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“To Save a Lopsided Sparrow” (Part Three – End Chapters “Home Sweet Home”)

Shannon O’Day, returned to the United States in the summer of 1919 twenty-years old now. He had spent free time along the Rhine with some French soldiers, and German girls before the corporal caught his ship back home; not beautiful, more plain homesweethome than pretty. In the few pictures he took, you got just a glimpse of the Rhine. By the time Shannon O’Day returned home, all the celebrations had come and passed. He was too late, hysteria had filled the cities, now peace had set in, and reactions of the people were back to normal-just to be written for posterity’s sake. Shannon needed someone, anybody would do, to talk to, to have listened to him, so he could get it all out, unbolted.

As people listened to Shannon it appeared they wanted his stories to be more fictionalized, and he accommodated them, so they’d continue to listen, yet it was drowning him. He didn’t like being vulnerable, a side show, with his lies; unimportant lies to him, merely entertainment for the listeners.

During this time, fall had set into Minnesota, and deeply into the city of St. Paul. He slept long hours, eating at a bar and restaurant, called, “The Coney Island Bar,” on St. Peter’s Street, between 6th and 7th streets, it was a short walk from his apartment on Wabasha Street. In the evenings he’d fiddle on an old brown and black faded guitar, too small for him but he had purchased it at one of the many pawn shops along Wabasha.

When drunk, and drunk he was mostly during these months after his return from Europe, and when his bar friends were drunk, he was a hero to many, and sober, only to his brother Gus was he a hero, who had a little farm a short ways outside the city limits, heading towards Stillwater township.

A little ways away from the Coney Island Bar, that made delicious Coney Island Hot Dogs, made them with raw unions, and lots of hamburger with beans and an Italian sauce, and cheese, he’d head onto the Gem Bar, a more bar type bar, with cool reeking smells and moistness of a bar.

It was this one night after Shannon O’Day had been home, three months, near winter of 1919, when he went into the Gem Bar, she was a waitress, and she smoothed her apron out when she saw him.

“Do you want a beer?” Sally-Anne Como asked, then thought of what she said, “I, mean, what would you like sir?”

“Yeah!” said Shannon, with tired and bloodshot eyes, which scanned her as if he was in a robot.

“I know your brother Gus, he comes in her off and on, talks about you quite a lot, tells us girls here about your times in Germany, you know, the Great War?” She was completely fascinated with him.

“I’ll bet he does,” Shannon said with a chuckle.

“Yeah, he relay does,” remarked Sally-Anne.

“After work some day I’d like to take you over to the Coney Island Bar and buy you a Coney Island, okay?”

“Yeah,” commented Sally-Anne, then added, “Uncle Isaiah says he knows yaw!” Shannon looked at the big Blackman behind he bar, he looked familiar, “Yeah, I know him, all right,” said Shannon, “it’s been a while since I saw him, he was old when I knew him some years ago, and he looks old now, I guess, I’m surprised to see him still kicking.”

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