If you have just arrived at The Library in Purgatory, the first chapter is here.


"I never found the girl, I never got rich. Follow me."

~Leonard Cohen

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Chapter III.7


Fear and Loathing at



He who makes a beast of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man.”


When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.”


—Hunter S. Thompson


Junior enlisted in the Navy barely make enough money to clear the poverty level, if they even do. What they get paid for what they are asked to do is criminal (Navy pay scales: 1997, 2008). Spare me the volunteer crap, the argument doesn’t hold up. I’ve heard the praise of an allegedly grateful nation when the wolves weren’t barking at the gates and it is hardly overwhelming. The Kennedy used to hold food and donation drives during the holidays, not for the local community, but for the sailors on our own ship that weren’t making it. As a consequence, many sailors lived aboard ship even when it was in port, not being able to afford a place of their own. It was their home. Needless to say, it makes having a normal personal life a lot more difficult.


You live in a berthing, the larger ones which contain upwards of a hundred people. Racks are stacked three high and one to two deep for six to twelve guys to an aisle. Your personal space is your rack, some of which have hinged tops with storage under the mattress, called coffin racks or lockers. The damn thing is just big enough to get into. When I’d lie on my side I had about half an inch of clearance from the rack on top of me. Privacy is provided by a blue curtain— hence the sarcastic title of “blue curtain lounge”. There is usually only one TV per berthing and anything that you are going to watch is either by consensus or by somehow getting control of the thing before anyone else. You want to watch TV and someone’s playing Mortal Kombat, tough luck.


Unless you like lying in your rack and reading, there is nothing to do board ship when it’s in port, this is also true when it’s underway, but somehow, that is a different story, mainly because you are vainly trying to catch up on sleep. With no place of your own to hang out in, it should come as no surprise that bars and drinking are one of the preferred methods of passing the time with friends and forgetting that you are unfortunate enough to be in the Navy and live on a ship. Plus, they usually have several TV’s in bars, as well as people who aren’t in the Navy.


In Charleston, they sent my buddy, Lloyd, to CAAC level three, inpatient treatment, for getting into about half a dozen too many alcohol-related incidents, usually the number one reason for CO’s Masts. He had an uncanny sense of when there was going to be trouble and would wear his “fighting jacket”, usually over my protests that we just go out and have a good time. Of course, it could’ve been the shots of green-death flavored Nyquil (about the closest thing to alcohol you could get on the ship) he’d do before we’d leave, but who knew. I hid bottles of booze around the base to cut the cost of going to the base club and kept a liter of Everclear in the back of my Jeep for the same reason.


So there he was, in some big, group therapy circle with everyone going around and regaling each other with how much they drank; some Marine Sgt going on in prototypical fashion, in tears, about how he drinks a pint on the way to the base in the morning, a case for lunch, and then comes home and drinks till he passes out, hopefully not beating his wife or kid in the process…straight out of The Great Santini. They get around to Lloyd and ask him how much he drinks. He replies, “That depends, who’s buying?”


Fucking Lloyd. They were most displeased with him for that, said that they were being serious, that he needed to be serious…or they couldn’t help him. He told them he was, he didn’t have a drinking problem, he had a financial problem. He’d like to drink more but he couldn’t afford to. They ended up sending him back early, saying that he didn’t drink enough to be there; couldn’t hang with the big dawgs I guess. Before he left though, they told him that he needed a hobby. It was good advice but it overlooked a fundamental and unavoidable fact, he lived on a ship, like the rest of us, and living on a ship in port sucks ass.


We were in Christmas stand down when Lloyd came back, only having to work one day out of every three. It left a lot, too much free time on your hands and there is only so many times you can go to the mall or see When a Man Loves a Woman before it gets old and then it’s straight away to drinking in the morning. It was probably not the greatest time for Lloyd to try and find a hobby to keep him off the sauce and out of bars. As a hobby, he decided he was going to collect Hot Wheel and Matchbox cars. Don’t ask me how he came to that decision; I wasn’t part of the process. It started off well enough, with nothing better to do I’d go with him to the mall or Toys r’ Us while he looked at and purchased cars. It was a fun and nostalgic trip down memory lane, many of the cars were still the same as when I was a kid, but it hardly passed a whole damn day. Eventually, much to my amusement, the day would start off with the mandatory car purchases and then soon enough we’d be bored out of our fucking minds and in the nearest bar playing with the cars that Lloyd had just bought.


