E. Franklin Evans
NOW AVAILABLE...Stand To...: A Young Man's Journey to Manhood During the Vietnam War   EFranklinEvans.com   The story of a young man who is awakened to the world around him when a tragic event propels him into his journey to manhood.

The Forgotten Estate (T)



Navy Lieutenant Mark Saunders looked around the dimly lit pub. He had to squint to see the faces of the scraggly, unkempt men lining the faded oak bar. Dark shadows made it difficult to discern any identifiable features on most of the late night patrons.  The jagged purple scars on some of the coarse faces seemed to shine as if daring someone, anyone to ask the owner how they got there.

Many of the hanging bare light bulbs had long been broken and, as long as the barkeep could see well enough to pour the rotgut and shortchange the blurry eyed drunken customers, there was no need to replace them. Thrown bottles and chairs would soon break them again anyway. Cracks in the large mirror behind the bar were covered with grimy tape breaking the reflection from the barroom into eerie disjointed scenes. If one looked closely in the mirror, you might be able to see the faded reclining nude wench that looked down on the room and observed the debauchery of the weary rum soaked regulars.

Years of grime and sour whiskey soaked aprons tied around the waist of the unshaven, potbellied barkeep added to the overwhelming stench of the waterfront bar. Never-ending slipshod wiping at the spilled drinks of cheap whiskey had worn the veneer of the wood to a dull luster stained with random dark circles.

Gouges and deep cuts in the bar top attested to the many bar fights over some imagined insult or jealously over one of the dirty and diseased wenches trying to encourage the most drunken of the patrons to accompany them upstairs. Or perhaps a careless pickpocket or cheater at cards who had been summarily dealt with by the quick blade pulled from the boot of an unsavory arbiter of tavern justice accounted for the dark stains shown on the bar or the rough hewn wooden floor.  

Filthy sawdust strewn about the floor to keep the dust and mud at a tolerable state was stained with years of spilled whiskey, blood, urine, tobacco, and spit and did little to cover the worn plank flooring.

Why had Lisa asked him to meet her in this desolate hellhole? The name of the bawdy house betrayed its unsavory state. The Golden Peacock conveyed a vision of grandeur and refinement. Someone had a twisted sense of humor.  

Not familiar with the city, Lt Saunders's taxi driver, upon arrival, raised a quizzical eye and said, "Ya sure that's the place you wanna go, Mac?"

"Yeah. I'm meeting a lovely lady there."

"OK, Mac, it's your funeral. I don't know any ladies there; certainly no lovely ones."