Michael Gabriel lives in Lakewood, Ohio. He's on a first-name
basis with every bartender on Madison and Detroit.
Fat Eddie's Celebrity Lounge
It was a banner evening at Fat Eddie's Celebrity Lounge, although
for the 37th straight week, no celebrity showed up. In fact,
no celebrity has showed up at Fat Eddie's Celebrity Lounge since
Dick Goddard, the weather dude on Channel 3 or 8 or whatever
stopped in one July evening to use the pay phone. I'm not sure
Dick Goddard counts as a celebrity though. I mean, no one from
Omaha would recognize him. But I guess he has his audience. So
give him his due. Don't ask me why he didn't use his cell phone.
How the hell should I know?
Anyway, it was a banner evening for a typical schmuck like me.
Jackie Spitoon stumbled in at about a quarter past seven. He
wanted Angelo to cash his paycheck for him. Angelo said he would,
but not to make a habit of it. Spitoon said OK, and tossed a
twenty dollar bill on the bar. Buy a round for everyone, he said.
All five of us thanked him.
A little later, Sally the neighborhood slut pushed through the
door. I'm not sure you count as the neighborhood slut when you're
57 years old and probably haven't been laid in, oh, four and
a half years. But her reputation precedes her. Sally bellied
up to the bar and ordered a bourbon and soda. She threw a wink
my way. She still has all the right moves, but I'm not sure the
parts work anymore. She eased onto a barstool, crossed her legs,
and lit a cigarette. I asked her if she heard the one about O.J.
and the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders, but she said she had. Sally
has heard them all. Some twice.
Behind me, two biker types popped 50 cents into the pool table,
and I heard the balls crash down. One asked the other if he wanted
to break, the other said yes. I heard the crack of pool balls
exploding together, and the one asked the other if he wanted
to play for money.
Spitoon got up to leave. I hollered goodbye as he walked out
the door. At about that time, someone I didn't know slipped in
to talk to Angelo. They spoke real soft, and I couldn't hear
what they were saying. Something about a car, or a bet or something.
I munched on popcorn from a plastic basket on the bar, and picked
the remnants out of my teeth. I ordered another Bud.
The jukebox was on automatic pilot, playing some country song.
The TV was on in the corner, but the sound was turned down. I
think Wheel of Fortune was on. They looked like Vanna's tits
from where I was sitting anyway. I got up to go to the john.
When I came back, I glanced out the window. It was raining, and
the rain fell in wild patterns on the windowpane. No one was
really saying anything and nothing was really happening.
Cigarette smoke hung in the air like a stinking cloud. Not a
celebrity in sight, no one even remotely close.
The name of the joint cracks me up. It probably cracks up Fat
Eddie too. He sold the joint about a year ago. Got a job working
for one of the beer distributors. I don't know why they never
bothered to change the name to something else. Good as the next
name, I guess.