We met when I was eighteen and Brittney Stockholm was seventeen. It was the last dance of the school year at East Side High and we were both graduating in just two weeks. I was from the poorer section of town where the dance was being held. Brittney went to Lincoln on the west side. I guess she and her fellow students decided to crash the dance and be as obnoxious as possible. Things would have been all right except for her date, Brad Doyle.
We had heard of the Doyles even down here in the mill section of the city. They were the powers that be in the city administration. His father was the mayor and his uncle was on the city council. There was another brother who owned a woolen mill where a good many of my neighbors were employed. My family was black Irish and I took after them in looks.
When Brittney walked in all eyes turned to her. She was petite, blue-eyed, blonde, and oh so cute. Brad was tall, rugged and well set up with all of his blond looks. He played football and it had been in the paper that he was headed for school on an athletic scholarship. I had hoped to get a scholarship as well, but I hadn't quite made it, so I suppose it was going to be the factory for me. I had the brains, but I had to work part-time helping my widowed mother and two younger brothers survive.
It was after the band's intermission that the trouble started. Brad had been making loud comments about the girls that were here. Mostly derogatory remarks about various body parts or their dress or hairstyles. I was watching when Brad grabbed one of my classmates and pulled her out onto the dance floor. He got fresh by running his hand down over her butt. She tried to prevent it by moving his hand up. Then he moved up and was visibly fondling her breasts. Her boyfriend went out and tried to cut in, which got him nowhere.
I was standing near his date Brittney, and could hear her talking to one of the other couples she came with. At first I think she thought it was funny, but when it continued, she was as embarrassed as everyone else. Soon everyone became aware of what was happening. I'm no hero, but this person from the other part of town was here making passes at one of our girls. I challenged him when he laughingly came off the dance floor.
I knew this little blonde girl was Brad's date. When he was almost up to us, I turned to her and said, "Your date has been making an ass of himself. It needs to be evened up. Kiss me."
She looked scared and hesitated. I think she was ashamed of his actions and maybe a little concerned being in this section of town. But wonders be, she came to me and let me take her in my arms. The kiss was like going to heaven and was nowhere near long enough. I was pulled roughly away from her. "What the fuck are you doing with my girl?"
"Just getting even for what you were doing to my friend, Sandy. At least I asked to kiss your date. You just started grabbing. Consider it even and the incident finished."
"Like hell I will. I'll meet you outside."
"Brad, let it go. It was just a kiss. You were making an ass of yourself. Why did you act like that anyway? You embarrassed me."
"I won't let it go. No hunky is going to kiss my girl."
"Brad, I'm Irish not Hungarian. Us Irish have been whipping British ass for more centuries than you can count." I knew I was letting myself in for quite a tussle, but I wasn't going to back down in front of this cute little thing I had just finished kissing. "The O'Hara will meet you anytime, anyplace."
About this time the school officials came rushing up. "What's going on? Is there trouble here? No fighting. If there is any fighting on school grounds, it doesn't matter what school you are from, you get suspended and won't graduate." That cooled my will to fight. I needed my diploma in two weeks.
Brad saw this. "I'll shake hands, if he will."
"Okay by me." I stuck out my hand.
Brad took it and pulled me close. "Get your friends to find someplace away from school and I'll still knock your head off."
Brad was three inches taller and twenty-five pounds heavier than me. I wasn't worried for I had been unloading raw material from trucks coming into the factory for the last two years. "You're on. Meet me outside."
"I'm Brittney. I'm afraid you're going to get hurt." The girl that had kissed me said this as she sided up to me when we exited the dance hall.
"Don't worry about me, I'm The O'Hara. Worry about your boyfriend. By the way, I'd like to kiss you again sometime."
"You are as bad as Brad! I hope he does knock your block off."
We trooped down the street to an empty lot. When we got there, Brad was a little concerned that he would be mobbed. I allayed his fears. "This is just between you and me. Nobody will interfere. If I lick you, it ends here and if you lick me, you will be free to leave. No reporting this to the police either. Agreed?"
