Larry Rankin, an experiened writer, enjoys creative writing in all forms, from literary to mainstream.
We wound up at a bar named Cowboy Teddy's when we reached the city, a s---kicker bar like so many of them are in that area of the country. We sat at a booth, already pretty trashed. By then it was ten O'clock, and it just so happened that Teddy's was serving dime bottle longnecks until midnight—kerosene to the fire.
All the people at Teddy's seemed so happy. Before I knew it I found myself smiling, too. It was around the time of this first smile that I smashed into the wall. Being drunk can hide you from it, but at some point you'll crash, and when you do, it hurts all the more for having let yourself experience that bit of joy.
Jason left me alone at the booth in search of some tang, not the kind the astronauts drank, but the kind that went home with you for the night and preferably was gone for good by morning. I watched him speak to a girl from across the room, and suddenly more than anything I wanted to be just like him. I wanted to have never met Melissa Clairmont. I wanted to be able to approach a girl, lay out some pathetic line, take her back to my place, and f--- the ever-living s--- out of her, but I couldn’t. Instead it was all about the promise now, a life of depravity to suit the tastes of my self-loathing.
A waitress made her way over to me as I sat alone in the corner and asked in a gravely tone if I wanted another beer. I laid a dime on the table and ordered, "Bring me a Corona."
"No Coronas honey, just Budweiser or Bud-light," she wheezed.
"A Budweiser then," I said agitated.
Before she left, she gave me a once-over, handed me a Bud, and decided to share some wisdom."You ain't ever gonna pick up any girls with that sour puss look on your face."
Well that is the idea. I’m not like everyone else. "Whatever," I mumbled.
She got the picture. I wasn't to be joked with. I was not to be given anyone's good will or advice, not to be reasoned with, only to be left alone in the glory of my self-pity.
Our Hero Searches for an Answer
After some time passed Jason came around and told me to get off my fat ass and dance with some chicks. I told him I was fine exactly where I was. At this point I was drunk enough that I could lose the haunting apparition of my past for minutes at a time, but eventually it always came back to Melissa--If I could only get drunk enough, I could forget about her altogether.
"What you want to drink?" a waitress asked.
I laid a dime on the table and ordered her to beer me.
"Quit serving dime beer five minutes ago; they're $2.75 now."
I looked to her betrayed, and decided to go on to what seemed the most logical next step.
"What's the hardest thing you got?"
"Got a drink called The Amnesia. It'll f--- you up real good. It has Bicardi 151 in it and..."
I flailed my arms, interrupting her. "I don't care what the hell is in it. All I care about is how much is it, and how soon can you get it to me?"
"$4.25, and It'll get here when it gets here."
When I took my first sample of the liquor concoction, it may have burned; it may have tasted smooth as silk. The night from this point forward is a patchwork of images and snippets of conversation I have done my best to assemble, yet even when all the puzzle pieces find their home, it still renders a photograph that is blurry and open for interpretation.
Our Hero Engages in Predatory Behavior
I finished one Amnesia, then a second, and was on my third. It was on my third that the drink became true to its name. Melissa was gone, out of my head, and I suddenly felt free, light as a feather, like none of life’s rules applied to me anymore. With the greatest of ease, I decided to explore the premises. I walked precariously in my altered state, holding the drink in one hand, through the tangled masses of people. I felt the warm flesh of women's bodies bumping against mine. It felt good, and there was no little voice to tell me I didn’t deserve to feel good.
It started as an accident when the back of my hand brushed up against a woman's rear. She didn't say anything, and I felt as though I had gotten away with something. When I rubbed my hand on the next woman's backside, it was not so honest a mistake. Before I knew it, I was hooked. It became a strange sport of some kind, grabbing the women's asses. Each time I became a little bolder. I had started by using the back of my hand, but eventually graduated to using the palm, and then to grip the flesh, each time a bit harder than the last.
Cowboy Teddy's was a two-story building. The bottom story consisted of a large dance floor, a bar, and several tables. The upper story was a pool hall. After tiring of groping women on the dance floor, I ventured upstairs. Traffic on the top was like maneuvering a car through a busy city during rush hour, while the lower floor had been more like being a particle of sifting sugar.
I was halfway through my third amnesia drink when a short blonde girl with large breasts caught my eye as she stood watching some men play darts. She was a gorgeous creature, slim with curves that would have caused Dale Earnhardt to crash. Melissa was out of my mind along with any intelligent thought. But still there was my fear of women. I guess some things even alcohol can’t fix.
I thought to myself that busty babe would be too ambitious for the likes of me, but surely I could get close enough to cop a feel. I approached the woman from behind with the drunken stealth of a buffalo and….
Our Hero Flees in Terror
The upper floor of the bar was open in the middle allowing a view of those who danced below. I leaned over the railing observing the whirling people, all blurry and in duplicate. A woman walked towards me; she was short, with large breasts, and curves that would’ve caused Dale Earnhardt to crash. This beautiful creature that stood before me began to speak. Optimistically I thought to myself that perhaps she liked me.
