John is going away. To a rehab nuthouse -- his words. One year in exile with a bunch of drunks. Ordered by psychiatrists. The doors are locked night and day. But he's figured out a way to get supplies delivered.
A long trail follows curious Steven, long sheets of bad luck. He's been in many a sticky situation. He picked up a brown paper bag from the shade in the alley behind the dive.
What's in here? he inquired. A used hypo-needle that pricked his finger, that's what.
Milton comes in. There is little poetry left in the man. He's shoeless. Toothless. His face traduced and trampled. The cracks on his face are dry. Saltiness settles in the hollows under his eyes. The dead see, too.
Someone says, Jake died. We all drop a few rungs. He owned a bar. Lung disease. He never smoked, unless you count the smoke of others. It's still dark outside. The f*cking cognac tastes off. So much for the sour grape.
He talks like he's some kind of analyst in the Sigmund Freud vein, lie down and let me look inside your underwear. For that's the drive for everything, he claims, talking to his pal fondling the mouth on a bottle of Corona.
When people ask where I hail from, sometimes I tell them I'm Vulcan, as a joke, and they ask, where is that? Geography is not their strong point. Communication is lost when you speak in an accent designed to burr and brogue.
Take me far from the madding crowd. Business is very, very slow. No flocks on the pasture. Is there such a thing as a beer shepherd? A romantic figure wandering the streets with a crook, herding drinkers into the bar. I must be to blame for this barren scene.
Talking Heads is on the jukebox. All the hits. Around closing time, the bug man comes in, his poisons in hand. He crawls under the bar like an explorer venturing into the darkness of the insect world. Nothing there.
Someone came in barking about Yelp! Apparently, it's some kind of site on the Internet. He said I was mentioned on it, rude, grumpy, miserable bastard bartender with a fixed scowl on his face and that is his good points. Something along those lines, so he says.
Turn away now if you are disgusted by the description of a bar's grim lavatory. This is not for you. Come back next time to Notes when the talk will be of love and cocktails garnished with fresh fruit. Sadly, this grim description has to be done.
Years ago, at night's end, I locked a drunk French tourist in the bar, by mistake. He awakened under a table on the balcony, perfumed with vomit, a fragrance found in bars. Only the bar's ghosts were with him.
Right after I poured her a gin and tonic, and squeezed extra limes in the bubbles, she asked, why are you so miserable? She was training to be a therapist. But I wasn't bitter. I told her I owned a less than stellar I.Q and she was mistaking misery for a lack of brains.