“So gentleman, what is on the agenda tonight?” I said as I poured myself my usual two fingers worth of whiskey.
“Well” my friend Vincent (who we all called Snake) said, “There is always the Bier Stube. You know, that German bar across town. They have a three dollar German beer special tonight.”
“Thoughts, concerns?” I said to my friend Tyler as I poured Coke into my glass.
“No, that sounds fantastic. Totally beats drinking in your seventies time machine of a basement.”
What Tyler had said was true. While my basement was furnished, its base level decorum reeked of the drug inspired brown-yellow design pallet of the early 1970’s. What a strange contradiction this room held I thought to myself as I looked at a picture of Frank Sinatra hanging on my wall.
Even stranger to my mind’s eye was that I was listening to Scentless Apprentice off of Nirvana’s In Utero, as shortly before hand, I had excused myself to my utility room to take a hit off of my oneie. Grunge was something which I never enjoyed listening to while high. As Grunge only worked its charm for me when I was in a depressed mood.
But back to my cannabis smoking. While I was never the biggest stoner, at the time, I liked to smoke pot as a way to moderate my drinking as the roar from the tigers of my addiction to alcohol were placated through poly-drug use.
As I sat on my bar stood chair, the THC began to work its way through the byzantine conduits of my brain. I then drifted off from my friend’s conversation about The White Strips into a thought-play about Neo-Nazis in outer-space fighting the Allied Earth Nations through giant fighting robot based space battles.
I was brought back into direct consensus when heard the lines “I promise not to sell your perfumed secrets. There are countless formulas for pressing flowers” which in the hydroponic/alcoholic daze I was in I mistook as “I promise not to reveal your secretes. California holds depressing flowers.”
Damn, pot is too much of an effeminate drug. I thought to myself. At least with alcohol you pay the pied piper in the morning and move on without becoming some strung out, beatnik, hippy. Note to self: quit the drugging as you can get away with it in your teens but these things start to catch up with you in your early twenties. Come on, you should be ashamed of how many Led Zeppelin albums you own on vinyl. Although, who knows, not me, I never lost control…
“Fuck Nirvana!” I shout aloud suddenly without provocation. Because of this disturbance, and since I was in the mood to be a totally pretentious dick, I put on Moondog’s Bird’s Lament:
“The only one who knows this ounce of words as just a token, is he who has a tongue to tell but must remain unspoken.”
After a few moments of group silence I said to my friends. “Ok gents! Let’s finish our drinks and head out.” I took a hold of my glass, “Chin-Chin!” raised it in a toast, and then downed my drink in a few large gulps. The way in which I gulped my alcohol often worried my family as they decried it as a sign of alcoholism. I mean, from my position I thought drinking in such a manner was alright as, after-all, I drank for the affect, not the taste.
As my friends finished their drinks, I snuck off to the bathroom for one more hit of weed in an attempt to sober up. After smoking, and tapping out my oneie into the toilet, I found my friends waiting upstairs. We then jumped into Snake’s Cadillac and roared off into the countryside towards town.
I sat in the front seat and put the air conditioning on high as – being stoned and a little sunburned- the cool jets felt fantastic on my face. Tyler sat in the backseat and nursed a road beer that he had stolen from my basement refrigerator which we fondly named the ‘War Chest’ as it was where he put our booty after a few instances of stealing extra beers from house parties.
After driving for a few minutes, we came across a group of scenester teenagers standing on a street corner casually smoking cigarettes. Tyler was having none of this, as he quickly rolled down his window and screamed a homophobic slur at them. Needless to say, I was disturbed by his behavior. But, whatever, I was far too unfocused to care since I was jamming out to Stevie Ray Vaughan and enjoying the cool air conditioning on my somewhat sunburned face.
We eventually arrived at the Bier Stube and pulled in post position near the front door. As I got out of the car, I saw that there were a group of bikers smoking outside.
Why are they smoking outside? Don’t they know that this is a smoke-easy?
“Pardon me, sirs.” I said as I slide in-between two rather rugged looking bikers.
My friends and I walked up to the bar and took our regular seats in front of the tap.
“Terri my dear.” I waved over to the bartender. “How is it going tonight?”
“You know, the usual. Just had an interesting conversation before you came in.”
“What about?” I inquired.
“What are my short term and long term goals.”
“What are they?”
“Don’t have any short term goals. But my ultimate long term goal is death.”
