Holden on the Rocks

   After the first bar, my father and I slide over to another bar, a non-island-themed one where a DJ is spinning party-pop music. At this point my father is slumped over on his barstool. When the bartender asks him if he’s alright, he says, Yea-yea I’m fine. They know me here. Don’t worry they know me. They take care of me.
   The bartender smiles and leaves us be.
   You’re wrecked Louie, I say as I try and help him to sit up straight.
   He takes my statement as an insinuation, an affront to his pride.
   Yea but that’s because I’ve been drinking straight Johnnie Walker Black doubles all night, and you’ve been drinking your mixed drinks. Whaddya expect?
   It’s not a competition, I say, though a part of me is happy that he’s the one slumped over on his barstool and not me.
   Anway I’m fine, I just need a second wind.
   Asserting his will, my father brusquely rose up from his barstool and nearly toppled forward before steadying himself.
   See? I’m ready for another round. You?
   Sure, I said. I had been down this road enough times to know that at this point there was no stopping. I had fucked up and would have to exhaust this particular episode of fuck-up until it was through.
   Let me order, I said.
   I got it, he insisted.
   My father shouted to the bartender, who took his time coming over.
   Yes what can I do for you?
   Johnnie Walker Black double and . . . you still drinking Stoli and soda?
   And a Stoli and soda on the rocks. Rocks, right?
   I can’t serve you sir, the bartender said.
   Can’t serve me? Are you kidding me?
   I’m sorry, let me get you a glass of water—
   Water, you know what fish do in that stuff, my father parroted W.C. Fields.
   The remark baffled the bartender.
   W.C. Fields, I explained.
   The bartender remained baffled. And repeated that he was sorry but he couldn’t serve my father.
   This is bullshit, my father barked. They know me here. Is Mikey working tonight? I wanna see Mikey.
   Mikey’s off tonight.
   Mikey’s off tonight, my father repeated with disdain. Just give me the drinks I ordered.
   I’m sorry, the bartender clipped and walked away.
   I’m gonna punch that bartender in his stupid fucking face, my father growled as his face reddened.
   Relax Louie, remember your evil twin—
   I’m relaxed I’m relaxed. If Mikey was here this would be no problem. Mikey knows me, they take care of me here. When my evil twins comes out they cut me off and somebody escorts me back to my room. They know how to handle my evil twin. But I’m still me right now. This fucking baldheaded faggot bartender—
   Just be quiet, I’ll get out drinks.
   I went to the other side of the bar and ordered two drinks from a different bartender. My father and me went to sit at a table in the far corner, out of view from the bar.
   See? Problem solved.
   Like a grateful child, my father eased into his drink, but he continued to seethe about the bald bartender.
   You know what I can’t stand about the bartender, he’s insincere.
   What do you mean he’s insincere?
   I mean he’s insincere, he’s not sincere. I can see it in his eyes. I look into people’s eyes and I can see that. A lot of people in this bar, very fucking insincere. That’s one thing I can’t stand. Phonies.
   All of a sudden I felt as if I were getting drunk with the Brooklyn version of a middle-aged Holden Caulfield.
   Am I sincere, I asked.
   You. Yea you’re sincere. You’re fucking crazy so you can’t not be sincere.
   My father’s reasoning, his morality guidelines were fascinating and I wanted to hear more.

About John Biscello

Originally from Brooklyn, NY, writer, poet, spoken word performer, and playwright, John Biscello now lives in Taos, New Mexico. He is the author of three novels: Broken Land, a Brooklyn Tale, Raking the Dust, and Nocturne Variations, and a collection of stories, Freeze Tag. His fiction and poetry has appeared in: Art Times, nthposition, The Wanderlust Review, Ophelia Street, Caper, Polyphony, Dilate, Militant Roger, Chokecherries, Farmhouse, BENT, The 555 Collective, Instigator, Brass Sopaipilla, The Iconoclast, Adobe Walls, Kansas City Voices, and the Tishman Review. His blog--Notes of an Urban Stray--can be read at johnbiscello.blogspot.com. Broken Land, a Brooklyn Tale was named Underground Book Reviews 2014 Book of the Year.
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