How 'Bout a Revolution?
Of all the places that the Revolution everyone had always been talking about, ya know, the one that wouldn’t be televised and would overthrow everything — change it all. Yeah, well of all the places that Revolution could have started, somehow…and don’t you fuckin’ ask me how, it started, of all fuckin’ places, at the Half Penny Pub.
You see the Half Penny Pub is exactly what it sounds like — a place for all the people from around to get drunk, say and do whatever’s clever and then stumble home. The bar’s polished wood with a smudged brass pole that wraps around the edge. It’s not been polished since I walked in there for the first time eight years ago and neither have most of the guys that hang out in there, had their brass polished, that is. Ya know, by a woman.
Anyhow, there’s a long wooden bench, separated into two by a page-flipping juke, that’s built into the wall opposing the bar with cushions, not the most comfortable I might add. I had the misfortune once of havin’ to sit with Becky Deuce-an'-a-Half on my lap for a half an hour when I was piss drunk one Valentine’s Day when the place was packed and even being drunk as a skunk, I could still feel the grain of the wood beneath those cheap cushions working it’s impression into whichever cheek I favored. Becky favored them both.
The walls of the Half Penny Pub are lined from end to end and top to bottom with framed pictures of stuff from Ireland or England or Coors Light Mirrors from Colorado. Once you head back in towards the other end of the bar, there’s two nice big alleys in the corner for darts and then further down the hallway, the two bathrooms. All and all the place is about forty feet by about five or six feet. Just like my buddy, Fat Bruce. At least, he was at that time. He’s lost a lot of weight since then and teaches Pilates and stuff, so, ya know, good for him and everything. From what I heard, he eats very little now, mostly grass.
Past the bathrooms is the back patio, which is fenced in and there’s a like four green wicker-steel tables. I used to walk by those tables with my friend Tommy Dee when the patio was packed and nobody could breathe and we’d each touch a pretty broad’s ass and then jump back into conversation with each other like we had nothing to do with it. In the corner of our eyes we’d see the girl turn, stare, and then turn back away and we’d laugh. That was fun. And so was the night of the, whatever it’s called now, the Revolution. It was too much fun.
I pushed through the crowd on that Thanksgiving night like Becky tryin’ to get to front of the line at Islip Deli when she’s got a train to catch. Ya know, not trying to knock anyone over, but still purposefully makin’ my way through. The place was fuckin’ packed. I haven’t seen it that packed since. Everybody dressed in their holiday finest.
I was coming back from darts. Down near the door, at the other end of the bar, Bruce and my friend Dano were both crowded around our other boy, Drew, who had somehow, miraculously managed to retain a stool at the bar.
On my way I bumped into my boy Bobby, as he hugged the jukebox trying to make selections. Bumped is putting it lightly. I squeezed in between an ox of a guy with a Bic’d head who was clapping about the Jets and some shots his boys just drank in honor of the Jets — I squeezed between him and some girls holding beers facing the bench and kind of landed on Bobby, trying to punch in his selections.
He yelled out when he saw me, yelled Hey You and then Slut or Mutt or something like that. I yelled back, so happy I could’ve slapped him in the face right there. With everything going on, it wouldn’t’ve mattered, not to him or anybody. For him, it was like he was a dolphin — yeah, I guess dolphin works, or seal or something in an aquarium tank packed to brim with whales and sharks and all manner of marine life, brill too—and then all of the sudden, through the melee swims his old buddy the sea otter — ramming my snout into his fin and then we recognize each other. For me, it was the situation reversed, me swimming through a cluster of whales and sea horses, the sea horses being the girls — and smacking right into him.
I yelled something like You done over here? and he nods and we start muscling our way over towards the other guys, right?
Wrong. We smack right into a flock, I mean a FLOCK, F-L-O-C-K, FLOCK of like five bangin’ girls, and Bobby starts up conversation right away with the one he knows from I don’t know where. I start flirting up one of the other ones, talking about God knows what — I was outta my mind already. Problem was, and honestly this was minor, but the bars still packed and we can’t hear a word any of ‘em are saying and the little circle we got going keeps getting crushed by all the numerous people tryin’ ta get to the bar or coming in from outside or the bathroom. There’s not a rhythm of conversation really established except Bobby’s cackling every fifteen seconds or so, and the repeated bumps and occasional dirty looks, but not really cause the energy was too good, from people passing by. All of the sudden, the girl I’m workin’ waves to some dude at the other end of the bar and all the girls, including the one Bobby knows bolt that way. I look at him, and for some reason I’m cool with it, smiling and continue pushing towards that stool and the two square feet of space that Drew, Bruce and Dano had been ownin’ all night.
