The Bartender Journals

Friday, August 25, 2006

Anachronism Chapter 2

I keep having this dream. I’m stuck in the back row of a plane. The plane is hot, too hot. I keep sweating like a madman and as more passengers board I hope to hell nobody sits next to me. Just as people get situated and begin reading the Skymall catalog, it happens. There she is. She looks different every time but all that I know when I look at her is that she’s the girl of my dreams. Sometimes blonde, sometimes a redhead, always beautiful. Not magazine twenty grand boob job, thirteen inch waist beautiful, but that kind of better than real beautiful you see in real life. The kind of girl who takes all the attention in the room when she really shouldn’t. This time she has bobbed black hair and thick black plastic rimmed glasses. She’s reading a dog eared copy of “The Sun Also Rises” for what must be at least the dozenth time. I can see at least a dozen tiny Post-It notes placed about the text. She sits next to me and stares. She stares straight into my eyes, my heart, and my soul. She speaks. I can never remember the words when I wake up but it’s as if her lips move silently and I’m filled with that feeling. That feeling that everything is going to be O.K.. That feeling that this is right. Then the plane jumps. At first I pass it off as mild turbulence. Then the turbulent becomes violent. We begin to plummet to the ground. I’m in the back row but for some reason if I look down the length of the cabin I can see through the canopy and see the ground coming ever closer. My nameless dream girl and I are holding each other. Then we hit the ground and I wake up. I’ve been having this dream for over five years now.

* * *

“Holy fucking shit!” I yell as I sit up from the cot in the Doctor’s office. The first thing I see is a some three hundred pound man in a khaki Sheriff’s outfit complete with Mountie hat and aviator sunglasses standing over me. Before I can get completely upright, he slaps me in the face with a cold wet palm that, if it were a steak, would set you back eighty bucks in any decent restaurant.

“Get a hold of yourself boy! No need for profanity.” Before I respond I slide my tongue across my teeth looking for anyone MIA. It’s then that I feel my chest. I recoil back with a sensation like Paul Bunyan had kicked me in the sternum. “Now just get a hold of yourself son. Doc Smith tells me you cracked a couple a ribs turning over that motor scooter of yours so save your strength.”

“Where in the shit am I?” Again Boss Hog slaps me and this time I’m more bewildered than in pain.

“Now I told you about that language. Keep a lid on it.” With that the sheriff rubs his chin, removes his glasses, and gives me a once over. “Now where you from son? Doc tells me that your license says Denver.”

I think about this and say. “I was formerly a resident, yes.” It’s then that I realize that the sheriff is gumming a long gone coffee straw. “Now don’t horse me around son, ya see I ain’t got the patience for it.” It’s only then that I can bring my knuckles to my eyes, clear the teas and grime, and blood, and look at the man to see that he is speaking with all seriousness.

“Yes sir. I’m from Denver. And to be totally honest, I don’t have the faintest clue of where I am.” Feeling at least semi re-acquainted with reality I say this with my best talking to the cops face.

“Well son.” He says, not missing a beat. “You’re smack dab in the middle of Eden Springs Colorada.” That wasn’t a typo. Like many a podunk before him he actually pronounced the last o with an a.

“Hell’s bells.” I say. “So what happened to my bike?”

The Sheriff thinks about this for a sec, taking time to suck on his swizzle stick and says. “Danny over at the service station is working on it for the time being. You gotta understand we don’t get much in the way of tourism round here. I just wanted to give ya a once over to make sure you weren’t some kind of trouble maker. Ya got a foul mouth on ya but that’s understandable seeing as yer circumstances.” With that the gargantuan man grabs the side of my face and gives me a good shake and has a laugh. “Name’s Bill Brunson, Sheriff Brunson to you.” He says as he grasps my free hand with the prime rib. “I got a couple a matters to attend to so take care and let me know if there’s anything I can do for ya.” With that the Sheriff leaves but his odor and demeanor remain.

Had I presently been capable, I most certainly would have become once again physically ill at this encounter but my upper bowels were as dry as the Kalahari. I take the time to examine my chest and find that it’s tightly bandaged from belly button to nipples. Having previously broken ribs, I know that sitting up will require Herculean fortitude. Bereft of alternatives I decide to proceed and once again dress myself from my set of clothes that I find once again, neatly pressed on the dresser. The definition of insanity is trying the same thing repetitively and expecting new results.

I hobble once again into the office to find the doctor at the reception desk with his feet up doing a crossword. He gives me a quick but altogether unimpressed glance and returns to chewing on the back of his pen.

“What the hell is going on?” I ask.

“Five letter word starting with L for ‘One who lacks success’?” The Doctor asks, never looking up from his puzzle. “If you want my advise, son?” The Doctor says, finally making eye contact. “You best get yourself squared away and get the hell outta here and start back whence you came.

The phonograph in the corner is playing again. This time it’s Hank Williams’ “I’ll never get out of this world alive.” I tell the doctor he couldn’t be more on the money.

“Just who do I see about that?” I ask.

“Your best bet would be Danny, over at the service station. He’s working on your motorcycle.” He says stuffing the pen back in his mouth as if our conversation was an inconvenience to his oral fixation.

“Where might I find that?” I say, just now having to gain my balance once again due to either internal blood loss, shock, or the detrimental effects of time travel.

“Downtown.” He says, putting down his paper with great annoyance. “Head out that door, make a left, caddy-corner to the diner.”

“Thanks.” I say, mustering the bag of broken bones and bruises that is now my body towards the door.

“Don’t doddle now.” The Doctor says. “I mean it. You got no place in this town and this place ain’t got no place for you.” I give him the international signal for “Rock’n Roll and leave.

