Sundeep and I finished our pho and we parted ways.
I couldn’t help it but I felt slightly peeved. I think it’s fair to say that other people’s optimism can be irritating. It is always so easy for others to chime in and say that everything is going to be fine, especially when everything is fine for them, especially when they are not you. I was ready for a pint.
I tried not to fall down the treacherous stairs leading steeply into the cavernous tavern called Anne Bonny’s. I imagined many of the clientele have fallen up the steps after indulging in a jar or two, which is worse than falling down them. It’s easy to fall down. Who tracks the steps of glory to the grave? I suppose I do, Lord Byron. I suppose I do. I happened to enter the dungy establishment by chance, not fate. There was no sign above, no Celtic lettering or neon swoops to inform you of where the fuck you were or what the name of the bar was. You would’ve walked right passed the fucker had it not been for the small, A-frame chalk board. How trendy. It read, in the worst penmanship I’d seen in a long time, and trust me I look out for things like, it said Anne Bonny’s: cheap beers, bad food. The sign spoke to me. I popped in and laid my eyes upon a lass, a gorgeous girl who would not leave my mind, though for her sake I wanted her to. I’m not good for anyone. I damn well knew that. It was in her best interest to not get involved with the likes of me. I have nothing to offer anyone. I am a sinking ship. It’s the best thing for both of us that I simply admire from her afar, to creep rather than to approach, to refrain from taking any action. That’s with the assumption I stood a chance. You have to remember, if you have been paying attention I tend to get ahead of myself.
So I entered that day, some weeks before, to become acquainted with Ms. Bonny. A bar tucked away on the border of the Lower East Side and East Village, the namesake of an Irish woman who solidified her legend in the Caribbean as a pirate, the ever crafty Anne Bonny. I wondered if there was any relation to Billy the kid? Did they even spell it the same way? I couldn’t tell you. Any way, the bar had apparently been the stomping ground of lawless types, thespians, artists and new arrivals from the motherland. It had changed hands a dozen times since its inception, always retaining its name, although, the name was no longer above its blacked out window. The bar itself is made of mahogany imported from Ireland. The walls are lined with bookshelves, pirate gimcracks and Irish keepsakes. Guinness and Jameson are always in attendance, though our good friend Tullamore Dew will always be my favorite. Smithwicks shows also his face. The sign was a liar like one of its patrons, the burgers and Shepard’s pie were quite delectable. I could vouch for both dishes.
I entered and the usual old men were seated at the bar, talking heatedly about politics or their past, or some shit, I don’t know. I said hello, making one continuous waving motion to all. I think they were debating about the ethics of the government listening to people’s phone conversations. Then I was caught off guard.
“Hey Wilhelm,” said Glory, smiling from behind the taps, pouring a pint. I was still unsettled from the false optimism and irritation of Dr. Ceraso. I wondered if he unwittingly became my own private motivational speaker, or therapist, or was it planned. I was caught off guard by her warm welcome, stunned by her playfulness in her voice, as if we were old friends. My awkwardness was bound to reach new levels.
“Hi,” I said stricken with my introverted tendencies. I attempted to walk to one of the airy booths, when she asked me a question.
“What are you drinking?” It might as well have been a algebra equation. I was stumped.
“Uh, I’ll have, uh. A Stella. Please.” Now was that so hard. “Thanks.”
“Toughy,” she said with a devilish smirk, filling the pint glass to the brim.
I put my things down and gave her money to leave behind the bar, retrieved my pint and cowered all the way to my seat. I wanted to write a novel about us. I wanted to write a novel, period. That was the one thing I desperately wanted to do, Glory was another. Glory. I’ve googled quotes with the word “glory” in it for weeks. Of course, I couldn’t recite majority of them, ok, let’s be honest I probably couldn’t recite any of them. I sipped my beer, wrote a line or two and leered at her, hopefully, without notice or if noticed I prayed to the prince of darkness I was not that creepy. She stood behind the bar in a blue dress, blau, swinging low, with thin straps. Her perfectly palm sized breasts winked at me. Her long black hair, schwartz, probably unnatural but I didn’t mind it one bit, her hair screamed for my fingers to comb through it. She wore tiny diamond earrings. Ocean blue eyes that I swore looked into me and knew everything, all of my sordid thoughts which frightened me more than you knew. The scariest part of it was I felt like she knew me. This woman did something unimaginable to me. This was the kind of woman that did something magical to every man who laid eyes on her. For Glory gives herself only to those who have dreamed of her. Charles De Gaulle said that shit. Well, if you must know, I have dreamed of Glory, I was undoubtedly not the only one dreaming about her.
I thought about writing a letter to her, only never hand it over. To write the love letter there at Anne Bonny’s was in all likelihood, a bad move. A terrible idea. I watched the way she interacted with Mcloughlin, Segal and Brennan. They talked like old friends too, laughing and debating. Those old bastards were real renaissance men, true artists and poets, who sought out higher education and then became expatiates in France, rubbing elbows with Hemingway and Miller between the wars. They left and I envied that about them. They went to France separately, taking in the vitality of the city of lights. They were not the only generation that was lost. Although, the three that lived at this bar did not have the success as some of the others in their exiled community. They get to say they were there. They still made an impression. I thought for a moment, maybe I’m not searching for a place but a time. What if I missed out on my zeitgeist? What if I was supposed to be there then, not now. I’m fucked either way.
