The Pub Aftermath, Chapter 6

Updated on March 21, 2019
PegCole17 profile image

Peg is author of The Pub A Murder Mystery and Looking for Home. Advanced Reader's Copy of The Pub's sequel may vary from the final story.

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Glasses and bottles clinked in the background as bartenders set up their stations for a busy lunch service at The Lobster Pot. It was a familiar scene. Joe had arrived early enough to get a corner booth, reminding her of the times she and Dick shared at The Pub. She took the power seat facing the entrance hoping to spot him when he came through the door.

She was determined not to tell him about the way things were going at The Pub. If she thought things had been bad under Jason’s reign, the new partner and his wife took it to another level. The new bosses were perfectionists to the point of obsession. Stephen demanded that the servers polish the flatware before they rolled it into cloth napkins. Stevie expected glasses to be wiped clear of all water spots. Place settings were to be an even two inches from the table’s edge. Their circuits of the dining room ended frequently with entire table settings being rejected.

“Tablecloths are to be positioned at perfect right angles to the table corners,” Stephen lectured, loud enough that Joe could hear him all the way into the lobby. So could the customers in the lounge. His focus on perfection did little to generate new business. Instead, business was dwindling with fewer customers, smaller tips and disgruntled servers. Any non-compliance to the stringent requirements resulted in a reduced work schedule for the offender. New hires came and left with an unprecedented frequency, frustrated with poor earnings and a pair of micromanaging new owners.

Joe watched the ease with which the servers worked in the vastly different atmosphere of The Lobster Pot, gliding about, smiling. At precisely eleven twenty-nine, Dick came through the front door. He stood motionless in the dim lobby waiting for his eyes to adjust. When he spotted Joe in the corner he waved and wove his way through the tightly spaced tables to join her. She moved to the opposite bench giving him the better view and the side with the wider berth. He lowered his bulk onto the cushion grunting as he squeezed into the snug space.

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“Joe!” he said looking across the table with affection. She smiled at the older man, sneaking a quick peek at the cockatiel effect the wind made of his white hair. He grasped her outstretched hand warmly, holding it perhaps a moment too long. His nails were perfectly manicured to a buffed shine, stubby fingers jutting out from the cuffs of his shirt. There was a small section on his chin that he’d missed when shaving, leaving a patch of glistening white bristles that twinkled as he grinned at the young blonde. The waiter arrived.

“May I bring you something to drink?” he asked. Dick looked at Joe who nodded.

“The lady will have a Perrier and I’d like Bloody Mary, light on the vegetables, salted rim in a tall mug.”

“Very well sir,” the waiter nodded. “Anything for appetizers?”

“We’ll have the fried mushrooms with extra Hollandaise sauce.” That part done, their server retreated quickly to the kitchen leaving the unlikely pair to look over the menu. Dick broke the silence.

“Joe, it’s been way too long,” he said smiling. “You look splendid.” An undercurrent of nostalgia hung in the air in remembrances of past lunches, expensive dinners, and long drives on the coastal highway.

“Thanks. You look great, too.” She was genuinely happy to see him.

“How are things?” He asked, closing the menu. He set it at the edge of the table and glanced around.

“Oh, you know, business as usual,” she answered. He had always been eager to hear her take on things at the restaurant. She’d always kept him in the loop with details.

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Their drinks arrived and the waiter stood expectantly beside the starched white tablecloth, eyes flitting from Dick to Joe.

“And for the main course?” the waiter asked.

“The lady will have a large shrimp salad.” Dick looked at Joe to confirm the choice. She nodded, pleased that he remembered her favorites.

“And for you sir?”

“A medium rare filet and a baked potato with everything. And bring some sour cream on the side, too.”

“Very good, sir.”

“If you would, kindly wait a few moments before you put in our order.” He smiled across the table. “We have a lot of catching up to do before we eat.”

The waiter left as quickly as he’d arrived heading back to enter the order into the food service system with a note to delay the entree.

Joe waited patiently for Dick to bring up the purpose of their meeting.

“So, tell me about the new owner,” Dick said in a conspiratorial tone.

“He’s not as bad as the last one,” she said chuckling. Dick enjoyed a hearty laugh and answered with his own jab.

“You’re talking about my former silent partner, I’m sure.” They both laughed at that. Despite Ervin’s untimely death, he was not much missed by anyone she knew. His abrasive manner and condescending tone made him nearly unlikable. His murder was what made him most memorable. Dick took a large sip and licked salt from the rim the spicy drink.

