New York City, 1922
Harp Devereaux is torn. Part of her desperately wants to return to Ireland to finish what she and her family and friends started, and to witness the departure of the British forces from Ireland after eight hundred long years. But the other part finds life in America during the Roaring Twenties too exciting to trade for the sleepy streets of County Cork.
She and JohnJoe are united and determined to sample all that life after the Great War has to offer, but life Stateside is not as free and easy as Harp first imagines and soon she finds herself longing for the simplicity of her homeland.
She wants to live life on her own terms but life is never simple, on either side of the Atlantic, and there are sinister forces at work, determined to bring them all down.
Release date: January 17, 2022
Publisher: Jean Grainger
Print pages: 298
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June 1921, Boston, Mass. USA
‘What is it?’ Matt watched the colour drain from his wife’s face and knew instantly something was very wrong. Outside the window, the bustle of activity as the city came to life on Shore Road, Boston was loud despite the early hour.
Rose dropped the letter on her plate, right on top of her scrambled eggs and toast. She gazed at Matt and opened her mouth as if to speak but no words came out.
‘Rose, what is it?’ he urged, worried now.
Harp paused in the buttering of her toast, and also looked at her mother. The bright morning sun shone through the window of their first floor apartment over O’Malley’s Boots and Shoes. They’d moved in the day before St Patrick’s Day, finally leaving the hospitality of the Raffertys in favour of a modest yet comfortable home of their own.
It was nothing like the Cliff House, their home in Cobh, County Cork, and it was a far cry from the sumptuous surroundings of the Raffertys, but their two- bedroomed place, with a large kitchen and living room combined, was pleasant and cheerful and it served their purposes perfectly.
‘Mammy?’ Even from across the table, Harp could see the letter was in Liz Devlin’s handwriting, a sloping copperplate, but a letter from their friends the Devlin sisters wasn’t unusual. ‘Mammy, what’s the matter?’
Rose swallowed, visibly steading herself. ‘Ralph Devereaux and Marianne’s mother have moved into the Cliff House. Behaving as if they own it. Pamela’s redecorating the whole place and they’re hobnobbing with the gentry and the British as if they had every right in the world to be in our home.’
‘What?’ Harp was shocked. ‘Is Liz sure? I thought Ralph and Pamela were in India? That’s where Marianne has been sending her letters. No wonder she’s heard nothing back… I can't believe this!’
Grimly, Rose passed Liz’s missive to her daughter – the pale blue notepaper now stained with eggs and butter. Harp scanned the neatly written words. Liz was brief and to the point. Ralph had turned up one night, not long after Harp and Rose had had to make a speedy getaway from Ireland in a hail of gunfire, and had installed himself in their house. He was telling everyone that it had always been his, and that he had only allowed them to stay on out of the goodness of his heart. When he was challenged by Mr Bridges in the hotel, that Harp had been bequeathed the house by the late Henry Devereaux when he named her as his daughter and heir, Ralph had scoffed and said in the hotel bar for all to hear, ‘If you recall my poor departed brother, he was hardly capable of a coherent sentence, let alone a romantic tryst with the maid. No, he was soft in the heart as well as the head and his housekeeper clearly tricked him. But it’s all been sorted out by the legal chaps now and I’m home in my family’s house so all is as it should be.’ The crowd, apart from Bridges, had been receptive to him. They were British officers and Protestant gentry, and it seemed they accepted his version of events.
Matt, who had been sitting in furious silence, burst out, ‘The sheer gall of that man, how dare he!’
‘And there’s nothing we can do.’ Rose tried to fight back the tears, but her voice choked on the words.
‘There is,’ Matt said darkly. ‘I could go back to Ireland to sort him out for once and for all.’
Rose’s eyes blazed. ‘We’ve talked about this Matt, you are not going back. You have orders to remain here, you know you have, and surely you’re not going to defy Collins himself? You would be a very valuable prize to the British and they’d take great pleasure in extracting whatever information they could from you under torture before they hang you, so you have to stay. You know too much.’
‘Mammy’s right, Matt,’ Harp said kindly. She was furious herself but was doing her best not to show it, not wanting to make matters worse. ‘I know how frustrating it is to have to sit it out here in America, when you want to be back there, in the thick of it, but you’re doing valuable work, talking to the Irish here, ensuring they know how their dollars are being spent. Pat Rafferty says the take of donations is double what it was before you came, so you’re not doing nothing you know.’
