Monday, May 05, 2008

Bartender

I loved working for Dom.

That is just what I called him. I never knew his real name: language barrier. He and I had nothing in common, except one thing: Alcohol. I was his personal bartender. Most of the time I spent the evenings watching the small TV mounted above the bar. Futurama episodes dubbed into Cantonese. I would pour him and his friends drinks every half hour or so. The "executive assistant" on duty would come by with a new round of drink orders for me to mix up. She wrote down every drink order and checked them off as I placed them in the tray.

They were vaguely Asian, boyish, pretty, late twenties to early thirties, and manicured. Always dressed in perfect suits. Not just pricey, but so stylish and obviously expensive that even a bartender is impressed. Was impressed. I didn't know their business, nor did I ever want to. I was content being the private bartender for a polite client that paid and tipped well. I couldn't understand their conversation which suited us both equally well. They would laugh and joke and I didn't have to interact. I was safely in a separate world, divided by the bar listening to Bender say what I was sure was "kiss my shiny metal ass" in a conspicuously rural dialect of Cantonese.

My employment for Dom ended, unsurprisingly, on the night he was shot in the face. I had just finished filling a large drink order with the latest in trendy shots, and his current assistant was wiggling the tray over to where they were sitting, when a single quiet man entered the room. The door guards were absent. He walked in with a fluid grace that made me pause and watch.

Dom and his friends, well into their drinking, didn't react for several seconds. They were laughing and distracted with each other, and didn't notice how this quiet intruder flowed into the room, a chilling breeze putting the fade on summer. He simply walked in unexpected, and lazily moved a silenced gun level with Dom's face and pulled the trigger. Never a pause. There was a pop and then wet smacking sounds, like chili falling on the floor. He moved the gun in a careful arc from face to face until no one was left but him, the assistant with a full tray of drinks, me, and discreet chili plopping sounds. My left hand was holding a glass and my right a bar towel, stopped mid-dry. He looked at the assistant and then at me. He was making a business decision.

I started drying the glass I was holding again. I told the assistant, "Ask him what he would like to drink." She looked at me, mouth open slightly, eyes wide; terrified. I nodded to her and motioned with the towel at him. Unmistakeably saying, tell him. She did.

He smiled slightly, and walked, more like glided, over to the bar. He sat in the corner chair and spoke quietly to the assistant. She shakily said, "He would like a glass of water, one wet towel and one dry towel."

I offered him the towels and began filling a glass with ice and purified water. One small lemon wedge on the rim. He delicately placed the gun on the bar and began wiping it down with the dry towel. He then briefly but aggressively rubbed his hands with the wet towel. Folding and setting both aside he took a small drink of the water, sat the glass down squarely on the coaster, and left the room. Decision made.

My employment with Dom was over. Time to find another job, I could wait a month maybe two before I had to take a position at a public bar.

I never heard if Dom's killer was caught. I seriously doubt it. The police took our statements but never seemed overly interested in us or what we had to say. No sketch artist ever ask us to describe him. No tough as nails detective ever asked us if we wanted coffee while his nice partner asked us questions. We just gave statements, and received a small severance check on the way out the door, that very night. His organization, whatever it might have been, was always very proficient with paper work. Another reason I'll miss that job.

I really dread working at a public bar again.

4 comments:

Cristy said...

A very entertaining and descriptive read.

Stacy said...

holy moses, that dripping chili sound, i believe ituiy

domboy said...

I'm glad you survived, we almost lost a good storyteller.

Stacy said...

Hey, where did that picture come from? I saw this cartoon once when my sons were small. It was really funny in a Mac or Bud way. Can you email me the link?