* * *

Strange is a relative term. One man’s strange is another man’s commonplace. That said my conversation with the Doctor just now had readily convinced me that I best make my way out of Twin Peaks as soon as fucking possible. Then the real strange set in.

I start a couple of blocks down Main street as instructed by Mengela and am distracted from gazing upon the abhorred pastel wasteland of exterior home colors before me by a kid pushing one of those metal rings with a stick. Up until now I’d only seen shit like this on cartoons and Leave It To Beaver. The little bastard was even wearing a beanie with a propeller on top. I look at the little tike in much the way I imagine I may look at a werewolf or leprechaun for the first time, dumbfounded by that which lay before me. A combination of the apparition and the ever present pain in my ribs compels me to lean against the jet black Chevy America parked on the curb. I rub my eyes and take a look down Main Street and see a neon sign still glistening in the noon sun reading “DINER” about a block down. First thing’s first. I need some coffee.

I enter the diner looking like what must be ten pounds of shit in a five pound bag. Much to the surprise of what I was hoping was a surrealistic and existential drug trip, “Mr. Sandman” was not in fact playing on the jukebox as I entered. It was in fact Elvis’ “Heartbreak Hotel”. I meandered my way up to the bar and what do you know I find an ashtray in front of me. It seems that being stuck on the pimple on the ass of the Earth has its advantages. They don’t enforce the statewide smoking ban here. I light up, like any good American would.

A waitress in her mid forties positions herself in front of me wearing a bulletproof amount of eyeliner. “Howdy shug, what can I get ya?” She says with a smile both comforting and terrifying.

“Just a coffee thanks.” I say as I examine for the first time, the new bandages on my right fingers.

“Sure I can’t talk ya into a piece of pee-can pie? I make it myself.” She says with a wink.

“No, thanks, just the coffee.” I say discovering the four inch long dried strip of road rash on my right arm for the first time.

“Suit yourself.” “Mary” as her nametag implies says.

Moments later she comes back with my coffee and that same perky grin. “Let me ask you something shug. Are you that new fella in town I’ve been hearin' about?” I ask her what made her think that.

“Can I ask you just one question?” Shoot I say. “Now I’m a high-school graduate and all but I’m not too keen on science and things.” You don’t say, I reply. “I just gotta ask. If a zeppelin was a made outta lead wouldn’t it just sink right to the gal durn ground?” I almost drop the brown ceramic coffee cup Debbie just filled for me as I look at her vapidly and it dawns on me that she’s referring to my t-shirt. It’s a Zeppelin 73’ tour shirt with the occasional blood stain that the Eden Co laundrymat apparently didn’t get out.

“Well… you see.. Hey, what’s the damage on this coffee?” I say downing the rest of the lava hot cup.

“That’ll be twenty cents.” Mary says in all seriousness. I ramble through my pockets but soon redeemer that my bankroll and my wallet mysteriously disappeared whilst I was unconscious.

“I hate to tell ya this Mary, but I seem to have forgotten my wallet on my way out.” I give her the old puppy dog eyes I learned on my mother and have used liberally on every girlfriend I’d ever had.

“Tell ya what shug. I’ll put it on yer tab. Now what's your Christian name?”
“James.” I say. “James Blake.”

* * *

I ring the bell at “Eden Auto Body” for what felt like a fortnight before a homely looking character in coveralls with fresh oils stains on hid midriff pokes his head up over the counter nearly giving me my sixth coronary of the last forty-eight hours. “Hey!”

I almost loose my footing as he springs up from the counter like a Jack in the Box. “You must be the fella that wrecked his motor scooter.”

In a perfect world I’d find all this amusing. In a perfect world, all these things would be mere contrivances while I sat on my yacht deciding between a Grey Goose or Kettle One martini. Being the type of person that I am, in the situation that I am, it is annoying. “Yes.”

“Well I’ll tell you what I’ve always wanted an opportunity to work on one of the two wheeled variety.” Danny says according to the nametag on his coveralls. God god damn, everyone here seems to be wearing identification.

“Danny, and I say this with all due respect. What the fuck are you talking about!” It sounded calmer in my head than it came out.

“You know.” Danny says, not missing a beat and obviously not offended. “The type of car with two wheels like you got here.”

“Bear with me for a moment Danny because I’m gonna speak slow and avoid contractions. Do you mean to tell me that you’ve never worked on a motorcycle before?” I say this using several gesticulations and hand movements as violent as possible hoping to get my point across.

“Well hell naw. But I can’t imagine it’s much more difficult than a Buick.” He says scratching his head with a wrench in a posture that denotes that what he’s saying is obvious.

“How long until it’s done?” I ask.

“Oh, not long. I just gotta figure out how to make my wrenches fit this gall durn thing.”

“You’re using metric tools right?”

“They make em in metric too.” Heavens why.

“Because it’s Japanese.”

“Well I’ll be damned. I read Kawalski and thought the bastard was from Poland.” God is testing you James, there’s a beer in this town, find it.

* * *

I meander my way back up to the bar at the diner just as the suns about to set. I run both hands through my greasy hair. Dr. Mengela and Nurse Ratchet obviously denied me a sponge bath during my unconsciousness. I need a shower. Mary comes by again.

“Change your mind about that Pee-can pie?”

“As a mater of fact Mary, I did. If you have accomplished nothing in your life up unit this point, make sure that for the next hour all I see is draft beer and pecan pie for as far as the eye can see.” As sarcastic as that came out, I can smell the pie, it smells damn good.

Just as I’m about top experience the best pecan pie The Outer Limits has to offer, I’m interrupted. There’s a tap on my shoulder. I look to my right and see a subtle, red haired man, maybe forty, with a smile sweeping so stringently across his face it could end world hunger.

