Bow Ties and White Lies

By: Murphy Doyle Maher

Date: 20th Jul 2021

beep 1.99

The cheapest picture frame he’d ever seen. It was nothing more than 4 pieces of wood glued to each other and painted white. But they all couldn’t be eye catchers. Especially when the focal point of these is supposed to be what is inside it and not it itself.

beep 3.99 This one wasn’t as cheap, but was still pretty flimsy. Had a bit of ornate design but looked like the kind of thing that’s just stamped out of a large, weirdly phallic looking device. beep 6.99 This one was surprisingly nice for the money. Felt like baked clay almost. Design was lovely. Someone absolutely effed up putting the price so low, but be damned if he was gonna point that out. beep 2.98

This was another simple frame but this one has a small sunflower in the lower left corner. Or upper right? It could be either really. But it would be neither. Sunflowers weren’t on brand so he’d snap it off and if there was a spot he couldn’t improve he’d just find something else to stick there. Like a plastic halloween bat or beer cap from one of their favorites.

beep 14.57 Two cans of Krylon DIY gold spray paint. Each frame would be sanded so as the paint would stick, and some parts would be sanded rougher than others to give it a good distinct look. He wasn’t sure this would work at all, but he was excited to do it. To have something to do, anyway. The girl behind the counter in the red apron smiled and not because she recognized him, but because she thought he was handsome. She could be holding a neon sign depicting such and Murphy would not notice. He would instead just slide his card into the slot, as he’d done, and go through the gambit of button presses to pay that didn’t anger him. But annoyed him more and more as time went on. ‘Do you want to donate to our charity so we can have a huge write off?’ No, thanks, you got enough money from me. Are you sure you wanna pay this much? Does anyone ever reconsider at this point? Did someone go through legal action because they didn’t think the little screen was serious? Fucking people. Murphy was already at the car when he finally stopped his internal rant about automated systems. He went to shut the nissan altima’s trunk and it slammed with a bang. He wasn’t used to this car, nor its trunk made of what was probably several of those picture frames melted down. The last car they had, the trunk was heavy as hell and took a lot of force to close. What that car was he couldn’t remember. But he’d never forget this car. Not because of how well it drove or even the trunk, but the fucking salesmen. They’d gone out to Staten Island due to Sarah knowing a guy who knew a guy or something such as that. The salesmen that helped looked more like a MLM expert than he did a salesman, with his fake tan, terrible hairstyle and body mannerism like some kid emulating a rapper on tik tok.

Guido The Salesguy
Something they don’t tell ya is; These cars are race cars. No shit, you look under the hood of any nascar, any one, you’re gonna see the Altima engine. But they keep it out the news because Nissan isn’t an american company and Nascar doesn’t wanna lose the good old boys. But get in this car and bet money you don’t burn any car you see. No car can keep up with the Altima. So what’d say? You wanna win some races?

Murphy Doyle Maher
I’m ‘bout te win teh race to get teh fuck away fr’m yeh.

Sarah Wolf
Not if I kneecap you.

That guy was going to live in Murphy’s head forever. Every time he sat in this car, everytime he sped up to get around someone on the expressway. Might as well change the name of the car from Altima to That Weird Fucking Salesguy. Murphy chuckled as he remembered the hours spent making fun of the guy. They’d walk around pointing to random things and assign absolutely ridiculous facts to them that no one in their right mind would believe. Murphy tried his best, but she was much better at it.

Sarah Wolf
” You see that toaster? That’s how NASA sends their rockets to the moon. They just don’t tell you because they don’t want that many rockets on the moon because of how the tides would react. Go to the moon see how many toasters you find.”

Sarah Wolf
” You see that coffee cup? They make guns out of that material. No shit, its because it can contain the heat from the explosion. Go on, find a gun, any gun, and pour coffee into it. It’s gonna stay warm.”

