Dallas Dave

It was 5:07 and Matt, Tim, and Mike were already in their chairs having their usual.  I was seething just a bit, having come fresh from a barking chastisement delivered by Bob the Bartender.  I had been standing over at the bar waiting for a beer, not in front of the waitress serving area, but nearby, when I heard “okay shady, out of the way.”  I quickly stepped aside and Bob the Bartender rolled by.  Trust me, I am not a little wimpy type just looking to be insulted, so I know of what I speak.  The tone of voice almost sounded like it was being spit out between clenched teeth.  I eventually got my beer and recounted the little episode to the islanders. 

“Looked to me like there was plenty of room for his ass to get by,” I complained.  Bob the Bartender was a short little chubster bordering on corpulence and sporting a crew cut, hailing from exit 27 on the Jersey turnpike; he had been at the bar quite a few years and had gained an amount of popularity.  I have a faint memory of once calling him “the best bartender I had ever seen.”  It seemed Bob the Bartender’s halcyon days were behind him.  There was immediate response to my complaint. 

“Ya know, there has been a change in him, and I dare say it is bordering on dramatic; over the last year,” offered Tim.

“Seems on edge a lot of the time and like he is mad about something,” Mike said.  “He used to be the greatest guy in the world; why I remember one time when I ordered some food to go and when I got home the order was screwed up.” 

“They mess it up 84% of the time,” interrupted Matt.

“Okay, statistician, let me finish my story; well when I called up here to let them know about it Bob answered the phone.  I told him my problem and he said something like ‘I’ll see about it.’  It weren’t fifteen minutes before there was a knock at my door and there stood Bob with a bag of the correct food and a big grin on his face. In fact he brought a bunch of extra stuff also; I invited him in and gave him a big ol’ glass of Jameson.  You know that is his favorite.  That was about a year ago; Tim, you may be right on with that time frame you mentioned of when Bob the Bartender started going south,” Mike said.

Just then Lisa, one of the waitresses came to the island.  “Sorry to interrupt, guys, but I am going. Love you all,” she said as she faux massaged everybody.  I’ll see you later, loves,” and sashayed away to bestow hugs on any employee who came near her. 

“Man, it takes that girl an hour to leave; same every day, ‘bout like Groundhog Day,” I offered.  Everyone nodded, having witnessed the interchange every day.  But then I thought about Tim’s situation.   

“So I guess you are in the clear relative to the demise of Gilly,” I said, looking at Tim.

“Yep,” he said, “that notarized letter from Tobola Automotive stating that my car was in his shop at the time of the accident did the trick.”

“Accident, my ass, said Matt.  Somebody did not like that Gilly Glade.”

“Truly an understatement,” added Mike.  “So how long did the police mess with you?” he asked Tim.

“Three hours at my house the next morning; after I kept telling them about where the car had been we adjourned to Tobola’s where he backed up my story, along with one of his mechanics, and wrote out the timeline on a piece of paper which his secretary notarized in the presence of the RPD,” he said.  This conversation was about the untimely demise of Gilly Glade, a bosom and “inseparable friend” of Matt’s.  It had happened just the week before when a car fitting the description of Tim’s Honda Element had struck and killed Gilly in the High Park parking lot. Tim and his fifteen-year-old square box had been the prime suspect.  The true perpetrator was still at large.

“Bob the bartender helped me out once,” Tim said, apparently eager to move on to a different topic.  “Remember that day when I had 7 double Canadian Mists instead of my usual four limit and face planted on that telephone pole just beside the sidewalk on my way home?  It was only a few yards from the bar and somebody ran inside hollering about it, instead of coming to my aid, and Bob the bartender rushed out and tended to me.”

“Did he administer mouth to mouth resuscitation?” quipped Matt, showing off his Peter Boyle clenched teeth grin.  A withering glare from Tim quieted the Computer Programmer/statistician.

“He did help me up and actually gave me a ride home,” Tim said.  “That was at least two years ago, well before the change.”