“Hello friend.” The man says. I’ve never been greeted this way before and it’s as creepy in person as it sounds. “I’m Dale, Dale Goodwill from the city council and the local representative of the Eden Colorado Elks Lodge. I was hoping you could come and answer a few questions for me.”

Now I’ve been watching T.V. for he last thirty years like he rest of you. Despite this feeling like a deathtrap, anyone who’s been to an Elk’s Lodge knows that they are up to their elbows in hooch. Who am I to deny a free drink or five. What do I have to loose.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

My New Project: Anachronism

I'm working on a new book, this time a fiction work. I've been working my ass of on this in the midst of "The Bartender Journals" nationwide tour so please tell me, you my origional fans, what you think. I'm reluctant to start this as any of you who have seen my live readings know that I allready finished another fiction book "Surviving Society" which has yet to be published. All I know that working on an idea is much better than having to edit one, so enjoy and please give me feedback.

By Dave Lawrence

Chapter 1

I ask him how many. “Two.” Marco tells me. “Either we break two and you never show your face in Denver again. Or we cut off the same two and you have two weeks to get things straight.” I’ve been lying in the broom closet of a tattoo parlor on Colfax for the last hour while Marco’s gorillas tenderized me for the negotiation you are now witnessing. They caught me going back to my apartment to retrieve the fifteen grand I had hidden in my ventilation duct. Barely a third of what I need by midnight tonight if I ever want to play piano again. Marco pocketed the money when he nabbed me and I know that no matter what I choose he’ll be keeping it with the boss none the wiser. You see if I come up short it’s gonna be Marco’s job to kill me. It’s a much better deal for him if I disappear. He’d much rather get fifteen large to do a 3rd degree assault than do first degree murder with intent for free.

“So what’s it gonna be?” Marco asks. I tell him I’ll take the first one. The Gorillas drag me into the front room of the tattoo parlor and sit me down in one of the antique barber chairs. “Left or right?” Marco asks. I tell him the right. I’ll need my left for the clutch on my way to Vegas. They take out a couple of zip ties and tie my left wrist to the arm of the chair and my right hand, palm down across the other side. Its dark in here but for some reason I can notice what seems to be a small collection of blood along the inside of the ashtray built into the armrest. Somebody felt lucky, somebody took the second option. I tell Marco that it looks like he’s done this before. With that he only smiles and gets a grip on my pinky and ring finger.

I look over to the corner of the tattoo parlor and there in the corner is sitting Marco’s fifteen year old whore. She’s smoking an American Spirit with a cold sore on her lip and begins clutching the tiny little purse she has in her free hand made out of discarded Nevada license plates ever so tightly when he takes a hold of my fingers. The look in her eyes tells me she’s been in this chair before.

I remember when my father used to spank me when I was a kid for whatever dumbshit thing I’d done and I would always have to focus on something to deal with the pain. He’d pull out that old leather belt with the metal rings on it out from the bottom of his closet and when he put me over his knee I’d focus on the first thing I’d see on the floor. Sometimes it was a Lincoln Log, or maybe a Han Solo action figure. I’d just stare at it as hard as I could. I still remember how Optimus Prime’s left eye was just a little larger than the right. Tonight, sitting in the barber chair with my flanges about to be devastated, I look at Marco’s whore. I’ll always remember her. The baby doll Franz Ferdinand shirt, the cheap pink lipstick from Wallgreen’s, the yellow fingernails that tell me she’s smoked too much meth out of broken light bulbs, and the way she flinched. Oh shit, here it comes.

* * *

They dropped me off about twenty minutes later outside my apartment. That is, dropped me off in the same way you “drop off” a cigarette but or a fast food wrapper you throw out the window without slowing down. Luckily they tossed me in the alley and I landed close enough to my bike because I was in no shape to walk a great distance. First things first I pulled out my flask and my cigarettes, took a belt and lit up. As soon as the flick of my Zippo echoed down the alley there was a rustling amongst the garbage nearby. It was of course, a bum. I swear to god it’s like these guys have a kind of echolocation for smokes. Before I can take another nip the old vagabond crawls over with a look on his face like I want to be some sort of philanthropist.

“Heeey brotha, can I get a square off ya?” Do I look like cigarette welfare to the degenerate trash of the world.

“Do you see my face?” I ask him. “Look at me for fucks sake!” I say pointing to my face with my right hand, two fingers dangling off like wet spaghetti.

“I’m sorry slick, I just need a smoke man.” I rip one from the pack and throw it in his face. And take a long hit off my flask.

“Hey whatcha got in there brotha, can I have some?” To that I crawl on my elbows to the rucksack on the back of my bike and pull out my .380 and chamber a round.

“Buzz off tramp before I pump you full of lead!” The crackhead grabs his bushel of shit from behind the dumpster and tears ass down the alley. Pump you full of lead? God damn I watched too much TV as a kid.

When I finish my smoke I dig into the toolbox under the seat of my bike and pull out a small crescent wrench and a roll of electrical tape to fashion a makeshift splint for my fingers. Much to my surprise it was much more painful getting them back in their original position than it was reorienting them in the first place. It took four more cigarettes and half my flask to accomplish this meager task. Its gonna be a long ride to Cesar’s Palace.

When I eventually saddle my bike and, after throwing up a few times, start the fucker up and burn off to I-70 its almost dawn. I need to make my way West across the divide before it gets light lest I get pulled over in Arapahoe county for my myriad of unpaid parking tickets and get sent over to City within the clutches of people willing to imbed a sharpened toothbrush in my eye socket for whatever meager price my head is going for today. You make a lot of decisions as a gambler. Some good, some bad, but they all weigh precisely on a risk/reward equation you have worked out in your head. The trick is never to regret a past decision, to always know you had the numbers in mind. You learn early on to deal with bad beats, cold streaks, or just dumb luck. You never learn to deal with a hunch gone wrong.