"Okay asshole. I'll leave your buddies to pick up the pieces." We were arranged in the lot with his two friends, their girlfriends and Brittney. This left them on one side and half the student body lining the sidewalk behind me. I took my blazer off and debated about my shirt. It was the only white one I owned, so I took that off too. Brad just removed his suit jacket and faced me.
At first I had the advantage, for I had the street light over my shoulder. I knew that would change once the fight was joined. Brad did have an impressive set of shoulders and arms like hams. I was going to have my work cut out for me. One thing about Brad, he didn't wait. He launched himself at me thinking the first blow would settle the fight.
I side-stepped him and just tapped his chest as he went by me. It didn't hurt him. I went farther into the lot, turned and waited for him to come again. This time he had both arms out and was going to grapple. I ducked under one arm and planted a good solid blow to his belly. His belly was hard, but I knew my blow had hurt. I turned quickly and when his arms came down, I hit him up high and hard on the chest, just inside his shoulder and then tapped him on the chin with my other fist. One arm came around and hit me on the right cheek. It was only a half blow with no power behind it, but I felt it.
We went back and forth with me hitting him twice for every time he hit me. I was just a bit faster. He did make my nose bleed which was a bother. I had been very careful to keep away from his face, although I had connected with his chin a couple of times, just to show him I could. The crowd behind me on the sidewalk could see I was still in control and kept yelling to hit him on the nose.
The blow to his inside shoulder had made that arm almost useless. He could move it, but it was only good for defense. I got a good blow into his solar plexus and when he turned I hit him with my fist to the back of his thigh. I knew enough about street fighting to know that blow would give him a charley horse and slow him down, especially if I backed off and gave it time to tighten up. He wouldn't realize it until he needed to move quickly.
I spoke for the first time. "Brad, do you think you can whip me? Really I want to know. You've got one arm and one leg that is basically useless. I've left your face alone on purpose. I could have mashed your face in almost at will. Even when I hit you in the jaw, I pulled my punches. I'll shake your hand anytime you say. The only thing I will demand is that you apologize to Sandy, the girl you got fresh with."
I stood ready to stick my hand out waiting on his decision. He was half a mind to continue, but then he took a step forward and almost fell because his leg wouldn't hold him up. Sandy moved up beside me and looked at Brad. His eyes were riveted on me, and then he switched them over to her. "Sandy, I apologize for treating you with such disrespect. Would you please forgive me?"
"Yes I will. I have to say you are one lucky bastard. If The O'Hara had been feeling mean, you might be dead or wishing you were."
"I'm just beginning to realize that."
Three weeks later I was coming home from the mill. I was working full time now that I was through school. I was still on the dock, loading and unloading trucks. At least I wasn't stuck inside at a saw or lathe. When I got home I found Sandy sitting on the stoop. "Hi there, hero. Having fun now that we are out of school?"
"Yeah right, like always. Like last week or any week fifty years from now."
"Hey, it's a living."
"Keep the bullshit to yourself. What are you doing here? Where's Pete?"
"Pete and I split up. I've got a new boyfriend now. Say, how would you like to double date? I don't know this guy too well and I'm a little hesitant about going out with him."
"That's good, except I don't have a girl."
"I'll supply the girl for your date if you'll go. I promise she won't be a dog."
I hadn't been out since the dance and even that night I didn't have a real date. Everyone liked me so if I wanted to dance, someone was always there for me. Also, everyone knew that I was supporting my mom and brothers. It wasn't that I was poor or cheap, it was just I had a use for what money I made, so my social life was almost nil.
"I don't know if I can afford it. How much will it cost?"
"Not more than a twenty. If you need more during the evening, I'll slip you some and you can pay me back. I really want to go out with this guy."
"Okay, I guess. What should I wear?"
"Just a sport shirt and jeans. We will be going to a movie and maybe have a beer after."
