Saturday, March 13, 2021

Hey! You! Get Out of My Way! Enter The Ninth Circle Part 6

Jerry-Poo looks at me, looks at the buzzer, then back at me again. As the frequency and insistency of the buzzer increase, sweat begins to form on his upper lip.

“Jesus, Jerry,” one of barflies yells out, “H
e don’t sound like he’s in a good mood.” Jerry-Poo waves me away with his hand. “I’ll see you on your shift and don’t be late,” he adds, jabbing one bony finger in the air in my direction. I turn around, stumble down the front stairs and out onto the street. An old woman walking a dog passes me. The dog pauses, looks at me, sniffs the air and continues walking. 


One thing I honestly love about New York City is that you can have the most bizarre experience, turn around, and step back into normalcy. It’s like being on Star Trek and walking through their doors. One moment it’s calm, and the next minute the doors open and chaos ensues.

Strangely, no one passing me on the sidewalk crosses to the other side with a crucifix clutched in their hand while looking up at The Ninth Circle bar sign.  I feel that I have truly been in a den of evil. Thinking of going back there, I am strangely both repulsed and a little excited to return. “Hmmmmmm” I say aloud to no one at all, thinking it over.

That night, I walk into Uncle Charlie’s and look for the waiter who asked me to work his shift at The Ninth Circle. I find him trying to avoid me. “Are you out of your mind?” I ask, blocking his escape. “Why?” he answers with a giggle, knowing that I went there. “Well, I’m not going; you can find someone else to cover for you,” I say. He looks at me and summons up his best impression of Bambi; his eyes get all big, and he talks in a baby voice. “Oh please,” he begs me. “You promised, and it’s only for a week.”


No Way!” I respond. He walks towards me and puts his arm around my neck. His face is two inches from mine. “Come on, you promised, a deal’s a deal,” he whispers. “First,” I say, stepping back a little, “why are you so close?” Then I take my hand, place it on his chest and move him back further. “And second, why do you want me to do this for you?”

“Because I trust you,” he says, looking directly into my eyes. “You’re not like the other people here, my job is safe with you, I know you’ll give it back.” Years later, I learn to identify bullshit, but like I said, back then I was just starting out.

“Ok, you win.” I say, feeling touched and slightly defeated. “Hurray!” he yells, throwing his fists in the air. “Can I buy you a drink?” he asks. “Drinks are free,” I remind him. “W
ell, not free,” I finish. 


Uncle Charlie’s staff had adopted the “Don’t ask, don’t tell policy” when it came to drinking at the bar. This was long before President Clinton gave it to us. Our policy is that we’ll drink, but no one tells the management.  


I have three nights before I have to officially return to work at The Ninth Circle. I begin to silently pray.

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