It begins to rain around Breckinridge and I constantly have to wipe my gloves across my goggles to keep an eye on the never ending series of chicanes ahead. About twenty miles and a near tsunami later I reach the Eisenhower Tunnel and get the most recent in a series of (both figurative and literal) kicks in the nuts. Due to a tanker crash, the westbound traffic is completely closed off for an indeterminate period of time. I have two choices at this point. A. I wait for the tunnel to re-open, which could be anywhere from hours to a day or two. Or B. I look for a detour. I’ve taken these mountain passes enough in the last fifteen years to feel confident enough to find what the Donner party could not and find a passage to the west. Risk vs. reward. This isn’t a hunch. It isn’t a gut feeling. Just keep telling yourself that man.

Thus begins two hours of traversing, at varying speeds, a series of byways and highways in several states of pavedness. The rain pours harder and despite my masculinity I would, at this point, be more than willing to ask for directions should there be anyone to ask. As the sun raises a thick mountain fog envelopes all that surrounds me. This along with an ever-present downpour of raindrops the size of marbles makes it nearly impossible to continue. I’m doing nearly eighty when I see through my raindrop ridden, fogged up goggles a T intersection ahead. I barely stop on the dirt topped road before I nearly hit the sign reading “T Intersection” Thanks for the warning chief.

At this point I need to make a decision. Neither left nor right looks rather desirable due to the fact that the fog makes it impossible to decipher which way is north. I pull out a smoke and my flask and contemplate my dilemma. Were I an Army Ranger, Sherlock Holmes, or even a person with a high school education, I could probably come up with an intelligent solution to this problem. Being who I am, I flip a coin.

I dig a quarter out of my pocket and check the state. Virginia, already got that one, and flip it. I follow the coin’s arc through the air and as my eyes once again reach the horizon I see a mother humping black bear standing across from me not five yards from my bike. “Clink!” The coin says, hitting the ground. The bear is standing on his hind legs looking at me in much the same way the crackhead did back by my apartment in Capitol Hill. Knowing nothing better to do I take a drag from my smoke. The bear lets out a “Rawwwwwwr like a tyrannosaurus rex. I drop my but and stamp it out with my cheap cowboy boot as he watches me and withdraw another cigarette and throw it into a nearby field. The bear follows the projectile and I have enough time to take a belt and look down at the coin on the ground. Heads. Was that right or left? Fuck it. I’m going left.

I travel down the new road for about twenty miles and despite being completely lost have the confidence in mind to know that I have no way in hell of fining my way back so forward is better than transgression. The point of no return and all that.

Luckily the rain subsides but the fog remains. I’m forced to slow to about ten miles per hour in the turns for fear of some unseen obstacle but in the straighaways I let it out like I’m outrunning some unseen force that wishes me damned. It’s on such a straightaway that the fog breaks and I enter, what as best a degenerate gambler like me can describe, the most beautiful valley I’d ever seen. The sun cut through the clouds in a small part of the sky like a piece of heaven had dripped upon the earth. It’s while I’m marveling this, this force of nature, the presence of god, if you believe in such things, that I see the wolf. Sitting right there in the middle of the road, and I mean sitting on his hind legs waiting for a milk bone, right in my path. Despite my instincts as a motorcyclist I do the dumbest thing imaginable, I swerve. I swerve and the front wheel becomes inverted and I fly like Iccarus to close to the sun, and burn. The last thing I saw was that wolf licking his lips with a shit eating grin on his face.

* * *

I wake up on a cot. The room is white and I was having a dream that Jaquin Phoenix had just taken me for sixty grand in a hand of Omaha at the Mirage. Like waking up from many a dream before, I have little concern with my environment but am rather trying to rationalize why I was dreaming that very thing. It quickly occurs to me that that very reason is that Johnny Cash’s “I Walk The Line” is playing on a phonograph in the next room. I know for a fact that it’s the phono and not the CD version because I own, or at least used to, own both and have listened to each countless times in hopes of noticing subtle nuances. Only after I’ve came to this conclusion can I contemplate my surroundings.

I’m on a cot, as I said, in for all that I can tell a very small white room. My first impression is that I’m in a county jail infirmary but those ideas are quickly dismissed when I realize that there are no bars on the doors, nor handcuffs upon my wrists. I immediately stand up and find that despite there being IV swabs on the insides of both my elbows, I am neither constrained by shackles nor an IV. My ass hanging in the wind in the hospital gown I’m wearing, I look around the room. All I see are a pile of neatly pressed clothes, (mine, which have not been washed for at least a dozen donnings) a lime green plastic AM radio that my grandmother is probably looking for, and a rusty bedpan. I immediately toss my clothes and find my wallet, smokes, and flask, right where I left them. When I find my boots on the floor beside the dresser what I don’t find inside is my Walther and the $1500 bucks stashed there. I quickly get dressed and make my way into the hallway.

Now bear with me. I’m a regular kinda guy. I had a couple of old girlfriends who make me watch a couple of episodes of Queer Guy, I once went into a pottery barn to buy some shot glasses because there was a drinking contest on the line and we were in Bakersfield CA, I even read “O” magazine once because I showed up late at an appointment with my P.O. and the guy before me took the only Sports Illustrated, but I am not gay. That said, I couldn’t help but notice that the hallway of wherever I was, was painted in the most awful shade of salmon I’d ever seen. Once again, not gay.

I made my way down the hallway and entered what looked like the front room of a doctor’s office to be greeted with an attractive receptionist in a nurse’s outfit I’d only seen on strippers, doing her nails and a haggard looking middle aged man in a doctor’s coat shooting puts into a rocks glass in the corner. “Where the fuck am I?” You would have said the same thing.