"When is this going to take place?"
"Tomorrow night. My date is going to pick me up at seven-thirty."
"Who is your new boyfriend? Is it someone I know?"
"You've met him, but I'm not going to tell you who he is. You'll see tomorrow. Hey, I have to get home for supper. I'll see you tomorrow night."
I had no qualms about going out with Sandy on a double date. We had been friends as long as I could remember. I was confident around women. Mom had been an uptown girl when she married Dad. A case of true love and she was happy with him down here in this part of town. She had all the social graces and had made sure that her three boys knew how to act in any given situation. Dad had been killed two years ago in an auto accident and that's when I had started part-time at the mill. As far as my blind date, I didn't know who it might be, but I trusted Sandy.
A Pontiac with tinted windows pulled to the curb where Sandy and I were waiting. I hadn't noticed it coming, so I didn't see the driver through the windshield. Sandy said, "You're supposed to get in the back seat. You can introduce yourself."
I opened the door to a grinning Brittney. "Hi O'Hara, I'm your date for tonight. You know Brad don't you? He will be our chauffeur for the evening." She went into gales of laughter as Sandy and Brad watched to see how I would react.
"Hello yourself, milady. I'm so pleased to meet you again." I took her hand and kissed it while looking deep into her eyes. "You are my dream girl, you know."
Brittney sobered up. "You scare me. You are so intense. Do you always know just the right thing to say or do?"
"Only with you, my love." Then I grinned. "My Mama taught me to overcome surprises by reverting to formalities. How did I do?"
"I think I'm going to have to meet your mother."
I looked at Brad now that Brittney and I had introduced ourselves. "Hi Brad, this is a surprise. How did you arrange this?"
"I didn't think I apologized to Sandy enough, so I came down here looking for her with some flowers. I didn't even know her name, but everyone knew 'The O'Hara.' After that, when I explained that we had fought at the dance, someone went and found her for me. She had broken up with her boyfriend so I asked her out. When I told Brittney she said she wanted to see you again. Something about you asked her for another kiss and she wanted you to collect. So here we are."
"Brad, you can find more ways to embarrass me. Mr. O'Hara, what is your first name? Everyone calls you The O'Hara."
"Sean, I did want to thank you for something. That was very nice when you fought with Brad in leaving his face whole. I may have to rethink that if he keeps on the way he is, though. Why do people call you The O'Hara? I hate to keep bothering with questions, but I want to understand."
"It is a clan thing. My father was called 'The O'Hara' and when he died it came to me. It is almost a title. Not like king, but head of a people. It came over from Ireland with my ancestors and the neighborhood has latched onto it. When I die, my son will be The O'Hara. That is if I have a son someday. There are only two ways it can be given up. One of course is death and the other is if the man holding it does something he feels makes him unworthy or dishonest. Then he relinquishes it himself."
"So tonight I am going out with someone really important?"
"That is for you to determine. Do you think of me as Sean O'Hara or do you think of me as 'The O'Hara?' You will have to decide that for yourself."
"I think I know already. Now, if we are going to see a movie, I think The O'Hara should tell his chauffeur to drive on."
This was only the third time that Brad and Sandy had been out together and I could see they were in love already. I found I liked him a lot myself. He was totally different tonight than the night of the dance.
I was afraid I was going to have a budget problem before the night was over, but I think Sandy clued the two up-towners in, so I had a few cents still in my pocket when Brad parked in front of my home later. To give Brad and Sandy a little privacy, Brittney and I walked down to the grade school yard and sat on the swings. Brittney asked if she could see me again. This was just the reverse of how things were supposed to be between a boy and girl. I wanted to say yes immediately, but hesitated. Every penny I spent on a date I knew I was taking away from my Mom.
Brittney understood. "Can't I come down and take you for a drive? Papa gave me a car for graduation. We don't have to spend money. I get an allowance for gas. I just want to get to know you."