I’ve confessed that I have a hard time sleeping. My conscience was steeped in compunction, sleep for me, has routinely been distracted as my faculties are engrossed with worry. If declarations were to be made, I promised I would finally be able to sleep soundly with Glory beside me. I would go to sleep just so I could wake up to her face. Everyday. To wake up beside her would be sublime. These are thoughts and feelings you can’t say to anyone, especially strangers without feeling foolish, or having your honesty turned against you. Much of the way I felt and thought toward aspects of my life normally made me feel stupid, or ashamed. Our feelings are untrustworthy, and at times, my feelings are completely asinine and borderline criminal.
“Hello there. Here,” said Glory, placing a fresh beer on the table. I hadn’t realized I even finished the first pint. How long was I fucking sitting here? She pulled up a chair and had a beer of her own in her half clothed hand. “Are you writing the next great American novel?”
“No. Definitely not. I’d settle for a good novel, or a decent novel. I’d be okay with writing a shitty one too.”
“Shooting for the stars. What is it about?” she asked and sipped her beer. Here we were, bridged by an wobbly table, two pint glasses, an unscented candle, and about one hundred acid free pieces of paper for me to vandalize. What was restraining me from my most animalistic urge to ravish her? Domestication. It was hard enough not to stare. “I’m sorry. I’m Glory. We’ve never formally been introduced.” She offered her hand, a hand I would eat out of. A hand half covered, both hands to be exact were covered in a gray cloth, concealing the knuckles to mid arm. Gräu. Soft linty gauntlets for the lady. What was she hiding?
“I’m Wilhelm.” We shook hands.
“Hello. Do you live the city?”
“I live in Queens.”
“Have you always lived here or are you also a transplant like myself? It seems most people in New York are not actually from New York. City, I mean.”
“It can be problematic. I have lived in Queens my whole life. Where are you from originally?”
“Upstate. A little town called Wells. It’s in Hamilton County. Population six hundred and change. It’s a long drive from here. What do you do for work, Wilhelm?” I loved the way my name sounded out of her mouth. I watched her lips as she spoke. I watched her pronounce each word. I wanted to press my lips to hers, I took a sip instead. Each time I blinked I pictured us, me kicking the table over and grabbing those tiny cloaked hands she let me touch, pulling her into my hold, vise-like, and kissing her. Our mouths, living works or art, opening and closing, a sort of dance, a tango or waltz, you decide. Us, in unison with our frolicking tongues, syncopated in perfect timing. Timing is everything, who said that?
“I am employed but it’s not anything really worth talking about. I’d rather hear about what you do?”
“Well, as you know I tend bar. It’s a place called Anne Bonny’s. You may have been there before.”
“Is it a shit hole?”
“Then I’ve been there. What do you besides bar tending?”
“I am an actress who doesn’t act.”
“That’s wonderful. I am a writer who doesn’t write.”
“Perfect. My roommate just got a part in a commercial. It’s for Apple. You see her for a nanosecond. She’s like famous now!” Sarcasm. We were perfect for each other, I knew it.
“My glass, look, it’s empty.” Said Mcloughlin, from the bar shaking his glass, and turning it upside down. “Mine’s broken.”
“The service here is in a decline,” said Brennan. “A turn for the worst.”
“How does this work?” asked Mcloughlin, staring intently at his empty pint glass. “Pity, I was having such a lovely time.”
“I have to go and enable the drunks. I’ll be right back. I have a million questions. I hope you don’t mind?”
Segal didn’t say a word.
“No, not at all.” I said.
I watched her walk to the bar, and she glanced back at me with a smile. She called them jerks. I wanted to tell her everything. I wanted to tell her how I can remember the first time I saw her, what she was wearing, and how she made me feel. I wanted to admit she was the reason I kept coming back to Anne Bonny’s. Glory is the reason. I wanted to write bad poetry about her. I wanted to reveal that I had wondered what it would be like to be with her. I thought of us building a home, kiss by kiss, brick by brick. I pictured us married and traveling together, I even picked out some names for our kids and pets. Does anyone else do this? Why must I always be such a weirdo? I did all that without knowing any thing about her. Was I superficial or just hopeful about her personality? She could be someone I could never be with, someone I might even dislike once I got to know her and yet, I’ve fantasized about her. It wasn’t a conscious decision to invest so much time in the thought of who she is or who I want her to be, Glory just always resurfaced in my mind and grew to goddess proportions. I almost didn’t want to talk to her anymore, I didn’t want to risk destroying the image I created of her. No one ever lives up to the images we conjure up. If you adore someone don’t ever meet them, you will be disappointed. I couldn’t tell her any of this. It was madness. She would think I lost my shit. Straight stalker. The man was obsessed. I didn’t notice it but she poured the guys two drinks each.