“It’s too bad about what happened to Jason,” he said. Looking down at his hands briefly, his eyes took on a sad expression.

“Yes,” Joe said. “Tell me what happened. The detective who called wouldn’t say.”

“I wish I could say, Joe. There are rumors of foul play and I’ve been cautioned not to discuss it until the investigation is over.” That grim reflection out of the way, he launched into a monologue with a smile returning to his eyes.

“Joe, I had the most fantastic dream a few nights ago. We were on the boat cruising off the coast on an island excursion, you know, like we used to do on Sunday mornings with the Pub Power Boat Squadron.”

Their waiter returned with a plateful of steaming hot mushrooms, saucers and two small bowls of dipping sauce. Dick transferred several of the crispy deep-fried vegetables to a plate and passed it to Joe. Conversation stopped while they dug into the food. For a while, all that could be heard was crunching. Dick finally slowed down to take a breath, then, got right to it.

“How’d you like to be back on the boat?” he asked.

She smiled, recalling the feel of the wind in her face as she steered his pilot house craft into the waves. She imagined sea spray cresting over the bow as the boat dipped into the wake, bouncing along to an unsung tune.

“Those were some good times.” She twisted off the cap of the Perrier and held the bottle out to Dick. He took a sip of her drink.

“First sips are for special people.” She repeated what he always said when they shared a soda on the boat. Dick smiled as he popped another mushroom into his mouth.

“Well, I’d love it,” she said, “but you know I have to work weekends now.”

“That’s exactly what I’m getting at,” he said. “What if you could do that for a living?”

“What do you mean, live on the boat?”

Source

“No, I mean, make a living piloting it.” Their entrees arrived and the waiter bustled about setting out the plates and removing used dishes. Dick picked up his knife before the waiter walked away and cut into the choice sirloin. He stuffed a large portion into his open mouth and made noises of appreciation which the waiter took as approval.

Joe considered Dick’s question, her fork poised above the pink ring of shrimp arranged into a perfect circle on a bed of crisp lettuce. A large container of cocktail sauce sat in the center of the ring. Their waiter had knowingly set an extra serving of red sauce beside her water glass.

“That’s the sign of a great waiter,” Dick said pointing to the sauce with his fork. “Those are hard to come by.”

With the free meal program cancelled by the new management at The Pub, Joe missed the perks of fine dining.

“Well, you know, they cancelled the free meal-a-day program for employees,” she told him.

“Yes, I heard.”

“They started a reduced-price food menu for staff.” She frowned. “Mostly, it’s only stuff that that didn’t sell to customers. Not exactly at their peak of freshness.”

It was Dick’s turn to nod while chewing.

“I can’t really afford to spend money for meals there anymore, even with reduced prices for the food.”

Dick finished chewing a large hunk of meat before putting down his fork. He sat up straighter in his chair.

“Joe, I know that. What I’m thinking about is a new start-up venture.” She listened with interest.

“On the boat?”

“I’m talking about selling chartered fishing expeditions for couples or small groups of four to maybe six people.” She thought about that while she picked at the remains of the mushrooms.

“You know your way around the islands,” he said. “And you know from experience where the best places are to stop for a cold one along the way.” She said nothing.

“Do you remember that time we stopped and played pool at that little dive along the coast?” She smiled at the memory.

“Yeah, that was fun.”

“We pulled right up to the dock and tied up the boat. Had a few cold ones with some great hamburgers.” His eyes lit up at the thought of the meal.

“What I’m thinking is that you could take people out along the coast for a little fishing and sightseeing, like a job but with better perks.” His eyebrows raised in a quizzical expression. “What do you think?”

The idea was appealing but there were a lot of questions.

“What about bad weather?” she asked concerned about how she would earn money if the boat was unable to sail.

“I’d have you on a retainer for days when the weather doesn’t permit boating,” he told her. She imagined what life would be like as a boat pilot. Her fondest childhood memories were those spent on fishing trips in the Keys tagging along with her father.

“There’s plenty to do when the weather is bad like marketing and advertising, scheduling clients, making music playlists,” he said. “Of course, dock fees, boat maintenance and fuel would be my responsibility. Your job would be to captain the vessel, that is, if you’re interested.”

Joe’s curiosity was definitely piqued.

“There are so many things to consider,” she said.

