Gentleman Excerpt

    The sunlight shone down through the trees. It was the end of autumn and while some were iridescent reds and oranges, the others were bare.  The intricate design of the angular branches on a pair of bare trees bore a striking resemblance to three men on crosses.  The traffic light had changed and the car behind me offered a beep to call my attention from the trees and back to the road.  I pressed on the gas pedal and roared ahead fleeing down the road partly from the kind young stranger I awoke with, but also from this imagery that sprang forth from the subconscious of my youth spent in a strict Catholic school.  I had just made the Lord very angry and I had to repent or my eternal soul was at risk.

    As if a beacon on a hill, a church loomed before me and the bells were ringing as a handful of stragglers hurried into the building, I am assuming to find the best seat from which to worship.  There were many ways I could have chosen to drive home, but for some reason I found myself passing this place after my recent particular vision of crucified thieves.  Sweat began to form at the nape of my neck despite the autumn chill creeping in through my cracked window. 

     There was no stop sign or traffic light, but I paused in front of the church anyway.  I could not help looking at the building and through the doors, as if I would see Christ himself on the altar waving me in for forgiveness and redemption.  This time the report of the car horn was more sharp and less friendly.  I panicked and immediately sped forward thirty feet and took a hard left into the parking lot of a hotel on the same street.  The bells continued to toll, but I exited the car and walked resolutely into the lobby.  The lobby was like every other chain hotel lobby I had ever been in and I had been to this one before, in fact.  It was a relatively cheap alternative when I found myself in the company of someone who desired a little more privacy that my friends' living room.  I spotted the bar and the bartender engaged in ritualistic cleaning and refilling of the liquor bottles.

     I plopped onto a stool. I had grabbed a paper from the front lobby to hide behind.  “My nerves are shot. Fix me up, would ya?” I asked the college-age girl behind the bar, her glasses slightly askew as she refilled a bottle of whiskey. 

     Her head snapped up and she dropped the nearly full bottle of whiskey.  I startled her.  I was less than three feet from where she was standing, but her back had been turned to the door and she had not seen me enter.  Strangely, my other-wordly sense of vision had not completely vanished.  The stark and sterile homogeny of the lobby had taken the edge off, but in this moment it was as if the bottle hung there before it started to fall.  Unthinking, I snapped out my hand and snagged it with the last three fingers of my right hand. 

     “Holy shit! That was awesome!”  She exclaimed, no longer startled by my presence. 

     “Can I have a bloody mary, please?” I asked her, figuring the less I said the less of a chance she would realize that I was more unnerved by what I had done than she was. 

     “Uh, I guess.  I’m actually working the desk, but they wanted me to refill the bottles, I guess there is a big party here tonight.  Let me see if “bloody mary” is on the recipe card, ok?”

     “Wait, wait, you don’t need a recipe card!  I can talk you through it, but you must do exactly as I say.”

    She went about grabbing the bottles and mixing the contents as I shouted orders to her.  “Put in more goddamn vodka!” I yelled.