And so it goes. The Turner was still close to the “old Navy” where drinking a lot and being able to handle it was considered a sign of a truly salty sailor. I would have to say that the majority of the stories that I have from my time in the Navy involve drinking in one way or another. It was what was memorable, the way we bonded and hung out together, how we coped with the demands of living on a ship full time. The Navy has tried to move away from that image and has lost a lot of its old tradition. Believe me, there is nothing less fun than a self-righteous booze Nazi; especially if they’re reformed.


In a way, the ship was a mother and in port, she was an inadequate one. As you read through the below it is really the story of a group of orphans looking for a home, a place to belong that wasn’t work. You think you’re tied to your work? Imagine living in your cubicle, working twelve-hour shifts seven days a week for six months and never leaving your office. You’ll start to barely have an idea of what life at sea is like.


We found a home, a place to belong and it was Pete’s Hut.


*****

Mikey really started the whole thing one night, when he came down to SUPPLOT with a picture of ‘ol Dean talking about Pete’s. It was funny as hell. Looking back now, it was bound to happen, the only question was when?


By that time, we had already gained a certain respectable level of notoriety at Pete’s and had pretty much claimed the place as our own, at least as much as we could. Of course, there were locals who had been there MUCH longer than we were and would be there long after we had gone.


Three lost guys. Pete's adopted us and became our home. It nourished us, fed us, introduced us to our friends, and to women of varying levels of respectability (never above almost respectable). It only makes sense that during those long weeks trapped in the middle of the Atlantic without a drink or "tiger" in sight, that we began to recreate the stories of Pete’s which began to take on mythic proportions.


Yeah, the cruise was rough. I guess the saddest part about the whole thing was that most people had wives, or family, friends, girlfriends, something to come back to, something to keep them going. All we had was Pete’s— a bar for christ‑sakes. Hell, we even sent them postcards.


We took a bunch of Pete’s coasters with us on the cruise with the idea that we were going to sneak them into the wardroom. We never did, it was too much of a hassle and a Pete’s man is never driven to do anything, except get another drink maybe. Anyway, about five weeks before the end of the cruise, we just started leaving them on the mess decks. It was kind of a risk, because you really didn't want to see any of the people on the mess decks at Pete’s. But we had to do it. Part of the legend I guess.


Pete’s drinks are the stuff of legend, nectar for the gods. I've seen more than one self‑ proclaimed, "drinkin’ man", swagger into Pete’s smilin’ at the tigers and laughin’ behind his hand at the bartenders. Inevitably, they end up slinking out in tears, the ones that can stand that is, cursing Pete’s and their mothers for bringing them into a world where a place like Pete’s can exist.


Pete’s opens at 10am, everyday. They don't have ESPN 2 though.


And then there's pa#a j@!s: the evil, over‑priced, vacuum-headed, self‑pretentious, yuppie‑attended, bad‑music‑playing, cover‑charging, sorry‑assed anti‑Pete’s, right across the street. Guess I’ve said about all there is to say about that place.


Once Mikey called up pa#a j@!s and asked if they were going to be playing the same crappy music that they played every night. They asked him not to insult the DJ ‘cause he was sensitive…and he sucked.


Pat is my personal hero. The man has a master’s degree and a parole officer. He'd be perfect if he weren’t a goddamned Canadian. Let me tell you though, you ain't seen dancin’ till you've seen ‘em do the bear.


And then there was the time Pat threw up on his shoes at Sloppy Joes. That was pretty funny.


Once Mikey broke his glass but just kept drinking out of it. Some dumb broad screams, “Oh my god, he's drinking glass!” why waste a resource?


Jeff was hiring once at the CD War-house. I thought I could supplement my rum money with a part time job. He wouldn't hire me though ‘cause he said I could see Pete’s from the back door. He was right.