Dick went off on a tangent which covered most of the questions she had about the arrangements for food, bait, docking, boarding, where to take those who paid for excursions. It all sounded exciting, particularly in light of the way things were going at The Pub.

“We could probably run charters most of the year,” she said.

Dick smiled.

“We can talk about all this in complete detail,” he said. “For now, let’s keep it between us.” Joe had a sense of familiarity at yet another secret between them. She hadn’t brought up her visit to the prison or the necklace he’d given to Doreen. For the moment, she was so pleased with this new development that it no longer seemed like such a big deal.

Dick set his fork down and the waiter showed up at the table as if on cue.

“How about some Key Lime Pie?” Dick asked.

“You know that’s my favorite,” she answered.

Her eyes lit up realizing that he knew her so well. They both ordered dessert and coffee. When they finished, Dick paid the tab.

“We’ve got to get some of these delicious mints,” he said grabbing a handful of the chocolate candy coated mints on the way out. The sun was high in the sky as they headed out of the dark lobby to their cars.

“Call me when you’ve thought it over,” he called out across the hood of a Jaguar that was parked between their cars.

Joe climbed into her Beetle and started the engine. The whine of the motor always gave her a jolt of excitement. While she enjoyed driving faster, more powerful automobiles, this was her own, paid for by her toil, chosen by her alone. That thought sent a sharp reminder up Joe’s spine. The payment was due again in two weeks. She pondered the idea of becoming a ship’s captain. Could that be the answer to her financial and work problems? She mulled it over as she drove up the coast toward her dead-end job as hostess.

© 2019 Peg Cole

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    • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

      Peg Cole 

      4 months ago from Northeast of Dallas, Texas

      Hi Lawrence, Yes there is history and it was rather unpleasant. Thanks for keeping up with the story and for your nice comment.

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 

      4 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Peg

      Theees real history between the two, it could be interesting to see how that all plays out.

    • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

      Peg Cole 

      4 months ago from Northeast of Dallas, Texas

      Hi Maria, I appreciate the feedback about Joe and Dick and their experience at The Lobster Pot. That really lets me know what works and to concentrate on doing it more often. Thank you so much!

      L and H.

    • marcoujor profile image

      Maria Jordan 

      5 months ago from Jeffersonville PA

      Hmmm, Joe's job offer seems too good to be true - very intriguing.

      Your descriptive abilities shine in the paragraph where Dick meets up with Joe at The Lobster Pot. I feel as though I'm in the room.

      Moving on... Love and hugs, Maria

    • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

      Peg Cole 

      5 months ago from Northeast of Dallas, Texas

      Hi Jackie, Glad you enjoyed the trip down the coast and the little pit stops that Joe knows where to find along the way. I hope to bring some fun into her life before (dunn, dunn, duum. . .) anything bad happens.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 

      5 months ago from The Beautiful South

      I loved how you told of Joe's familiarity with the jaunts along the way of this pending boat venture. Sounds like fun to me. But who knows what you have in store for us?

      Great reading.

    • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

      Peg Cole 

      5 months ago from Northeast of Dallas, Texas

      Hi William, Sounds like you might have a good idea of what lies ahead. Thanks so much for coming by. Happy St. Patrick's Day!

    • lifegate profile image

      William Kovacic 

      5 months ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      Something tells me being a boat's captain isn't all it's said to be. I guess we'll see. Maybe she won't even take the job.

    • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

      Peg Cole 

      5 months ago from Northeast of Dallas, Texas

      Hello Mary, Glad to see you here. Thanks so much.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      5 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      You got me engaged immediately. Love it. Am already hooked by Joe and wondered what she'll do.

    • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

      Peg Cole 

      5 months ago from Northeast of Dallas, Texas

      Morning, Mike, Yes indeed. Easy peazy or is it peezy?

    • mckbirdbks profile image

      mckbirdbks 

      5 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      Piqued, peaked and peeked, English is so easy.

    • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

      Peg Cole 

      5 months ago from Northeast of Dallas, Texas

      Good morning, Shauna,

      Yeah, what a way to make a living. Sounds like fun to me. Of course, the ocean has a special place in my heart. :)

      The troublesome issue with Doreen, yes, that is something Joe definitely should wonder about. Hmm.

