Another night. Another White Russian. Lost count of how many I’ve had tonight.
Lost count of how many random conversations I’ve had tonight.
She left me hours ago. She was sick and tired of my bullshit. Hey, she’s the one who invited me out to this watering hole in the first place.
Somewhere in Bushwick. Or is it Bed-Stuy? Or is it some extension of Williamsburg? Who cares. It’s all gentrified North Brooklyn to me. One thing I’ve learned about asking directions in Brooklyn—don’t do it. Even the locals can’t give you a straight answer for “excuse me, how do I get from point A to point B?”
I forget the name of the dive. All I know is that someone’s got Tom Waits on heavy rotation tonight. I’m too shitfaced to make out the lyrics. But I recognize that voice anywhere. Sounds like Cookie Monster on Ketamine.
She gave me a handjob under the table. Lucky me, I can keep a straight face, because damn that felt gooood. But I was more interested in my Jack Daniels Sour than I was in the conversation we were having.
How will I get home? Honey, I’ve found my way home on larger quantities of alcohol and with a further commute. A short L-train (assuming it’s functioning tonight) to 8th St. and then an A-train to Hamilton Heights—been there, smoked that. Don’t worry about me, I’m alright.
No, seriously. You don’t need to call me a cab. I got this monthly Metrocard, and I plan on squeezing every nickel out of it. I’m good, I promise.
Act 10:30pm (mezzo piano)
“What does it all mean?”
I don’t know where he came from. I don’t remember him sidling up to me. If I could choose any random bar patron to sit down next to me, he’d probably be one of my last choices.
He had a heavy pink face, like one of them old portrayals of Paul Bunyan from those picture books I used to love when I was a kid. His hair was some grizzly mahogany that clashed with his orangish beard. And for fuck’s sake, he was wearing coveralls and a red flannel shirt. Who dresses him in the morning?
What does it all mean? He asked. So I answered the only way I knew how to answer.
“What does what all mean?”
“You know, it! What does it all mean?”
Oh shit, there’s only one thing worse than a sentimental philosopher; and that is a sentimental philosopher on alcohol. And he just had to plop himself next to me, a simple man who doesn’t even know what he’s doing in one hour, let in this incarnation.
So I gave him the most honest answer I could provide given the circumstances: “Nothing,” I spat as I took another swig of my Moscow Mule.
Unflinchingly, he took a swig of whatever that bright red thing in a highball glass was. I’m afraid to even ask what he ordered.
“You never wondered why you are here?”
“Nope.” And that was the truth. Truth be told, I couldn’t even tell you why I got out of bed this morning.
“What if I told you I know the secret: life, the universe, and the meaning of it all?”
“Will it help me pay my rent this month?” I asked
“Rent? What I’m going to tell you will last longer than your rent money and make you feel more fulfilled than you ever have in your life!”
“Do me a favor and please tell my landlord how frivolous my rent money is. If he doesn’t evict me for that, I’ll buy you another round of whatever that shit you’re drinking is.”
“Cosmo on the rocks. But that’s not important. What I’m about to sell you will change your life forever.”
Um, no. I’m not taking advice from a man whose choice in potent potables comes from the Carrie Bradshaw School of Being an Insufferable Bourgeoisie Nag.
I just twitched and said “well, I’ve already lived three different lives in 37 years. So I’m pretty sure there’s almost nothing you can say to change my life forever.”
He took another quick sip of his Cosmo.
“But I already have changed your life. Look behind you.”
The interior had changed.
I was no longer in the dusty dive bar.
Maybe he slipped something in my drink. Or maybe the room was more colorful than I remembered it being.
And who replaced Tom Waits’ voice with Enrico Macias?
To be continued.