“Let’s go play some pool,” Lee said, after he and
his buddy, J.J., walked into The Drunken Sailor. “You can check out the house
got a house band? What are they, a bunch of grungy kids in their twenties?”
Lee smiled at that. “Not quite. It’s a chick band.”
“A chick band. Interesting. So, grungy chicks in their twenties.”
“Nope. Mother, daughter and granddaughter. They had another, but
she’s off to Nashville to try to become a star. They’re still good though,
especially the lead singer. That woman sings like an angel, sometimes like a
little devil. And she is something fine to look at. They’ve really been packing in the crowds on the weekend.”
“The place is doing well,” said Lee. “I know you shouldn’t do
business with friends, but since you were in the restaurant business and since
you’re the man with the business degree, I thought I’d give you first crack at
it.” He suddenly looked wistful. “I kind of hate to let the place go. It’s like
losing a part of me.”
J.J. nodded. “I know how you feel. I hated to let go of my places.
Did it all for nothing,” he said bitterly.
His words brought on an awkward silence. He should have kept his
shit to himself. He shook off the downer moment. “Let’s shoot some pool.”
“Good idea,” said Lee. “And, J.J., I get you not wanting to get
sucked into this business again. I’d have liked you to be the one who takes
over The Drunken Sailor, but no worries. The right owner will show up.”
Maybe the right owner had shown up, J.J. thought as they drank
beer and waited their turn at one of the pool tables. The place was packed.
Lots of out-of-towners, but Lee said he had a ton of regulars who came in
during the week as well. Line dancing lessons were offered on Sunday afternoons
followed by line dancing. A lot of the old guys came in midweek to play darts,
and Lee had recently started a ladies’ night, with half off on drinks on
Tuesdays and pool lessons taught by some of the better players, including a guy
named Seth Waters, who had been a regular before he got married. According to Lee, he still came in to play
pool on Sundays while his wife and her girlfriends line danced.
“You’ve done a great job of making this the place to be,” J.J. said as they moved to take their
turn at a table that had opened up.
“I like to think so,” said Lee. “Thank God I got lots of good free
advice from a pro when I first started.”
“What are friends for?” J. J. responded. He selected a cue stick
and chalked it up.
“Go ahead and break,” Lee said.
J.J. took aim at the cue ball, sending it clacking into the others.
He sank one of the striped ones and then proceeded to clean the table.
“Save some for me,” Lee protested.
“Oh, yeah, I can’t let you lose. It would hurt your delicate feelings,”
“And then I’d hurt your delicate nose,” Lee shot back.
J.J. did miss the next ball. He stood back and let Lee take his
It was the end of the game for him because he caught sight of a
woman with long red hair, a face that would launch a thousand ships, and legs
that wouldn’t quit entering the place. She wore a short black leather jacket,
hanging open to reveal a low-cut green top covering a very nice rack. Those
fine legs were encased in tight jeans. She wore black boots that made him think
of pirates and was carrying a guitar case. Holy Moly! Was that a member of the
band Lee had told him about?
Lee caught him staring. “That’s Bonnie Brinks, one of The
“I wouldn’t mind hooking her on my line.”
“Fat chance. She’s a smiling ice maiden. Been single for years.”
“Maybe she’s tired of being single,” J.J. mused.
“Don’t hold your breath. But hey, she sure dresses up the place.”
J.J. suspected that was about all she did. Lee had a tin ear. He’d
probably hired the woman for her looks, despite his claims of her angelic
Behind her came a younger woman, tall like Bonnie but with darker
coloring. Also a looker. And next to her walked a woman who’d never gotten the
memo that she was a senior citizen, also wearing tight jeans and heels high
enough to trip Tina Turner. She sported spiky white hair and the tips of the
spikes were colored green. The mother. His mother sure didn’t look like that.
This woman probably had every old geezer in the place ready to take her out.
With all three women being so striking maybe nobody cared what they sounded
“Had enough pool?” asked Lee.
“I think I’ll go over to the bar and get another drink,” J.J.
He snagged the last seat at the bar, one near the end next to a
scruffy old dude in faded jeans and a peacoat, ordered another beer and watched
as the women tuned up. They couldn’t sound as good as they looked.
“The band’s good,” the old guy said. “They sing good, too,” he
added and chortled over his crack.
“You know them?” J.J. asked.
“Of course. Everybody knows everybody here,” the old guy informed
“Looks like this is a popular place,” J.J. observed.
“Best burgers in town. Plus they have a senior menu.”
Lee came up behind J.J., hovering like a salesman in a used car
lot. “Hey there, Pete. I see you’ve met my pal J.J. This is Pete,” he said to
J.J. “He’s one of our regulars. He won our last darts tournament.”
“Beat out all the young pups,” Pete bragged. “You play darts?” he asked
“Don’t take the bait,” said Lee. “He’ll just sucker you into a
friendly wager and take your shirt.”
“Aw, there you go, spoilin’ my fun,” Pete complained.
A full house and steady patrons. It would be kind of cool to own
this pub. A lot of work and time, but it wasn’t like he had much going on in
his life anyway other than some day trading, hitting the gym and reading. In
the last year he’d bought enough books to stock a small library. He needed something
more to do. Lately, he felt like he was drifting with no purpose, no adventure
on the horizon. What kind of adventures could he have here in Moonlight Harbor?
At nine on the dot the hot redhead stepped up to the mike and
said, “Hey everyone, let’s get this party started.”