The receptionist was the first to act. She immediately dropped her nail polish and came to my side. “Mr. Blake, you shouldn’t be walking in your condition.” The man in the doctor’s coat, seemingly the doctor, seemed more distracted than concerned. The receptionist maneuvered an old wooden wheeled wheelchair beneath me as I not so reluctantly sat.

“I need some air.” I told her rather affirmatively.

“That’s a good Idea, let’s get you outside.” She said as the Doctor tried to interject but was given a scorn look from my courier. When I reached the sidewalk beyond the doctor’s office I went directly for my smokes and my flask. I kept my eyes squinted as I lit the smoke and even as I took the first belt off my flask of whiskey before Nurse Ratchet only hot, took it away from me. When I finally opened them I was met with a vision I was not prepared for. A greater man might have noticed more but alas I’m a car guy, so the first thing I saw was a mint 52’ Oldsmobile Super 88. Then there was that Ford Sunliner Convertible. Then that Roadmaster, with the four barrel carb and power steering. I’d died and waken up at a car show. That’s when I noticed the Good Humor man, in his white uniform, passing out iced cream to a group of kids on Schwinns. The high school couple, holding hands, him in a letter jacket, and her in a poodle skirt wearing his varsity pin. I saw the movie theater across the street playing “High Noon”. I saw the world in Technicolor. I was lost, I was gone, and I was truly a stranger in a strange land. It was then that I dropped my Newport and my flask, and proceeded to vomit in wherever direction possible before passing out once again.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The Bartender Journals now available online!!

You can now buy the book directly from the publisher from this link.

Thanks again for everyone's support. I hope you enjoy the final product. If you can't make it out to Chicago this weekend keep your eye on this site for info on further signings in your area.


Dave Lawrence

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

The Bartender Journals book signing and live reading

My first book signing has been announced at GoonCon 2006 at the Renaissance Downtown Chicago at 7:30pm in the Grand Ballroom. Admission will be free to the general public and I'm making arrangements for drinks to be served. There I will be giving a live reading along with a spoken word performance of several of my other works and projects. Thanks for all your support, hope to see some of you there.

Friday, October 28, 2005

The Bartender Journals The Book!!!

First off I'd like to thank everyone who read this blog and made what I'm about to tell you a reality. I was aproached some months ago about the amount of traffic my blog was recieving and was offered a deal to turn "The Bartender Journals" into a book. I readily accepted and this is the reason that updates have been few and far between as of late. I've been filtering content from the finished product to the page month by month but at the request of my agent will not publish the last few chapters of what will become "The Bartender Journals" the novel. The book will have all you've read here (although edited) along with about a half dozen chapters added in the middle and the two chapter conclusion. In about two weeks you can view a preieview draft of the first couple of chapters as they will appear in the book at which will as of launch have regular updates including a weekly blog, a comic strip, and a profile of Colorado area artists. When the book hits shelves (first week of January at the latest) It will be available on and several bookstores in major cities across the country. As of next summer I start my book tour to promote the book with a series of readings/rock shows across the country so check the website for updates. If you want to be on the BartenderJournals Mailing List, just e-mail me at RE: BJ-Mailing List. Once again thanks, amd I hope you enjoy the book.

Since you guys have been such stand up cats, here's a new story seprate from the book just for your pleasure. Enjoy.


….is a bitch. So you’re this guy. A normal type of guy. You’re looking for a job. You hear bartenders make a lot of money. You have a penchant for the creative (bullshit), you lie on your resume. You get the job. The job pays well. Along with flexible hours, all the patty melt’s you can eat, pay like a Hollywood STD practitioner, you get to flit about to your penis’ content amongst the staff. The job seems ideal. You make your money. You fuck your waitresses. You hear that a bunch of sports retards are going on strike. You get fired. You write about your experience. People listen. You fall in love. The people are happy. You are happy. The woman you fell in love with does an eight ball and twelve Stoli and Red Bulls and tells the cops that you’re David Koresh incarnate. You get arrested. The woman you fell in love with tells the D.A. it was all a big misunderstanding. You get unarested. You’re alone, you’re broke, but best of all, you’re free. This is my life. A story has been told. For months I strove for an ending. I haphazardly decided on one. Despite my best efforts. The story continues.

RE: The Bartender Journals.

Hello. I was looking through some blogs and saw yours. It's not a hobby of mine to do, but I felt like seeing if anyone out there had something to talk about. I read your blog "Catharsis". It reminded me of some Hemingway I have read, or maybe Kerouac, I don't know. I only compare you to them for the constant stream of thought you were going for. Working with an ex is hell though. Anyway, I also guess I want to meet(or chat) with a few people from Denver since I am moving down there for school sometime soon. I guess I have a soft spot for the life of bartenders since my sister has been one since I was eight, and we couldn't afford a sitter so I sat in the corner listening to the drunks.

I don't know why I am sharing all this, just felt like I can relate. About the working in a sports bar and hating sports, it's a feeling I can commiserate with. My father sold comic books and collectable fantasy artist cards, and Anime at shows all along the East coast, mostly at sports shows. He despised sports. He also was nice enough to pass along that trait, for the most part.
Now I know why I wrote this. I guess it's my way of saying thank you for sharing your thoughts, and I want to ask you why you enjoy The Sun Also rises, because I am waiting for someone who doesn't say the read it for school.
If you like, feel free to write back sometime.