"I don't think that would be wise. What happens if we fall in love? I bring this up now for if we did, there wouldn't be any future in us being together. I'm sure you will be going on to college in the fall. Me--I'll be right here working day to day earning enough to keep Mom and my brothers in food and clothes. Mom has arthritis real bad. My brothers are helping as much as they can. One peddles papers and I bought the other one a lawn mower to earn money.
"I just don't see any future for us. Mom came down here with Dad, but that was a different time. You could never move here even if I could support you. The best I can look forward to is to marry someone like Sandy that is used to doing with little and is halfway happy making do. I hope Brad doesn't break her heart by showing her the good life and then being pressured into leaving her."
"Don't count Brad out. You saw him at his worst the other week. What you did for him, changed him. He is more thoughtful and considerate. His Mom asked me what made him different. I told her he met The O'Hara. I couldn't tell her more then, but I could now. Whether you know it or not, you come off as being special. I can feel it. Now kiss me. I've been waiting all evening for you to make a move on me."
I didn't ask her to, but at least twice during the following weeks and always on Saturday night, Brittney's little car was parked in front of my house when I got off from work. Mom knew I was in love before July was out. It saddened her that it couldn't go anywhere. I never complained, but I chaffed at the situation I was in.
I absolutely refused to meet her parents, so we always went to Brad's house to swim or play tennis. On her birthday we made love for the first time. Brittney said she was on birth control. I hoped it was effective for after the first time, we made love every chance we could. Brittney was leaving for school on the twenty-sixth of August. The days rushed by as August wound down. We never went anywhere except to find a place to be intimate. If we couldn't find somewhere to make love, we went downtown and sat on the park bench and held hands.
Steven and Sarah Stockholm knew that their daughter had been seeing someone over the summer. She had always been popular, but they had no idea that she had fallen in love with a boy from the lower town. They wouldn't have imagined it could have been someone that worked in a mill. Brittney had made it into a prestigious college and they figured she was well on her way to becoming something. That changed in late October. She called her parents and said she had to come home to talk to them.
Brittney came to me first. "Sean, I have to tell my parents I am pregnant." This was news to me and it was a shock. "I know they would want me to abort the baby so I have waited until it is too late for that to happen. To be honest I don't know how they will handle it. They may even disown me. If they do, then I'll just move in with you at your house. Your mom likes me and I'm sure she will let me. I know there won't be a problem because we were meant to be together."
"Brit, why didn't you tell me? It is my baby too. I thought you were on birth control. If I had known you weren't, I would have taken precautions. Oh God, this is a mess. How am I going to support you as well as Mom and the boys?"
"Don't worry Sean. I have some money from my grandma. Just say you love me and we will make out fine. You do love me, don't you?"
"Yes, more than ever. I just wish you had let me know. This is something that should have been planned."
"It wouldn't have made any difference. I wanted your baby and there is no way anyone can prevent it, so it was planned."
"When are you going to tell your parents?"
"Tonight. You will be there won't you, please?"
"Of course, sweetheart. I think we better tell Mom now."
Mom was pleased to see my girlfriend. "Hi Brittney, what are you doing home from school?"
"I have something to confess. Mrs. O'Hara, I'm pregnant and I'm starting to show. I'm going to tell my parents tonight, but I wanted to tell you first. I know you will understand better than my mom and dad. Sean and I really do love each other and I have just told him. Don't blame him either for he was careful, he just didn't know I planned on having his baby." Brittney may have known my mom, but she was still uncertain, so the words just tumbled out of her.
"My Dear, what were you thinking? You two should have waited. If you love someone and he loves you, it doesn't go away. Well, you have made it happen, so I guess we will have to figure how to deal with it. Sean, how do you feel about this?"
"I could wish we had waited to have a baby until I made a little more money. However, we will get married as soon as possible and make the best of things."
"Mrs. O'Hara, my Gram Burgess left me some money. We will use that until after the baby is born. I plan on working. I don't expect Sean to have to do it all."
"You at least have the right attitude. What are your mom and dad going to say about this?"