Matt had been watching intently, and the usually sarcastic lilt of his voice changed to a wistful sound as he said “Bob used to give me haircuts out on the patio.”  I watched his face carefully, looking for possibly a trace of a tear welling in the corner of his eye.  I guess he was serious. 

“Then there was the several times that he would have a bag of bar glasses waiting for me,” Mike said, shaking his lock laden head sadly.  Apparently the beer distributors gave away glasses and if there were an overload Bob would save them for Mike. 

“On a more current note, ya hear what he did the other day to that group who always hangs out on the patio?” Matt asked.  As everyone shook his head he continued. 

“It was the five thirty shift change the other day and apparently somebody out there had fallen into disfavor with our bartender; he had brought out the tab earlier, and when he returned with the change he threw it on the table—it was over ten dollars– in quarters— and rushed back into the bar.”

“That’s nothing,” Tim added, “last week the Millinophile wore one of his best Stetsons in here.   You know he has a habit of setting it on the back of one of the sofas near the fireplaces; Bob accidentally knocked it onto the floor as he walked by, picked it up, shoved it on his own head upside down and then tossed it in the floor.”  None of the rest of us had heard of this so we were taken aback accordingly.

“What did the Millinophile do?” I asked. 

“He just picked it up, pushed out the top, dusted it off, put it on his head and left,” Tim responded, adding that the Millinophile was quite possibly the closest thing to a true gentleman of all the habitues of High Park.

“Seems like Bob has gotten a bit more severe here lately on his suspensions; a few months ago he barred Turbo for six months when he went a lil nuts and started throwing chairs out on the patio,” I said.  “’Course he did reduce it to two months.”

“Then there was the lengthy suspension the two sisters got back a while for fighting outside; I understand that both of them lost some hair during the encounter,” Mike said.  “That was on the heels of the smaller one chasing her boyfriend into the kitchen and attacking him with a crutch that she had borrowed from the late Lagarde.  I think she is up for parole next month,” everybody chuckling at this much needed lighthearted comment.

Just then Bob hurried by, ignoring the empty glasses Tim and Mike were waving about wildly.  The two of them just looked at each other and shrugged, then got up and went to the bar, hoping for a response from one of the girls. 

We made room for the peripheral Ed the Pilot; he always downed a couple vodkas and tic-tacs before having to go out to his car for conference calls. Once again the ubiquitous Lisa slid into the island, rubbing on the pilot, a lot.  None of the attention was wasted on Ed the Pilot.

“What’s up baby,” he quipped.  Lisa was working on his arm and hugging him from behind.

“Just the usual sweetie,” she said, grinning from ear and possibly giving Ed the Pilot a boob brush.  I was watching him closely and by the way his face lit up and the approaching lecherous look on his face I think I nailed it. 

“Just stopped by to tell you guys I love you and will see you later,” she said, moving around the island perimeter to administer her goodbye rubdowns.  We all caroled “goodbyes” as she moved on to where some of her fellow employees were and hugged everybody while telling them how much she loved them.  Ed the Pilot had downed a tic tac while watching her walk away and gave a passable impersonation of a shiver, then turned to the island guys.

“Takes her every bit of an hour to get out of here,” Matt said, the others smiling and nodding in agreement.

“What’s new guys?” Ed said.

“Just chatting about how Bob the bartender had kind of gravitated from ‘good Bob” to “bad Bob.’  Ed the Pilot had heard about the downward spiral and a couple of the guys recounted some of the past recollections when he was “good Bob.”

“You talking ‘bout a spiral or a gush down the toilet?” Ed asked.  “Just last week I came in here early afternoon to eat and get a drink; Bob the Bartender was workin’ his ass off and I needed some silverware so I barely stepped behind the bar, maybe a foot, and he came roaring up to me and blessed me out, talking about ALE and RPD being there and just raising hell.  What in the world is up with him?  Seems like he is awful sensitive these days.  Like those goofball liberal idiots.”

Everybody liked Ed the Pilot a lot but you knew what to expect.