There were a million of them, and each one had made him laugh each and every time. She’d always laugh at his laugh. The way she looked at him, made him feel not just seen, but gotten. People had never really gotten him before. They’d rarely given it a chance. She didn’t have to. She just…did. That’s why he was working so hard. To show her how important she is to him, and how much his life is better with her in it than it has ever been without her. As he sanded and painted and the sound of the printer in the office joined the chorus of noises. Spray of paint. Scrape of Sand. Photo paper pushed from its tray having fulfilled its destiny of being printed upon. And a job that had started at 6 am the day before, was finally complete. What had been an empty wall was now full of her face. The smile she had won him with day after day, the soft eyes that he got lost, and the forehead he kissed hello every time he saw her. He washed his hands and noticed the time. If he hustled he could make it to the Tanner for dinner and a drink. And hustle he did and make it he did. He walked into the bar which was fairly packed and raced a smaller man for a seat at the bar, which he won and boasted about it with his entire body. Dani the bartender walked down to him, already laughing at his antics.

Dani The Bartender
What’s popping, Midas?

Murphy is as confused as one of those pets who just watched their owner vanish behind a blanket, but then remembers that he has gold paint all over his hands and face.

Murphy Doyle Maher
Good one. Was in the midst of a project and got the gut call. Figured I’d rush down.

Dani The Bartender
I was wondering if I was gonna see you today. Today’s your anniversary isn’t it?

Murphy Doyle Maher
Of sorts, yeah.

Dani The Bartender
Big plans? Besides pissing off my other regulars.

Murphy Doyle Maher
Oh calm it. I’ll pay for teh little man’s dinner if it makes it less sandy for yeh.

Dani The Bartender
Less tude, more story. What’s the plan?

Murphy Doyle Maher
We picked up this really nice fish at teh market teh other day. Gonna bake it in tomahtas and garlic. Gonna come out lovely. She loves herself a good fish. Not the kind you like, tho.

Dani The Bartender
….what?

Murphy Doyle Maher
…Yeh a lesbian?

Dani The Bartender
…what makes ya think that?

Murphy Doyle Maher
…teh bowtie?

Dani The Bartender
So a bow tie means lesbian. Roger Ebert wore a bow tie, was he a lesbian?

Murphy Doyle Maher
He sure as hell looked like one.

Dani The Bartender
Bow ties are not an indicator of someone’s sexual orientation, my guy. You’re gonna get canceled if you’re not careful.

Murphy Doyle Maher
…tell me I’m wrong.

Dani The Bartender
What?

Murphy Doyle Maher
Tell me I’m wrong. Go on. Say it. Say yeh not a lesbian.

Dani The Bartender
…well I am. But not all lesbians wear bow ties!

Murphy Doyle Maher
But every woman who does is a lesbian, let’s be frank. And there’s nothing wrong with being a lesbian, love. Plenty of good women are. The best ones are really. I got lesbian friends.

Dani The Bartender
Other than me?

Murphy Doyle Maher
Not currently but i’m working on it.

Dani The Bartender
…you’re such a dick.

Murphy Doyle Maher
Professionally actually. You catch the show? That TK Lang was awfully mad about being sent to the laundry. Figured his linens could use some cleaning since he keeps shitting the bed and all.

Dani The Bartender
Isn’t that frowned upon in your business? Not actually fighting?

Murphy Doyle Maher
I tell ya. I never really gave a fuck. The fans love me for shite like it, so who’s gonna convince me nawtah?

Dani The Bartender
Alright my guy. I’m gonna put in a special order for you. Something new. You want a pitcher?

Murphy Doyle Maher
You pitch it I’ll catch it.

Dani The Bartender
….weirdo.

Murphy scrolled through his text messages and we can see that all that go by are blue and to the right, with none black and to the left. He sets his phone down the second the pitcher is in front of him. He pushes the cup away, and takes a solid drink from the pitcher. The foam gathers at his mustache and he rubs it into the back of his hand with a satisfied sigh right before.

Dani The Bartender
So what’s this project?