Terri began to laugh loudly. I joined in with her but my laughter was obviously forced as Terri’s nihilism was emotionally bringing me down. Plus while stoned I never liked to think over the nature of my own mortality. You see, the paranoia from pot smoking got to me in a similar way to how when you think about breathing you actually have to actively breathe until you forget about doing so and the brain takes over once again. That kind of thing but about death. As while high I had to actively force myself to forget that I was mortal and that eventually one day out of the blue I would have a heart attack or something and collapse on the floor. Looking at a door, or a wall, or something trivial from ground level, I’d probably think to myself as my brain shut down, This was all so stupid and pointless. Should have done more with my time. But at least things will get interesting when my adrenal gland releases its payload of adrenochrome. Oh, there we go. Pretty trippy. Au Revoir!
“We are the dead Terri.” I sighed after we both stopped laughing. “And since that is the case, mind getting me an ashtray? I’d like to find my way to heaven a little bit more quickly if at all possible.”
“Sure thing.” Terri said as she pulled out an ashtray from under the bar. “What are you drinking?”
I look over to my friends and motion to them both with my index finger. “Three dunkels please.”
“Oh good, you learned your lesson about the Jager.”
“I’ll never drink that congealed deer blood again. “ I said as I lit a cigarette.
And so we sat, drank, and bullshited underneath Nazi arms and memorabilia. By this time of the night, my buzz was settling in nicely.
Feeling good and numb, I looked up at the glass case over the back bar and saw a picture of Reichsmarschall Hermann Goering which I considered to be a bit too much in terms of Nazi decorations even for a German restaurant to have.
Then again, the Bier Stube was a place which catered to people who day traveled to the countryside. While you might not think that Nazi artifacts would be good for business. Strangely like most of the other white suburban patrons of the Bier Stube I found them to be rather charming.
Though Hermann Goering wasn’t the worst offender at the Bier Stube as they also had an autographed photo of Adolf Hitler on the far wall to my left. The menacing visage of the Fuhrer was hung over a collection of S.S. daggers which were without a doubt used during the Second World War. So I guess I can’t complain that much about drinking under a picture of Goering as there were far more sinister images of the Third Reich surrounding me.
“Hey, how are you?” Someone said to me. I turned around to see that it was Casey, a girl who I haven’t seen since junior high school.
“Casey, it has been ages. How are you?” I said as I got up from my barstool and gave her a hug.
“Good. How about yourself?” She said.
“Can’t complain. Finished up with school and now just sitting around these days, drinking a bit too much, and enjoying my unemployment tour until I can find some work.”
“That sounds like fun. Wish I had the free time to do all of that.”
“Actually Casey it isn’t fun as it seems. Being a booze hound is in itself a full time job. Plus I’d like to be able to shit a solid stool for once.”
We both laughed at that commit.
“So, I’d love to catch up some time. Mind if I get your number?”
“Sure, let me write it down.” Casey pulled out a cocktail napkin from the dispenser next to her and wrote down her number. “Call me sometime.” She said as she handed me the napkin. “I am usually free during the day. And from the sound of things you are free whenever. So we’ll grab a drink sometime.”
“Prefect.” I said as I put the cocktail napkin in my front jean pocket. “I’ll hit you up later.”
I returned to my seat and finished the rest of my dunkel. “Got her number dude.” I said to Snake.
“Yeah, can’t wait to see you fuck up that one.” Snake replied.
“What do you mean?”
“Come on. You always do this.”
“Do what?” I asked.
“Sure, you can get a girl’s number. But by the end of the night you are always too shit faced to remember who it was from.”
“Honestly,” I said to Snake, “I am not that big of a drunk.” To prove my point I stood up from the bar and toed the tile line across the barroom floor in a self imposed sobriety test. “See?” I said as I touched my index fingers to the tip of my nose, “As sober as an employee at the Christian call center.”
“Oh yeah, sure, like that proves you’re not drunk. And the Pope shits in the woods.”
“Snake, the Pope’s expulsion rituals are not relevant to this conversation.” I said with a look of disgust on my face. “But since you brought it up. Don’t you think that over the two thousand years in which the institution of the papacy has been in existence. At least one Pope has, in your words mind you, took a shit in a wooden area? Hell, even the Blessed Pope John Paul the Second probably once took a duce in a wooden area. I mean, considering all that hiking he did earlier in his life.”
“Talking about the Holy Father’s sole representative on Earth like that.” Snake said in a fake Irish accent. “You should be ashamed of yourself. Just sit the fuck down and have another drink already.” He motioned to Terri to bring me another drink.
Not ever one to refuse a refill. I retook my seat at the bar.
“Ah Murphy.” I said to Snake while also donning a fake Irish accent. “You’re a good cop. A damn fine one. But keep gabbing and I’ll kick your West Brit arse.”
