I'd forgotten it was St. Patrick's Day, although the green ties, green dresses and green doughnuts in the food cart in the lobby should have been an obvious clue. Actually, the green doughnuts could have been moldy ones unsold from the previous week.
I escaped any encounters with colleagues, customers and my boss all morning, completing several technical specifications that would be sent out for competitive bids against an in-house development group. My brain was drained, and I was in no mood for conversation. When lunch hour rolled around, the usual eat-together crowd headed off to Hennessey's. No surprise at all when they came back plastered. Before any face- or buttock-copying broke out, we all got early dismissal, to prevent serious mistakes while inebriated. In fairness, they let everyone go home early, including all of us sober blokes. Someone thought it was funny to pin a "Kiss Me, I'm Jewish" button to my jacket. Oh well, nothing else I was wearing was green.
On the couch at home, I harmlessly paged through the local paper, checking out young female athletes in the Sports section. The silence was interrupted by the front door squeaking open. "Hello?"
Annie peeked out around the corner. "Hi, Daddy."
We were supposed to have a family dinner that night. All we needed was my wife to get back from who-knows-where. Annie had her back to me. Odd. "Turn around, sweetie."
Annie stood with a hand over one eye.
She dropped her hand, exposing a black and blue shiner. "Marty Kelly punched me in the face."
"What?" Some classmate punched my only daughter? I jumped up, letting the paper scatter to the floor. I knew precisely where the student directory was, in the kitchen next to the phone.
"Daddy, don't!" Annie pleaded. She was pulling at my arm. "You'll only make it worse."
I ripped the page of "K"s from the booklet and stormed off to the garage. "Someone needs to teach that kid a lesson."
"Daddy!" Annie stood in the kitchen doorway as I backed out of the garage, beckoning me back. I could feel the blood throbbing in my ears. How dare some bully sock my Annie in the face? What is this world coming to? Annie wouldn't hurt a fly. She might, however, unzip one.
I obeyed all the traffic laws, despite my foot's desire to floor the accelerator after every stop sign. A series of deep breaths lowered my blood pressure but did nothing to curb my mission, to confront the young man who brutalized Annie.
I stopped at the proper address, turned off the engine and yanked at the handbrake. I was up their front steps in two leaps, and leaned heavily on their doorbell.
A young boy, maybe seven, opened the front door. This couldn't be the kid. "Are you Marty?"
"No, that's my sister."
Sister? He must be mistaken.
"Maaaaaa," cried the boy.
A woman walked over, a baby nursing on one breast. I heard crying of another child somewhere in the house. "What can I do for yee?" The baby pulled back, exposing a fat red nipple. "You'll excuse me. She needs feedin'."
"Of course." I was jealous. Her breasts were pale, nice sized, obviously milk-laden. "Your son Marty hit my daughter Annie and gave her a black eye."
She pushed back the screen and gestured me in, past an entry table. "You met my only son. The other three are girls. Marty is spelt with an 'i'." She walked into their living room and motioned to a family portrait on the piano. Her and her husband, a burly brute I'd prefer never to meet, a red haired young lady, the young boy and two babies, dressed in green, not traditional pink.
"Okay, I got the gender wrong. Still, there's the issue of Annie's assault. Can I speak with Marti?" I asked.
"She's working'." The baby in her arms lifted her head towards the nipple, blocking my view. "I'll speak to her when she gets home." The crying in the other room got louder. "She'll be leaving your Annie alone from now on. And you'd be leaving now."
"Where does she work? I'd like to speak with her myself."
"You'd be best letting us apply the discipline. Marti has a temper, for sure. We'll handle her, Sean and me. Thanks for letting me know."
I headed out, deflated from the lack of satisfaction. I wanted the direct confrontation, not delegation to Marti's parents.
"Could you do me a favor?" Mrs. Kelly called from the other room. "Fetch the mail and put it inside?"
"Sure." The mailbox was mounted next to the door on the exterior wall, filled with a newspaper and dozens of envelopes. I flipped through them, looking for a clue. Among the envelopes, I saw a paycheck-style envelope from the Radmont Hotel, downtown, addressed to Marti Kelly. Bingo! Temper, huh? Perhaps she works the hotel bar a bouncer?
