Mack checked his mailbox just inside the doorway of his apartment building.
“Three rejection letters today,” Mack mumbled as he sorted through the mail. “That’s sort of a record. Two was my previous best.”
He opened one from a publisher who wanted stories for an anthology. He mumbled through the polite rejection. He opened the next. “A personal note,” he said pleased. “That’s good.” He mumbled quickly through the rejection letter and opened the note. “Please return to basic English grammar and sentence structure. “Idiots, they said they wanted experimental form.”
He put his back to the door of his apartment and shoved the door open as he opened the third letter. He read to himself, “Enclosed is a check for $50 for your story “Sunset at O’Rourke’s.”
Mack looked at the check and kissed it. He looked around the apartment for someone to tell. He did a bit of a jig. He giggled like a child and went to the mirror in the bathroom. He ran a brush through his hair and stood proper. “Mr. Mack Moran you are a writer. You may not be much of anything else, but you are a writer.”
Mack rushed to his bedroom and fetched a tweed jacket and rustled it on. He gabbed his flat cap and stood again before the mirror. “Now that’s a proper fit for a writer.” He ran a tooth brush quickly across his teeth and adjusted his smile to not look too giddy.
Moving toward the door he grabbed the check and patted it in the inside of his jacket’s lapel pocket. He stashed the acceptance letter in a side pocket.
His walk to Darcy’s Pub was brisk he smiled and greeted everyone, even the a dog and the trees.
There was the normal after-work crowd at Darcy‘s. He knew them all and they knew him. He regaled them all from time to time with his stories. In fact it was there three years earlier that Ray Slattery said, “You should write your stories down and sell them.”
Mack wrote assiduously ever sense with no success and now someone paid for a story and was about to publish it.
After the usual greetings Mack sat at the bar and told O‘Rourke, the bartender and owner, “Drinks on the house.”
O’Rourke began the task of getting the drinks and informing everyone it was Mack who was buying. When O’Rourke completed the task he went back to Mack. “What’s the occasion?”
“O’Rourke,” Mack said. “I finally did it. “I sold a story. I’m now a writer.”
“Hey everybody!” O’Rourke shouted and rung a small bell that hung over the back bar.
“Who had a baby?” a patron yelled.
“Mack Moran sold his first story,” O’Rourke said. “And he’s come to share his good fortune with his friends.”
Everyone applauded and many came up to shake his hand and give him a slap on the back.
“I knew you could do it,” O’Rourke said smiling. “I’m happy for you, lad. I knew it would just be matter of time.”
“I can’t believe it, man!” Mack said. “I couldn’t be happier if I had a million dollars plopped down in my lap.”
“Well tell me bout it,” O’Rourke said beaming.
“It’s a story about this place,” Mack said. “It’s called ’”Sunset at Darcy’s.”’
“Am I in it?” O’Rourke said.
“Of course you are!” Mack said.
“Than tell me about it,” O’Rourke said.
“You will have to wait until it is published,” Mack said. “It comes out in September’s issue of Vanguard.”
“Vanguard,” O’Rourke said. “Isn’t that for rich people?”
“Yes,” Mack said. “And here’s the check. Can you cash it and take the house drinks out of it.”
O’Rourke went to the register with the check, but slowly returned. “There must have been a mistake. The check was for $5.” He handed the check to Mack.
Mack looked at it. He placed it on the bar and dug into the side pocket of his jacket and pulled the letter out. He carefully read it.
“There’s been no mistake, O’Rourke,” Mack said sadly and embarrassed. “I misread. It says $5. I’ve never been good a proof reading. What do the drinks come to?”
“$19.75,” O’Rourke said.
“Can you put it on my tab,” Mack said. “I only got five until pay day.”
“Sure,” O’Rourke said. “You’re good for it, lad.”
“A few minutes ago this was the happiest day of my life,” Mack said and leaned close to O’Rourke. “Can you keep this between you and me. I don’t want nobody feelin’ bad for me.”
O’Rourke folded the check and placed it in his pocket and tapped it. “I’m havin’ this check framed and hangin’ it over the back bar. When you are famous people will come in here just to see that check.”
“Don’t do that,” Mack said. “Every one will know it was for only $5.”
“It will be so far away they won’t be able to read it,” O’Rourke said. “And by the time I show it to them up close they’ll be too drunk to make it out.”
“I can smile again,” Mack said. He quickly finished his beer. “I got to go now and work on another story. I’ll se ya pay day.”
“Don’t worry about it, lad. The drinks are on me,” O’Rourke said and patted the check in his pocket. “Publicity like this is priceless.”