Matt ran his hands through his silver hair in frustration. To go from being the commander of a squadron of IRA, engaging and winning against the crown forces every day, to making fund-raising speeches in Boston was not what he wanted, they all knew that, but lives depended on him staying where he was.
‘But to think of him, in your house, Rose and Harp, I…it makes me so angry. He was the one that told Beckett about that night with Pennington, he’s the reason I’m exiled, and now he gets to play lord of the manor…’
‘I know.’ Rose placed her hand on her husband’s. ‘I can’t bear it either, but bear it we must, it seems. And it won't be forever. The war with the British is surely coming to an end, and when we win Ralph Devereaux and his kind will find life very uncomfortable indeed. People have long memories and those that made Irish lives hell when they had the British to back them up will suddenly find themselves alone and vulnerable. Ralph is a coward at heart, so he’ll leave soon enough. Harp will get her house back. We just have to be patient.’
Harp thought her mother had blossomed in the six months they’d been in Boston. She had always been a beautiful woman, there was no doubting that, but her dark brown hair seemed more luxuriant of late, and her skin was glowing. She did have deepening lines on her face – she was thirty nine years old, and the last few years had taken their toll. Still, her eyes were the same, warm and brown even if there were signs of crow’s feet around them.
‘I just want to go back alone, deal with him myself.’ Matt spoke quietly.
Rose sighed. ‘I can’t have this out again. Matt, please. I know you’re angry, so am I, but we’re under orders to remain here, we have to do as we’ve been instructed. I want to go home as much as you do, but we have to wait it out.’
‘So, we just let him grab everything that Henry left to you and Harp, let him walk in and take it over after all your hard work?’ A vein in his temple pulsed. Harp and Rose exchanged a glance that spoke volumes. Matt was upset about the house, but there was more; he hated Devereaux for all he’d done. It was personal.
‘What choice have we, Matt?’ asked Rose gently. ‘He’s clearly in with the British, he’s well known to all the local gentry families so they’ll welcome him with open arms, and you know the IRA doesn't want to touch Ralph Devereux for now. He’s not a military target and no one has ever proved he’s a spy. He’s just an evil, selfish individual. We have to be patient.’
‘It’s hard to be patient, Rose. I know you’re confident of a truce, or some end to hostilities, but what if that’s just wishful thinking, but they’ve had us in their grip for eight hundred years, maybe they won’t ever give us up?’
‘They will, Matt. You know yourself the losses they are suffering isn’t sustainable, public opinion is turning over there and Britain has had enough of war and death and destruction, so it’s just a matter of time. but until it happens, you must carry on as you are – and Harp and JohnJoe as well. They’ve raised so much money for the cause, with their beautiful singing, and Harp’s playing. The three of you are in more demand than ever. Wait until the truce, and then we can all go home to where we belong.’
Boston was a beautiful city, and it was a joy to live in peace after all they’d endured, and the Raffertys had been so welcoming, nothing was a problem, but Harp knew her mother and Matt were just filling in time. Their movement to the USA was physical but their hearts were still in Ireland and always would be.
Harp didn’t say it, but she felt differently. America was rapidly becoming home to her, and she loved the freedom and forward thinking of her new adopted country. Compared with Ireland, she found people were less judgmental, less interested in the doings of their neighbours and it was a refreshing change. The control of society that was wielded by the Catholic Church was something she’d always found suffocating, and there was no space in Irish society for people who were outside of their influence. The Protestants were allowed to live alongside them, but she and Henry Devereaux, one born Catholic the other Protestant, but neither a believer, were seen as misfits. Yet another reason she never fitted in in Cobh. Here, many people were religious, but there was sucha broad spectrum of churches and belief systems that none felt to have a monopoly. And even the Irish she knew, were not as subjugated as Catholics back at home. The Raffertys for example went to mass at Easter and Christmas and funerals and weddings were held in the church, but it didn’t seem to impact anyone’s daily life. Harp thought back to the days in Cobh where the priest would rant on a Sunday morning about people being drunk, even going so far as to name names, denouncing anyone who stood outside the church at mass, or who was not following the ‘fish on Fridays’ rule. Girls wearing the latest fashions of shorter skirts, common now after the war, were told their mortal souls were in danger, and that they were deliberately tempting men with their harlot-like ways. No blame was laid at the door of these men on that subject either, it was always the woman’s fault. Every word, thought and action of the people of Ireland was monitored and commented upon by the clergy and she was glad to be out of their oppressive grasp. She, along with her classmates, had been quizzed by the nuns about the content of that week’s sermon every Monday in school and woe betide anyone who could not parrot the priest’s words verbatim. They held all the power on the question of morality, and women were very much second class citizens. She had no time for any of it, and now she was free.
