The said meeting was held at the Lavery’s Tavern, which was really an underground Speakeasy where folks gathered to drink.
The small room, no more than 10X20 square feet, had been built in the downstairs corner portion of the Lavery’s Moving company warehouse. Formerly used for storage, and equipment, the working portion of the business was upstairs and had full street access. But downstairs was where all the action was.
Anne had never been to a Speakeasy before; she had had no need, as she was not a drinker.
She followed Sylvia down the main street towards the Lavery’s as they had before, on their trip to Whidbey only this time, instead of entering the building through the main entrance they stopped short of the building and ducked into the ally way which was dark save for a low burning glow from a lamp which hung just above an iron door on the side of the building of the moving company. Beside the door was a tall brutish look man who wore a gray wool coat and hungrily sucked on a lit cigarette, which hung from the side of his mouth. Inhaling and exhaling without bothering to remove it, he kept his hands in his pockets where they were warm.
Sylvia and Anne headed towards the door where the man was waiting.
Removing his right hand from his pocket he clumsily pinched the butt end of the smoke from his mouth revealing what seemed to be a semi permanent jaundice colored indentation on the right side of his lips where his cigarette had been sitting.
“What can I do for you this evening?” He asked using a tone far more high pitched and polite than expected. The closer Anne looked at him the more childlike he seemed in both mind and body.
“We’ve come to see the family.” Sylvia answered.
Upon hearing her voice his eyes lit up with friendly recognition. As he leaped towards her his demeanor change immediately from a thuggish doorman to that of an oversized puppy and he exclaimed, “Sylv! Why Sylvia Breslyn, it is you!”
His excitement revealed him altogether. He was a child in a man’s body.
Hugging him back,” Yes Lyle, it is. Old Sylvia’s come to tear the place apart.”
Taking in what Sylvia had said for a moment it becomes evident that he doesn’t understand sarcasm. Staring at the brick wall of the ally way, he places one hand on his hip and runs the other through his hair as though he has missed something.
Finally, “You’re not really going to tear the place apart are ya Sylv?”
Realizing that she has upset him she reassures him,“Oh Lyle, No! You know I was kidding!”
Clumsily laughing at himself. “Lyle! No Sylv, I knew you was kidding! I know you wouldn’t tear the place up! You’re funny Sylv! You’re funny!”
He begins rocking back and forth as he laughs and it becomes clear that he seems to have become agitated.
She pulls two cigarettes from her purse and lights them both. Handing one to Lyle to replace the one that has expired over the duration of their exchange.
“Oh Lyle I know I am. I am a funny lady. I was glad to see it was you when we turned the corner, you keep the place safe, I always feel safe knowing your protecting the family.”
"Yeah, I protect the family..."
He takes a few deep inhales to calm himself and sure enough the agitation subsides and the stoic thug demeanor returns as he reaches his arm forward to open the door for the two women.
“Thank you Lyle. Your always such a gentleman.”
As they walk into the building the door closes behind them and Sylvia turns to Anne, “That was Dan and Joe’s cousin Lyle Lavery.”
Anne, wanting to know more, “He doesn’t seem like the kind of man who is...” looking for the right word, “…suited to guard the door of a place like this.”
“Oh he’s suited alright! He once beat a man as near to death as a man could be beat. Did ya see those thick hands? Oh! Just stay on his good side, Anne. ”
“What did he beat the guy for?”
“Lord knows! I hear it was neither a trifling nor a grave matter but all the same to Lyle, once he started on the guy it took five grown men to pull him off.”
“I can’t see why they have him guarding the door.”
“I suppose because it’s something he can do to make an honest living. A place where his size and nature are properly placed.”
“An honest living! You call guarding the door of a speak easy and breaking peoples legs honest?”
Sylvia stops walking and looks at Anne squarely. “Yes, Miss! Down here we do call that honest. Giving a man something to tend to, something to protect and a family to be a part of is the right thing to do. Just because you don’t see that it meets to your standard doesn’t necessarily mean that it is somehow lacking.”
Ready to defend her stance, “Sylvia I didn’t say…”
Not letting her finish, “I know you didn’t say it, Anne…but I also know what you implied and as your friend I am compelled to remind you of where you are.”
Placing her hand on Anne shoulder and speaking kindly, “ I trust you know well enough -to put your ‘do right’ rhetoric away for a spell, and enjoy yourself…for your own sake?"