Terri then arrived with my beer. “Ah many thanks, many thanks, my lady.” I said, still faking the Irish accent.
I took a sip of my beer, and since I was tired of staring at Goering, my eyes and ears began to wander around the bar. For a Friday, the Bier Stube was rather empty people-wise besides the regulars, the staff, Terri the bartender, that group of bikers I saw when I walked in, and Dawn.
I had known Dawn since childhood as she was basically the town’s good-time-girl. At forty-eight, this rather short woman with peroxide blonde hair had been through hell and back as she spent most of the 2000’s under the spell of one hell of a methamphetamine addiction. While still abusing drugs, she was like most addicts who through the grace of poverty and time, was able to minimalize her substance abuse to a functioning level.
My only vivid memory of Dawn came from when I was twelve years old. I was walking in town with my Father as we were going to the post office to check his P.O. Box. As we walked past the bank we just so happened to cross paths with Dawn.
“Jack!” Dawn called out to my Father. She then rushed up to greet him with a big embracing hug. “How are you?” She asked.
“Oh, you know, still shucking and jiving.” My Father said.
“That’s fantastic. Hey, would you mind if I borrowed five bucks?” Dawn asked my Father.
“What for?” He inquired.
“I need to buy a pack of cigarettes.”
I tried to remember what my Father had said to Dawn in response to her asking him for money to buy cigarettes. I remembered that it was some verbal slight which was part no-you-can-not-borrow-money-from-me, part you-are-a-drugged-out-whore, and part get-the-fuck-away-from-me-and-my-boy. Although, it was packaged in such a manner which made it seem like a positive compliment towards Dawn. My Father was always a master wordsmith in that regard.
Then all of a sudden, I saw out of the corner of my eye one of the bikers walk up to Dawn and punched her in the face.
Dawn was knocked off of her barstool and onto the floor. “That’s what you get for fucking my boyfriend!” The biker said as she pointed her finger in Dawn’s face.
At this moment Dawn went from a state of shock to the realization of what had actually happened to her. She then began to cry.
“Hey what do you think the big idea is?” Terri shouted from behind the bar. “You might as well beat up a half-dead dog. At least it would be able to put up a fight. Get the fuck out of here.”
The biker straightened out her leather vest. “Jimmy, let’s go.” And with that the bikers left the bar and roared off into the midnight distance. Probably to hit up Suzie’s Saloon which was a few miles down the road.
After processing what happened my mood turned quite negative as I hate seeing violence against women. What more, I hate seeing women crying.
I sat still for a few moments in silence and tried to lose myself in my beer. In spite of my attempt to ignore what happened, the only sound in the bar came from Dawn who, still sitting on the floor, was bawling like a baby. In order to drown out her tears I began drumming my fingers on the bar counter in an irregular beat.
Eventually after what seemed like a few minutes I couldn’t take this anymore. Fuck it. I thought to myself. I got up from my barstool and picked up Dawn from the floor.
“Hey, hey, hey. Shh, it’s ok, it’s ok.” I said to her as I held her in my arms. “Everything is going to be ok.” I took a moment to look behind me and I realized that everyone was staring at me. By their grievous looks of what-in-God’s-name-are-you-doing-that-for, I knew that no one was going to call the police. No one cared about what had just happened to this woman. No one wanted to deal with her tears. To their minds, what was worse than Dawn being assaulted was that I was validating her humanity by trying to console her.
“Hey dude, we’re getting out of here.” Tyler said. “Come on let’s go.”
“Fuck off!” I shouted.
Tyler sighed and came over to me.
“Look man. Let’s get out of here. Come on, Snake will take you home.”
I sighed heavily and released Dawn from my arms. I then placed my hands on her shoulders.
“Are you ok?” I asked softly.
She nodded. Her weeping had subsided to a few sobs here and there.
“Take care of yourself. Ok?” I said.
Dawn nodded her head in response. I then left her under the menacing glace of Adolf Hitler and the Bier Stube’s collection of S.S. daggers. I looked back at her one last time as I opened the front door and found that she had somewhat pulled herself together and returned to her seat.
My friends and I then rode home in more of less silence as we listened to more classic rock off of Snake’s IPod. Snake dropped me off at the edge of my driveway. And once I got out of the car he immediately punched his accelerator to the floor and jetted off towards the red sky which is produced from the light pollution of Chicago.
That bastard loved the V-8 in his new Caddie.
I then found my way into my house after forcing the door since I had forgotten to take my house keys. I then had some leftover ham which I cooked in the microwave. I then drank several glasses of water (it's important to stay hydrated!) and then passed out on the couch with my headphones on while listening to Nirvana’s Serve the Servants.