Traffic between the suburbs and downtown was murder, which gave me time to think about what I'd say to Marti. Every scenario ended with me punching her in the face, so she'd look and feel the way Annie did. The idea of doling out physically violence seemed acceptable, and I shivered at the concept. I'm a lover, not a fighter.
I parked in the hotel's lot, expecting that they'd validate, even if I punched out one of their employees. After all, this was personal. I strode through the lobby to the bar. It was full of rowdy drunks singing songs off key and pitchers of green beer, but no redheaded waitresses. Back in the lobby, I scanned for activity. Near the staircase to the second floor, a sign directed folks to the Gillpatrick-McGinnis wedding. Of course! She was waitressing a wedding party. Based on the bride and groom's surnames, these folks picked a perfect day, St. Patrick's Day, to get married.
The party must have ended, since the Ballroom was nearly empty. A few ladies, probably guests in long dresses, lingered around a bar in the far corner of the huge room. Several young men dressed as staff waddled towards a pair of swinging doors, arms laden with soiled tablecloths. Sounds of kitchen cleanup came from behind those doors as I approached.
Busboys had loosened their ties, unbuttoned their collars, and were heading out the back way. Large sinks full of dirty plates and cups were evidence of a sumptuous gathering. My stomach growled at the thought of a nice meal. Damn Marti, for hurting my daughter and making me hungry.
A voice blasted from behind me. "You can't be back here."
I turned around. A redhead stood defiant, hands on her hips, wearing a molded black plastic bustier and a short white miniskirt that ended high on her thighs. It was Marti.
"I'm Anna's father. You know, the one you punched in the face." I closed the distance between us. Could I haul off and hit her?
Marti poked at the button on my jacket. "You shouldn't make fun." She hiked the sagging bustier higher, but it fell back to its original position, leaving her cleavage exposed.
I glanced down at the object of her scorn. Damn, I hadn't removed the "Kiss Me, I'm Jewish" button. Take the offensive. "And you shouldn't be giving other girls black eyes."
"She deserved it, the little tramp. It wasn't me, stepping in to steal her boyfriend, now, was it?"
"Annie wouldn't do that." Would she? I knew Annie was experimenting sexually. Hell, she and I had our share of mutual adventures. Maybe there was more to the story. "What did she do?"
"Nothing, 'cause I stopped her. Her and those slut friends of hers."
I knew those girls, up close and personal. "So she didn't actually steal your boyfriend? And you hit her anyway?"
"She was planning on it, that's for sure. Stopping in the halls, rubbing his shoulder. Any minute, she'd have dragged him away and had her way with him. So I told her hands off."
"And she said?"
"That he wasn't my property, and she could talk to anyone, and not to get my panties in a knot. Great father you are, raising a daughter that way, with no discipline."
"You should talk!" I was getting no respect, which pissed me off even worse.
"Now I know where she gets her attitude. Who are you to me, anyway?" Marti's hand came up to slap me. I grabbed her wrist. She swung her other hand. Ambidextrous? I grabbed that one as well. I was close enough to see a gold "Kiss Me I'm Irish" ornament hanging around her neck, just above the valley between her tits, tucked behind the stiff plastic top.
She must have noticed my stare. "So you're taking a peek, pervert? Next you'll be wanting a kiss?" She leaned forward and planted one on me. Bumping of lips without feeling. Not particularly gratifying. That was the last thing I remembered before her knee slammed into my groin.
The florescent lights were bright, making everything look fuzzy. Straddling my legs, red-haired Marti. Sitting on a stool behind her, a long-dressed young woman, one of the dawdling drinkers from the corner.
It must have been a dream. First, because the woman on the stool looked like a mermaid, with a tail in place of legs. Second, because my pants were unzipped and my penis was waving around at half stiff. Marti's hands tapped the organ back and forth. Quickly, it was gaining length and girth. I propped myself up on my elbows.
"See, he's not dead," said Long Dress. "Hey, Big Guy!" Her slurred speech indicated intoxication.
"The name is Marcus."
"Oh no, you're Big Guy. On campus, off campus, anywhere you point that thing. Big Guy." She hoisted a bottle of what looked like champagne and took a swig. "It's even bigger than Sean's!"
I had no idea who Sean was, and why our comparative sizes were relevant.
.... There is more of this story ...