Louisville Magazine

MAR 2017

Louisville Magazine is Louisville's city magazine, covering Louisville people, lifestyles, politics, sports, restaurants, entertainment and homes. Includes a monthly calendar of events.

Issue link: https://loumag.epubxp.com/i/791253

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Page 36 of 112

34 LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 3.17 cross with TCB ("Taking Care of Business") stamped on it out of his pocket and handed it to me. "Here you go, brother." He shoved down the part of his shirt that covered a tat- too on his neck: TCB. "You cowboyed up." Euan and Mhairi used to talk about growing up in Scotland. Mhairi was the oldest, and then Euan and their brother, Andrew. e first time I saw Mhairi's name on one of her tickets, I thought the printer was broken. I had never heard of such a name, and at first I called her "Ma-har-ee" rather than "Var-ee," just like most people called Euan "Evan." ey had been born near Fauldhouse, a village between Edinburgh and Glasgow. Mhairi told me that Euan almost didn't sur- vive the C-section birth. When he was very young, he loved professional wrestling. He never believed in Santa. When he was about three, he used to say, "Reindeer not fly." When he was about two, their mother took him to a party for another little boy, and when she tried taking off Euan's coat, he put his arm back in the right sleeve as she took off his left sleeve, and in the left sleeve as she worked on the right. He kept saying, "Me home. Me home" — the only party he ever refused to go to. "He was kind of shy when he was little," Mhairi said. "Obvious- ly, he came out of his shell pretty soon. "You know how Euan sometimes stares off? He was always like that," she told me. "ere's this one picture where he's just staring off into space. You could tell he was deep-thinking." His fourth-grade teacher told their mother that Euan had cheated on a math problem because he had written down the right answer but not his calculations. But Euan refused to admit wrongdoing. "I did not cheat," he said. "I worked it out in my head." eir parents, Maureen and Hugh (or "Shug," as Hughs are known in Scotland), divorced when the kids were young. Shug, a jack-of-all-trades — mechanic, steel erector, painter — got them on Wednesdays and Sundays, and he used to pick them up in a van with no backseats in it. "You had to be careful where you stepped," Mhairi said, "so we'd just sit on the wheel-mounts in the back and Dad would regularly stop off at the drug dealer's house. Pretty sure we were left outside a pub once — just wherever Dad wanted to go. We'd take a few puffs of the smoke, drink a wee bit of lager, listen to a bit of Dr. Hook, and we'd be like, 'Hell yeah — party time.' "We had no seatbelts, nothing. All that van needed was a disco ball in the back coming down from the ceiling. e party time never stopped. Mom should've never let him take us, but, honestly, it was some of the best memories of my life." In 1989, when Euan was nine years old, their mother got a job through a recruit- er and moved the kids to Whitesburg, Kentucky. Shug stayed in Scotland. He saw them off at the airport, and he gathered Mhairi and Euan and Andrew around him and said, "I'm going to tell you one thing — you three stick together." ey moved from Whitesburg to Louisville in 1996. One morning, Mhairi and Andrew woke up to their mom asking them, "Where the hell's my keys? Where the hell's your brother? Where the hell's my car?" Euan and a buddy had stolen her keys and taken off. Two days later, they were picked up just north of the Florida state line. "We had to go get him from Georgia," Mhairi said. "When he got home, the court gave Mom a choice — you can put him in juvie or you can send him to Oneida Baptist." So Euan went to Oneida Baptist Insti- tute, a Southern Baptist boarding school in Eastern Kentucky. Unlike public school, Oneida challenged him, and soon he had a 4.0, joined the philosophy club, played soc- cer. Once he graduated, Euan moved back to Louisville. His first job was at BC's Car Wash on Shelbyville Road. en, at Bistro, he bused tables, started serving and became a bartender and the bar manager. Euan enrolled at Jefferson Community and Tech- nical College to be a respiratory therapist, but Mhairi remembers going to a concert with him one night and Euan saying, "I have a test in the morning — probably not going to make it." He gave it one semester before he dedicated himself to bartending. "He did what he did because he liked what he did," his mother told me later. "He liked his job. Some people work 40 hours a week at a job they hate. He didn't have to do that." Before the first shift we ever worked together, I watched Euan uncap a bottle of oil and turn it over a towel and polish the rail at the end of the bar, sawing the fabric back and forth with a craftsman's care, the brass shine emerging from under his hands. His eyes, I remember, were piercing. e Watsons went back to Scotland reg- ularly, and Euan traveled to Europe on his own — Holland, France, Sweden, Greece, Italy. He and I used to talk about the green canals in Venice, the way the heather bowed on the slopes in Edinburgh all at once, like supplicants at an abbey. But he belonged to Louisville. He loved the Highlands. "Louisville's just got substance," his mother told me. "He liked his roots. But this was home." Over the seven months that Euan and I worked together, I learned to love him — and Mhairi and Stuart — like my own fam- ily. e week before I left for London, my girlfriend at the time threw a going-away party for me at Bearno's. Mhairi and Stuart and Euan's girlfriend all came out, and Euan did Rod Stewart's "Hot Legs." When it came on, everyone roared — hands went up, people ordered rounds, and Euan was onstage strutting and wielding the micro- phone and pointing at himself as he sang, "Gonna need a shot of vitamin E by the time you're finished with me." I was so young that I thought I was going to stay in London forever, and when Euan and I hugged goodbye, I wanted to tell him that I wished we visited each other, even though we'd be on different continents. So I said, "Euan, I hope we stay friends—" He yelled, "Till the day I die!" I went to London for my first year of graduate school and returned to Bistro the next summer to make money. People were saying something was wrong with Euan. He showed up late. He got in fights with the owner. e rumor was, he was on heroin. One day I got to work and found all the bar tools gone and a sticky note posted to the bar that read im sorry in Euan's hand- writing. He had quit. Another morning, after Stuart and I set up the bar, he told me to step into the Sheriff's Office (the alley). He lit a cigarette. "Did I ever tell you about rehab?" he said. While I was in London, Stuart had checked into a rehab facility downtown. He was now living in a halfway house in Old Louis- ville. Stuart called the food at rehab "prison grub." "And you get strapped down the first couple days," he said. "What's that like?" I said. "Sweating bullets," he said. "at's why I'm so worried about our boy." Euan had gotten a job bartending at Bistro 1860 on Mellwood Avenue. "Since he left, I been checking the obituaries ever' morning," Stuart said. "Heroin's huge in the The only furniture was a bed. There was a body in the bed. Euan's body.

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