She was also enjoying her music. For her, it wasn’t only about the fund-raising, although she realised how important that was. Playing her harp and singing was also deeply fulfilling on a personal level. She and JohnJoe were so happy when they were performing together. The truth was, she and JohnJoe were blissfully happy when they were doing anything together. Yet she knew Matt and Rose were anxious to make a home of their own back in Ireland but she also realised Rose wasn’t ready to let her daughter go just yet. She had tried a few times, to raise the topic but her mother just assumed she would go back with them when the time came.
The horn of the lorry beeped outside. It was JohnJoe, Danny and the others picking Matt up for his new day job. Pat Rafferty had won a contract to restore a beautiful old hotel and had been having trouble finding enough skilled carpenters, so Matt had offered his services. The fundraisers and speeches were usually at night or on the weekends, so working for Pat filled the days. Now he stood and gathered his tobacco and matches, and took his cap and jacket from the hook by the door.
‘This is too much Rose, too much by far.’ He kissed her cheek and was gone.
Harp waited until he was gone before speaking. For Matt’s sake, she had been holding back her anger but now she felt free to express it. ‘Can you stomach the idea of that man in the Cliff House, lording it over everyone, Marianne’s stupid mother on his arm?’
She hated Ralph even more now she knew he was her biological father, not Henry. Thank goodness the awful man had no idea that his brief dalliance with the maid twenty one years ago, a very young and impressionable Rose, had resulted in Harp. Only Harp, Rose, Matt and JohnJoe knew the truth. And that was exactly how Harp wanted it to stay. Ralph meant nothing to her but trouble. She took a fierce bite of her toast.
Rose shook her head. ‘You shouldn't say that about Marianne’s mother, Harp. Pamela might not be stupid...’
‘She married Ralph, need we have further proof?’ Harp replied sardonically. She knew from Marianne that Pamela was mad for Ralph and would do anything to marry him. She’d obviously got her wish, though Harp was sure Ralph just saw a wealthy widow. Taking over the Cliff House was one thing, but a house like that cost money to run and Ralph was totally workshy so he’d need to find the funds somewhere, and Harp was fairly sure Pamela Pascoe, with her Pascoe family trust fund, was his meal ticket. ‘I suppose she’s letting him have all Marianne’s inheritance. Her father might have been a hopeless gambler but her grandfather was the one who made that money and by all accounts he was a shrewd business man. And Pamela has money of her own as well according to Marianne, more inheritance, but if Ralph gets his greedy paws on any of it she can kiss it all goodbye. Thank goodness Marianne and Danny are doing well enough for it not to matter.’
‘The whole thing makes my blood boil too,’ admitted Rose. ‘But you’ll get your house back when the war ends. He’s made too many enemies to stay in Ireland. I know Matt finds it hard to believe, after all the endless fighting, but I can't help hoping they will come to some arrangement soon...its hurting everyone too much.’
Harp wasn’t sure Ralph would let go of the house so easily, but she thought her mother was right about the end being in sight. King George V had addressed the opening of the parliament of Northern Ireland in the Belfast City Hall ten days ago. The unionists were delighted to have him there, but his speech was targeted at those republicans in the audience, men who were in no way loyal to him. It had been a brave move and could have been met with derision and violence, indeed in some quarters it was, but Harp felt it was the beginning of the end of hostilities. She had read the full account of his speech in the newspaper, and now she quoted:
‘“I appeal to all Irishmen to pause, to stretch out the hand of forbearance and conciliation, to forgive and to forget, and to join in making for the land which they love a new era of peace, contentment, and goodwill”.’
Rose smiled at her daughter’s ability to recall the king’s exact words. Speeches, poems, songs or whole paragraphs from books, many of them obscure, had been quoted verbatim by Harp since childhood. Others found her ability either impressive or odd, but Rose was used to it now. The strange thing was, that Ralph had the exact same ability. He was extraordinary clever and had used that intellect to manipulate and cheat his whole life.
Not that Rose had ever mentioned that to Harp. She knew her daughter regarded Henry Devereaux as her real father, not Ralph, and her daughter wouldn't want to hear about any likeness between her and the man she thought of as her wicked uncle. And Rose felt the same way. Gentle, kind Henry Devereaux had been the one who raised Harp to be the young woman she was today: beautiful, quirky, talented and amazingly knowledgeable – at least about the things that could be learned from books.