J.J. would have loved to start a party with her. His fingers itched
to play with that gorgeous red hair of hers.
She looked back at the granny on the drums, who began to bang her
drumsticks together, counting off the beat, then the young girl hit the bass
and the redhead began to bend those guitar strings all to hell. People rushed
to the dance floor as she started to sing. “Get off your chair and get out here
and shake your booty. You gotta start this party, so get out there and do your
J.J.’s heart went into overdrive. This place was a gold mine, and
Bonnie Brinks was the gold. What a voice! The woman was a superstar. He
wondered what she was doing buried in the sand of a small beach town.
“So whaddya think? The place is a good investment, right?” Lee
said in his ear.
“I’d say so,” said J.J. “Looks like the band is bringing in a lot
“We had a lot of customers even before the band,” Lee said.
“People want to eat at a casual place with lots of atmosphere when they’re at
“You definitely got the atmosphere,” J.J. said. The goofy carved
pirate statues were an obvious hit. He’d seen several people taking pictures
with them. The pool tables had been in constant use since they’d walked in, and
the beer was flowing. Lee did have a going concern. The band and dance floor were a bonus. And what a bonus that band was.
The women finally went on break, the older one stopping at a table
to say hello to some people. The younger one went to plop down next to a
supersized young buck at a table near the bandstand, where her drink was
already waiting. A boyfriend, of course. The guitar queen headed for the bar,
stopping for a quick word here and there, deflecting a fat lounge lizard,
nodding and smiling at something another patron said.
She came up to the end of the bar next to J. J. and Lee. “Great
job as always, Bonnie,” Lee said.
“Thanks,” she said. Then to the bartender, “Got my Diet Coke,
“On its way,” the woman said and got busy getting her drink.
“You’ve got a great band,” J.J. said to Bonnie.
“Thanks,” she said. Her smile was a stop sign. Not interested, so
don’t even try.
What did he look like? Some middle-aged, desperate horn toad? He
was just being friendly. There was no need to give him the ice treatment.
He decided to turn the charm up a notch. “I always wanted to meet
“Now you have,” she told him, still with the stop sign smile. The
bartender set down her glass, and Bonnie thanked her, the ice melting from her
smile. But it was back again for J.J. “Try the garlic fries here,” she said to
him. “They’re great.” Then she left before he could get in another word.
Mermaids were not so easy to catch.
“Don’t put her on the welcoming committee,” J.J. muttered.
“Told ya,” said Lee.
Slick and charming and no ring on his finger, which, considering
his age—around hers—probably meant he’d ditched a wife somewhere along the way,
Bonnie decided as she walked to the band table. With those blue eyes and that
red hair and matching, neatly trimmed beard, he looked like some kind of
troubadour from the Elizabethan era. Add broad shoulders and a well-sculpted
chest, and he was a regular pheromone factory.
And that stupid line about meeting a mermaid. Oh, yes, he was a
Who did that remind her of? Rance Jackson, of course.
Let’s get to know him, urged her sex-starved
Not happening, she informed them, even though he was as
tempting as sin. She could almost feel the tickle of that beard on her skin.
But this was the kind of man who broke hearts—trouble in Levis. There would be
no getting to know him.
Put a Mr. Yuck sticker on him and stay far away.
“It ain’t over till it’s over,” J.J. told his pal, quoting the famous
“It ain’t even started,” Lee taunted.
“I’ll find a way to start something,” J.J. vowed.
He continued to watch Bonnie Brinks throughout the next set. She’d
been mellow enough talking with Lee, visiting with patrons, but when she was
singing those fast dance songs she caught fire. The fire turned to warm embers when
she sang a love song, enough to probably make every man present fantasize about
sleeping with her. She sure had that effect on J.J.
What would it take to break the ice?
He wasn’t the only one wondering that, if the tool who was trying
to corner her by the bandstand was any indication. He was probably early
forties, tall with legs like tree trunks and the arms of an overzealous body
builder—or a dude on steroids.
She cocked her head and looked up at him as he smiled down at her.
He said something that dimmed her smile and moved in closer. She shook her
head, tried to move to the side. He mirrored the move, giving her a smarmy
smile in the process.
“Uh-oh,” said J.J.
Some men didn’t read road signs so well, and this guy wasn’t
seeing the same stop sign she’d given J.J. He was the kind of jerk who gave men
a bad a name.
J.J. started to get off his stool. This goon needed a lesson in
Lee caught his arm. “Don’t bother.”
“She needs help,” J.J. said, shaking it off.
“No, she doesn’t. Watch.”
J.J. watched reluctantly, ready to rush over the second the jerk
laid hands on her.
He started to, reaching out to catch a lock of her long auburn
“Okay, that’s it,” J.J. growled.
“Yep, it is,” said Lee as Bonnie sweetly smiled at the dude and
stomped on his instep.
Sadly for the guy, he was wearing sneakers, and her spike heel
drove into his foot in a way that had his mouth dropping in pain and him
hopping on the one good foot he had left. She gave his arm a there-there pat,
and left to join her mother and daughter and the supersized kid at their table.
J.J. said. Bonnie Brinks really was something else.
woman can take care of herself,” said Lee.
knight in shining armor needed. Darn. So much for impressing her with his
she had to need something. Everyone did. Whatever it was, he hoped he could be
the man to give it to her. Maybe he should buy the pub.