Chapters:

Prologue

Harvey Bangor had himself a drinking problem. Or maybe a better way to say it would be that a drinking problem had itself a Harvey Bangor. It was inevitable, really. Harvey was born into alcoholism the way some children are born into riches or fame. His mother was a drunk until she died, and his daddy was too. Harvey was conceived on a drunken moonlit night at Lover’s Cove, just outside the dirty country town of Hickory, Tennessee. His Mother, Sherri, was blond, curvy, 21, and just passing through on her way to California to become a famous actress. Harvey’s father, Robert Bangor was tall, dark and a good-looking thirty-five, a jack-of-all-trades and for that particular week, a bartender at Jackals, the local watering hole and pool hall.

Sherri ordered her first drink at Jackals from Robert, her blue eyes never leaving his face. He handed it to her while thinking that she was the most beautiful girl he’d ever seen, and that she was certainly, unquestionably, not from around here. The drink was a Harvey Wallbanger, and it was on the house, and she flirted with him shamelessly until the rest of them were too. When the bar closed and she was still there, they drove to Lover’s Cove. Afterwards, broke and spoiled, Sherri stayed around long enough to discover she was pregnant and to convince Robert that she was in love with him so that he would take care of her. She continued on an even drunk throughout her pregnancy, with Robert working odd jobs here and there to support her habit while nurturing his own as well.

Sherri stopped drinking long enough to deliver her baby boy in the backseat of a dirty yellow Checkers cab on the curb of Old Cedars Hospital, ten miles down the gravel road from Hickory. Nurses rushed to the cab and wrapped the baby in a warm blanket and carried him inside. Sherri sat up in back seat of the cab and stayed long enough to tell them that the baby’s name was Harvey. As she pulled the car door shut she ordered the cab driver to take her to the bus station, leaving the baffled nurses, her infant son and Hickory behind.

Robert’s friend Harlan was the first to hear about baby Harvey. His sister, a nurse at Cedars, called him from the hospital, asking him to help find Robert and tell him he had a son. Harlan drove his car first to Robert’s home out on Route 13, and then out to the old fishing hole at Buck Creek, before finally finding him at Jackals Tavern. He was not yet inebriated, but he was drunk enough to react the way drunk men do when they find out that their woman has left them. Robert punched the top of the bar, splitting open the knuckles on his right hand. The pain only made him angrier and he grabbed an empty beer bottle and smashed it to the floor, and in one smooth motion did the same with his half-empty bottle, only this time against a far wall.. He’d snatched a third bottle from the hand of a surprised customer when the sound of a shotgun being cocked made him, and everyone else in the bar, freeze.

The bartender, Mitch, pointed the shiny sawed off shotgun at Robert and very politely said, “Robert, you break one more god damned thing in my bar and Doc Citrus will be digging buckshot outta your ass for a week.”

The fight went out of Robert as quickly as it had come upon him. His shoulders slumped and he threw both hands up in a gesture of defeat and apology, and let a relieved Harlan lead him quietly out of the bar. The two sat together on the crumbling curb while Robert caught his breath.

After a few moments of silence, Robert wiped his dirty tear stained face with his equally grimy hands and in a low voice said, “Let’s go get my son.”


Next Chapter: 1.