Tommy wrote on the unpainted sheet rock wall with a pencil. “3 ft 3/8 inches off the face of the column. Snap a line. Then 3 ft 9 ¼ inches. Snap your second line. That’s the start of your door opening, you follow me?”

“You got it, Tommy,” Mikey said, reaching into his leather tool belt for his tape measure.

Lee nodded her head in agreement.

“You should be using a laser,” Lou said.

Tommy turned to Lou.

“What are you doing up here? You’re supposed to be down on deliveries.”

“I don’t do deliveries,” Lou said.

“I’m running this job. You do what I tell you to do.”

“We’ll see about that,” Lou said.

“‘We’ll see about that,’” Tommy said, mimicking Lou. “What, are you fucking kidding me? Why don’t you do me a favor and get the fuck out of here. I don’t care who you know down at the union hall.”


What was I doing, wearing a wife-beater shirt on a first date to go fucking ‘butch,’ Lee thought to herself as she sat at the bar, sipping from a glass of Heineken and running her hand through her short blonde hair.

“Lee? Hi. I’m Wendy,” Wendy said, holding out her hand.

“Wow, you’re even prettier than your profile picture,” Lee said.

“Oh, that’s sweet to say,” Wendy said as she sat down on the red vinyl bar stool next to Lee.

“Can I get you a drink,” Lee said.

“Sure. Whatever you’re drinking.”

“A Heineken, please,” Lee said to the bartender.

“So, you’re a nurse, that’s awesome.”

“Yeah, I really like it, especially getting the opportunity to help people,” Wendy said, sipping from her glass of beer. “And you, a union carpenter. How exciting is that. But how does that work? Don’t all those men give you a hard time, being a lesbian.”

“No, it’s not like that,” Lee said. “When you’re in the union, it’s like being in a tribe; no one cares if you’re black or gay or anything as long as you’re in the union. That’s all that matters. We’re all union ‘brothers.’”

“And ‘sisters,’ too,” Wendy said.

“Sisters, too.” Lee laughed as they clinked glasses.


“How you doing,” Tommy said to the receptionist sitting behind the desk at the union hall. “I’m a member. I’m here to see Dominick.”

“Name.” the receptionist asked without looking up from the desk.

“Tommy McCarthy.”

“Okay. He’s expecting you, third floor.” She nodded her head, up, toward the ceiling.


Dominick was standing at the Xerox machine. There was a framed poster on the wall behind him: “Live Better. Work Union. NYC Brotherhood of Carpenters: Local 679.”

“How you doing; you wanted to see me, Dominick?”

“Sit down,” Dominick said, pointing to a metal folding chair.

“Tommy, as a union brother, I can tell you, the events of the other day saddened me. Lou is a personal friend of mine, and I already talked to him about the situation. And I told him you’re running the job. You’re the captain of the ship and he knows now to do what he’s told to do. But answer me this. How much did you make last year?”

“120,000,” Tommy said.

“You own a house?”




“Okay. Not for nothing, Tommy. But do you think, if you weren’t in this local and you were working for some scab outfit, you think you’d be making a buck twenty a year and own your own house in New York City?”

“No, Dominick.”

“Damn right,” Dominick said, using one hand to loosen his black-and-green striped tie. “Look, Tommy, I know you’re a great carpenter, and I’ve never heard anything but good things about you, so, in the future, I would personally appreciate it if you would be a little more fraternal to your fellow union brothers. You think you can do that little thing for me, Tommy?”

“Of course, for you, Dominick, anything. You know that,” Tommy said.


“This is me,” Wendy said, pointing to the entrance of the 51st Street subway station.

“I really had a nice time,” Lee said.

“Me, too,” Wendy said. Lee took a small step forward, standing under the glow of the green and white subway streetlight.

“Can I kiss you,” Lee said.

“I’d like that,” Wendy said.


“Kathy, I’m going over to Rogers for a couple of beers.” Tommy leaned his head into the kitchen.

“Okay, Tommy. Tell Sean, I said ‘hi,’” Kathy said. “And Tommy, do me a favor. Pick up the dry cleaning on your way back. Don’t forget, they close early on Saturdays.”

“Sure thing, babe.”


“Another one?” Sean said.

“Yeah,” Tommy said.

Sean twisted the cap off the bottle of Budweiser and set it down on the bar in front of Tommy. Sean rapped his knuckles on the bar.

“This one’s on me,” Sean said.

“Good man,” Tommy said.