"They are going to be pretty mad, but I don't care. They have pretty much ignored me all my life. I never was happy until I met The O'Hara. I am a good girl, honest, and please don't think too bad of me."
"I don't, but things are going to get difficult for both of you. Just hold your love for each other and someday things will be easier and come out right. I will do everything I can."
"Mom you are the greatest. I knew Brit and I could count on you. Now if we can get along with her parents we can be happy." I had my doubts that things would go very well tonight when Brittney told her mom and dad.
At seven that evening I presented myself at the Stockholm residence. I was casually dressed in slacks, light gray shirt and a windbreaker. I did get my hair cut--just a regular. I didn't want to make any statement, I just wanted to meet my future in-laws.
Brittney answered the door as planned and led me into the living room. This was the first time I had been in this house. I had to say my mom kept a neater house than this one was, but then ours was much smaller and more lived in. "Mom and Dad, I would like you to meet the man I'm going to marry. This is Sean O'Hara. Sean, this is my father, Steven Stockholm and my mother Sarah."
"Is this the reason you came home and wanted to talk to us, young lady?"
"That and other things."
"What about school? You aren't leaving school. It was hard enough getting you in there. Besides that is your mother's alma mater."
"I will be leaving. I'm going to have to because of my condition."
Brittney's mother spoke. "You're telling us you are pregnant, aren't you? Well that is easy enough to take care of. I will call the doctor and have it terminated immediately."
"No you won't. It is too late. Besides I want this baby and Sean does too."
I was surprised. No voices had been raised. "Brittney, how did this happen? I thought you were dating that Doyle boy. Isn't his name Brad?"
"I did until I met The O'Hara. Brad and Sean had a fight. Sean treated Brad in such a way that he wasn't marked. Brad appreciated it even though he lost and they became friends. I was there and I got interested. I asked Brad to set up a blind date with Sean. We have been a couple ever since."
"When was this? You were only seventeen. I could have him put in jail."
"No you can't. The O'Hara didn't touch me until I had my birthday. He was my birthday present and I gave myself to him that night."
"What are your prospects, young man?"
"Right now, not very good. I am willing to work hard to make a good life for Brittney."
"You mean she is basically throwing her life away on you. I won't think about it or allow it."
"How are you going to stop it? I admit we have some problems ahead of us. Brittney thinks she has it figured out. I hope so. You see I have other commitments too. I am helping support my widowed mother and two younger brothers. My mother was told this afternoon after Brittney told me. She is very supportive and is going to provide care for Brittney until the baby comes and will help take care of it afterwards."
"Are you saying you didn't know she was pregnant until today either?"
"That's right Daddy, I didn't tell him. I did tell him when we first made love that I was on birth control. I didn't want to lose him so I lied. That is the last secret I will ever keep from him. I planned this and I don't regret it a moment."
"You have been very foolish Brittney. When are you getting married?"
"Day after tomorrow at the justice of the peace. We will be living at Mrs. O'Hara's until we get a place of our own."
"Brittney, what you have done is the most foolish thing I ever heard of. You have taken the good life you had ahead of you and thrown it away. Sean, where do you work, anyway? I am assuming you do have a job."
"I work at the Penstock chair factory down on Weston Street. I have worked there part-time for my last two years of school and now work full time. Next year, I should be in charge of the loading docks. When that happens I will be able to support both Brittney and the baby."
"Well that is admirable, but it doesn't sound like much of a life for my daughter."
"I love him Dad, so it doesn't matter as long as we are together."
"That may be how you feel now, but what happens if he loses his job? What will you do then?"
"He'll just find another one. Men and women have been living like this all their lives. They can't always marry money."
I saw my future father-in-law's face flush. I surmised that Daddy didn't have much when he married Mommy. I put my hand on Brittney's shoulder and whispered to her. "That's not our business, Brit. Don't make your father more upset than he is." I got a smile from her and her father evidently didn't want to go there, for he didn't pick up on her comment.