Murphy Doyle Maher
Top secret I’m afraid. Have to kill yeh and all.

Dani The Bartender
Come on, man. Maybe I use the idea for my girlfriend.

Murphy Doyle Maher
Of which you live with, yeh?

Dani The Bartender
And?

Murphy Doyle Maher
Lass, come on. It’s a well known fact that lesbians move in right on. ‘Hey i just met you, this is crazy, we’re both lesbies, so move in maybe.’ you know i’m right.

Dani The Bartender
Why are you such a ball buster?

Murphy Doyle Maher
I am no such thing. I’m a ribber. RIbbed for your pleasure. Not that you’d know.

Dani The Bartender
Oh honey. You don’t even know.

Murphy Doyle Maher
Actually I do but that came out faster than I could stop meself.

Dani The Bartender
You’ve busted my balls enough for one night, now tell me what you’re doing.

Murphy Doyle Maher
Alright, So I took a bunch of picture frames, and I found pictures of us at all these different places. And I constructed this neat little time line of our relationship, From start to now. I’m very excited about how it’s turning out.

Dani The Bartender
My guy, that is dope.

Murphy Doyle Maher
Yeah, there was this massive blank wall in the bedroom. Was driving me nuts.

Dani The Bartender
My art teacher used to call that shit ‘no-no space.’ To this day i can’t see a blank part of a painting the same.

Murphy Doyle Maher
My no-no space is my arsehole. And it’s staying empty.

Dani The Bartender
This conversation took a turn.

Murphy Doyle Maher
It usually does. Hey, my food is up.

Dani turns and sees the POS system lighting up in his area. She winks and rushes to the kitchen, grabbing his dinner as well as a small plate of hot pretzels with different sauces. She slides the dish in front of Murphy, and he looks at it with the type of look you give a small child telling you an unfunny joke. Like I want to tell you how dumb you are but that’s rude.

Dani The Bartender
What’s with the look?

Murphy Doyle Maher
…it’s a cutlet? What’s new about a cutlet?

Dani The Bartender
It’s not a cutlet. It’s chicken fried steak!

Murphy Doyle Maher
…ah fuckin chicke fried this steak?

Dani The Bartender
Don’t be extra. It’s a skirt steak pounded down, marinated, and then breaded and fried like it was chicken. It’s so good. I had it for lunch today and was blown away.

Murphy Doyle Maher
You also told me that the end of that movie The Grey blew you away, and let me tell you something, no one besides you thought Liam wasn’t mercing them wolves.

Dani The Bartender
Just eat. I gotta go do my job.

Murphy Doyle Maher
Before the chicken that cooked this takes it?

For all the shit Murph gave her, he liked Dani a lot. She was easy to talk to. Not just because she didn’t want to fuck him, or vice versa, but because she was genuinely interested in him as a person. So many people look at others like an obligation. Or a game. They don’t want to know you, they want you to know them. Dani wasn’t like that. She liked getting to know people. Seeing what made them tick. Relating to them. The world would be in a lot better shape if there were more people like Dani. And when a catholic says ‘there should be more lesbians,’ it’s usually followed by the sound of thunder. He then began to think about it, and what if…what if she wore the bow tie so that the other guys that came here would think she was gay? What if it was a way to ward off unwanted pursuers? What if he had made a mistake? ‘Calm down, Maher’ he said to hisself. Not the worst mistake you ever made. No. No. The second worse was a small mistake with big ramifications. And it was also the mistake he was going to make right this week. So many years earlier, after Kalvin Wolf (Calvin Henry Fagan) had done a speech at the Juvi Murph was locked up in, Kal reached out to him and offered him a spot as his protoge. What Murphy thought he meant was helping run the bar. What Kal had actually meant, was becoming a fighter like him. Which made sense at the time, Murphy was in Juvi for battery, so it made sense to play to his strengths. Or weakness’. Whichever. Murphy began working with Kal day in and out, until this scrawn 17 year old was a pretty buff 18 year old. And the night he made his debut, he beat his opponent, kevin something, by a mile. He was on top of the world. And then a group of arseholes decided to jump Kal in the ring, and seeing as no one else was going to help, he decided to. And he had saw how these things go. Gang of people are in the ring, guy slides in with a steal chair, swings it wildly, and everyone dives out. The crowd goes wild. Guy with a chair is the hero. Except. It didn’t quite go that way… Murphy had slid into the ring, chair in hand, but as he slid in, his foot hooked the apron and the jolt of which sent the chair out of his hands and sliding across the ring. He tried to stand up but his calf struck the bottom rope and he stumbled. One of the men then cracked him in the jaw, as another man picked up the chair and clubbed him with it twice before he fell. The first man was Paul Montouri. The second one was Joe. His jaw had to be realigned, his head needed stitches, and he was sent to the dark matches before the card and sent out of the arena right after. Kal appreciated the attempt but now that Focus had seen how much of a pussy the kid was, they’d never stop coming for him, if only to piss off Kal. Murphy swore he’d get back to their level one day, and make them regret the time they made him regret. And finally, after all these years, the day had come. Now to figure out how to make the most of it.