"Did you just grab my ass back there?"
After I had a few seconds to process her words, I recognized the girl, and suddenly an air of uneasiness overtook me. As I fumbled over my tongue trying to invent a way out of this predicament, she again addressed the ass grabbing issue.
"Did you grab my ass back there?"
It was right then I decided I wanted to get away from that woman and fast. I calmed myself, didn't say a word, only looked above her into the vague, fuzzy distance, raised my arm, extended my index finger, and pointed at some invisible scapegoat. The woman turned to see what it was I was referring to. As soon as she did, with the whimsy of a child, I darted off towards the stairs and their promise of freedom.
In my hurry I accidentally bumped into a waitress, causing her to spill a tray of drinks, but in the collision all was not lost. With a show of inebriated acrobatics, I managed not only to retain my balance, but to not spill a single drop of my own precious potion.
Our Hero finds it Hard to Apologize
When I got to the bottom floor, I found Jason to tell him it was time to leave. I knew I was running from something, but I could not remember what.
"Jason, man," I slurred, "we gotta go home."
"No. Not yet. I want to stay a little longer."
"Sure," Why was I in such a hurry anyway?
From a beclouded backdrop a vision began to take shape amongst the kaleidoscope of melded colors, moving towards me, floating in ghostly fashion, before finally taking on the form of a woman, greeting me in an abrupt chord.
She was a beautiful stranger with the outline of an hourglass that had too much room for sand up top, dressed to kill, short in stature with a cutoff shirt exposing a pierced bellybutton adorned with jewelry. All the curves enough to cause ...well, you know the rest. She had my attention, and although she seemed agitated, I was nonetheless excited to have her speaking to me.
"Did you grab my ass back there?"
S--- if it wasn't that girl again. Couldn't she let bygones be....
"Did you grab my ass back there?"
F---, it was that girl again, couldn't she just....
“Did you grab my ass back there!?”
Dammit, it’s that girl from….
“Hey, assh---! Did you grab my ass back there!?”
The girl stood her ground, staring at me in disgust, asking her question over and over, and waiting for an answer, and I continued to forget who she was every few seconds, and even if I could remember, I wasn’t coherent enough to construct any sort of response.
A short man joined the discussion. It could have been her boyfriend, her brother. I don’t know. But then and there he was just more confusion for me to process. He wasn't an intimidating figure, dressed in cowboy garb and speaking with a very high-pitched, hick twang, a timbre that knifed through my drunkenness.
"Just say you’re sorry and we'll leave you alone."
Of course, I could tell her I was sorry; that was the perfect...
There was a man standing in front of me, and I was already disturbed about something. Why the hell was he staring at me like that? What the f--- did he want?
"I don't want to have to fight you or nothin!” And I didn’t. I was stating a fact. I didn’t know who this man was or what he wanted from me, and I certainly didn’t want to fight him. But he wanted something and was serious about it, though the word "fight" seemed to strike fear in this little man--I was twice his size.
"Just please tell her you’re sorry," he squealed in a non-confrontational tone.
"I'm sorry." This time I got it out before I lost my train of thought.
Our Hero is Serenaded away in Fine Fashion
From that point, I don’t know exactly how things escalated to their climax. Perhaps I was noticed by a few of my earlier victims, perhaps a few people overheard our little argument, perhaps a little from column A and B.
"Ass grabber! Ass grabber! Rah! Rah! Rah!” At first only a few sang it. Then a few more. Before long, whether they knew why or not, everyone in the place was yelling out gloriously and in unison:
"Ass grabber! Ass grabber! Rah! Rah! Rah! Ass grabber! Ass grabber! Rah! Rah! Rah!"
A large, angry man made his way through the crowd amidst the commotion. Beside him a waitress wearing a saturated shirt. As she spoke to the large, angry man, she periodically pointed towards me.
Next thing I know the hulking figure had bridged the distance between us, put a firm hand on my shoulder, and screamed, "QUIET!"
The chanting stopped, the MC stopped playing dance music, all motion ceased, and the room stood still at his command. He focused his dark eyes on mine and spoke in a loud, deliberate tone. With this focus so came that of all others, making me no more sober, no less absent-minded, the center of attention.
"I want you to leave!"
The noiseless crowd split apart—creating an almost biblical image. At the end of that long, lonesome trail shown a bright, red neon light reading "EXIT". Instinct took over. I made my way to the door, and Jason, being the good friend he is, followed.
On my way out I could hear the deep, baritone voice of the bouncer, "And don't you ever come back!" Then came an uproar of laughter, followed by the MC's music, followed by the people's.
"Ass grabber! Ass grabber! Rah! Rah! Rah! Ass grabber! Ass grabber! Rah! Rah! Rah! Ass grabber! Ass grabber! Rah! Rah! Rah!"