I can’t believe that Bob is concerned about me. I just met him, I know nothing about him, and suddenly here he is, standing right in front of me and telling me that he is concerned about me. The bar is in complete chaos and punches are being thrown. Chrissie Hynde’s “Message of Love” is playing on the jukebox.
Over the roar of the crowd I tell Bob to go to the other end of the bar near the exit and I will meet him there. A wooden chair gets launched out of the crowd and hits the floor about a foot away from me. “Having fun yet?” Don yells at me while scooping up patrons’ drinks in the hopes that they don’t become additional weapons. “I love it,” I respond as I run behind the bar. I reach the end, use the sink as leverage, and hop onto the bar. Sitting on my butt I swing my legs over and land on the floor. Then I follow Bob out the front door.
Bob stops on the sidewalk right in front of the stairs. “Exciting night, huh?” Bobs says. Somewhere inside the bar a chair smashes to the floor. His eyes twinkle while he talks. “I’ll never forget it,” I say. Bob chuckles. “Neither will I,” he says putting his hand out, reaching for mine. I grab his hand and stare into those eyes. “So blue,” I think to myself. “Are you working tomorrow?” Bob asks. His eyes glance at the building and at the Ninth Circle sign. In the distance I can still hear the fight going on. People are running out of the building as if it’s on fire. “Not here,” I say hoping that he can’t hear the sadness in my voice. “However, I will be at Uncle Charlie’s.” Bob smiles and says, “Good, I will see you there.” Bob takes a slow step back, releases my hand, turns and heads up the block. He turns around twice to make sure that I am still watching. I am.
I turn back to the bar and take a step up the stairs when Brian appears, dragging someone down the stairs. He hoists the guy up in the air, and throws him into the middle of the street. Then as if he is in a movie, he brushes his hands against each other. Brian then turns around and points his finger directly at me. “You ever pull the plug on my game again and I will kill you.” “Got it,” I say out loud, secure in the knowledge that I will probably have to do it again sometime.
I walk back up the stairs and into the bar. The scene is grim. The bar looks exactly like a place where a huge fight just happened. People are sitting around nursing wounds and nursing drinks. The party is pretty much breaking up, and the people who didn’t run out during the fight are now starting to leave. Scott walks out of the bar with Dennis. In between them, and being supported by them, is an old man who can barely walk. “He’s loaded,” Scott says as he walks past me making the “he’s got money” sign by rubbing his fingers together. The old man’s feet barely touch the floor, and are being dragged behind him. As I watch this old drunk deer being led to the slaughter, I stand in silence. “Good night boys,” is the best that I can muster up.
I re-join Don behind the bar and help clean up. It has been quite a night and I am wiped and ecstatic all at the same time. I begin to pile chairs on the bar and Brian slithers up behind me. “What are you doing later?” Brian asks. “Going home,” I respond. “My home or your home?” Brian says with a slimy grin on his face. I can feel a look of disgust cross my face and I do nothing to hide it.
For the next twenty minutes Brian follows me around the bar asking this question a million different ways and gets the same answer every time. I bid good night to Don and head out to the sidewalk. Brian runs out after me and grabs my arm; we walk together to the corner. Once there I put my hand in the air and a cab screeches to a stop. Brian motions for me to get in, and being the gentleman he is, opens the door for me. I climb in, grab the handle, slam the door in Brian’s face and quickly push down the lock. “Drive!” I scream to the Cabbie. The driver does not have to be told twice and hits the gas. As we peel out, I look out the back window and see a new look cross Brian’s face. The new look is called shock.