The Road Revisited

Follow Me Around The United States!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Scared in Seattle, Part 1

I walked into the Brooklyn at 10 PM to find Tony stirring martinis and cursing life in general. "What's wrong?"
"Why do I have to work to have money? Can't I just get money? Like, as a gift?"
"Is your last name Rockafeller?"
"Then no, you can't."

I parked my butt on a barstool and a glass of pinot grigio appeared before me. Two early-thirtysomething guys came in, one tall and dark and one short and fair. They said hello to Tony and ordered some oysters. "Guys, this is my friend Jessica," Tony said, introducing us.
"Hi, I'm Shan," the tall guy said.
"Shan? That's a cool name. Nice to meet you."
"You too. And this is Nick."
I shook Nick's hand. "Hi."
"Hey. Hey, is that a real Fall Guy lunchbox?"
"No, but it is a real Six Million Dollar Man lunchbox."
"No way, really? Can I see it?"
Soon we were chatting like old friends. They shared their oysters with me, and they were delicious. At one point Shan asked me, "So are you really friends with... him?" He nodded towards Tony.
"Kind of. I just met him. We're not dating or anything, he's just letting me crash on his couch tonight."
"Oh. Okay."
"Why do you ask?"
His face twisted. "I don't... I just don't like him very much. I used to work here and I quit 'cause I got in a fight with him."
"Because he thought he was like, King Shit of the Restaurant."
"Eh. People get like that, I guess." I wasn't eager to engage in any fighting or side-taking.
"Yeah, I guess."
"If you don't like him, why'd you come here?"
"Best oysters in town."

"How's your heart?" Tony asked Shan.
Shan's face grew serious. "Dude. It was scary."
"I bet!" Tony replied.
I asked what happened.
"I had kind of like a mini-heart attack. But it wasn't a heart attack, it was just a convulsion in my heart. Hurt like a bitch, though. And I was kind of fucked, because I was working at this tiny little lake resort up in Wyoming and the closest hospital was fifty miles away. That was the worst ride of my life."
"Jeez. Well, I'm glad you're okay."
He laughed. "Yeah, me too. Thanks."

Tony was closing up, and tried to bridge the gap between he and Shan. "Jessica and I were about to go get some sushi, do you want to come with us?"
"We are?" I asked. I'd had no idea of any plans besides that sweet, sweet promise of a shower and sleeping on his couch.
"Yeah, I gotta meet someone at the sushi bar."
"Okay." I agreed, reluctantly.
"Sure, we'll come along!" Nick said. "Why not?"

The four of us walked the steep blocks to the sushi place, and I managed to catch a trace of a second wind. For a moment I caught that old familiar feeling of, "Wow -- yesterday afternoon I didn't know anyone here and now look -- friends!" I was content.
All of us were pretty underdressed for the sushi bar, which was laid out like a New York club. Shan, Nick and I ordered tuna tartare and Shan hated it, leaving more for Nick and I. Somewhere along the line we lost Tony, who went outside to make a bunch of calls and ended up running into Three Of The Drunkest People In The Entire World, who were drunk partly thanks to the booze he'd served them earlier. The four of them came inside, Tony, two women and one man. The women were both blonde, one broader than the other. The tiny one kept making out with the man, himself a broad, blonde thing. Tony walked in with a look that said, "What have I gotten myself into?", catching my eye over the heads of the three partiers.
"Oh my god, you have a lunchpail!" the tall blonde woman shouted at me.
"Yeah!""I have a Ramones one from when I was little!"
"That's incredible! Hold onto it. And by 'hold onto it', I mean 'give it to me'."
She cackled, throwing her head back. "I have to pee! Come pee with me!"
I accompanied her to the bathroom to make sure she didn't fall and crack her head on the toilet.