Mikey first coined the phrase, "tiger night", formerly known as college night. As all of you who have been to college and some of you that haven't know, Thursday night is the biggest drinking night of the week and this did not go unnoticed by Mike, who also pointed out that the ratio of good looking girls to not so good looking girls at Pete’s was highest on Thursday nights. That's how it started, or maybe it was just because we used to go, “ggrrrrr, la tigere,” I don't remember.


Speaking of firsts, Jeff started, “drrriiinnnkksss ffoooorrr aaalll mmmmaaaaa fffrrriiieeennndddsss.” Let me tell ya somethin’, Pete’s is the only place you can say that and actually do it.



Dave’s Tale of Madness

Pete’s will make you commit unspeakable acts against your friends. One day me (Diamond D), Mikey and The Librarian met Jeff at Pete’s and I think Mark, Andrea and Julia were there as well. We started drinking rum and cokes and that booze made me start to wiggle this way and that, I was dancing on the bench in the little middle pool playing area, falling down. That was the night of war paint. I took my burned‑out cigar butt and smeared it on my face and yelled “war paint!!!” and started running around. Mike and Jeff see and decided to take me to Andrea’s to sleep. So they take me out of Pete’s. When we get to Andrea’s they took my keys and shoes and tossed me in my car, where I found my sword and pulled it on Mike and Jeff. Eventually I put the sword away and got in the back seat. After Jeff and Mike left I took out my spare key and grabbed an extra pair of shoes from my trunk, and started walking back to Pete’s. I get to Pete’s and nobody was there anymore, so I went to Papa Joe's and found Andrea and she brought me upstairs where everybody else was at, so I sat on the window ledge and meditated.


*****

Mark tried to choke me to death one night outside p#pa j@!s because I drank his drink. These are the kind of people I deal with on a daily basis. It's like living with rattlesnakes, rattlesnakes that will occasionally buy the next round.


Once, after Pete’s had closed, me and Mikey were giving Andrea a ride to Julia’s when I said something and she hopped out all pissed off and walked the rest of the way while I drove alongside and Mikey tried to apologize. I wish like hell that I could remember what I said to her, so I could use it again if I had too.


Me and Mike first met Doc when we were in New York for Fleet Week. We had been drinkin’ all day at some little Mexican joint called Coyote Kate’s when Doc walked in. We ended up running over into the Irish side of town to drink with some firefighter that wouldn't shut the hell up for nuthin'. I don't know why we liked him, in all honesty, Doc is a deranged bastard worse than Savage Henry, but he digs our brand of humor. Who can say they understand?


The mythos of Pete’s is that: sometime a long time ago, at least before the 1900's and after creation, God, who looks after children and rummies, gave old Pete a vision and he proceeded to build a place where you can get the cheapest, meanest rummy coke in the world. The history after that gets a little sketchy but picks up again three days after prohibition officially ends with Pete’s “official” grand opening. You can still see the first keg they tapped hanging from the ceiling if you venture over into the old, blue hair’s side of Pete’s. They also have a lot of old guns on the wall with which they used to shoot the freaks with. Nobody gets shot anymore though so I guess you can say the place has lightened up a little.


I once met Clara Jensen’s niece at the CD War-house. I don't remember her name but she was a tiger in every sense of the word and I was doing some quick thinking, figuring that I could marry into the place (Pete’s, not CD War-house). Only problem was, she was the kind of girl that didn't go to Pete’s (if you can imagine that). I could see that we would have a lot of issues down the road and wisely went around the corner for a drink.


When I reported to the JFK, the first person I met was Jay, who was in the process of going TAD to CCU, which is basically a second boot camp for people who get to the fleet and find out they still have issues. Jay had several. Anyway, he shows up enough to be considered a regular and is even greeted with smiles sometimes. Don't bet him money or anything on a game of pool, even if it looks like both his arms are broken.


Once, not long after Jay got out of CCU, Mikey and me were leaving Pete’s late. I was parked right across the street facing south, when Jay comes running out the door of the tiki bar yelling my name. I don't want no part of whatever‑the‑hell Jay is yelling about and tell Mike to hurry up and get in the damned Jeep. We peel out of there laughing at the sick bastard as he's chasing us down the street like some crazy mutt, and then almost getting run over by two‑fisted Nelson, who was following us. I don't think I’ve ever felt such a big wave of relief as I did, watching Jay getting smaller and smaller in the rear‑view mirror and then finally doubling up hacking. Smoking will do that to ya; which is why dogs don't smoke, not the serious car‑chasers anyway.