      Wow, thanks for catching the thing with piqued. You're right. I should remember that. There used to be a perfume by that name. We jokingly called it Picky. Good times.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 

      5 months ago from Central Florida

      What an exciting chapter, Peggy! I love Dick's proposition. I sure hope Joe accepts (I think she will). What a way to make a living, huh?

      I am curious about Doreen, tho. Who is she to Dick? Something tells me she wasn't a lover. Perhaps a family member?

      By the way, interest is piqued, not peaked. Mine certainly is. You're a wonderful storyteller, Peggy.

    • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

      Peg Cole 

      5 months ago from Northeast of Dallas, Texas

      Thanks so much, GlenR.

    • Glenis Rix profile image

      GlenR 

      5 months ago from UK

      An excellent read

    • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

      Peg Cole 

      5 months ago from Northeast of Dallas, Texas

      Dora, Knowing that you care about this character is an incredible compliment. Thank you. And thanks for enjoying the lunch meeting. :)

    • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

      Peg Cole 

      5 months ago from Northeast of Dallas, Texas

      Hi Pamela, The jury is still out on Dick's trustworthiness. Although at this point, Joe is on a downward spiral and he's thrown out a life preserver. (Oh, so sorry for the pun. Groan)

      Nice of you to stop in and share your reactions and so glad you enjoyed the music.

      Thank you.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      5 months ago from The Caribbean

      I like everything about this meeting--the expectations, the atmosphere, the conversation. However, if I were Joe, I would have lots of questions too. You have made us be concerned about her.

    • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

      Peg Cole 

      5 months ago from Northeast of Dallas, Texas

      Hi Dana, Glad you could share the vicarious meal with Dick and Joe. Thanks so much for staying with the story.

    • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

      Peg Cole 

      5 months ago from Northeast of Dallas, Texas

      Oh no, snow? Bill, that makes for great indoor reading (and writing) in front of a fireplace, but not much good for going anywhere.

      I hope your chickens are doing okay in the cold. That's what makes me squeamish about raising stock. I'm sure I'd have them all in the house with me. Thanks for stopping in for a distraction.

    • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

      Peg Cole 

      5 months ago from Northeast of Dallas, Texas

      Hi Verlie, I'm so glad you could join them at the brunch. Thanks so much for noticing the detail. More soon.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      5 months ago from Sunny Florida

      This new job may be just what Joe neeeds, but can she totally trust Dick? This is an interesting chapter. I enjoyed the music today.

    • Dana Tate profile image

      Dana Tate 

      5 months ago from LOS ANGELES

      The way you described that juicy steak and shrimp made me hungry! My taste buds are watering right now.

    • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

      Peg Cole 

      5 months ago from Northeast of Dallas, Texas

      Hi Peggy, Yes, there's still the troublesome necklace. I like that word, portend. What a good way to think of it, as a kind of sign that something calamitous is about to happen. Most likely true. ;)

    • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

      Peg Cole 

      5 months ago from Northeast of Dallas, Texas

      Thanks so much, Flourish.

    • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

      Peg Cole 

      5 months ago from Northeast of Dallas, Texas

      Hi Mike, I like that, "Old flames, new waves." Sounds like a great title for a chapter. Ah, yes, the lingering death. Coming soon. . . potential suspects. Thanks so much for coming by so quickly.

    • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

      Peg Cole 

      5 months ago from Northeast of Dallas, Texas

      Liz, wow, that was fast! Thanks so much. I had to duck out for some groceries after rereading this chapter. Hungry.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      5 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I look out my window and I see it is snowing again. I needed a good fictional distraction and you provided it. Thank you!

    • snakeslane profile image

      Verlie Burroughs 

      5 months ago from Canada

      Peg, that beautiful brunch date with Dick is making me hungry! Joe is about to embark on an exciting adventure, I can feel it. Her character has extraordinary range, and you my friend have an extraordinary eye for detail. Great read, keep 'em coming!

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      5 months ago from Houston, Texas

      That new job possibility sounds like it could be exciting. Earning more money would be an improvement in Joe's life, but alas, that necklace! What does it portend? I guess we will find out!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 

      5 months ago from USA

      Great storytelling. I look forward to seeing the new developments unfold.

    • mckbirdbks profile image

      mckbirdbks 

      5 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      Hi Peg - What an interesting chapter, old flames, new waves. By all accounts things are looking up for Joe. And we still have the lingering death in the back of our minds.

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      5 months ago from UK

      Great narrative between these two characters, which takes the plot off in a whole new direction.

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