Ol' Neddy's Whiskey
written by: Daniel S. Liuzzi
The leaves danced among the old headstones. Not many new graves in the cemetery lately since most of the lots have been filled. This old village I live in has been around since before my Great Grand Da. The only new grave belonged to Ned Hacket but we all called him Ol’ Neddy. The angels came for Neddy a few nights ago while he slept, just like Neddy, something big happens while he’s asleep and he misses it. Neddy was a nice man, had no family that we knew of but he seemed to have been adopted into many families who all helped pay for his funeral. I was his neighbor and felt it was my duty that since he’s been buried next to my Ma’s grave that I help maintain his headstone when I visit hers, which after Neddy’s funeral I stayed behind to visit with Ma. I cleaned off the mud that got on her headstone and pulled the weeds that covered her name before I talked with her letting her know about Neddy’s passing.
While I spoke to her headstone, my friend Billy stopped by and visited with me and Ma. I know my Ma is dead and gone, so does Billy, it’s just how things are in the village. Everyone talks to their departed loved ones as if they’re still around, gives them comfort through a hard time, probably explains why we don’t get many tourists. Billy came by with some whiskey from his folk’s brewery, amazing stuff! It was the latest batch to be made and Billy snuck a couple bottles out to give to friends to enjoy before the bottles hit the shelves in the market, Billy even said they are sending bottles to be sold in the city! Word of the stuff must get around. Billy poured a drink for himself, me and Ma. I left Ma’s share at the base of the headstone, old tradition in my family started by my Great Grand Da. I won’t touch the drink even if it’s the last drink in the world and I’ll die if I don’t drink it I won’t. As I was told by my Ma, “Don’t drink a dead man’s whiskey unless you’re willing to join him for it.”
Ma’s right, well she’s always right it seems but I would never attempt to do that. As I remembered what she said, Billy put an unopened bottle on the freshly filled in grave of Ol’ Neddy. “Neddy loved the stuff.” Billy said, “He should have one from this batch for himself.”
Of course I couldn’t disagree with Billy, I felt the same way too. The time has passed and the snow fell and melted away to spring, the whole time I would stop by and visit Ma and Ol’ Neddy. Since the day Billy left the bottle on his grave, Neddy’s whiskey was left alone. I’m surprised, would have thought that by now someone would have tried to take the bottle themselves. I told Billy that the bottle was still on the grave, “Surprised Bobby didn’t sniff it out yet!” Billy snorted imitating Bobby, or as some of us call him Robby Bobby since he’s a tax man. Money that he should have used for the village filled that gut he’s got growing on his body, looks like he swallowed a ball that one. The nickname Robby is not a joke about his real first name but for the fact that he’s the tax man and when he’s not robbing your wallet, he’s robbing something. Mrs. McCoogan had a pie taken off the table in her back yard, and there was Bobby walking around the village eating it with no care. Pete the mail man had his toolbox taken. You name it, if it was left out, Bobby took it.
“He’ll find it sooner or later.” I told Billy, “But it’s safe in the cemetery. There’s no one there he can shake up for taxes!” As my reverse Irish luck will have it, he did have someone to get money from…me.
I was tending to Ma’s and Neddy’s graves one afternoon on a Sunday when from behind, my head was pushed…by Bobby’s gut. Thank the lord that gut is full of liquor and fat for if it was a truck I’d be joining Ma! There he was, the gutlord himself with the spaced out fish look on his face as always, “Missed your payment Jimmy!”
“I paid as usual.”
“You missed twenty!” Bobby said mid belch.
“I’ll include it in next month’s payment.”
Bobby then thrust his gut into my face…that son of a bitch punched me with…his…GUT! “You pay now Jimmy, don’t make me do something I’ll regret!” he said in a childish tone.
Out of fear of what else that gut was capable of, I reached in my pocket and pulled out fifteen, “There, I’ll go home and get five and leave it at your office!”
“Pleasure doing business with you Jimmy!” the lard lord giggled as he counted my money before his attention was drawn to Neddy’s grave. “Oh what’s this?”
I look and saw the bottle of whiskey was in sight, the label a bit faded but you can still tell that it came from Billy’s family brewery. “That’s Neddy’s Bobby!”
“I don’t think he’ll need it, and why let such a good batch go to waste!” Bobby said as his sausage like fingers picked up the bottle, “You’re for later!” he said after he kissed the neck of the bottle.
“You really shouldn’t Bobby. Never drink a dead man’s whiskey unless you’re willing to join him for it!” I used the wise words of my Ma on him but by how briskly he walked out of the cemetery, I don’t think he cared, he sure moves fast for a big guy.
The next day I was working in my shed when I heard all the commotion. I came from my yard and into the street and saw the constable talking with a couple workers from the cemetery and I could see something happened at Ma’s grave! I ran past the growing crowd calling to Ma and just before I got there, Billy stopped me from falling into an open grave, it was Neddy’s grave, opened up for the world to see but no Neddy inside! Without saying a thing I remembered Bobby and made my way to his office, Billy right behind me wanting to know what I knew. It was only a hunch but I had to be sure. After we arrived at his office we called for Bobby to answer the door, Bobby did not come. Billy and I were about to kick the door open but we checked and found out it was unlocked. The two of us walked through the office and found no Bobby so we headed upstairs to where he lived.
The door leading into Bobby’s home was opened and to our shock, there was Bobby, partially dressed but white as a sheet and eyes open wide along with that mouth of his, it was clear that Robby Bobby was dead. The corps of Bobby was not what frightened Billy and me; it was the skeleton sitting beside Bobby with its arm around his shoulder in a friendly embrace you would see a couple mates having a drink together. The skeleton was still moving pouring the open whiskey bottle’s contents into its mouth and dripping down its spine and ribs! The skeleton looked to Billy and cackled, right away we knew who it was and it was Neddy! Billy fainted; Neddy’s skeleton looked down at him and shrugged his boney shoulders before looking at me extending his skeletal arm that was holding the whiskey bottle offering it to me and jiggled the bottle as if to get my attention. Whether it was from the either or from the bony mouth of Neddy came his voice, “Drink?”
Daniel had two poems published in the June 2011 issue of the Taj Mahal Review and in the past contributed to Far Horizons E-mag.
Daniel is inspired by the works of Franz Kafka, HP Lovecraft and Vince Flynn.