“You know that prescription I have for those left-wing nuts—the bullet. Maybe we should put him out of his misery,” Ed said, grinning as he took a drink.  Tim went very quiet at this juncture, and Ed saw it and looked a little guilty.  Ed was usually politically tactful around Tim, being aware of his left leanings, but guess nobody bats a thousand.

It was Matt again; “And Good Bob would always carol out ‘Matt is here’ when I would come in the door.”

  Eddie, another peripheral, had come up to the island and upon hearing poor Matt’s maudlin comment said “how ‘bout those Heels” which sent the subdued Tim into a paroxysm of outward eyerolling. 

“I have just about had all I can take with this attitude of Bad Bob,” Mike muttered.  As Bob the Bartender waltzed by Mike waved his empty glass in the air; Bob glanced briefly at him, muttering something to the effect of “I’ve got other customers” and went on his not so merry way.  “Something’s got to be done about that asshole,” Mike threw back over his shoulder as he stomped out of the bar to his Honda Civic.  The rest of us sat stunned at his outburst; no one commented but something hinting of déjà vu crossed my mind.

As Bob’s behavior continued on its downward spiral I recalled how I used to mention it to Good Bob when I was going to make a trip to J R Cigar in Selma; I smoke cigars and I had seen Bob smoking one after work and he occasionally mentioned running across an especially flavorful one.  He would give me some money and I would pick up what he wanted.  He would give me a beer when I got back.  Those days were long gone after his “barking” episode.  I remember I had mentioned the “barking” to Slash the peripheral and he had casually said “you should be used to that by now.”  Talk about knowing just the right thing to say at the right time.  Matt was ambling in the door at 5:07 so all the island guys would be present.

“Well, what is the latest episode of Bad Bob’s misbehavior?” I inquired.  I could tell that Tim had an update by looking at his face.

“Last night I ordered chicken wings and corn bread and when I got home and checked the bag, they had shorted me one wing and I had only one cold piece of cornbread,” Tim said.  “So I called up here and Bob answered the phone; I explained the problem and he said “nothing I can do about it.  I just work the bar.  Would it be too much trouble to check your order before you leave”?

“Yea, and he used to cut my hair,” Matt said with a forlorn look on his face. “And yell out ‘Matt’s here,” he continued.  I think I detected a couple of inward eyerolls after this comment; trust me, I can spot them.

“Even Rickipedia has shown some annoyance lately about Bob the Bartender,” Mike said, “and we all know that he is not one to complain.”

“What was that all about?” I asked, knowing that Rickipedia was more of an absorber than a talker.  Rickipedia was a longstanding bar attendee who was given the nickname by a young Jewish lad that came in once in a while named Irving.   Rick Lester had a good memory and a pretty good range of knowledge, thus the moniker.  Seems that there was a group at one of the tables on the patio and someone asked what the oldest river in the world was; Rick Lester, Rickipedia, answered without hesitation “the Finke, in Australia.”  The problem arose because Bob the Bartender happened to be walking by at that time and Rickipedia saw Bob fact checking him.  Rickipedia may be a man of few words but the look of derision and disgust said volumes.  He immediately got in his black Mercedes and head to PR.

“Yea, it is definitely getting worse,” said Mike.  “I was talking to the group that sits on the east end of the sidewalk, you know, Shotgun and his erstwhile girlfriend and their friends.  Seems that Shotgun got overloaded on Crown Royal the other day and passed out on the sidewalk; that action usually sends the crew into their routine.  Someone backs up the pickup and then they load up the loaded shotgun in the back.  Well Bob the Bartender happened to be walking by just then and since they were shorthanded the erstwhile one asked Bob is he could help them.  His response was “sorry, wife waiting on me,” as he sauntered away while lighting a cigar.  I’m sure that will gain him the undying enmity of that crew,” he said.