I work in intel and a lot of it's classified and, on the Kennedy, all of it sucks. Mr. I. was our new boot camp Divo when I got there, and finally he gets the word and starts swinging by Pete’s from time to time— not many officers did. We got more accomplished over five rum and cokes than all the damned memos in the world.


Mr. I. had a buddy; don't even remember the kids name but we called him Jg‑ski. He always showed up at Pete’s with Mr. I., but didn't say a whole lot, generally ‘cause he looked like he couldn't remember his name. Maybe that's why we gave him one. Whenever he walked (term used loosely) it looked like him and the place were in the middle of some giant earthquake, wobblin’ all over the place. Man that cat was funny.


The night before Easter, Dave’s biggest night, Mikey and me are looking for Dave at Pete’s. We meet in the middle, and I say, “Have you seen Dave?” and he says no, and then this not‑too uncute dame says,


“Dave? The dancing guy?” I looked at Mike and say, “Do you know her?” and he shakes his head and goes,


“You?”


“Nope,” I reply. So we look at her and she points over somewhere and says,


“He was just over there,” and leaves. To this day, I wonder what the hell Dave said to her.


When we were to Ireland for the fourth of July, Dave was dancing with some Irish broad and she starts bumping into him so he shoves her onto the floor and leaves. That's the kind of bastard he was.


Dave has cried in his beer too, but nobody's sure why.


One night, Mikey decides we're all too drunk to drive so he's gonna drive Dave’s Jeep from Pete’s to sloppy Joes. We gave him such a ration of shit that he tries to gun the thing in neutral and revs it up to about 10,000 rpm's in front of this cop. Cars are honking at him and we were laughing so damned hard. He ends up just getting out and walking into Sloppy’s. He wouldn't talk to us the rest of the night. And I had to park the Jeep.


Some of the best times have been when we rolled into Pete’s on an off night late and you can sit around like you own the place without 10,000 assholes trying to run ya over, and listen to the jukebox not to loud and just enjoy keeping the buzz going. A cigar, company, and good conversation— it's a side of Pete’s that most the world never sees.


One night Blake, Dave, Mikey, and myself end up at these crazy dames hotel room after meeting them at Pete’s. I’m out talking, between breaths, to this sweet little brunette who is wearing the most tasty brown, leather, pants; both Dave and Bleak are making time inside and Mike wants to leave. I mean he's really pissed and I don't know why cause there's at least four more dames in the room. The whole ride home me and Dave would say, “What's up Mike?” and he’d say,


“Exactly.”


And we'd go, “What?” and he'd snap,


“That's what I’m talking about!”


I’ve never seen a guy throw a cock‑block on three guys at once. Now that I think about it, I’m still pissed. We shoulda made 'em walk home. He didn't want me to write this one, well tough shit, all rat‑bastards suck the pipe eventually.


Ruby used to drive an hour and a half to Pete’s drunk and an hour and an hour and a half back after the place closed. It's a wonder the kid didn't end up dead in a ditch somewhere. Why would you want to leave it all behind to go to Mexico to learn Spanish when you got skills like that?


Doc’s Tale of Woe

My first night at Pete’s was a strange one indeed. We were just back from a three or four week trek to New York for Fleet Week. I go in there a little afraid of the place and very confidently order, from Joey, a Bud light. He gives me this look, like I just walked off the stupid wagon and looks at my company— Mikey, the Librarian, and Dave and says, “Is he serious?” Then he turns and says, “If you're going to drink with these guys, you have to drink cheap rum and lots of it.” So I’m nursing my first Pete’s drink O’ death, feeling like a three-foot midget in the LA Laker’s locker room, when the other guys finish theirs and order a second round. Joey yells down, “Hey junior, you ready yet, 'cause I ain't got time to be pouring drinks all night long?” I didn't know whether I should run out of there crying or stand up and say,


“Yeah, you son‑of‑a‑bitch!” I think I went to piss.