Dani The Bartender
…so what’d ya think?

Murphy Doyle Maher
I think I’m gonna bash his head in with a chair, regardless of the consequences and repercussions.

Dani The Bartender
Who?

Murphy Doyle Maher
Joe Mon-

Dani The Bartender
SHHH! You crazy?

Murphy Doyle Maher
What?

Dani The Bartender
This is new york, my guy. This is his home. He’s LOVED.

Murphy Doyle Maher
You think I’m scared of these pounces? They look like they can’t even beat their meat. By the way, speaking of, this is fucking terrible. Waste of a good piece of steak. What’s it with you people and the frying of shite? Oreos, twinkies, innocent black men for crimes they nae commit?

Dani The Bartender
Seriously. Joe Mont is old school.

Murphy Doyle Maher
Joe Mont is ancient. As in not a viable commodity in this day and age. If harrison ford caught a lookit ‘em, he’d yell out ‘belongs in a museum.’ And this shite with him chasing down a woman already married, give it a break. Chances of a woman leaving a guy like Dane, who has literally and legitly everything a girl could want, is somewhere between slim, and none. Sure he’s loving this new found fucking confidence, but it’s short lived. His glory days are behind him and if he keeps fucking lookin back at them, they’re gonna break his neck before I do.

Dani The Bartender
…you make it a habit to count people out?

Murphy Doyle Maher
Nae, never. Which is why I’m considering the bashing thing. Speaking of which, take this shite in the back of have someone dumb eat it. Bring me that burger with the deer meat. And another pitcher while yeh up.

Dinner went faster than Murphy expected, and so did the beer and time. He stood up slowly, full of two pitches worth of Pabst and quite a bit of regret. He tipped the imaginary hat to Dani and wobbled a bit out the door. He hit the fresh air and suddenly the beer caught up with him. Or maybe it was the 4 or 6 shots of tequila he had while celebrating a sports victory of a team he doesn’t know, in a sport he doesn’t watch. He sat against the doorframe and felt like he might throw up. It was a weird, knocking feeling, traveling up his back and into his shoulders. He waited for it to subside but couldn’t find the end to it. And then it got more aggressive, and louder almost. Was he having a heart attack? Why would he hear what he’s feeling? And then he heard his name, and while the world is a mysterious place, you don’t normally hear your name when you’re having a heart attack. So Murphy looked around, and upon turning 180 degrees, he found that he was actually leaning against the door, blocking Dani from leaving. He stood up and walked away from the door, almost falling over. Dani caught him by the lapels of his light jacket but instead of catching him, she was pulled off her feet by the much heavier man and they both fell to the ground. Worse yet, the leftovers she was trying to stop him from forgetting went flying into the street and smashed against a passing bus. Murphy on the pavement, and Dani to his side, having bounced off him, both laid still, washed in the laughter of everyone still inside who had seen the fail of epicness. Sitting up, Murphy looked over at Dani with a smile, and laughed.

