05/23/2015 06:22 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Notes From a Dive Bar V


Friday night -- At opening time, the merchant who adds cash to the ATM machine slinks in as quiet as a mouse. He stocks the money nest with tens and twenties. Later, the drinkers will raid the machine like Vikings sailing for Lust. Plundered to sail the ocean of drink filled with big whales and sharks, wrecks and regrets. Some of those bills will be rolled into pipes. The currency of powder will flow through them into nostrils as deep as wells. Spills, unable to be capped, will run over into the sunrise -- keep going, keep going, keep going -- until the ATMs die and the world comes to an end.

Will the Apocalypse arrive on a Friday night when the bars are packed? I try to find out in the bar's copy of the Bible. They say everything that needs to be known is in the Good Book. Not every bar has a Bible but we do. It looks like this one was stolen from a drawer in a motel room probably by some type of pervert. I could use it to stop a bar fight. A bartender waving a bible in hand while quoting Jeremiah gives pause -- the joy of our hearts has ceased; our dancing has been turned to mourning! Get the f*** out!

Did they have bars back in the days when Jesus was strolling around? Were drunks roaming about with hangovers mangled like a grape under a sandal? These are the questions I think about as I thumb Genesis, reading the Creation story, hoping that the first customer arrives soon before temptation takes over and I hit the cognac early, ruining my upcoming day of rest.

Friday is the eclipse of the week for me. One Friday past, a customer said, You look devilish. I could not be sure if it were a compliment or insight into some recess of the subconscious bartender mind. It reminds me of something.

Once upon a time, the bar had a stage. Bands played on it. The Church of Satan were booked one holiday season. The billing -- A Black Xmas. They brought slabs of raw meat and black candles. Did I see a guy in a black Santa suit handing out candy from a sack? I thought, what can go wrong, will go wrong.

The evil band hammered away at death metal nailing their devil followers to the wall of sound. They chanted Satan! Satan! And they never heard the sermon known as Last Call. Our sound guy pulled the plug and turned up the house lights, and more than a few hands went up to cover eyes with wails of horror screeching --AHHHHH! Turn them off ! And no wonder. They were not really the sons and daughters of Dracula after all but spotty teenagers with fake IDs. Get out, you bastards! I yelled. And the lead singer shot a flamethrower from the stage prompting an invasion from the forces of good, our bouncers.

But even then, the bastard band would not stop. The drummer continued to smash his head off the cymbals after we have taken his sticks from his goth ringed fingers. A few days later, I enjoyed Christmas turkey with my family and gave thought to Mary and Joseph being turned away from the Inn on that fateful night in Bethlehem a long time ago. Next year, the satanists would be turned away from this one, if they asked to be booked. The smell of raw carrion lingers in the room to this day. And probably, forever after.