"You have to admit, it is going to make your life pretty damned difficult."
"I suppose, but we will survive."
"I'm not sure that you would, but we shall see. Do you want your mother and me at your so-called wedding?"
I spoke, "Of course we do. We would be disappointed if you weren't. My Mom will not be present as she is too crippled. Bradley Doyle is going to be my witness and his girlfriend Sandy, is going to be Brittney's."
"You have this all planned out then?"
"The best we can. I have convinced Brittney to finish out this semester at school so she will be returning there day after tomorrow. The administration shouldn't give her too much trouble with her change in marital status. After all the semester is paid for and I thank you for that."
"No, not at this time. Someday when we can afford it even if we have to wait until our children are grown."
"I'll give you twenty-five thousand dollars right now if you don't go through with the wedding. Brittney can have the baby and give it up for adoption and get on with her life in a year."
"I say no! However, it is Brittney's life and her decision. If she does not want to marry me tomorrow you can plan that with her. I will not accept any money from you under any such conditions. Sir, I'm disappointed that you made the offer."
"You are just another bonehead Irishman. What my daughter sees in you is beyond me."
Mr. and Mrs. Stockholm were not at our wedding ceremony, we assumed to show their displeasure. Brad and Sandy chipped in and gave us a motel room for the night. It had been two months since Brittney and I had made love. Now tonight it was as man and wife. Brittney kept declaring how lucky she felt to have me as her husband. I didn't have the words to express myself, but I'm sure she knew that I felt as lucky--or more so. In the morning I kissed my pregnant wife goodbye and sent her on her way back to school.
I wouldn't be seeing her again until Thanksgiving, about a month away. After that it would be Christmas and the end of her semester and then I would have her in my arms all the time.
When I got to the dock the next morning, I went right to work. I had three trucks to unload and two loads leaving with furniture. I had the unloads done and was loading a truck when my supervisor came out onto the dock. "O'Hara you are wanted in the front office ASAP. Give the equipment and manifests to Jimmy."
It was indicated by his secretary that I go into the plant manager's office. He hit me with a shocker. "Sean, I have been directed to let you go. That is a direct order from the major owner. He is a Steven Stockholm, our silent partner, but he is the one that calls the shots. He is the stock in Penstock, our company name. What did you do, knock his daughter up?"
"Yes, but I didn't know he was connected here. We were married yesterday. He hasn't lost any time in getting back at me, has he? Honestly, I didn't know he owned this company. Oh well, I'll get my stuff."
"Look I'm sorry about this. Why don't you go around and tell everyone you are leaving? I really am sorry to see you go. I thought you would move right along up in the factory here, now that you are out of school. If you need a letter of recommendation, be sure to call. I've been so proud to have The O'Hara working here, both father and son.
By eleven a.m. I was on my way home and unemployed. I told Mom all about it. I told her I was touched by how the factory workers acted towards me when they learned of my being fired. The ladies, some with tears in their eyes, kissed me. How the Italian carvers on the second floor had kissed both of my cheeks exclaiming at the unfairness of it all. The Irish had little to say and patted me on the butt saying I would be back to work in no time. "What did they mean by that, Mom?"
"Son, all of those people had a great deal of respect for your father and the title of 'The O'Hara.' The whole neighborhood does. You have shown you deserve the same respect as he did. Look how you got rid of Pasquale when you found out he was beating his wife and children. Look how you have worked to keep drugs out of the neighborhood, and you are only eighteen. You are about to see what respect can do for a person.
"You take today off and write your wife about how much you miss her and love her. Don't tell her about this. I predict that you will be working again before the week is out. You know being The O'Hara will never bring you riches, but it will bring you something that you will appreciate more. It is a burden some times, but you won't mind. You have seen some of it today and you will soon see a lot more."
I wondered what Mom meant. Suddenly I was tired. I went in and laid down--and I slept and slept. Through lunch and dinner and into the evening. Mom came to the door. "Sean you have a visitor. He is coming up the walk now. Would you wake and meet him?"