‘Do you really think so, Harp? Really?’ Despite her earlier optimism, Rose was suddenly doubtful. ‘Matt thinks they won’t ever let us go, not really. Britain has ruled Ireland since 1169, and look at all the efforts made over the years, rebellions, invasions, wars, negotiations, but nothing ever worked. Maybe some hodgepodge version of home rule will be offered at best, and that will set the whole thing off again.’
‘No. This time it is different. We fought for a Republic, we declared a Republic in 1916, remember? And then Collins took over and he knows how to fight them, he gets under their skin in a way nobody else ever did. We had them running wrong, Mam, remember? They were terrified to come out of their barracks in the end, and they know in London, that we can keep that up indefinitely. We have the people behind us, we have right on our side, and we have Mick Collins, I believe in him, and if anyone can get us free it is him. The British are making conciliatory noises, for the first time in eight hundred years.’
‘I know what they say, but Matt says that saying something and doing it are two different things, and there’s been so much loss and destruction, so much hardship and pain, I don’t know anymore, I really don’t. The likes of Ralph Devereaux always get their way in the end. He could never bear the idea that Henry left you the house, it rankled with him so much, not just the house, but the idea that an upstart servant like me would have such notions. That’s how Ralph and those like him see us Harp, as inferior.’
Harp leaned over and held her mother’s hand, gazing deeply into her dark brown eyes. She recited the most wonderful words she knew by heart:
‘We declare the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland, and to the unfettered control of Irish destinies, to be sovereign and indefeasible. The long usurpation of that right by a foreign people and government has not extinguished the right, nor can it ever be extinguished except by the destruction of the Irish people.’
The lines of the proclamation of independence that was read by Padraig Pearce outside the GPO on Easter Monday 1916 hung between her and her mother for a moment.
Then she added, ‘They have tried to destroy us, Mam, there’s no denying it, but they have not brought about our destruction, and so we fight on, and we’ll never give up, never. They will be repelled from our country and Ralph will be repelled from our house. I don’t know how or when, but I think what you said to Matt is right. It will happen soon.’
JohnJoe gazed in astonishment at his friend, Jerry Gallagher.
‘You’re not serious?’
‘Deadly serious.’ Jerry was planing the door they were working on with gusto, feeling the smooth wood with his hand ever few strokes to make sure they had the right finish. ‘You and Harp are amazing musicians. And when the war is over, there’ll be fewer fundraisers to take up your time and you two are getting quite the reputation, it would be a shame to let that all disappear when the cause is no longer the pressing thing it is now. You need to think about going professional.’
JohnJoe went back to sanding. They were preparing the ballroom door together, getting it ready for hanging. The huge restoration project on the Hibernian Hotel, had everyone on all of the Rafferty crews working on it to get it ready in time. Matt was supervising the team fitting the windows, while JohnJoe and his crew were on doors and architraves. Danny was overseeing all the plastering and blockwork and Uncle Pat was working with the architect who seemed pleased with how everything was going. Between all the teams, they employed fifty men. They’d had to sub-contract the painters and JohnJoe was in charge of keeping them on task as well. Jerry was his very reliable second in command.
The hotel was due to open amid much fanfare the week after next and the opening night was to be a celebration of Irish culture. Musicians, dancers, a storyteller, and the finest of Boston-Irish cuisine would be on offer. The ballroom, one of the largest in the city, was going to be a huge draw as concerts and performances of all kinds were lining up to book the venue. Pat Rafferty normally didn’t bother with restoration, he was more interested in construction, but something about this hotel had taken his fancy and it had become a labour of love. Aunt Kathy had teased him that he was having a crisis about getting old, and he was creating his legacy, but behind it all she was proud of him, and she and Rose had worked very hard at the décor making sure the whole experience of staying at the Hibernian would be one guests would never forget. Rose’s considerable experience in the industry had proved invaluable.
‘I can't just walk away and let Uncle Pat down, even if I wanted to,’ JohnJoe pointed out. ‘He’s got another contract for building a street of stores and houses, and we’ll be starting on that as soon as we’ve finished here. Pat relies on me. Besides, even if Harp and I wanted to be musicians, we wouldn't know where to start.’