*****

One night this crazy dame with black leather pants and a tattoo on her spine licked Dave’s face at Pete’s. What can I say, the kid's a magnet.


A lot of the pictures seem to do with beatins’. At first you might think that Pete’s is some kind of biker‑break‑a‑bottle­-over‑your‑head‑fuck‑ya‑in‑the‑ass kind of place; but if you’ve ever had about half a dozen Pete’s drinks you'd understand. Pete's unofficial motto is, well, at least according to us, “if it were any stronger, you'd be drinkin’ out of the bottle.” Truer words were never spoken. On More than one occasion I’ve had to ask Joey or Carlos for a little more Coke in my rum, seeing’s as I paid for it and all. So, as it often happens, you wake up the next morning $30.00 poorer feeling like you've been run over, mugged, and ran for president all in one night.


Diamond D., now there's a strange cat. Used to be that he'd come just to hang out, drink one and a half drinks and then leave. Hell, he didn't even like cigars and never talked to anyone— at all. I guess that all changed the night before Easter. Back then he was on a “one drinkin’ binge every six months” schedule and he cut loose that night: smokin’ a cigar, dancing around Pete’s (you don't dance at Pete’s), smearing cigar ash on his face (war paint), talking to tigers, and toasting J.C. and his boys. That's the night that he finally got his Pete’s Eyes and began to understand what fun is all about.


Mikey, a ladies man and natural born charmer by any definition of the word, only the ladies don't know this, has a magnetic personality that is even larger than Jeff. For a while all he drank at Pete’s was Goldschläger and we called it “not much longer” because it didn't take much longer till he was weavin’ and wobblin’ all over the place with his JFK grin and a cigar butt jammed in his moot. The most famous Mikey night I guess, was the night he was throwing up in the tiki room head and then tried to crawl behind the toilet to catch a quick nap. The only thing is, by that time of night there is a good half inch of beer, water, piss, and vomit on the floor. It became Mike's “Happy Place” and Jeff later went in there and wrote it on the wall in thick black marker with an arrow so the whole world could wonder what the hell it meant.


One night Dave, Mikey and myself all kept ordering rum punches for no good reason. God, it pissed the hell out of Joey and he cursed us to no end that night.


I guess the first thing you need to know about doc, is that he's a wino. He's also very charitable with the women he dates (I mean they are charity cases). You can usually tell how doc's doin’ by the wino-meter; when he's leanin’ way forward in the foxhole you know he's about three bases to home.


The first night we met Mark, Jeff, Pic, Andrea, and Julia at Pete’s, Mike cried in his beer the whole night. That's the kinda little fuck he is.


Linda, ahh Linda. I grabbed her ass once. No, wait, what I meant to say was, she always comes to Pete’s with some strange dude, introduces him to us, and then proceeds to ignore him for the rest of the night while talking to us. Basically the kid, whoever he is, is a walking coat rack. If I wore a coat to Pete’s, I guess I’d ask him to hold mine too.


There was this guy Tim, he’d come in from time to time. One night he told Dave he wanted to eat his soul. Dave didn’t show up at Pete’s for a while after that. Tim? He’s a really funny guy, wonder what he’s doing these days.


We play darts from time to time at Pete’s, which was where Blake got his nickname, “Bleak”. Anyway, one night I’m drunk as shit and have to put on my BCs on just to see the board. I tell everyone that I’m gonna throw three triple 20's. I did. Go figure.


I guess you can't talk about Saturday night at Pete’s without talking about Miss Judy’s on Sunday morning. But we won’t. The greatest Simpson’s quote that never was was when Pat turned around in the booth to look at this kid behind him, who goes in his best Ralph Wiggam voice, “Mommy, mommy; his breath makes me dizzy.”


Pat met his wife at Pete’s. He was talking to her and goes to Mike’s Happy Place to take a leak. When he comes back, his buddy, Muha, is talking to her. This pisses Pat off to know end so he decides right there, probably with the help of a good dozen rummy cokes, to teach Muha a lesson he won’t forget. He winds up and proceeds to thump his future wife right in da moot. Figuring that Muha hasn’t learned his lesson yet, he winds up and proceeds to thump her one more time. At that point I guess he thought Muha had learned his lesson because he didn’t go for the third strike. She married him anyway. What a story to tell the kids.