Murphy Doyle Maher
Why’d yeh go and do that?

Dani The Bartender
I tried to stop you from falling, genius.

Murphy Doyle Maher
I fall down for a livin’, lass. Next time mind yeh own.

Dani The Bartender
Serves me right for helping you.

Murphy Doyle Maher
I am perfectly capable of getting meself to wherever it was I intended to go.

Dani stood up, and helped get Murph to his feet. Leaning against him, she moved him toward the direction she knew he lived from his idea. She had a photographic memory, and at moments like this she almost wished she didn’t. Other people would just throw the guy in a cab, let them handle it. But he was a good person. Sad in a quiet way. And he was nice to her. Besides the tie comments, that is. She got him back to Fight Tower, and he somehow got the words ‘scan card’ out in order for her to gain access to the elevator. When the door opened on his floor and gave access right to his living room, she was floored. Why was he eating in a bar if he had money like this?

Dani The Bartender
Fuck… Nice place.

Murphy Doyle Maher
Thanks. Twas forced upon me, tho.

Dani The Bartender
What’s with the curtains? I bet you have a great view!.

Murphy Doyle Maher
Heights and meself do not agree, Dani. Leave them closed ‘fore I empty me guts at the thought.

Dani The Bartender
Alright…I’m gonna put your food in the fridge. You should go drink some water and get some rest.

Murphy Doyle Maher
Aye…Thanks again for knocking me over.

Dani opened the fridge and her eyes almost fell out of her head as she sees almost 3 weeks worth of leftovers in the fridge. Every meal he’d taken from there under the guise of giving it to his girlfriend was there. The smell was terrible, and the sight was almost worse. Almost. Stopping it from winning was the large piece of fish at the bottom of the fridge, which had turned green long ago. She turned to leave and saw a pile of mail in a basket. All of it unopened, all addressed to Sarah Wolf. Normal people would turn tail and run. Normal people wouldn’t be in this position though. And Dani was, if she was anything, more abnormal than not. And like someone who is abnormal, she did what they do, and went further down the spiral. Murphy laid on his bed, boots still on, jacket still on, bottle of water unopened by his head. She sat down on the bed and looked up at the project he had told her about. He’d played it up but there was at least 50 frames. All with non-descript photos of objects and places. Him nor any one else were in any of these photos. It was almost like a game. The first one was a boat in the ocean, the second was a tour bus, and the weirdness only went on from there. She got up from the bed, and walked to what she assumed was the bathroom, and opened it. What it was, which was the bathroom, did not concern her. What shape it was in, did. A broken mirror with dried blood, hair everywhere as far as the eye can see, a toilet with a chunk missing and holes in every wall. The glass stall that once stood is still scattered across the floor. And suddenly, she didn’t feel that safe anymore. She stumbled out of the room and ran down the hall but tripped over a pair of boots. Standing up, she sees a bulletin board with a bunch of papers stuck to it. Among this is a business card with the same name from the mail by the door. She tells herself she shouldn’t, but she has to know. So she does. She pulls out her cell phone and calls. Each ring triggers her anxiety over the issue of maybe she’s in proximity to a murderer. And then call is answered.

Sarah Wolf
Hello?

Dani The Bartender
…Is this Sarah Wolf?

Sarah Wolf
Yes, who’s this?

Dani The Bartender
Sorry, wrong number.

Sarah Wolf
You know my fucking name but it’s a wrong num-

Dani hung up the phone, and immediately blocked the number to prevent her from calling back. As she pulled the door shut, Murphy appeared at her right, leaning against the wall with a sleepy look on his face. Not drunk but tired from drinking. You know. He sighs and opens the door back up, and walks in. He leans against the counter and looks down to the floor. His eyes closed tight, he tries to bring himself to speak, but just sits there quietly as Dani waits for whatever explanation this scene could possibly have.