By John McDonnell
St. Patrick's Day was the one time when Murphy actually made a profit at his bar, because his joint was located half a block from the St. Patrick’s Day parade route, and there were always a number of thirsty souls who would stop in for a cold one after the festivities. Murphy had enlisted his family to help with the crush, including Larry, who had taken the form of a blue-skinned, six-armed Hindu deity so he could handle all the drink orders at the crowded bar.
It was impossible to keep everyone's glass filled, and Larry was ready to keel over from exhaustion.
"We need more help!" he yelled to Murphy.
Murphy was busy adjudicating an argument between two men over whether it’s possible to eat 65 chicken wings in ten minutes, and he said, "You'll have to think of something, Larry."
Larry did what he always did in an emergency -- he disappeared for a few seconds. When he reappeared, he had a 7th century Irish monk named Fergus with him.
The monk blinked once, looked around, and said, "Is it a drinking establishment I find myself in?"
"Yes," Larry said. "I need help tending bar. I'll take you back to the monastery when the rush is over."
The monk clapped his hands. "Praise be to Jesus, I've died and gone to Heaven." He looked at all the bottles on the wall with a blissful smile.
"No," Larry said, mixing drinks, washing out glasses, and wiping down the bar at the same time. "This is not Heaven. It's Murphy's bar. You're in the 21st century, in a roomful of drunks, and I need help."
"Do you know how to mix a Singapore Sling?" Edna said. She was on roller skates, in the costume of a 1950s car hop, complete with a pink scarf and a boxy little red hat. She had painted her nails red, and was chewing gum.
The monk looked at her quizzically. "And who might you be?" he said.
"My name is Edna," she said. "I know I'm a little old for roller skates, but I was a champion skater in my day. I used to sneak out of the house at night and compete in the Roller Derby. Father would have been appalled had he known I was mixing it up with large women of Croatian descent several times a week."
The monk looked at Larry and said, "Begorrah, what language is she speakin’?"
"I'm not sure," Larry said.
"Are you a monk?" Edna said. "I had a boyfriend once who entered the priesthood after a few dates with me. He had a sudden realization that celibacy was better for his mental health. By the way, thank you for saving Western Civilization. Wasn't it you nice young men who copied out all the Greek and Latin texts and saved us from becoming barbarians?"
"Yes, and ‘tis a thankless business," the monk said. “Alone in a drafty room catchin’ me death of cold, surrounded by stacks of dusty manuscripts. And me with a throat as parched as the Sahara!"
He leaped over the bar in one motion, grabbed a bottle of whiskey, and drained half of it in the blink of an eye. He wiped his mouth with his hand and said, "You call this whiskey? Fourteen centuries of progress, and this is the best you can do? Faith, I think ye’ve gone backward, my lad." Then he went off with the bottle and joined a group watching a ballgame on the TV.
"Maybe I shouldn't thank him after all," Edna said.
"What is the purpose of this holiday?" Larry said in exasperation. "Is it just to drink yourself into a stupor and sing Irish songs at the top of your lungs?"
"Yes!" Murphy yelled. "And thank God for it, or I'd be in the poorhouse by April 15."
"You humans have too many holidays," Larry said. "We only celebrate holidays if they're for the good of civilization."
"Where’s the fun in that?" Edna said.
The monk was leading a cheer for Aristotle, and when that was finished he started one for Plato, but the crowd booed him and he sat down.
"When does it end?" Larry said to Murphy. "How long does the rush last?"
"Till the fight breaks out," Murphy said. "That'll be coming along any time now."
Just then somebody shouted, "Down with the frigging Irish monks! If it weren't for them we'd all be stupid and happy. The hell with civilization!"
The monk stood up and said, "I'll paste any man who doesn't like Plato!"
"I don't like Plato!" a voice said. "Euripides sucks too! To hell with all the Greeks.”
A bottle went flying through the air, and in seconds the whole bar erupted into a brawl. There were fists flying, glasses being smashed, and people slugging each other over the finer points of philosophy. Larry tried to intervene, but somebody took exception to the fact that he was a Hindu deity, and hit him over the head with a bottle of peppermint Schnapps.
The cops arrived in minutes and took half the bar away in paddy wagons. Larry had to wait till the next day to send the monk back to the 7th century, because the friar had spent the night in the clink explaining cursive writing to a couple of drunks.
"I think he was a charming fellow," Edna said, after the monk had gone back to his own time. "And I'm certainly glad you brought him back rather than one of those barbarians. Although they'd have probably fit right in with Murphy's clientele."