The Laurel-Crowned Princess, Chapter 14-'A Man Walks Into A Bar....'
When I returned to the desert, I was dressed in cowboy boots, blue jeans, a tan western shirt, a black leather vest, a brown cowboy hat, and Ray-Bans.
In my holster I had guns at my side that shot pure rays of light.
I saw a set up that looked like a one street town out of the wild west. There was a corner bank that seemed to be asking to get robbed by Jesse James, and either probably had been at one time, or was being robbed at that very moment in time.
And of course there were the usual boarding rooms, the general store, the barber shop, the post office, city hall and the sheriff's office-complete with jail-where the mean boys were locked up.
All this in addition to all the other establishments that nobody ever knows why they're there, but they are there so you have enough buildings to make a town on both sides of the street.
And of course, all this bordered in sand.
The sheriff didn't seemed to be open for business at this time of day, curiously enough.
In the middle of town, there she was, perched high up on the pedestal.
"I'll come to take you down soon, Princess," I said to myself.
I found the local saloon with the double doors, horses and hogs parked outside. It contained the typical seedy characters in town.
A recently deceased man was being carried out as I walked in.
Unsure of the proper protocol in such instances, I let 'him' and his friends go out first, seemed like the right thing to do.
Inside the saloon, it wasn't quite 'the smell of wine and cheap perfume...', it was more like the smell of whiskey and bourbon and cheap cigars.
It definitely smelled like trouble.
Occasional flying beer bottles, the sound of gunshots and breaking glass could be heard....Miscellaneous pieces of bar room furniture were semi-regulary being thrown about.
I walked up to the bar and sat myself down on one of the stools.
The bartender was cleaning up broken glass and what not.
"What'll you have, stranger," asked the bartender, eyeing me suspiciously.
"I'm not here to cause any trouble pard'ner," I said as a bullet ricocheted just past my head. "The name's Hamby, Brian Hamby, and I'll have an orange juice."
"Orange juice? What kind of man drinks orange juice? There's a general store across the street if you want orange juice."
Some men down the bar laughed and looked at me, then went on about their business.
"I'm not a drinking man, and I quit caffeine and processed sugar years ago. Tried rum and coke once to see what the big deal was, tasted like coke with cough syrup. If you need me to prove my manliness, I'll be happy to do it, but I wouldn't let my refusal of strong drink influence your decision."
Breaking glass and a groan was heard from the back of the saloon.
"Besides, I saw those hogs out there, and I'll be happy to show you my Harley Davidson boots if that would suffice."
"Now mister, I don't know where you're from, but nobody here knows too much about Harleys and motorcycles, primarily because the internal combustion engine has not been invented yet. Those 'hogs' you saw outside really are hogs, that hog rancher over there is running them to Wyoming. I'll excuse the ignorance since you are mainly dealing in print and didn't realize what was meant by the use of the term 'hogs'. Except I think 'hog' in that sense will generally come to be spelled h-a-w-g."
"Oh," I said sheepishly, but not too much. You don't want to appear too sheepish in such a place as this, I thought to myself as I dodged a wooden chair. It crashed into the bar and neither the bar nor the chair broke apart.
I looked at the hog rancher and he pulled his cowboy hat down a bit, as if to say 'you're on your own."
"Pertaining to your prior experience with rum and coke, I suspect that you probably never had a proper rum and coke," the bartender added to the mix as he caught an errant flying shot glass headed straight for his stock of vice.
"As far as the rum and coke goes, I suspect you're probably right, and I'm sure your recipe would not disappoint me. At any rate, that's not what I want. I want an orange juice, and seein' how you've made me aware that there's a grocery store across that there street, now I've got my mind set on a freshly-squeezed orange juice, rather than that Sunny Delight you got back there."
"In addition, I'd be happy to remind you that I'm writing this here story."
"Hmph! At first he refuses strong drink, then he says he's a writer," the bartender observed, rather loudly. "Now, he's insinuatin' I'm-a gonna go across the the street to get some oranges to squeeze him some juice."
"Well I got two important things to tell you, Brian Hamby, and I advise you listen closely, boy."
"First of all, you ain't gettin' any kind of orange juice under my watch, squeezed, or to the otherwise."
"Secondly, and this is for your own protection. Turn those Harley-Davidson boots of yours towards the door, turn the rest of you along with it so that you do a 180 degree half turn, and get out of here and out of town before you get yourself hurt."
"I thank you kindly for your concern. But I can tell you this, grandpa, I asked for orange juice. I know you got it, and you coulda given it to me and I'da been halfway done with my business in this here town. You can be sure that I'll have your boss know about the kind of customer service you provide around here," as I turned to fill out a comment card. "You got a pen?"
He begrudgingly produced a pen and I proceeded to give low and negative marks to the questions asked, particularly those regarding 'prompt service', 'were you greeted with a smile?', and 'were the bathrooms clean, well-stocked and fresh-smelling?'
I asked the bartender what the date and time was, but he said eternity knows not time, rather knowledgeably and authoritatively.
Intuitively turning around and catching an acceptable certified organic valencia orange that was aimed toward the center of the back of my head, I turned back around and presented the fruit to the bartender, who seemed surprised by my reflexes, and by the fact that the fruit was not only labeled, but labeled as 'organic'.
Raising my voice a bit and pointing the pen at him, which he promtply took, I continued, "Now you need to understand yourself that I don't intend to leave at all until I A,-get my orange juice, which is clearly to be from said general store and squeezed with your own labor and B,-take care of my business with the short man in town. We can do it your way, or my way. I like to do things simple, and this looks like a pretty nice-or at least a fair to middlin' establishment and I aim to leave it the way I found it, under my own power, thank you very much."
As soon as I said 'short', it got reeeeaaaallll quiet like it does before something crazy is about to break out in a wild, western town saloon.
"Nobody calls the Sheriff short in my own town," said a voice that sounded as unto a bad Danny Devito impression.
I tried to recall a Kenny Rogers song so that I might retrieve a clue on how to meander my way out of this here situation I was in without gettin' my clothes dirty.
All I could think of was '...Sometimes you have to fight when you're a man'.
The Thompson Twins 'Hold Me Now'came to mind-but all of the available working s were hitherto occupied and continued to remained occupied for the time bein'....
Go To Chapter 15