I began kicking a soda can across the dimly lit parking lot that led to the bar, but soon I lost sight of it and carried on my way across the edge of the parked cars. I'd just been chewed out and let go by the boss for trying to catch five minutes in the stock room. The days had become difficult and bright from trying to make inroads into the music scene. I'd found myself frequently out later and later and sometimes not going to bed at all, but I guess for now the day shift was over. Music didn't pay the bills. I had to think hard about what i was going to --
I lunged over at the waist like a dumb, collapsed marrionette. A pain shot through my hip like acid with a sound of hollow metal. I'd walked right into something. I took a few steps back and before me was a huge, old-time, black Cadillac hearse thrusting out from between the other cars. It must have been nearly twice the length of the others, black as a hole - and like an empty space I hadn't even seen it, but now it sat there looking indestructible and real as death itself. I looked around hoping nobody had seen me and limped over to the bar door, looking back occasionally. It stared too. Or so it seemed.
Inside it was low and smoky and smelled of steaks and spirits. I took a stool, lit up, ordered a beer. The waitress was a bit older but you could tell she'd been a looker when she was younger. I still watched her ass when she went to the cooler and convinced myself she might be thankful if she knew what I was thinking. She popped the beer and set it down. Nearby a guy was doodling away in a notepad. Some kind of intricate pattern. Somehow I couldn't stop looking at it and hazily reached for my beer without adjusting my gaze, missed altogether and tipped the bottle right over.
Shit. There was beer all over the bar, my workshirt and pants, and some had foamed and dropped into the ash tray snuffing out an almost full cigarette.
"Here you go, Serpico," a large hand held out some paper towels. The arm attatched to it led up to a heavy set, tattooed guy with thick sideburns and chops and a red kind of mohawk affair. An odd look of frightening and friendly at the same time. The sketch guy. There was hardly a space on the arm that wasn't inked in some strange kind of metal pattern which seemed to reach out of his shirt sleeve like grasping fauna. And the arm itself looked like it could pick you up and put you down on a whim - but instead it held out these paper towels. I kind of liked that about it.
"Appreciate it" I said and looked at the bar and my trousers wondering what to do first or even if it was worth starting to mop up the mess.
"Man, this is just one in a long list of things that's fucked me up today"
"Yeah, and I think I just lost my job," dabbing at my pants. I could feel the beer finding its way into my shorts.
"Woo, tough break, Pal, I hear that. I walked out of every job I ever had."
"Really? That takes some nuts"
"I guess. Depends on how you look at it I suppose. Most places want you to be something you aren't anyway - so fuck 'em."
"No compromise with you then, eh?"
"Well - there are the big "C's" and the little "C's". I can give and take but give 'em an inch and they'll take a mile." I started on the counter with the napkins.
"I'm Dom by the way"
"Nixon. Nix for short."
"I bet you get asked if you're any relation all the time right?"
"Oh sure, and who the hell knows but I say I am sometimes anyway just to see their faces drop." and we laughed.
"So what do you call the "big C's"?"
"Ok..." taking his straw out of his coke and flicking the tip into the air - tapping out his point. "One time the guy down at the job calls me into the office and asks me to start wearing blue to work."
"You won't wear blue to work? Thats a "big C"?"
"With a frame like mine? Hah hah hah" smacking the counter. "No way brother - it's black all the way."
"So you walked out because you gotta wear black?"
"Well - eventually. First I asked him if he'd applied the same rules to the secretary I knew he was fucking behind his wifes back and reminded him that since he was so hung up on policy he should probably stop grabbing at his crotch when referring to female members of staff. THEN I walked." He put the straw back in the drink and took a long slurp and looked extremely satisfied with himself. It was hard not to like his attitude.
"But you can't have cared for the job right?"
"Shit man, I'm doing exactly the same thing now as I was then. Won 'em a bunch of awards, too, and that's the thanks I get? Don't be yourself? Well I hate to say it mister but it was being myself that got them the recognition in the first place - then they wanna strip it away... fuck 'em. Besides, I once heard someone say that there are only pimps and whores, so you best make up your mind before you end up like them steaks back there"
"Yeah...I'm gonna go and see if i can dry this out" I said.
"Sure thing fella. I'll be sucking up the atmosphere. May not seem like it but i'm working as we speak. But that's the advantage of being a pimp and not a whore."
I hobbled to the mens room, uncomfortable in damp shorts and wet shirt and held my shirt under the dryer until it was that cardboard kind of dry. I checked around me before trying to get my crotch close enough to the box to keep the dryer going. I got about halfway there when some guy burst through the doors and spied me for a second in my weird elevated stance. He didn't wait long though and sped right to the cubicle and I heard the seat going down, sound of a belt unbuckling and change and keys rattling as he sat down. "Oh, man - Oh, God - that's great - oh, thank you God" and then some awful flatulent sounds in between. He obviously didn't care about anything. Still, I left a little wet. I just didn't want to stay.
Nixon was just getting up as I returned to my stool. "You hitting the road already?" I said.
"Yeah - I was just waiting for some inspiration anyway, and I caught it eventually"
"Alright man, well - thanks for the help"
"No problem - keep it together fella and remember - like women, most jobs ain't worth shit if it means giving away too much soul."
"Alright, alright" then he slapped my back and my heart thumped against my ribs.
I turned back to the wall of spirits and supped at what was left of my beer. He'd left his tab on the bar and part of his notepad which had something on it. I pulled it close and stared at the elaborate design for a minute. Horns blared outside and I turned to the window to see the death hearse pulling out of the lot with a heavily tattooed arm hanging out the window. Lights flashed - the sled pulled out into traffic - angry horns beeped again and the tattoos flipped everybody the bird and disappeared into the milky dusk. I held the note paper up to the light and squinted at the ink. An intricate black beetle. It was really something to see.