I brushed my hair and rubbed the sleep from my eyes and when the knock came on the door, I opened it. My father-in-law stood there staring at me. "Come in Sir." I opened the door wider. He hesitated before entering and looked to see if it was safe. I said nothing. Finally he came in. I seated him after taking his top coat.
"Who the fuck are you? Do you know all of the workers left the factory for lunch today and never returned? My plant manager asked me what I expected when I had The O'Hara fired. He said you aren't union and you don't belong to any crime family. Where does your power come from? You are destroying me."
"No Steven, you destroyed yourself." Mom was standing in the doorway between the kitchen and the living room.
"Oh my God, Kitty, is that you?"
"Hello Steven, it has been a long time. Quite a coincidence isn't it? Your daughter and my son married, I mean."
"I don't believe this. Would somebody tell me what is going on?"
"It is simple, really. You chose Sarah over me because she had more money than I did and it was the luckiest day of my life. I met The O'Hara that same night you walked away from me. What has just happened--don't blame Sean. It was his father that did that even though he has been dead for two years or more. You did his son wrong and the people that loved his father remembered. This is their way of getting even.
"You can still save your factory. You will even get your workers back, for they have to eat and they need their jobs. It will take time and they will never produce as well as they have been. The carvings on your furniture will never be as crisp and symmetrical as what you are used to. You may not see it but you never will win a plaque saying 'best of show' again. The judges will know."
"You talk about your husband as if he was a God."
"No he was just a man. He did have a title I suppose, but it was handed down to him. His power came from respect. It starts with himself and spreads to others. When man has respect for himself he can do anything. When many men have that, they can change evil into good. Shawn had it and I think Sean has more than his father had. At least he has started earlier."
"What has he done? Christ he is still a kid."
"Let me tell you about Pasquale. This Pasquale ran a corner grocery down the street from here. The grocery is still there, but Pasquale isn't, just the name. Sean did that with the help of his brothers. All he had to do was let everyone know that this grocer beat his wife and children--severely sometimes. The three boys offered to go over to the next block and do the shopping for the old people, just to let Pasquale know he shouldn't be beating on his family. Within a week all the kids in the neighborhood were doing that for all of Pasquale's customers. It took two weeks and Pasquale got the message and he closed. Not only that, Mrs. Pasquale got enough backbone to dump the sorry bastard."
Mom was wound up. Both my dad and myself were her favorite subjects. I should be embarrassed, but my father-in-law needed to know what kind of a person Brittney had married. It was up to me to support her. If it meant Mom bragging about me to make it so I could--well so be it.
"Steven you go ask our councilman what kind of a district this is. You will find it is the poorest, but one with the least crime and the least trouble. That was my husband's doing. Sean has followed suit. When drug dealers moved in, as they do in all neighborhoods, Sean and some of his friends watched and when some drugs were about to be sold, he let it be known. How can a dealer sell drugs when there are ten kids standing around shouting, 'drugs, drugs, drugs.' It wasn't long before the dealers moved on to an easier place where there wasn't The O'Hara to bother them."
"You're saying then that Sean hasn't done anything to shut my factory down?"
"That is correct. You did it yourself. You made a move on someone and did something that wasn't fair or deserved. It just happened that person had everyone's respect, so they retaliated."
"What can I do to get things back to the way they were? What do you want, Sean? A better job, more money, what?"
"I'd like my job back of course, and I'd like to make sure that my fellow workers didn't lose any money by boycotting Penstock. You could tell them that you were at first very disappointed in your daughter's choice of a husband. You have since talked with that person and resolved any differences. By putting me back to work, they will believe that. Whether those are your true feelings or not is entirely up to you."
"How will the workers know that you have your job back?"
"They know already."
"What do you mean? How could they know that?"
