I down the misfit Jameson. I pick up the deck of tarot cards and turn the top one over. It is The Fool, upside down. I take my smart phone out of my coat; I can’t remember the entire description of this card, but I can find it on Wiki. “The Fool” is the spirit in search of experience.” Inverted Fool must be the experience looking for a fool, or reason over cleverness. “He is frequently accompanied by a dog, sometimes seen as his animal desires, sometimes as the call of the “real world,” nipping at his heels and distracting him.” My card implies that I am in the real world looking to escape. He is coming out of the void of the in-between, the end and the beginning, or both. The upside down Fool is boundless in its possibilities.
“Hey, hello,” a blue-eyed blonde sits down next to me at the bar and taps my forearm. She barely keeps her keel on balance, but the waves are not so tall that she’s still upright. “How are you?”
I smile. “Oh, fine. What’s up?” I’ve never seen her before. I am old enough to be her father and wonder if she is even old enough to be in here.
“How, how old are, are you?” She asks, leans back as her eyes follow my face, and I grab her arm before she plummets to the floor.
“Old enough. Can I get you a cab?” I ask.
“No. Don’t you like me?” She asks and flutters both eyes at me like a 30’s movie backdrop.
“Let me buy you a drink.” Emptying the dishwasher at the far end of the bar, “Jules, could I get a couple of whiskeys here?”
He looks up from behind the bar, stands up and walks over. “I can’t serve her anything else.” It takes a moment to sink in, “sorry, but I think she’s had enough and I can’t serve her anymore.”
“Ok, no problem. How about a glass of water and a refill?” I tip my shot glass forward.
“I, I knew he would, wo, wouldn’t,” she hiccups, “serve me, many, any many more.”
“But your OK,” He sighs deep and scowls again at her. I turn back towards the bar, and Jules has the Jamison bottle in his hand. He tops up my shot glass.
“Thanks.” and hand him a ten from the stack of bills next to my drink.
“It╒s on me.” He shakes his hand at me, turns, and walks away.
“Cool, thanks,” I shout to his back. “How about another glass of water for my friend.” He returns with a pint glass full of ice and water. He sits it on the bar in front of her and raises an eyebrow at me. After he turns his back, and before I can say anything else, she picks up my whiskey and pours it into her glass. She turns and grins at me. “HEY,” I say; I╒ve been had.
“Are you married?” She asks and drinks from her glass.
Her face turns red and she leans too far back again. I grab her shoulders, and her porcelain legs fly up from under her blue sundress. She laughs and grabs hold of my neck. “Kiss me.” She pulls my face to her puckered lips. Caught off guard, I can’t stop our collision. I place my hands on her bare thigh. She is soft and warm, and I kiss her top lip. I’m fast enough not to fall into her gapping maw. She exhales and smiles.
Not very romantic, I think to myself. Genie always told me to be careful in a situation like this one. 1, she could be under age. 2, she is too drunk to be responsible or give consent, so you can’t predict a happy ending. 3, she could be a thief. She could be a quick hand-in-pocket or worse, a thief of hearts looking for sugar daddy or big-easy payout. It’s not worth the risk not to mention the biologicals. “If you’re both not drunk over the same time with a heart╒s intent, it’s not worth hang-town.”
I take a $20 out of my wallet, and look over at Jules. My head is swimming, but I could use another beer to sip. She reaches over and grabs it out of my hands. Now who’s gaping maw is silent as I stare, but do nothing.
“Thanks. I real, really need cab money.” She says and puts it in a large the wallet in her purse without any drunk-reeling effort; and she again sips from her glass before my mouth can close.
I shrug it off.
Downing half the pint of ice water and whisky, she burps, “what’s your name?”
“What? I, I don’t understand?” She shakes her head.
“My name is Seven, like the number.” I reiterate.
“Oh,” she stares at me. I see it in her eyes that she thinks I’m bull-shitting her. “Don’t make fun of me,╙ she says.
“I’m not. My parents were mathematicians.”
“That sucks. I’d never name a kid a number. It’s, it╒s cold, cruel.” She stairs at me as her brow tightens.
“Suzy.” She says, “do you want to watch me masturbate?”
I don’t know how to respond. True, it’s been a while, but all I can think of is Genie’s advice. Genie was extremely superstitious and believed in, even ascribed to run-ins with demons, voodoo-mal or evil-spirit-possessions late at night in SF bars. Not killers-they’re extremely rare, but cold drunk manipulator-trolls who get off on putting or bringing you down to their level of hell. The longer they can keep you there, the more powerful they become in your life.
She turns around on her stool and looks over everyone on the bottom floor of Pomp’s. Three male tourists from upstairs pass us on their way out. One holds a pack of clove cigarettes. She stumbles off of her stool and follows them out. Jules inspects my glass and hers. He takes hers and asks me if I want another. I smile back, “sure, one for the night.” He bows his head forward and returns with a fresh shot glass.
“Can I buy you one,” I ask him as he sets my glass down.
“Yes, thanks,” he puts another glass on the bar and fills them both to the rim. We lift our glasses, clink them together, and tip both up.
I hand him a twenty, and as he moves to the cash register, I sort out the tip for the evening. I leave a fresh $20 under 3 ragged Washington’s, under the pint glass, next to the inside edge of the bar. I’ve lost count, but this should cover plus a tip. Jules returns and hands me the change. I shove it into my front jeans pocket and stand up to leave.
“Thanks.” We both say it at the same time, nod in each other’s direction, We shake hands across the bar.
Suzy stands in the alley outside the bar, and talks to the three men she followed out. She exhales one of their cloves. I can smell it as I walk by them. I smile and tip my head. The four look at me for a moment and go back to their conversations.
As I walk up Kerouac Ally to Chinatown I hear Suzy’s voice, “now, I’m really mad.”