It’ll Do – Sully’s Place

28 Nov

It’ll Do
Copyright William J. Conaway, 1989

Episode 13 – SULLY’S PLACE

I was sitting at the long oak bar of the It’ll Do sipping on a Bud. I was waiting for someone who wanted to shoot some pool, when this girl came in. She looked just old enough to order (although I’ve known Sully to make some exceptions for under-agers when they had one of his regulars with them). She was pretty, all right. J.C. and I were talking about something-or-other. We both turned around a little to get a better look at her, naturally. She was really a looker—in a clean sort of way. Her hair was black and cut short. J.C. and I weren’t the only ones looking, Sully was too. We all enjoyed a good look as she glided across the room. She slid up on one of the bar stools about mid-way betweenJ.C. and me.

“My name’s Orville,” I said. “Care to shoot a game of pool?”

“No thank you Orville. Could you tell me where to find the boss?”

“That’s him behind the bar,” I said, more than a little disappointedly.

Sully’s not a letch, he couldn’t get away with it in Cherryville. He might have been just a little more susceptible what with Vera out of town. At least, he seemed friendlier than he usually was with strangers.

I could tell you what they said back-and-forth, but it was just get acquainted talk. Her name was Jane. His was Jerome Sullivan, but just call me Sully; all my friends do.

About that time J.C. said he thought he’d go over and make her welcome. He were back in a few minutes. Jane asked for a couple of minutes alone with Sully. What I guess she didn’t know was that the It’ll Do is a quiet bar, a family bar, sort of…

“Mr. Sullivan, I’m looking for a job”.

“Well, you could try `The Barn’ just outside of town”.

“I was there last night”.

Her normal smile turned into a frown. It didn’t make Jane look any less pretty, though.

“It doesn’t have the—what do you call it? The right atmosphere. Not for me, it’s pretty rowdy. The manager out there! I don’t think he is a very classy man”. Mr. Sullivan, this is such a NICE bar, really it is. I could tell right away.”

“Jane, we’ve never ever needed a bar-maid here”.

“Never?”

“Un uh. Not much call for one in a place like the It’ll Do. This is a pretty quiet place, you know”.

J.C. turned back to me and whispered, “I’ll bet you five that Sully hires her”.

“Are you smoking some of that funny tobacco, J.C.? Sully doesn’t need any bar-maid. Besides, Vera would probably cut him off for a month for hiring her without her say-so”.

“J.C., I’m a hell of a lot older than you, and I can read people as well as you can read a comic book. It’s a bet”.

“Mr. Sullivan,” Jane said. “I really do need this job. I can work the booths. Full-time or evenings, if you want me to”.

“I’m really sorry, Jane, but I can’t use you,” Sully said.

When Sully hired Jane it did brighten up the place considerably. She was one hell of better person to look at than Sully that’s for sure. I’m not saying anything against Vera, but Jane was a good fifteen years younger.

Business did pick up some. Jane got all the normal passes you’d expect, regulars and salesmen, even some of the town folk who didn’t normally stop into the It’ll Do. She didn’t go out with anybody (we would have known about that) and she didn’t make any big fuss about the passes either. She just kept on being a nice, clean, sweet girl. Of course Sully didn’t have her dress up in any of those fancy costumes like they do in other places.

Sully seemed pleased to have her around. People sitting in the booths used to have to get up and serve themselves. When Jane started serving them, there seemed to be a lot more people sitting over there. It wasn’t the service so much as it was Jane. Ladies seemed to like her just fine. When the booths were empty, she would go back behind the
bar and help Sully with the clean-up work. Sully liked that, I could tell.

I kept on thinking on what would happen when Vera got home. That didn’t turn out to be the problem, no, sir.

One day, about a week after Jane came to work, a stranger came in. He went over and sat down in one of the booths. When a stranger comes in we’re polite but wary. The regulars check him out. This fellow dressed in smart fashion. About thirty-five, I’d say, with long hair for this part of the country. He was wearing a tie. Jane went over to take his order.

“Sully,” she said later, “I know that man from somewhere”.

“Is he giving you any trouble?” Sully asked.

“Oh, no. I just know him from someplace”.

“Well, if he does, just come over and tell me”.

Jane gave him a big smile and nodded a few times. A few minutes later I went over and asked this stranger if he’d care to shoot some pool, he accepted. Instead of lagging for the break, I told to go ahead and shoot first. This is just plain good strategy—it bound him to play a second game, giving me the break. I’m not a shark. I shoot good pool, that’s all. I don’t, as a matter of principle, pull my shots. Sometimes one game with me is enough for some people. So why not let him take the break? Why not? He ran the table on me. I might as well have been out baling hay, for all it mattered.

One thing I did notice about this fellow was, not only was he one hell of a shooter, but he sort of swished as he moved around the table, positioning his shots. I swear—he waggled his ass four or five times before and after every shot. You get the picture? That damn well didn’t keep him from taking the first game and my five dollars.