"Your car is out in front of this house, for one thing. People will see it. The other thing, they need their jobs. I will be sitting on the loading dock first thing in the morning, so they know somehow all was made right here tonight. You know, I have the feeling that you have been a little ashamed of being a factory owner. Really it is something to be proud of, especially when you turn out as fine a product as you do."
"Hmm, you know son, in my world money is everything. Talking with you and your mother here tonight has shown me that maybe there is more to living than money. You seem to have a unique way of opening one's eyes. Also, I thought my daughter was stupid. I still think she was stupid to do things the way she has, but maybe in some things, she was pretty damned smart. I'm still puzzled over this O'Hara thing and the place it holds in today's time. I could understand it if it was four or five centuries ago."
He was shaking his head. Then he asked, "Would you go out and leave me alone with your mother? It has been almost twenty years since I have seen her and I'd like to talk over old times."
Brittney was home for Thanksgiving. She was more beautiful than I remembered--and she was obviously pregnant. Brittney had immediately come to my house when she arrived in town. The Stockholms invited Mom, the boys, Brittney and me for the holiday. Mom was reluctant for she and Steven had been an item before Dad. It took Sarah Stockholm, personally, a trip down to our neighborhood to convince her to attend.
Steven (I hadn't been able to call him Dad and Mr. Stockholm seemed too formal) suggested that Brittney and I retire to her room. He said, "You and your husband will need some time alone. Your Mom and Kitty are getting dinner and I'll talk to the boys. You will be called in plenty of time."
This surprised Brittney that her dad was so congenial. I smiled and said, "Your dad is trying to impress my mom. Believe it or not, they used to go together. Your mother won out and my mom went on to find my father. I think he is still a little bit in love with her."
"How did you find that out?"
"He came to visit me right after you went back to school. I think you and I are going to have an easier time getting along with your folks. Some of it is because of Mom, and some of it is an understanding we reached. It had to do with me being The O'Hara. Things seem to be better, anyway." I kissed my wife. "Honey why are we talking? I want to see you and hold you. In fact, I want to see all of you, especially where you are carrying our baby."
"I thought you would never ask. The little O'Hara better hang on because in about five minutes he is in for a bumpy ride."
Later, "You keep saying 'he.' It could be a girl, you know."
"No way! This baby is going to be the future 'The O'Hara'."
"I can live with that."
It was a boy, just as she predicted. Shawn, we named him after my father. Two years later twins were born, Kenny and Colleen. We had outgrown our little house and Brittney, with Steven's help, bought us a house out in the suburbs. Steven and I had come to an agreement that if he wanted to do something for his daughter he was free to do it. For myself, I spent much of my free time studying at one of the community colleges. Actually it was an outreach from the state university.
Brittney chaffed at the time I spent nights studying. She was happy though, when we moved into our own home. I was happy for her too, for there were several young mothers with husbands who worked in the city and these women with time on their hands needed to get together. Mom and my brothers still lived in our old neighborhood, but she often went uptown to visit Sarah since they had become friends.
When Steven saw how serious I was about getting an education, he said the company would pay for the courses if a high enough grade point average was maintained. This wasn't just for me, but for any employee that wanted to take advantage of it. Steven gave up his silent partner status. By this I mean he let it be known that he was an owner and started taking an interest in the plant and what was produced. He even had his own office with his name on the door. He was wise in not showing me any favoritism and I thanked him for that.
I was moving up in the company, though. I felt it was my own efforts and I had earned every promotion that came to me. The way of doing business was changing too. Our wood carvers were a dying breed. Many of them were men that had come from Germany and Italy. All were at least sixty or older and we couldn't find anyone to replace them as they retired or were unable to work. Arthritis of the hands would hit them all of a sudden. One day a man could carve and then he would come in and would be unable to hold a mallet and chisel.
I read about these new robotic machines the Japanese had developed in the auto industry. I traveled to a trade show and I could see, with modifications, that they could be applied to much of the fine work we produced. Soon I was in charge of a new department and a whole class of furniture was produced with the major work done by these machines.