I managed to dodge the drunkards and get back to where Shan and Nick were sitting for a few minutes. Tony wasn't so lucky. Shan asked where I was headed after Seattle.
"Oregon, eventually."
"Where are you staying?"
"With a friend, a very dear friend I haven't seen in years."
"Okay. Well, my dad lives in Vancouver. Write this number down, I'll give you his number."
"But I'm not going to Canada."
He gave me a joking look. "Duh! Vancouver, Washington, not Canada!"
"Oh. I knew that."
"Yeah, I know you did," he teased. "Anyway, his name is Ken. If you get into any trouble, call him."
"Thanks so much. That's very cool of you."
Nick chimed in. "Yeah, you really need people to call if you get in trouble, y'know? Here, take my number, too. Just in case."
"Are you sure?"
"Well, yeah! We're New Yorkers, we gotta stick together!" Nick was a transplant from the North Bronx.
"Well, thanks." I saved his number in my phone.

"Well, we gotta go," Nick said.
"Already? Aww, man!"
"Yeah, already." He nodded toward Shan, who was asleep with his head in his hands.
"Oh. Okay. Well, nuff said. Thanks for the offer to call if I need you."
"No problem. Use it."
"I'm so drunk!" I heard behind me, coming from the mouth of the blonde woman. Tony again caught my eye, flustered.
'Well, get home safe -- get him home safe," I said to Nick, who was corralling Shan toward the door.
"Thanks -- goodnight!"

I begrudingly joined Tony at the table with the blonde threesome. The tiny blonde tore her mouth off the man long enough to tell me about her three kids and her husband. "My kids are so great! My husband is so great, too!"
I looked at the man. "She speaks highly of you, huh?"
"Oh, this isn't my husband," she cut in. I looked at her quizzically and she tried her best to explain. "Look. I loved my husband. We got married and were very in love. Then we had kids. And I still love him. But not like before. But I will again someday. When the kids go to college. We put in on a shelf, kind of. And in the meantime I just..... y'know....."
"No, it's not cheating. This is my best friend." She ran her hand up and down the chest of her companion.
"Um, okay."
It made no sense and perfect sense at the same time, and that scared me. "I'm never getting married," I thought.

Soon, Tony was ready to leave and we walked to my car to drive home. "Jeez, that woman!" he cried, referring to the tall blonde. "I swear, if I have one more woman give me a hotel key card....."
"You got her key card?"
He sounded embarrassed. "Yeah."
"You wanna go for it? I can handle my own."
"Are you kidding me? Hell no! How valuable can it be if she's giving it away like that? Gross! Hey, you wanna go grab a drink at a little place in Queen Anne's for a minute? I need to wind down a little."
I most certainly didn’t, but said sure.
Soon we were at a dimly-lit, cozy bar being waited on by another one of the scores of bartenders Tony knew. "How's your wife?" Tony asked the man.
"Matt's wife is pregnant," Tony whispered to me.

Tony was drinking faster than I could even keep track. I went to the bathroom and came back to find another drink at my seat, even though I wasn't done with the first. "Come on, drink faster," Tony encouraged.
"Uh, in case you forgot, I'm driving."
"Eh, whatever. You can handle it."
I was starting to get annoyed. I pushed the drink away and ordered a water. Tony pretended not to notice.

Some friends of Tony's arrived, and surprised me because they were all very young. The four of them were also white as could be, but dressed like thugs. "Yo, baby, wassup?" one asked Tony, pounding his fist in variety of jabs and finger tricks.
"Not much, man, not much. This is Jessica."
I shook the boy's hand. "Hi."
"I'm Nick. Damn, girl! You got a strong grip!"
"Eh, you know. Would you rather a dead fish handshake?"
"True dat, true dat. Hey, Tony, man, what's going on tonight?"
"I don't know, what is going on?"
"Why don't y'all come back to my girl's place. I think there might be something goin' on there. Right, baby?"
A polished girl with a designer purse nodded shyly.
"Okay. We'll be there a little later."
"Right on, man, right on."
The four of them filed out the door.
"Aren't you tired?" I asked Tony, not excited about being dragged to a party. "You've been working all day and up all last night."
"I never get tired!" he exclaimed. "Anyway, we're only going to stop by there, we're not going to stay very long."
I was uneasy. "Okay…..”


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