Mike’s glass was empty and it was time for a “parting shot” so he ambled up to the bar, having long given up getting any attention from Bob while at the island.  He stood there at the end of the bar where the servers pick up for at least ten minutes while Bob chatted with the regulars at the far end of the bar.  Finally Mary, a lovely endowed lady that we all admirted, came over and fixed him up.  When she got his drinks to him she just looked down at Bob and gave a tremendous eyeroll with her very large brown eyes.  Mike came back to the island shaking his shaggy head.

“Wow,” I said, “every time you think he can’t get any worse he outdoes himself.”

“How true,” agreed Mike.  “Maybe we should look for another bar.”

“I’ll talk with Slash; you know he was the mastermind of the Office Tavern invasion.  He brought you Debber Jean and Tree.”  They all laughed at this and I thought it had kind of lightened the mood, until I looked at Mike.

“Or maybe HE could leave,” he said, exhibiting a steely gaze.  Something in the tone of his voice gave me a bit of an inward shudder (not to be confused with an inward eyeroll). 

It was six o’clock so we all departed the island; however, I strongly felt that there was an uneasy pervasive feeling descending upon the group.

It was the next day at High Park; 5:10 and the four stalwarts were all in attendance.  Suddenly there were some loud voices down at the end of the bar where the lawyer and his buds hung out.  Then we saw Nigel backing away from the bar as Bob was yelling at him. Nigel meandered down to the island.  As he approached us we could see that his face was pretty red; kind of hard to tell though since Nigel had a perpetual burned look like one sees on street people. 

“What happened down there?” Tim asked.

“I don’t really know,” replied Nigel, “I had just ordered a drink and Bob gave me a real dirty look and said ‘you don’t need a double and this is your last drink.’” 

That’s kind of the way it has been going with Bob the Bartender for the last while,” Tim said.  Nigel had been away for a couple of months visiting his father.

“Well, I have had enough of him; I thought his attitude may have improved in my absence but I guess not,” Nigel said.  The two islanders closest to Nigel kind of moved away a little; Nigel was not known for his exemplary hygiene, but it was obvious that everyone was trying to be nice to him, with the possible exception of Matt, who just ignored him.  Of course one could argue that he had good reason to not be so enamored of the smelly one; Matt was a kind hearted critter and in one of his benevolent moments about a year ago he had allowed Nigel and his cat to rent a bedroom from him.  Matt had a pretty big house at the time and the money came in handy.  All had gone along well until Matt sold the house; when Nigel moved out he left behind both a bedbug and flea infestation.  Nigel rarely was ahead on money so Matt was stuck with the bill; he was forced to take care of it because it was going to sink the sale of his house.

“I never went in there, being respectful of his privacy,” Matt had told us, “but I literally paid a big price for my being so considerate,” so Matt’s behavior was quite forgiveable.  Mike was listening carefully to everything and he asked Nigel what he had been drinking.  Nigel replied that it was Jameson Irish whiskey.  Mike left the island and in a few minutes went down to where Bob the Bartender was and returned with a double Jameson and gave it to Nigel.  Suddenly Bob the Bartender came roaring out from behind the bar, slapped the drink out of Nigel’s hand and shouted “I told you that other one was your last drink; now get the hell out of here.”  Bob the Bartender’s face was every bit as red as Nigel’s as he grabbed Nigel by the collar of his jacket and dragged him out the double doors and deposited him on the sidewalk.  When he returned he told Mike “I saw you do that and I DO NOT appreciate it.”  Everyone was stunned at Bob the Bartender’s outburst, especially Mike, who walked outside and then returned shortly.

“No sign of Nigel,” he said, “guess he went down to the refinishing shop.  I hear that is where he is living now.”  Apparently Bob the Bartender’s shenanigans were a big “buzz killer”,  for in sixty seconds the island was empty.  The police call came in a little after two thirty, about the time the employees would be filtering out of High Park; when they arrived they found a short, stout man in Bermuda shorts lying in the parking lot.  A cigar that had just been lit was still between the index and middle finger of his right hand and the back of his head was bloody, a broken Jameson whiskey bottle lying behind the body of Bob the Bartender.

One Response

  1. Pingback: DataSGP

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *