29th January 2015 0

This is a submission I did for the Powers Whiskey writing competition. The requirements were that a bottle of Powers had to be a central character, and it could not be more than 500 words. I didn’t win, but judging by the shortlist and eventual winner, it seems that they were more inclined towards stories of immigrants returned sipping a Powers with the mammy beside the turf fire. The €10k prize money would have been nice, but I did enjoy the challenge . . .

Henry stands in a corner of the descending lift. He pinches the knot of his tie – double windsor. It dismays him that he will never again have to wear it. He holds the retirement gift – a bottle of Powers . They got that bit right, he thinks, even if they hadn’t the time – the courtesy – to toast my departure. He sighs. Sure that’s just the way of it – it’s a dog eat dog world.

The guy in the other corner jabbers into a mobile. Spanish. He’s a dark guy, black really, and Henry sees a suggestion of effeminancy. Effin’ something, he decides.

The guy laughs, ‘Ni Hablar!’

Henry ponders the hanging jeans, the affected dishevelment. He feels the bottle in his hand – this craft that he values, this patience – and it saddens him that the standards he cherishes are mostly gone, as is he. He thinks bitterly that this guy might even be his replacement.

The lift stops. The lights dim.

‘Jesus,’ cries Henry.

‘It’s a power outtage, man. Happened once already today. The whole area.’

Henry feels the old crawl of panic. He slumps to the ground. He stares at the metal plate, the brand: Otis. And he thinks: Otis, Otis Redding, died in a plane crash.

The young guy is over to him. ‘It’s ok, man. It’s ok. What’s your name?’

Henry stares up at him.

‘Me – I’m Salvador Hurtado.’

‘Henry Buttimer.’

‘It’s cool, Henry. It’s ok.’ Salvador removes Henry’s tie and he opens the top button of his shirt. He sits beside Henry and he puts a comforting arm around him. Me – I got a thing about crossing bridges. Puts me in a cold sweat. You can imagine how fu– . . . how inconvenient that is.’

Henry smiles. The lift flickers back to life and Salvador helps Henry to his feet. They reach the lobby and walk from the building.

‘Will you join me in a drink, Mr. Hurtado – Salvador?’

‘Sure I will.’

Henry unscrews the cap from the bottle of Powers. They each drink a capful.

‘I retired today. Seventeen years.’


Henry pours another capful.

Salvador raises it, ‘It’ll be all good, my friend.’

They each drink a toast.

‘I still got your tie. Here.’

‘Bin it.’

Salvador balls the tie and he tosses it into a bin.

‘You gonna be ok now?’

‘I’m going to be fine. Thanks.’

They shake hands. And as Salvador walks away Henry feels a tight weave unravel in his chest. He feels a surging contentment and he understands that this is more – far more – than the warm course of the whiskey. It’s faith. It’s a departure – a beginning.

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