So one night, I’m off playing pool with Sheryl and Mikey's hitting on what looks like someone's mom, ala Bill and Ted. Anyway, her brother, Terry, just happens to be also be there and he's just home from the Merchant Marine. This guy is not nice, and Mikey is so wrapped up in how charming and witty he's being, that this fact is totally lost on him. At one point he calls me over so he can say, “Check this cat out, he's an asshole!” Meanwhile, this dame is begging Mikey to shut the hell up before he's talking out his ass. Mikey, he don't care, he just points at the guy in case I wasn't sure who he's talking about and grins like the Cheshire cat. Well, at that point Terry proceeds to snap my pool cue in half with one hand, for reasons that still elude me. Fortunately, Joey stepped in, ‘cause I was holding the thick end with two hands, ready to go downtown. The police came, but none of them wanted the SOB in their cruiser. They ended up calling a cab to take his drunk ass back to wherever‑the‑hell he came from. I know Terry will be back one day to finish business and I’m planning on finding the lord on or about that time.


Mikey Waxes Philosophical and Explains it all

Bloomsbury Group, Algonquin Round Table, and the Rat Pack. What are these you might ask; well they are the three most famous circles of friends of the 20th century. They are however, the past. Today you can find a clique much like those of yester year‑ the place, Pete’s bar‑ the clique, “rummies”. Pete's has been standing since 19hundred and 33, a staple in the Neptune community. It's a place where a man's man can go get polluted beyond recognition. Rummies for some damn reason seem to take to Pete’s like a fish to water. Pete's is a place where a piss‑drunk like Dave, can toss his mouth cannon across the room, peg a fat chick and get the fat chick kicked out for fuckin’ with a local. I remember a time when, ah well, I don't remember too much really because it all blends into one big orgy of booze, you must forgive me; sometimes I’m a victim of my own vices. Anyway there are many stories, but it's the idea that sustains us. A lot of people who know us think that we go to Pete’s and get to the point where we can't walk or make a complete sentence. In reality, it's not like that at all. Four navy guys and about seven of their friends all collide to share in what is considered a good time, it's us opening up and letting people around the group share in our humor. A person may say, “What's so funny about sitting around, drinking and cursing at people?” But a rummy would say, “What's not funny about it?” Do not make a mistake and take it all too seriously. That's all. Pete's is what you make it, for us, it's a shrine where the drink is cheap and the times are always good. Thank you Pete, may you rest well in hell for what you have done to countless amounts of locals in the Neptune area!


*****

The Dangers of Mixing Turtles and Bourbon…

This one happened a really long time ago and all the facts might not be there, I mean this is one from the early days when we had no friends, were making a name for ourselves, and had a lot more brain cells to do this cognitive shit with; but it's all true— I swear.


I think it was a Wednesday night, back when pa#a j@!s actually had live bands for reggae night, which usually didn't start until around 11pm. Anyway, we'd gotten pretty well liquored up at Pete’s and were on our way out the door to pa#a j@!s for some easy skanking. I hadn't finished my bourbon and coke (notice the deviation from what became the standard fare) so I put my glass in the smoking pocket of my shirt and out the door we go. You can only begin to imagine my delight, when, upon walking in the door to j@!s, I see a turtle racing track, a waitress handing out squirt guns, and a slew of apathetic turtles. Before I can even begin to vocalize my delight, the waitress has shoved a small yellow squirt gun in my hands and told me that I had turtle #3. I remember both of these things distinctly. There wasn't anything about turtle #3 that was striking or would commit itself to your memory except that, he was a turtle, and, like all turtles, looked extremely pissed off at the world. I don't think that I’ve ever seen a turtle that just wouldn't love to kick your goddamned ass if he could. Anyway, I like to win and my turtle buddy was looking like he could use a change of pace, so I quickly dispensed with the water in the gun and proceeded to load up with a fine Pete’s bar brand bourbon and coke.


