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The bar was horrible; I don’t know why she wanted to meet me here. The beer was warm and the idiot bartender, with a stupid holster for his little bottle opener, would shake the bottles before giving one to you. I watched him as he flipped a bottle and missed the catch. He probably just finished watching Cocktails for the first time or worse, the millionth.
The bar was nearly deserted. It was dark and it looked like it could rain from the nicotine cloud hovering above my head. It was all so surreal that my mind went blank.
“Who was it I was waiting for?” I wondered, gazing into my glass of Guinness trying to remember. At that moment somebody flicked ashes into it. It was an irritation for the already irritated; I looked at who had done it and I was immediately overwhelmed with pity for this creature.
He had to be in his sixties. From head to toe he was a miracle simply because his heart was still beating. I could only guess that it was anyway.
It was a struggle for him to remain standing. I watched his tumor infested legs tremble and spasm beneath his weight. I met back up with his watered down stare. His eyes were bloodshot and yellow. His skin was more yellow still and sprinkled with cancerous spots. I don’t know how polluted and tortured a man’s liver can get before he croaks, but by the way he was chugging his pint, he was going to soon find out.
“A little ash won’t kill you will it?” He asked with a voice like broken glass.
“What’s your name, friend?”
“Well hello, Barry,” Of course he got it wrong, but I was used to it. “I’m Big Earl, but you can call me Pee Wee.”
“Barrett!” I repeated.
“Garrett?” I’m used to that too.
“Don’t get all huffy and puffy with Ol’ Pee Wee, Garrett,” he was steady smiling, exposing the few teeth left in his skull like it was something he could take pride in. “Don’t shoot the messenger.”
“A messenger of what?”
“God!” I set myself up for that one. I should’ve seen it coming.
“Here Pee Wee,” I held out some quarters. “Why don’t you play something on that jukebox?”
“I know something you will love,” he took the change from me. “I won’t let you down.”
As he walked away I was able to breathe freely again. His breath smelled of skunked out beer and cod liver oil.
The bartender was unholstering his bottle opener and pointing it like a gun at some trashy fat women in the back. He would twirl it on his finger, aim, shoot, and blow smoke from the barrel. He would then repeat this process. The women loved it, like they were in awe with his brilliantly charming personality. I almost felt like a jerk interrupting him while he was dry humping the air.
“Say man!” I called out to him.
“Yeah,” the idiot cowboy barkeep quit lassoing hearts to walk over. “Need something?”
“Who is that old man?” I pointed over by the jukebox where he was fixing his long, greasy comb-over.
“That’s Ol’ Pee Wee,” he said. “He’s a messenger from God.”
“Really?” I couldn’t tell if he was joking are not. His face didn’t show any breaks. “Well where does he come from?”
“Right here,” he pointed at the ground. “Ms. Dixie is his mama and she owns this here bar,” he gestured to a pool table that had a dingy, stained-brown pillow and some yellowed sheets on it. “He sleeps right there. Anything else? Would you like his Social Security number?”
“No,” he twirled his bottle opener like a gunslinger. It’s funny how people that are dumb as shit always act smart. “Just give me another stout.”
“Four dollars,” he gave the bottle of Guinness a shake and popped the cap so it could flood the counter again. I held it over my pint glass and handed the asshole a five.
I still didn’t know who I was waiting for. Just as I started paying attention to Rod Stewart’s singing out of the jukebox, Pee Wee came grappling me from behind into a headlock, “This song reminds me of you, Garrett!”
“You never even knew me!” I threw him off but caught his arm so that he wouldn’t fall and bust his frail skull open like a melon. “How can you be reminded of me when you never even met me before?”
“God told me you were coming,” he gave me a drunken push. I had to smile at how crazy he looked saying that while trying to catch his breath. His comb-over was no longer combed over. He had been dancing around for too long. Some strands were sticking straight up, grey and black. Others were shooting out from the sides like Bozo the Clown. “This song brought meaning to my life,” he said before he went twirling and shuffling his feet around the pool tables. His existence still seemed meaningless to me.
I started paying attention to Rod’s lyrics. “Who else is gonna bring you a broken arrow? Who else is gonna bring you a bottle of rain.” Cynically I was thinking, “God couldn’t have brought me a message with a little more meaning?”
This was all too surreal. Things were not fitting. My mind felt like a jigsaw puzzle where none of the pieces fit, because every single piece is being borrowed from a different puzzle.
Pee Wee climbed on his pool table and started rolling around in his filthy sheets. When the chorus came up in the song he was on his knees, on top of the table, with his arms stretched out to his side looking to the heavens and singing, “Who else is gonna bring you a broken arrow? Who else is gonna bring you a bottle of rain?”
The song ended and Pee Wee climbed down. The stupid bartender began the “slow clap,” and the fat sluts joined in along with people I didn’t notice, who were there drinking in the shadows. Pee Wee made his bows and grabbed a seat next to mine.
“What do you think of me and God now?” Pee Wee asked with a self-assured, cocky grin.
“What’s wrong Garrett?” Pee Wee ran his tongue across his chapped lips, “Cat got your tongue?”
I slid my fingers through his greasy hair and over his flakey scalp. Before he could say anything I pulled those lips to mine and forced my tongue deep into his mouth, licking all around like I didn’t want to miss a single flavor. His tongue felt limp and I was beginning to feel nauseous. I started to fear that he would have a stroke, that I would puke, and that this was not a dream.
I was disengaged by the bartender, who knocked me off my barstool. I was laying on the floor overdosing on adrenaline.
“You fudging faggot!” Pee Wee was cursing and spitting.
“I guess God didn’t tell you about that one,” I said as I wiped blood from my lip. I don’t know if the bartender bloodied my lip or if Pee Wee bit me, but it was bleeding.
“What the hell are you doing?” Some crazy bitch grabbed me. “I came in to find you making out with an old man!”
“Wait, I can explain.” I thought it through and found that it would be impossible. “No, I can’t.”
“Let’s get out of here.” She guided me out of the bar by my forearm, which gave no clue as to what kind of relationship we were supposed to be in.
I still didn’t know her name or recognize her face. It was definitely her, the one I’d been waiting for. I could feel it. I was ashamed of myself for thinking my life was a dream. It was all wrong to have to ask this girl her name. But I did it anyway.
“What’s your name, sister?”
“What?” She looked shocked, angry, and beautiful, “Barrett you don’t even know my name?”
“It’s me.” Now she only looked concerned. “Celeste? Celeste Dupre. Remember Children’s Theatre?”
“Yes,” she carved a smile into my face. “Yes, I do. Peter Pan.”
I don’t remember what happened the rest of that night, or what ever came of Celeste. Things only got stranger.