By Steve Siciliano
Jimmie O’Doyle has owned Beason’s for over thirty years. To survive that long in the bar business, especially a bar on the lower west side, you have to be tough and sometimes you have to be mean. Jimmie’s tough, sometimes mean, but he also has a soft side. I’ve seen him throw guys twice his size out of the bar, watched him kick the shit out of two drunken bikers, observed him in action with the sawed off pool cue and stopped him one night from killing some dude who came after him with a switchblade. But I also watched him pick up a dying butterfly off the sidewalk and gently place it in a patch of weeds beside the curb. I saw him wipe a tear from his eye one night while he was sitting at the bar watching a movie, and I’ve seen him fry up free burgers for the neighborhood bums. He used to run drink tabs for customers who were short on cash but stopped doing that after his ex-wife blew the whistle and the MLCC busted him.
His office has the ying/yang symbol painted on one of the cinder block walls. It took a week for The Crazy Hippie to paint it and Jimmie was so impressed that he gave The Crazy Hippie five hundred bucks. The Crazy Hippie lives upstairs in one of the apartments and Jimmie lets him live there for free in exchange for doing odd jobs around the bar. He does a good job fixing whatever breaks despite the fact that he has one eye, one leg, and three fingers missing from one of his hands. He was working as an upholsterer in the furniture factory across the street when he got drafted and after basic training he came home and married his high school sweetheart. He was in a jeep when it hit an anti-tank mine in Saigon during the Tet offensive. When he first came home he was just a little strange. It was after he couldn’t find a job and his wife divorced him that he went crazy. He’s drunk every day by noon but he’s not a mean drunk and there’s nothing about him that’s evil. The things that happened to him made him crazy but they didn’t make him evil. We all have the capacity for doing good and the potential for being evil. Like the ying/yang symbol on the wall in Jimmie’s office, we all have a light side and a dark side.
The second I saw Samantha Lowe get out of her car I should have gone into Jimmie’s office. I should have sat in Jimmie’s office for five minutes looking at the ying/ yang symbol and then my mind would have cleared. I knew when I first heard her voice that Samantha had a strong dark side but I didn’t realize how strong it was until I saw her. I try not to judge people but I found myself judging Samantha Lowe because she was evil. If you know someone has a strong dark side you should just deal with it accordingly. You shouldn’t judge them because you might have turned out the same way they did if the things that happened to them had happened to you. If you start judging people your rational mind prevents you from listening to your intuitions and then you might make wrong decisions. And when you’re in my business, making wrong decisions can get you in a lot of trouble.