Jerry made one last pass with his plane. ‘That’s okay because I’ll do all that for you. I’ve decided I want to be a promoter, someone who books entertainment acts to play at venues like this place when it opens, music, theatre, dancers, all that sort of thing. People love to go out to see a show, and for example here at the Hibernian Hotel, we could do a dinner and a show ticket combined. I’d make the arrangements with the venue, book the acts and take a cut. Simple really.’
JohnJoe was intrigued. ‘And that’s a real job, like you can make a living at it?’
‘Maybe not a proper living at first. I’d have to advertise and hold auditions and build up a portfolio of acts to begin with but eventually I think I can. A venue owner could ask for a jazz band, or a showtunes singing and dancing act, or a dancing dog, whatever he wanted, and I’d supply it.’
‘But you already have a well-paid job. You’re a carpenter, and a good one, and you’ve enough work to keep you going for ever, Uncle Pat says you’re one of the best he’s ever seen, I don’t get it. Why would you leave it for something that might not work out?’
Jerry shrugged and grinned. ‘I came over here for adventure, and because the British would have put my neck in a noose if I hadn’t, but if I’m going to spend my life laying floors and sanding architraves, then what’s the point? I’d have been doing that back in Ballyfermot. I’m only a carpenter because my old man did it before me and his before him, it wasn’t my choice.’
Jerry Gallagher was a small dark-haired man in his early thirties; he had sleek hair brushed back from his high forehead, and hazel eyes in a face that was well-constructed and symmetrical. Harp had put her finger on it; he wasn’t good-looking in any conventional sense, he was short and slight, but there was something compelling about him. A kind of energy, like we was always thinking ahead to the next thing. He was sociable and friendly but there was something secretive about him too. You got the impression that what you saw was not really who he was. And you’d be right. Jerry had been an infamous member of the IRA back in Ireland, mainly for the brazenness of the ambushes and attacks on the British that he led. He orchestrated in particular a very successful attack on a Dublin Metropolitan Police barracks, executing the Chief, a known torturer, from four hundred yards away with a single shot to the head. The word was that if Jerry Gallagher chose a mark, he would hit it every single time and they would never know from where the fatal bullet came. That night, with Jerry providing covering fire, the police had been relieved of all of their weapons, the barracks burned to the ground and the officers were found tied up in their underwear on a nearby bridge in the freezing night air. The photograph of them, half naked, humiliated and freezing, had circulated widely in Republican circles and the word was that the Royal Irish Constabulary Chief was making the arrest of Jerry Gallagher a personal vendetta.
Jerry had to be removed out of the clutches of the British immediately, and like many of his comrades before him, found himself on a boat to Boston, and Pat Rafferty waiting there to give him a job and set him up. Jerry was an unusual character and an unlikely person to have left such a string of audacious attacks in his wake, as he was quietly spoken and gentle and kept himself to himself. He lived in two rooms over a butcher shop on East 4th Street on Telegraph Hill and never went to the bars or out dancing with the other guys who worked for Pat Rafferty. Despite that, he wasn’t standoffish, and JohnJoe liked him.
‘So, explain to me again what you’re thinking?’ JohnJoe asked.
Jerry nodded. ‘I met this guy, Leo Cohen is his name, he’s a singer, I heard him at a little bar up in Roxbery, and we got talking and he was telling me how he was signed with some agencies that got him places to perform, gigs he called them.’
‘Wouldn’t it be more fun to be on the stage yourself?’ He helped Jerry right the heavy ballroom door and hang it on the hinges, before returning to the second one and placing that on the makeshift bench they’d made for the purpose of preparing the doors, architraves and skirting.
‘Couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket,’ Jerry grinned as JohnJoe screwed the ornate brass handles to the door. ‘No, but I’d love to break into that world. It’s hard though, the Irish aren’t really big in theatre circles, it’s more the Jews run that. Although this Leo says I don’t look Irish.’ He cast a sidelong grin at big Mick Boyle, who was pushing a heavily loaded wheelbarrow of sand pass them, Mick was a blocklayer from West Kerry who had a florid complexion, wide features and a beer belly.
‘Hey, there’s more than one kind of Irishman, y’know!’ JohnJoe winked.
‘And that’s another reason for me to sign up you and Harp. You're both gorgeous to look at, and that’s a great help.’