I get these a lot. E-mails from girls. Girls who think its all just so funny so tragic, so… fictional. They write and tell me how creative I am, unbeknownst to them my imagination knows not the bounds of my experience. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t read far past sentence two without a picture. Luckily this one came in tow with the most beautiful pair of eyes I’m yet to see. I’m a sucker for eyes. I reply. As to what I replied I’m not sure. My time betwixt the computer monitor and the rest of the world is seldom remembered. Alas I was apparently humorous. She proceeded to tell me how I was the funniest person she’d ever talked to. Now I’m fucked. The most dastardly cold hearted thing a person can do to the funny to be is to tell them that they are so. Such a compliment brings about a livid expectation of hilarity that can only be met with awkwardness. She wants to meet. Why the hell not. I’ve spent months dodging my former personae like a rogue in the night persistently fearful that my past has an aluminum baseball bat with my name on it. For now I shall re-emerge and it will be good.

She lives far away. In a suburb I’ve only heard mention of on the weather reports outside of Boulder. My being without transportation I have to rely on the uncomfortable new comrade that is public transportation. Upon which I see these people. The downtown bus is like a time machine. If you sit in the middle, you can see both your future and your past. Up front are the people you dare not to become. In back the people you dread you once were. This weighs heavy on a man making four connections and traveling via the loser cruiser for three hours. Wait, here’s my stop.

Boulder Colorado. Once the bastion of long haired pinko idealists, now the Mecca for urban assault vehicle driving sycophant latte addicts who will “Just lose it” (sic) if Pottery Barn has a sale this weekend. As popular culture turns to the gutter, the former denizens of the gutter shall rise. Or so I would like to hope.

This is a place I am fondly familiar with and at the same time completely alien to. The landscape of your youth has a way of changing at a drastic if not sickening pace. I book a room in a local Hostel and bounce by bags off my military style cot just like I did at camp. I have an hour before I have to meet her. Plenty of time to get acquainted with liquid confidence.

An hour or two and a tequila or four later I’m sitting at a coffee shop downtown wheezing through some Faulkner and cursing myself for brining only one book on this trip when I see her. More to the point I see her eyes. The eyes. I'm a sucker for the eyes. I straighten my collar, check my breath, crack a smile and as I say “Hi, I’m Dave.” I know immediately that I’m fucked for good.

Some weeks and godly amounts of blueballs later, I find myself in my room, drenched in sweat, struggling for breath, with a feeling as if the almighty has just anointed my tallywacker, rolling off her. I have broken a long coitus based hiatus just now and require a Newport and a cold glass of water to collect my thoughts. I gather these things. Lying there after a bout of lovemaking that just woke the gods, we struggle for small talk. I ask her what she’s doing on Thursday. “I have plans actually. My friends are taking me out. Its my birthday.” Oh really, I Inquire. Why didn’t you tell me? We gotta do something. How old are you gonna be? “Eighteen.” She says. No, seriously. “Eighteen.” Thus began a tirade of disbelief that does not end until she procures documents from her Hello Kitty purse and proves me wrong.

O.K. I’m gonna level with you. She didn’t really have a Hello Kitty purse. But the fact of the matter remains that it would be hilarious if she did. It’s just one of those stereotypical high school girl affectations that if it had really happened to me would be ingeniously ironic. Alright, I leveled with you. On with the show.

So now I’m a statutory rapist. I’ve been called worse. I could write volumes right now about how she’s mature for her age or you just have to meet her but it would all just be mental masturbation and after the fact justification. Jail bait or not, this girl’s a keeper.

So I keep her. Another nanosecond summer rolls by and another millennium long autumn rears it’s ugly head. Its about this time I receive my drivers license once again. Its about now that I am ounce again a motorist. Let the vagabonds and crazies on the downtown bus be dammed. I’m buying a fucking car. Like most decisions in my life my choice in automobiles is unwise. Having limited funds I opt for a late and I mean late model little British number with a rag top and an electrical system that the devil himself hath designed. The conveyance works well, in the beginning. First the headlights are inconsistently in operation. Then the turn signals. Then the gas gauge. These are minor contrivances compared to driving through the mountains with the wind in my hair. For all I’ve learned, I’ve managed to unlearn twice as much.

Whilst driving to see my fair lady one brisk fall morning, I am contemplating the existence of the horizon, my place in the world, who would win in a fight between Sgt. Slaughter and Muhammad Ali, when all of a sudden a battle between British engineering and Newtonian Physics is fought beneath my bonnet. I wrestle the fair beast to the shoulder and smell oil on hot pavement like it were my own entrails spilt upon the ground. Thus begins the foreshadowing of my stupidity.

A $180 tow ride to a Brit mechanic later and I have this limey prick telling me that I would require Slovenia’s deficit to repair my once fine chariot. At a crux financially I am at a loss for words as to what to do. He prods me once again with a “So mate, what’s it gonna be?” I toss the keys across his office and onto the Guinness calendar on his desk and walk out of the brigand’s den and into the nearest tavern.

“So are you like Johnny Cash or something?” The pink lipsticked downtownophile at the barstool next to me asks. I can only assume she is referring to my mode of dress. A second hand paisley shirt, jeans, and a first hand pair of snakeskin boots I splurged on after a good night of cards. Do I look as thought I should be Johnny Cash? I inquire well into my fifth tequila. “Well, you’re dressed like a cowboy.” I think about this for a moment and tell her that she is dressed like a hooker but I didn’t ask for a hummer.

It’s been almost nine months since I’ve had a black eye. One of the first things that goes with inebriation is peripheral vision. Within that peripheral vision were the two stout young men on the other side of the hooker’s barstool. Oh well. Lessons learned.

What have we learned here tonight kids? Well, internet personals can be deceiving. You know why the Brit’s drink their beer warm? Because Lucas makes refrigerators too. (British cars suck for the non automotive inclined.) And a good joke shall and will remain worth the occasional shiner.

All I know is that I have ice on my eye and a bottle of Souza in my hand and my newly graduated from jail bait to barely legal goddess of a girlfriend on her way to my place forthwith. Somehow. Everything’s going to be okay.