I went up for two more beers from Sully and overheard:

“Sully, how long has it been since you’ve given the It’ll Do a face-lift? It’s none of my business, I know, but, it’s getting a little dingy,” Jane was saying.

“I hadn’t noticed,” Sully said looking around the place.

“What made me think of it was I remember who that man is. The one shooting pool with Orville. He’s the decorator who redid the Park Place over in Wichita not long ago. I was working there. He improved that place about four-hundred percent. He might have some ideas for you”.

Well that confirmed it for me; about Delbert, I mean…an interior decorator. Sully called him over to the bar before I could get back to start the second game.

They talked for quite some time, until the regulars started drifting in. I couldn’t hear what they were saying because I was over at the table practicing shots. They talked so long that two farmers came over and claimed the table out from under me.

The next day the deer head was down, the beer signs were off the walls. Tim Foley was busy at work dismantling the horse-shoe booths. Delbert was doing some supervising, parading around the room looking this way and that. The day after, the juke box was taken out. It went on from there. Sully even closed the It’ll Do, for repairs.

When he opened up a week later all the regulars came back. It was terrible. As if your favorite bird dog had turned into a toad.

We knew who the culprit was. He was the fellow in the fancy sports jacket and shiny shoes who was jumping all of us. Pointing out this or that and taking credit for all of it. Thank God Sully didn’t, no-one would’ve ever talked to him again.

First, the pool table was gone. A good sized dancing floor was where it used to be. Some big speakers were hanging on the wall sending out so much music a body couldn’t talk. The oak bar was now padded plastic. Above it were wooden glass holders that held the glasses upside-down. Carpet was on the floor. It wasn’t even regular carpet. It was pieces of carpet in different colors cut to fit any-which-a-way curves. The ceiling was about seven feet overhead and had all these little colored lights poking out here and there. Seating? I’ll tell you. There were little round tables with ice cream parlor chairs around them.

The bar stools had been changed to things with chrome tubing and clear Plexiglas. Maybe a body could perch on one of them—I didn’t know. On the wall opposite to the bar was this painting. All different colors in circles, triangles and squares.

I had a double dark beer while standing up between two of those chrome things. Mavis actually got up on one. She ordered a double dark too. I imagine just about everyone ordered the same while sitting in those dumb ice cream chairs. They were served by Jane. She was wearing a halter top and short-shorts. Well, she was a looker, all right.

Sully was smiling. There was a twitch to it. “What do you all think?”

J.C. tried to bang his beer glass down on the bar, but it just thudded.

“Where in the hell is the God-damned pool table, Sully?” J.C. strangled”.

As we were all leaving we saw some men taking down the “It’ll Do” sign. There, in their truck, was a brand new one. It had colored lights and neon both, it read: “Sully’s Place”.

Well, you know what happened. We ended up hanging around in this dump on the other side of town. It had a pool table, even though it was as ratty, as the bar was.

Vera finally got home a few days later. We got the rest of what happened from her. She came in the front door and nearly fainted. Shocked or not, she didn’t turn mad. When Vera gets mad it’s something. Then Jane came out of the Ladies Room and Vera saw her. THEN it was something.

While she was working Sully over, the bank called to say that Sully had charged a bunch of materials. If he wanted a loan, they said, he would have to check with his partner, McGinty first.

Sully had to call McGinty and he drove over. One good look around the place and he told Sully he was dissolving their partnership. Just as soon as he could get his cousin, the lawyer, to draw up papers. Vera said she was going back to visit her sister again.

During the day a lot of curious people came in Sully’s Place to see what was what. Word spreads around Cherryville faster than your bad check will get to the bank. Before it got dark a strange thing happened. You wouldn’t think there were so many weird people living in a small town like this one. There are, they all started coming in until the bar looked like some of those you read about. It must have been a sight.

Sully started taking his own medicine, double dark’s. He normally wouldn’t do this. He was losing his senses fast. Finally he just put a bottle of bourbon on the bar and was pouring him self straight shots into a beer mug. One of the normal people in town must have come in and seen it.

The next you knew, Toot swings in the door and goes over to the bar. He lifted Sully’s head from the bar counter and tried to explain to him he was under arrest. For serving liquor contrary to State Law.

Vera, bless her heart, didn’t get on the bus. She stayed home so she could bail Sully out the next day. That left Jane to run the bar. Vera didn’t want to see Jane very much, so that was fine with her.

About noon the next day Sully returned to the scene of the crime. Jane, Delbert and the money from the till was gone. they had pulled a fast one. They were last seen arm-in-arm, boarding a bus headed west.

It took almost a month to put the It’ll Do back together again. One thing, Sully insisted on personally pulling down the “Sully’s Place” sign—and cut an ankle stomping on it.

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