Being Tony: Work Free

I started going to the Workers Club instead of the Anchor for the next few weeks. It wasn’t my favorite place, but I knew a few people there, and soon got accustomed to the way it operated. And it was cheap, which was a consideration now that I was “work free.” They had a beer garden out the back, and I liked to take my pint out there, watch the sky and listen to the birds. It was also their smoking area, so that helped too.

A number of things all seemed to happen at once. First of all, my car started to misfire, and I just didn’t have what it took to get it going properly again. To save money I’d given up the parking spot at the apartment building, and now I had it parked on one of the free spots along the quayside. One morning when I went to check on it, I saw that the front bumper had come loose on one side, and it was hanging down. I just stood and looked at it, then walked on. It wasn’t working anyway, so why bother to try and fix it.

Next, the washing machine in my apartment stopped abruptly during a rinse cycle. I had to carefully remove the wet laundry, and hang it over the bath to finish drying. The machine would not work, no matter how I tinkered with it, so I was back to having to go to the laundromat. I started to wear my clothes longer – after all, with no job to go to, and no woman to impress, why did I need to dress up? I took to wearing a pair of old jeans, t-shirts, plus a sweater when it was colder. That way, I only needed to go and do laundry once a month or so. When I went out, I also wore a baseball cap, and that meant that I didn’t need to worry about my hair too much, and I just let it grow.

Then one of my front teeth broke. I had always hated going to the dentist, and when I left home, it became easy to avoid having to do so. Over the years I’d had the occasional pain in my mouth, but nothing that wouldn’t go away after a time. So I hadn’t had any dental work done since I was a teenager, and now, of all times, I lose a tooth in my smile. It didn’t hurt, although my tongue could feel the sharp edges where it had broken. After a while, I got used to the feeling in my mouth, and hardly noticed the lost tooth. It was only when someone else reacted that I was even aware that there was an issue.


The Workers catered to an older clientele than the Anchor, and a lot of the regulars were retired folk. I didn’t consider myself retired, just work-free, but it was easy to slip into that retired mindset too. One of the people I got friendly with was a retired fishing boat captain called Del. He lived in one of the old cottages in North End, very like Ruby used to live in, and we got into the habit of meeting in the Workers soon after they opened, having a few pints, then going for a stroll around town.

It was on one of these walks that we bumped into Percy, who said they had missed me at the Anchor, and asked after my health. I told him I was doing fine, and that I’d found a new place to drink. Percy mentioned my car, which he’d spotted on the quayside. I really didn’t want to talk about it, and said that I was about to get it taken care of. Del had also been a regular at the Anchor at one time and said maybe we’d drop in one evening.

“That would be great!” Percy said, “Tell you what, the first ones on me, how’s that?”

I was non-committal, but Del seemed keen. A few days later, our afternoon walk found us going along the high street, and Del suggested going into the Anchor for the free drink we’d been offered. It was one of those days when the wind seemed to be coming straight down from the Arctic cycle, and so I agreed to get out of the cold.

It had been 3 or 4 months since that fateful discussion with Steve, but I soon felt that I’d never left, as the warmth of companionship flowed over me. It was getting to be evening, and soon Jenny came into the bar, and it was great to see someone else who seemed genuinely pleased to see me. When she found out I was still job free, Jenny started checking in the local paper for me, which I guess was sweet of her, but not necessary. I was about to say so when she stopped short and said: “Have you lost a front tooth?”

Over the last few months, I’d learned how to keep my mouth closed more, and most people I met didn’t notice it anyway, but I guess I must have smiled more than normal, and Jenny did notice. I didn’t know what to say, so I pretended not to hear her question and turned the conversation to how The Linnets were doing in the league this year.

At home that night, I swore never to go to the Anchor again, not to talk to Jenny again, and probably not to go to the Workers either, in case I ran into Del there.

The next morning I went to the store and bought myself a case of beer and a bottle of good scotch. This would be cheaper even than the Workers, and I could sit at home, drink and watch the world go by outside my window.


About Derek Knight

Transplanted Brit, now in the US Mid West | Writer, blogger & author | passionate about life | Traveler and home body | | | |
This entry was posted in Being Tony - A Novel, Writing and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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