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

The Bartender Journals Part 1

I woke up this morning, well not exactly the morning, it was four in the afternoon but that’s morning for a bartender, and had a wicked hangover. I fumbled around for a cigarette and lay there next to the open window by my bed and listened to the crack heads shuffle through my building’s dumpster. I had to be at work in a half hour and didn’t have time for a shower so I picked out some clothes that didn’t smell too bad. I decided to go with the t-shirt I had made that says “POPULAR SPORTS TEAM” in black letters. Nobody at the sports bar I work at seems to get it.

On my way out to my motorcycle I saw a pamphlet stapled to a telephone pole. It had a picture of a cat and said “LOST CAT Answers to “kiss my pussy” please call 495-0060. I really wanted to laugh but couldn’t muster the strength.

Work was dead when I got there and the only other person in sight was Katie the cocktail waitress and my ex-girlfriend. If you’ve never had to work with an ex before let me spare you the suspense, it sucks. Normally after a breakup you can easily avoid the other person by staying away from their hangouts and friends. You’re totally screwed when you have to spend seven hours a day, four days a week not only seeing but talking to that person. Oh fuck. Here she comes.

“Hi, what’s up?” She says with a smile. But all I hear is “I broke up with you and told all the other waitresses what you look like naked.” I need some coffee.

The coffee here sucks and I drink too much of it. I need to do something about this hangover and ponder the idea of bitters and soda, an old trick you learn in bartending school, but decide to opt for some “hair of the dog” instead and slip a couple shots of bourbon in my coffee. Just as I’m doing this I notice that I have customers at the far side of the bar. A construction worker and a cop come in from the road work being done outside and sit down together. I ask them where the Indian chief and the sailor are and they stare at me blankly and ask for menus. I don’t know why I try.

The rest of the evening shift begins to roll in. Seven months of working here and I can barely keep these chicks’ names straight. Cryatal, Katie, Karen, Kelly C, Kelly E, Cassie, and Carrie are gossiping at the server station. It doesn’t help that I’m the only guy that works here. Sure at first I felt like a kid in a candy store, but within two months of being hired, Katie had stuck a flag in me and staked her claim. Three months after that things had apparently gotten “weird” and we broke up. Now the rest of the flock is off limits. Date one girl at your work and it’s an office romance, date two or more and you’re a man whore, it’s just that simple. I think I’d better find a paper and pretend they’re not talking about me.

I’m too out of it to read about how the world is going to hell in a hand basket so I decide to do the crossword. Hmm… A five letter word starting with L for “One who lacks success. Maybe this isn’t such a good idea.

Oh crap. Traci just walked in. Traci is an ex of mine that I’ve been dating lately. We hadn’t seen each other in three years and ran into each other at a bar a few weeks ago and have been seeing each other since. She says she’s on her way to school and just wanted to stop in and say hi. We talk for a few minutes and when she gets ready to leave she leans over for the old goodbye kiss. I awkwardly oblige and simultaneously try and scan the bar with my eyes as I do it. When she leaves I see the hens giggling and pointing in the corner. Now I can look forward to “Who was that?” and “Was that your girlfriend?” questions for the next couple of hours. I drink more bourbon.

I have another customer. He orders a Bud and starts yammering on about some sports game. He could be speaking Aramaic for all I know. I’m able to decipher that tonight is going to be rather busy because our local hockey team is in the Super Bowl or something. It’s hard working in a sports bar when you have absolutely no interest in sports. I guess it’s gotta be like a homo working in a titty bar, I just don’t get all the hype. Usually you can bullshit your way through these conversations with customers with a lot of “yea”’s and “really”’s like you might do on a boring date but when they realize that they distracted me from my dog eared copy of The Sun Also Rises to ask about a basketball score, they realize they asked the wrong question. I swear these morons think that just because I work here that I must be Howard fucking Kosell. Even the waitresses seem to know more than I do. I hope you never have to go through the de-emasculating experience of getting the off sides rule explained by a eighteen year old girl applying eyeliner.

The guy at the end of the bar wants a Coors Light. He hasn’t asked yet and I don’t recognize him but I know anyway. After you’ve served a few thousand beers you can just tell by looking at them. Occasionally you get thrown a curveball. One time I had a guy with a Bud Light running suit and baseball cap order a Heineken, that one bent my mind for awhile.

Yep, I was right a Coors Light. Damn I’m good. I wonder if I could somehow incorporate that into some kind of drunken magic act? Hey wait. A homeless guy just walked in and sat down. He’s asking for what would obviously be his twelfth shot of vodka. I don’t have anything against hobos it’s just that they’re bad for business. We cater to a rich cocksucker season ticked holder crowd that doesn’t like rubbing elbows with tramps. For that matter what the hell is this guy doing trying to buy our overpriced shit for anyway? He’s have to panhandle for months to buy a Smirnoff here. Why not save your money and drink yourself to death on Thunderbird like a normal bum. The girls notice that he’s scaring the customers and as always it’s my job to toss his ass. As politely as possible I scoop the poor bastard up and escort him out. Afterwards I begin to wonder who the poor bastard really is.

Shit. Here comes Katie again, this was inevitable. “Who was that girl?” She asks.

I tell her just an old friend. Fuck I’m a spineless sack of shit.

“She was really cute.” I take a deep breath and nod.

“What are you doing after work tonight?” She asks as she places her hand over mine on the bar.

I say that I’m not sure and I’ll talk to her after I get off. She agrees, gives me a wink and a smile and walks off. Then I pour some more bourbon in my coffee cup. It’s gonna be a long night.

