I’ve titled a few of my posts as Character Sketches, but I haven’t classified any as Scene Sketches. This doesn’t mean there aren’t any in this conglomeration I call my blog though. It just means I need to better tag my posts. If you go to the category, Writing Exercises, you can find more while I clean up the navigation here.
I hope you enjoy this sketch. Please give feedback.
On the outskirts of Melrose, not far from the River Tweed, is the establishment of Dolan’s Pub. The third generation of the Boyd family owns and operated the premises. Michael’s great grandfather, Dolan, acquired the business in a shady deal that’s been buried along with the man.
It isn’t as big and luxurious as the pubs north in Edinburgh, or even as large as some found south in Newcastle. Still, it brings in a crowd from many of the towns along that part of one of the dominant rivers of northern England.
Walking in, a person has to accustom his or her eyes to the dimness and haze. Solid wood tables and chairs are set neatly aligned forming rows and columns. Each station has a tiny lamp on it that actually works, giving a small unobtrusive glow. The floor is a polished walnut with inlays of tiles depicting colorful geometrical designs every few feet. The only windows in the place are the five at the front, and all are decorated with stained glass.
The bar countertop sits a high waist level for the average man, curving on either side its twelve-foot length. There’s a leather railing on the edge facing into the gallery so patrons have a place to lean their elbows. The wooden stools are generously spaces along the edge, assuming to give ladies room to step up to the seats.
The aroma of fish cooking and cigarette smoke mingle in the air where the pool table is set up. The odor near the bar is pungent with stale brew and both woman’s and man’s cologne. No one seems to notice or care.
The bartender is a lively fellow, yelling out greeting towards the door of the business every time it opens. He’s quick at the spigots, filling the glasses with ale as full as he dare. During the lulls, he can be found at either end of the bar quietly chit-chatting with whoever happens to be sitting or standing near. It only takes the wave of a hand for him to rush to the customer’s whims.
The cook slams the door to the kitchen open while she carries three plates of grilled fish, chips, and a medley of vegetables out to one of the tables in the room. She doesn’t bother asking if anything else is needed. If the customers want something, they ask the man at the bar.
A woman, neither young or old, sits at a table under one of the veiled windows sipping a drink that was served in a fluted glass. Her hair is loosely bundled at the back of her head. Tendrils of dark hair wave softly around her neck. There’s a notebook and pen laying on the table unattended. She’s staring straight ahead at empty sitting stations across from the front door.
Michael strolls up to her from his place at the bar. “Melisa, do you want another?” He gestures to the glass in her hand. He gets a faint whiff of her perfume and smiles.
She snaps her head up towards him being taken out of her funk. “Thanks Michael, but I should be getting home.” She gathers her items on the table and grabs the purse laying at her feet. “See you tomorrow.” She stands and walks to the exit.
She simpers sweetly, opens the door, and walks out onto the street.
The more feedback, the better. Bring it on. Please!
Ninety percent of the world’s woe comes from people not knowing themselves, their abilities, their frailties, and even their real virtues. Most of us go almost all the way through life as complete strangers to ourselves. – Sydney J. Harris
15 thoughts on “Scene Sketch: Dolan’s Pub”
I was expecting a sketch but instead got a full painting. You could not but read this then turn and say “The scene is set”, it was beautifully done and I could almost share the different smell so thoroughly was it written.
xxx Huge Hugs xxx
Oh, my gosh! Thank you, David!
I’m trying to get into the habit of using three or more senses in descriptions. Of course, I gravitate to sight but I’m trying desperately to curb that. Now reading it again, I wish I had put in a sound too.
I could see myself there, observing.
There was a pub I used to frequent when I lived in Michigan. I loved the atmosphere there. Anyway, that’s where I got my inspiration.
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I love pubs that reflect days gone by…you know, with the big wooden bars. Kind of like an old fashioned western type bar or an Irish pub.
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I love this sort of description. It’s as much about plot–even characters–as setting. Well done.
Thanks, Jacqui. I like doing these sketches. 🙂
Fab-U-lous, Glynis. Back up. You DO have sounds: yelling out greetings; quick at the spigots; filling the glasses; cook slams the door… Right?
Don’t you hear the sound of beer pouring into glasses from the spigots and the clinking of glasses as the bartender holds two of three together? 😀 😀
You’re right! I forgot about the bartender greeting everyone and the slamming of the kitchen door. My brain went on temporary leave.
Thanks for the feedback and the compliment, Tess. 🙂
I like small establishments where you almost have to know the rules in order to eat and drink there. This sounds like one of those places.
You guessed right, Dan. My inspiration is from a pub on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. 😉
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Very well done! I liked how you used many senses in describing your setting. I could not only see but smell the environment. I got intrigued by Melisa and her sudden departure of the scene. Looking forward to hear more of the story since the introduction was very tempting.
Thank you for the compliment, Carla.
This was only meant to be a sketch of a scene although I have a few projects that this scene would fit into. 😉
I grew up in a dry state, so never entered a pub, bar, lounge, or saloon until I left home to go to college; but I always loved reading descriptions of these fascinating placed I’d never entered. So, of course, I enjoyed reading about yours. You captured it well and put me in the middle of the action.
Your words have let me know that I accomplished what I had set out to do. 🙂
I now live in Tennessee now, which was a dry state until a few years ago. After seeing it both ways, I’m not so sure opening it up the liquor was a good idea or not. I grew up in Colorado, where liquor has always been legal. There I was fine with the idea, but then, no one in my family were drinkers either except to toast a celebration of some kind.