Bobby and I see a weird lookin’ guy and we both yell Whatsup! at him like we know him, but we don’t and he gives us a nod like he knows what’s up — which we liked. We slide past to meet up with our boys and by that time we’re both thinking the same thing. So we both just said it out loud.
I thought it was packed in the beginning. But when Tommy Dee and our other boy Sped walked in, it was even more packed. It t’was past the Witching Hour, that’s for sure and people kept piling through the door and nobody seemed to leave.
We were all down by the middle of the bar.
Drew’d finally gone to the john and Dano and Bruce didn’t keep his seat. They maintained a whole laissez-faire attitude about guarding the seat or maybe they got distracted, I don’t know for sure. That’s cause when Drew headed for the john, I was already on my way there. We joined forces on the way and when we got there, despite all the people, it was vacant—except for Bobby who was in the stall. We didn’t know it was him while we were pissing until he said something from within the stall — a mistake.
Drew and me looked at each other and we were both like, Is that Bobby? He said somethin’ else and we both knew It is Bobby! And then I took the reins and start kicking the divider wall of the stall and Drew jumped right in, by turning on the faucet and splashing water over the top of it. I kicked open the door and Bobby was buckling his pants screaming What The Fuck! as he tried not to laugh and Drew cackled.
You guys are assholes is what Bobby said as he tucked in his checkered holiday-finest shirt, and before he followed us back out into the big can of sardines that the Half Penny Pub had become.
Right. So when Tommy Dee and Speddy were makin’ their way towards the group of us, still floating near the middle of the bar, the three of us were just back from the john and had just met up with Bruce, Fat Bruce then, and Dano. They had just demolished a couple of tequila shots and were ready for more. Tommy and Sped were followed in by some guys we didn’t know.
It was all good when Tommy yelled Carbombs because we were all ready for them. Especially Bobby, especially after what happened in the bathroom. He needed a drink. And so did I.
There were some really young cats in there. Young chicks too, I remember that. First time I ever felt old in that place. We didn’t recognize most of the people and we had been going there for a while. We knew the bartender though. Rigormortis is what Tommy Dee nicknamed him on a much slower night when it was like raising the dead to get a drink.
Bobby started yelling, Sean!, Rigormortis’s real name, and then we all did. He nodded and smiled as he always did and then Bobby specified, Sean! We need seven shots! Tommy Dee gave a Bobby a look like Come on, it’s Rigormortis! and I could see Dano, Bruce, and Drew all saying Rigormortis to each other or mouthing it to themselves. Sean! We need seven shots! Tequila! I was about to start mouthing it myself when Sean swung back from the shelves of liquor and laid out seven shot glasses with the speed of a Vegas shell game hustler. Dano started laughing joyously and repeated Rigormortis! cause that nickname has brought him so much joy over the years. Then we all did.
Somehow, we cleared people out of the way enough to distribute all the shots. We held ‘em up clinked, well more like our knuckles, and then downed ‘em.
Then Dano raised his fist in the air and screamed, Rigormortis!
Rigormortis had really come through.
By the time our friend Alex showed up, it was probably around two. Tommy Dee had always liked that song that had the words You say uh! and I say ah! I say ‘Revolution’ and you say ‘Right’! Tally Ho! That’s pretty much how it goes, anyway, whatever—so Tommy Dee’s huddled against the jukebox putting in that song. Bobby’s scrambling in and around people with me trying to meet girls. The bar is brimming with dick but there were definitely some girls in there too.
That’s when we bumped into Alex. Alex always invited a kind of friendly rage from the group of us. Bob saw him a second before I did and screamed Alex! Then I literally bumped into one of the younger guys I didn’t recognize by accident as I was about to yell Alex! and the kid looked at me. We were all fucked up at that point! I had my Bud Light in my hand and I just screamed. And this kid, he just screamed right back. We both screamed for about four seconds, ya know that kind of throaty scream that somebody screams before they skydive or do some intense shit—and then things got crazy. There was like a one beat pause and then the entire bar screamed. The girls, the guys, Rigormortis, people on the bench, people at the dartboards — everybody was just screaming for like five seconds. Then there was a second of silence as people inhaled, and then we all screamed again. Some tried to yell Happy Thanksgiving! But it all just got joined into one big scream. People toasted and then we did it again. I saw some guys holding their cell phones in the air, so their friends could scream too.
I can only assume that Tommy’s song made it on. But we never heard it because we were too busy livin’ it.
Bottom line: You can ask anybody who was there that night and they'll tell you pretty much the same story.
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Portland Fiction Project
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