The place is starting to fill up and the manager just turned off my jazz station to put the pre-game on the P.A.. The reason we get so packed on game nights because we’re right across the street from the city’s sports arena. For two hours before and at least one hour after a game, this place is a madhouse but when there’s nothing going on it’s a ghost town. Despite the waitress’ bitching when its slow I kinda like it. I make a descent hourly and even when its busy most of these pricks think tipping is a city in China. The down time helps me relax. I grab a good book, throw on some jazz and put away a stiff drink. You haven’t experienced Steinbeck till you’ve read him good and tight while listening to some Brubeck. This is how I got the rep as the weird guy. I guess these broads, most of whom were cheerleaders in high school, have never met a guy who’d rather dig some Kerouac than watch a bunch of overpaid assholes in silly outfits whack a ball around. That’s what Katie said she liked about me. I guess years of these Neanderthals pinching her ass as she tried to carry a tray of drinks drove her to something different.

Katie, the only girl to drive me to sobriety. I swear I went on a week long bizarro binder after she gave me my walking papers and let me tell you it was hell. For some reason after she left, the hooch just didn’t taste as sweet anymore. It was the longest I’d been on the wagon since I was fourteen. Slowly a healthy surliness set in and I was back off the wagon and into the gutter where I belonged.

A guy in a t-shirt and a sport coat just sat down with a woman with enough collagen in her lips to raise the Kursk. She wants a cosmo and he asks for a rusty nail with a dipshit grin. I know these guys. They buy a bartending bible and think they can impress a date my stumping the bartender with an obscure cocktail. This guy’s barking up the wrong fucking tree. Growing up with my father, the only two liquors in the house were scotch and Drambuie, the only two ingredients in a rusty nail. If I wanted to tie one on as a shaver I had to learn to appreciate the libation. I ask the guy how he likes his rust and he goes from cocky to stumbling moron in about a tenth of a second. I explain that I’m asking how much Drambuie he wants and he says not too much. Fucker wound up not tipping but damn it was worth it.

The coffee’s getting cold so I decide to switch to rum and coke in a soda cup. The trick with doing this at work is choosing a dark rum so the boss doesn’t notice the pale complexion of your beverage and tip her off that your boozing on the job. I find Myers does the trick. It’s also a good idea to keep some strong mints handy. I swear Amber, god bless her for having a name starting with an A, the manager must thing I brush my teeth five times a day.

Katie comes behind the bar to sneak herself a shot of Vodka. I swear she executes this move like an expert pickpocket. First she pours the shot under the bar, then she examines some tickets for upcoming drinks, then she drops one and in one swift move grabs the shot and downs it while going to pick up the ticket. Now that’s a girl you bring home to mom. On her way out to the floor she runs her hand across the small of my back, a move that two months ago was a signal for a quickie in the beer fridge. I almost drop two pilsners of Guinness as she does this and make the save just in time to see her shoot me a wink on her way out. I can tell that this encounter wasn’t an invitation to please her up against a case of Corona but rather a display of intent. Kind of like a peacock displaying her feathers just to let the poor male peacock know the score.

My cell phone is ringing and it’s Traci. I hope God is enjoying this. I duck into the broom closet where it’s quiet enough to talk. She wants to know what time I’ll be off. I tell her, knowing damn well that I’ll be off as soon as the game starts and the bar clears out, that I may have to close and that I’ll call her later. There is a special place in hell for idiots like myself.

I can see some dirt bag trying to hit on Katie at one of the cocktail tables. She’s got blowing these guys off down to a science. Just as the bastard crosses the customer-drunken guy hitting on you line she’ll either spill a drink in his lap or if she’s dying for a tip tell them she’s a lesbian which typically results in a bigger tip.

It’s a half hour till they drop the black thing on the ice and the customers are antsy to buy drinks for less than eight bucks before they get to the game. I actually went to a hockey game once when a scalper that frequents the place gave me ice tickets. The experience was fun enough but when I ordered two Coors’ and the beer peddler told me fifteen bucks, I knew I couldn’t make a hobby out of being a sports fan.

Drunk guy in the jersey wants to buy me a shot. Apparently because I’m the man. Drinking recreationally on the job is a no no but if a customer is buying it’s encouraged. Strange how that works. He asks me what I want and I tell him we’re doing a round of Jacobs Ladders.

Jacobs Ladder

Put a shot glass in bottom of Pint
Fill shot glass with
Absolut Citron + Floater of Blackberry Schnapps
Fill Pint up to rim of shot glass with Cranberry
Fill half of remainder with light beer and other half with Pinapple

Drink entire thing until shot pours down throat

Let me tell you, this shit is like Ambrosia. Jersey guy puts his down and within two minutes I see him make a b-line for the bathroom, mission accomplished.

The bar is starting to clear out. Tabs are settled and barstools empty as the morons pile out to watch a bunch of figure skaters with mullets try and convince America that Canada has something to offer the civilized world. I settle the last of my tabs and tally up my tips. 125.67, I might not have to hit the ATM at the bar tonight.

Just as I’m making sure the bar is nice and tidy for the closing girl I get another ring on my cell phone. Of course it’s Traci. She wants to know the score because she’s got a line on a good jazz club tonight. Just as I’m trying to think of a good way to blow her off Katie comes over and wants my ear. She asks if I want to grab some drinks downtown because she’s getting off the same time as me. I ask for a sec and duck back into the broom closet and ask Traci if she wants to grab some dinner. She says that she’d rather skip the dining and get straight to the wineing and go back to her place and screw. Phone in hand I pontificate on this dilemma for a couple of moments and tell Katie I have plans and I’ll see her tomorrow at work. I then tell Traci that I’ll meet her at one of my favorite hangouts in forty five minutes.

Did I make the right choice? Only time will tell. All I know is that I’m gonna get lit with a beautiful girl who’d rather get tight and fuck than go through the romantic rigamoround. Katie says for me to call her this weekend. All I can think is that the shortest distance between me and happiness is a stiff Jack and Coke.

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