A Night at the Chip Inn

By Zack Martin

Miller "Hey Joe, what's his story?" Cam said, interrupting his friend Seth and pointing to the guy at the end of the bar.

"That's Paulie," said Joe the bartender. "He comes in about every other night and just sits there, smoking and mumbling to himself."

"Who cares about him. He's just a drunk," said Seth. "We need to talk."

In reality, Seth needed to talk and Cam needed to listen. Seth had asked Cam to meet him at the Chip Inn on this bracing November night because he'd had a fight with his girlfriend and needed advice. There were only four people in the place: Seth, Cam, Joe, and Paulie.

"So Rachel is giving me all this shit," Seth said, picking up on the interrupted conversation. "She says we don't spend enough time together and she thinks I spend too much time with the guys."

"Well, where do you think your relationship is going?" Cam asked.

"HA," came the response from the other end of the bar. It was Paulie.

Seth shot him a dirty look down but didn't say anything to him. "I'm not sure. She's easy on the eyes but she can be a pain in the ass."

Paulie laughed again.

"You got something to say down there?" Seth asked.

"What's the point of you asking these questions?" Paulie answered.

"Well, what business is it of yours?"

"I'm just in a public place and I thought I would offer my two cents. You seem really broken up about this," Paulie said sarcastically.

"This doesn't concern you."

"But it does. You see, we are all together. We all have responsibility to one another. I just want to help," Paulie said even more sarcastically.

"I didn't ask for any help."

"But you did," Paulie said while lighting a cigarette. "Just by looking at you I can tell you are a soul in need of help. From what I've heard in the five minutes you have been in here, I bet I can tell you more about yourself than you're willing to admit."

"What's the bet?"

"If I'm close, you buy me a beer. If I'm off, I buy a beer for you and your friend."

"Go ahead. Give it your best shot," Seth laughed.

"You were born and raised on the North Shore, Kenilworth, I'm guessing."

"Winnetka, actually."

"You're an only child. Your parents had money. Both of them worked and didn't spend much time at home. You were always well provided for." Paulie took a long drag on his smoke. "You didn't drive a new car to school. You drove one that was only a couple of years old but you didn't like that."

Seth's smile began to fade.

"You were an OK student, nothing exceptional. When it came time to go to college you followed your family's footsteps and headed to a state school, U of I I'm guessing." Paulie looked for some sign of recognition from Seth and received a slight nod.

"Your parents had high hopes for their boy. They were hoping doctor or lawyer but that was a bit different from how you turned out. You're in marketing, right?"

Seth again nodded slightly. Meanwhile, Cam and Joe were mesmerized. Cam had only known Seth for a few years but he knew what Paulie had said so far was true.

"College was a great time for you," Paulie went on, taking another drag. "You joined a fraternity and had the best of times drinking, partying, and of course studying."

"But there was the one night, that night that you've tried to forget. I bet your friend here doesn't even know about it." Paulie took a swig from his Miller High Life as Seth eyed him cautiously.

"You were a junior and you were at the normal college kegger. She was but a freshman. You took her back to your frat house. She was so drunk she didn't know what was going on at first. But then she realized what was going on and she said 'No. Stop it, no.'"

The blood seemed to drain from Seth's face.

"But you didn't stop. When you were done she left without saying a word and you didn't think twice. Not until a couple of days later when you heard about the freshman who had slit her wrists."

"Actually, she hung herself," Seth said without emotion.

"Hmm. Sometimes I miss the details," Paulie said matter-of-factly.

"How did you know all that?" Cam asked.

"I know people and from the minute he walked in the door I had him pegged. I've run into people like him my entire life." Paulie turned to Seth. "You're the sort of person that sits in the outside seat in the bus or train so nobody will sit next to you. You won't give up your seat for the pregnant woman that gets on. You listen to your headphones so loud that everyone on the car can hear. You make money and spend it and look down on those who don't have it. You think you're better than everyone else is. Basically, you are everything that's wrong with the world today."

At this point Cam motioned to Joe to buy Paulie a beer.

"You're not actually going to buy this son-of-a-bitch a beer are you?" Seth asked Cam.

"Always pay off your bets."

"That's a good man. Maybe there's hope for the world yet," Paulie said and began to take a sip of his new Miller High Life.

"I'm not going to take this shit. You're supposed to be my friend. You're going to buy this lunatic a beer after everything he said?" said Seth, getting angrier with each word spoken.

"Was he wrong?" asked Cam.

-----------------------------

Chicago Sun-Times
Friday Nov. 15

East Village Man Arrested in Bar Room Murder

By Paul Kilbourn

A 27-year-old Wicker Park man was arrested and charged in the murder of Paul Adams Thursday evening.

Seth Jackson, of the 1700 block of West Potomac Street, was charged with murder in the death of 35-year-old Adams.

"It was a bar room assault," said Harrison Area Sgt. Gerald Sobonski. "We're still working out some details but there was a disagreement over a bet between Adams and Jackson."

Jackson attacked Adams with a beer bottle after a dispute over a bet last night at the Chip Inn, 1500 West Fry Street.
Assistant Cook County State's Attorney Scott Holmquist said the case is "open and shut. We have two witnesses who saw the attack."

Adams, of the 1400 block of West Fry Street, was a writer who frequented the Chip Inn. "He was quiet," said neighbor Debra Fish. "He would always say hello but there always seemed to be something else bothering him."

Jackson, born and raised in Winnetka, is son of Tim Jackson, former Cook County commissioner. "This is all a tragic mistake," Jackson's father said. "I'm sure my son will be cleared of all charges."

One of Jackson's friends, who did not want to be identified, said Jackson always had a bit of a temper. "He would snap at some people but I never expected anything like this," the friend said.

Jackson, a local marketing executive, was expected to appear for a bond hearing Friday afternoon.



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