Ho! Ho! Boy O’ boy! You shoulda seen ‘em. I gave him a couple warm up shots to the head while they were lining them up for the race, just to let him know what he was in for once we started this thing in earnest. His head snapped back and his eyes got even beadier than they were. The DJ blew the starting whistle and none of them other suckers ever stood a chance. We were a match made in hell: a turtle with an attitude and a rummy with a squirt gun full of bad bourbon. I let him have it full blast right off the bat. I don't know exactly how alcohol works on amphibians but he probably ingested the equivalent of a fifth in just under ten seconds, through is head. It only took about three seconds to see the effects of the bourbon kick in, and he started tearing down that track. You could hear him hissing over the music, like an overheated radiator. He crossed the finish line in just over fifteen seconds while the rest of the losers were vainly trying to get their turtles to come out of their shells. Man that turtle was pissed, fighting mad. Upon crossing the finish line, he commenced to trying to climb the wall separating the turtles. He wanted to kick the ass off of something and he didn't care what. Old Crow will do that to ya; make ya stand up and slap your mother. Some bimbo next to me tries to pick him up and it costs her a chunk out of her thumb. I'm laughing deliriously, trying to squirt some bourbon in my mouth while this dame is swearing around her thumb which is jammed between her lips. She takes a kick at the turtle and misses. It doesn't give a damn though, it's still hissing and trying to get its turtle ass over the wall. That thing was hot.


So I goes up to the bar and tell ‘em my turtle kicked ass and I want my hundred free drinks now, cause me and the turtle are going to celebrate, I mean really whoop it up. And the broad's like, “Did you place your bet before the race?” and I’m like,


“Bet? I got the goddamned squirt gun. Hell lady, my turtle won hands down. It's the one over there kicking the shit out of the bouncer. He looks pretty thirsty to me, maybe you better tell the bastard he didn't win, ‘cause I can't be responsible for his behavior anymore.”


She tells me in this whiny voice that the gun and the turtle don't matter because I didn't bet. So I get nothing. How do you like that? I think that's when I started hating pa#a j@!s in earnest. We left not much later 'cause the reggae band was all white and they were from Cleveland or somewhere like that. They never had ‘racing turtle night again’, wonder why?


*****

Looking back on it all now, it's hard to believe that one place could hold so many memories and good times. I have had the biggest blast remembering and writing all these down, accompanied by much laughter and a thirst like an itch that can't be scratched. I am also sure that there are many more stories buried somewhere in our rum-sodden brains and those still lurking on the edge of tomorrow. The Grateful Dead sang in Ripple (Jane’s Addiction’s cover is better): “You who choose, to lead, must follow, but if you fall, you fall alone. If you should stand, than who's to guide you? If I knew the way, I would take you home.


Rummy, accountant, squid, bum, wino, whatever, lost in the world, you don't have to worry about falling alone or the way home as long as you know the way to Pete’s. Mikey, Dave, Mark, Jeff, Blake, Doc, Tom, Ruby, Paaaat, Linda, Austin— thanks.


— Somewhere in the Atlantic, October 1997


*****

For all the writing I did at Pete’s, I didn’t write much about Pete’s, the below being one of the few.


Dark Angel on Orange Background

And I watch you
sitting sullenly across the bar
in a booth of orange plastic
beautiful black on white
punk.
He wore you like a cheap coat
something to show
his friends—
a toy.
And as the red and yellow
plastic darts sailed by
I saw you smile
and wished so bad
that it hurt
that I could rescue you
from the cage you walked into
but he looked like a model
and I knew better—
so long…
lover.















Walking Home

A pale, hung-over moon
stumbles toward the horizon—
a homeward bound rummy
drunk from the parties of the evening
as a lone wreck grumbles by
piss-yellow headlights
cutting the dark with their cheerless gaze.
The cigarette in my mouth
tastes like a thousand lonely nights
and I carelessly flick it away.
Somewhere behind me
Venus is calling my name
as she floats over the deep-blue
Ocean
following sadly in my cold footsteps.
What do I know anyway?
To my right,
the golden arches flicker to life
in a slow, warm breeze
as the sky begins to glow
a rosy pink.
Home
is just around the next lifetime
and then
I can sleep
and then I can sleep.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.