walls were covered in paintings, all in bright colors, but all of subtly disturbing scenes. One was a fat, hairy man, laying in bed, clutching a doll, the doll’s expression frightened. Another was of a animal-headed family, all seated around a table, preparing to carve a roasted pig with a human head.
None of the chairs or tables matched, and some of the tables were actually converted video game machines from the eighties. The table I was sitting at had packman, eternally marching around the black and blue screen, chasing and being chased by little colored ghosts.
The place was retro, and cool, and I always felt just slightly out of place here. As though being here was being part of a click I was almost, but not quite, cool enough to get into. The feel of it set sets nerves just slightly on edge, makes me just a little more aware than usual.
I love it.
I suddenly realized that I had been distracted by looking around the bar, and hadn’t been listening. “What?” I said, glancing over at the other guy at the table.
“I said that’s eff’n weird.” Josh took a swig of his beer. His was in a bottle. “You never heard of this guy at all?”
“Nope.” Josh Fisher was average height, maybe just a hair shorter than me, but his shoulders were broader and he was more muscular. He was really into sports, in a way that I had never been, and it showed. He had blond hair, cut short, and he was…handsome. I’m not afraid to admit it. I had met him when I tried out for a leisure softball team. I had only played a few games, but our friendship stuck.
“Well, my father wasn’t around when I was growing up, and this guy is on that side of my family. So I can see my mother not talking about it.”
“Did he leave you any cash or anything? Or just the house?”
“The will said ‘The property and all that is contained within’, or some kind of pretentious sounding bullshit. But no, just the house and stuff, no money.”
“Shit man. You know you are going to have to pay taxes on that. Like on the assessed value of the house or something.”
“Oh, right. No, there was something else about money enough to cover the taxes.”
“Well that’s cool. So you gonna sell it, or what?”
I sat forward, and took another sip of beer. “I guess. I am going to go check it out tomorrow. I will probably have to clear out a bunch of crap that was left inside.”
“Where is it?”
“Up in great falls.” Great Falls was a suburb of DC, just across the river. An expensive area to live, but then again, that could describe most of the district.
“Woah, man, the place could be, like, a mansion!” He had a point. There were some seriously huge houses in great falls. Big enough to be called mansions, for sure.
“Yeah, I guess. But why would you give a mansion to a nephew you never met? It is probably some rundown old place. They have those in Great Falls too. Probably has a huge loan out on it or something.”
“You sound like you aren’t excited by this at all!”
“Yeah, well, I gotta be honest, it is kind of a pain in the ass.” I took another sip. “I mean, it kins of seems like it is just a bunch of work.”
I leaned back again. Josh nodded, and glanced around. He paused for a minute, checking out a girl at the bar.
“To be honest…” I said, and he looked back at me.
“I am kind of hoping I can find out some more about him. And maybe about my dad. I mean, he’s gotta have some pictures or something, right?”
“Well, maybe I can finally find something out.” I noticed my voice sounding strained, and I stopped and took another long pull on the beer. It was good, a Belgian wheat beer. I focused on the taste, waiting for the lump in my throat to subside.
I had been fine growing up without a dad. Yeah, it had been hard sometimes, but I had gotten used to it as I got older. Lots of people grew up without a parent. But I had always been curious, and my mothers answers to my occasional questions had never really been satisfactory.
But now…this was a chance to find something out for real. A chance to find out where I came from. This morning, I had woken up mostly content, but somewhere between getting the phone call from the lawyer and now, a deep desire to know the truth had come bursting to the surface of my thoughts. It was not just mild curiosity, it was a need.
“I’m meeting with the lawyer at the house first thing tomorrow. And I’m going to find something out, dammit.”
Josh looked at me. “Good for you, man. Listen, if you need me for anything, to help move shit, whatever…”
He meant it. He was that kind of guy.
“Thanks man. I want to check things out first off, but I’ll give you a call.”
He grinned. “Enough of this morbid shit. Listed to what I did last night. So I was a this bar after a football game, and there was this chick…”
I relaxed, and let his words wash over me, but my concentration was on tomorrow. Tomorrow, when I might finally get some answers.