Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Green (10/22/09)
TITLE: Ask My Pal Burney O'Leary
By Patricia Turner
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A dingy ray of afternoon sunlight filtered through the filthy window up high in the wall. As it fell on the four men surrounding a billiard table it briefly turned the swirls of their cigarette smoke a shimmery silvery gold.
Burney was running the table. He’d had the upper hand on the other men for a couple of hours. “Two-ball in the side pocket,” he called out, taking aim at the cue ball. The striped ball clicked away from the cue and zinged off the opposite side of the table, angling across the emerald velvet into the pocket.
“It’s pretty uncanny how you do that, Burney.” Angel’s eyes flashed and narrowed as he said it, a reflection of the whisky he was swishing idly in the bar glass.
“Easy Angel,” Mick recognized Angel’s mood and didn’t want trouble.
“Hey, I ain’t sayin’ nothin’! I jus’ think it’s kinda’ funny how Burney here always gets just what he wants. Lucky in billiards, lucky in love too.”
“Shut up, Angel!” Kelly was tired of Angel’s bravado, every night.
“It’s ok guys.” Burney said. “Let him talk. It’s just words.”
“Yeah, just words. Maybe I wear a shamrock pinned to my shirt, I’m lucky too.” Angel continued. “Maybe I get to go home to Eleanor too.”
Burney froze and stared at Angel.
“What’s a matter, Burney, too many words now?” Angel leered at him dangerously.
Burney remained silent. Walking slowly around the table, he calmly took aim at the cue ball. Leaning on the table, he murmured “Eight-ball in the corner”.
“Could be sweet Eleanor gets kinda’ lonely, you spendin’ all your time here with us guys…”.
“That’s enough Angel!” Kelly’s voice rose with each word, even as a pool cue clattered to the concrete floor.
“Angel, keep your mouth shut!” Mick shouted, as the door to the pool hall slammed.
The front door opened and Eleanor, wearing a dress of well-worn Kelly green and a matching head scarf to hold back her red curls smiled as he entered the room. Taking her in with a sweeping glance, he came to her and took the duster from her hand. Gently wrapping her in his arms, Burney lifted his wife, all five feet of her and kissed her.
“Hello, Mrs. O’Leary.”
“Well, handsome, what brings you home in the middle of the day on a Saturday?” she murmured as he carried her toward the bedroom.
“An Angel told me you might be getting kind of lonely,” he whispered into her hair.
Later over dinner, she asked again.
“Are you sure it wasn’t a leprechaun just looking for his shamrock? Sometimes they say the silliest things you know,” she laughed.
“Nothing silly about the look in this fella’s eyes. They may be blue, but they were green with envy when he said your name.” His hand rested on hers, his smile tender.
“Was this after you won all his green backs? Maybe he was angling to throw you off your guard and win them back.”
“Yeah, maybe. Ellie, I ran the table for two hours and had won almost enough to take you on that vacation we talked about. But you know, it just didn’t mean anything when I was reminded of what’s more important. He can have those bucks back.”
Smiling to herself, she prayed silently “Lord, whatever green-eyed angel you sent today, thank You, thank You, thank You.”
“Yeah, like I said before about my pal Burney, he’s one smart Irishman! And lucky too.”
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