JohnJoe laughed, uncomfortably. ‘Well, Harp is, anyway, that’s for sure. And she loves the theatre, and she’s a great musician. But going professional? I’ve never thought about it and I’m sure she hasn't either. I don’t know anyone in the proper music business, but then,’ he conceded, ‘maybe that’s because I don’t know any Jews…’ That was the way of it in Boston, the Italians did their thing, restaurants and things like that, the Irish were builders, the Chinese did laundry and had shops, every group of immigrants had their niche and stuck to themselves.
‘And so,’ continued Jerry, as he stood back and cast a critical eye over the first door to ensure it was perfectly hung, ‘if I want to crack that business, I need an act to get started. You just play the music, and I’ll be your manager. You’ll need a fiddle player as well if we’re going to extend your repertoire, but I think I have that sorted.’
‘Oh you do, do you?’ JohnJoe thought it was comical how certain Jerry was that he and Harp would go along with his plan.
‘Yep, got it all arranged.’
‘Hey do I pay you two old ladies to be gas-baggin’ all day?’ Uncle Pat passed them by with the architect and cuffed JohnJoe playfully on the head. ‘This is the future, Eugene, what you think, eh? Is my empire gonna be in safe hands with him and Danny boy over there?’ Pat gestured to Danny who was smoking a cigarette while plastering a wall expertly.
Eugene Kent had known Pat Rafferty for years and knew that despite his jocular manner he loved his nephews like his own sons. ‘It will go from strength to strength I’m sure, but we’re not ready to be rid of you yet, Pat.’
‘Too right and you won’t be, my old lady would throw me out by the weekend if I was under her feet all day, so I’ll be brought off a building site feet first,’ Pat joked. ‘But yeah, we got good boys with these two and they got themselves two nice ladies too, so behind every successful man is a good woman, and we got the best, right JJ?’
JohnJoe smiled. He would have loved Harp whatever anyone thought, but it was an added bonus that his uncle did too. Marianne and Danny were married and had had a baby girl earlier in the year, a sweet little thing called Katherine after their beloved Aunt Kathy, although to avoid confusion she was always called Katie. He and Harp enjoyed visiting them and secretly it was the life he longed for, but convincing his stubborn girlfriend to allow him to propose and get them a nice place, settle down and have some babies was a whole other matter. She loved Katie and was very good friends with Marianne, but she had no desire whatsoever to follow her lead into matrimony. He knew better than to raise the topic since she shut him down each time he even hinted at it. She was more interested in education and having a career than being a wife and mother.
‘We sure do have the best,’ JohnJoe agreed, aloud. After the two men moved on, he returned to the conversation with Jerry. ‘But why do you want to do it? Be a promoter I mean? I understand why people would want to be on stage, but doing all the bookings, and making the arrangements I don’t know, it doesn’t sound like much fun.’
The other man shrugged. ‘When I was a kid, my Ma saved up and brought me and my brother to the Gaiety, to see the pantomime. My Da thought she was cracked as the crows to be wasting money on stuff like that, but Ma loved it too, and so we went. I’ll never forget it, the place was magic you know? All gold balconies and red velvet seats and when we sat there in the dark with a bag of toffees between us and they were all up on stage, singing and dancing, I don’t know, I just…I loved it.’ The way he spoke, without shame or embarrassment made him unusual. He was not like other men, especially in the building trade, gruff and unemotional.
‘And so then I left school of course, and served my time as an apprentice with my Da and my brother in the family business. But every chance I got, I was at a show or a concert or something. My Da never understood it, and he was a bit mortified really I think, but then I joined the volunteers, and he was proud of me.’
The second door was ready for hanging now and together they lifted it into place beside its partner, screwing and fixing as they went. JohnJoe offered his friend a cigarette as they stood back and admired their handiwork. The doors were six feet wide each and ornately carved; the two of them hung perfectly.
Jerry leaned against the wall as he smoked.
‘Being a promoter is a good fit for me I think. I’m a good talker, and I’m honest and trustworthy and even if I’m not a singer or a dancer myself, I can tell a good one from a dud every day of the week.’ He exhaled a long plume of smoke. ‘I used to play a little game with myself, back at home. Which acts I saw that would go on to make it, play in the bigger places or go over to England or even over here, and which wouldn’t. I had a kind of a knack for picking winners. I’d love you to be my first act, but I guess I’m going ahead with this anyway.’
JohnJoe sighed. ‘So you’ll be telling my uncle any day that he’s losing the best carpenter he’s had in years, will you?’
‘Well that’s showbusiness JohnJoe my friend, just show business.’ Gerry winked and grinned.
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