The Martini Effect – Chapter 14 (A Draft of Drift and Drifting)
(We rejoin our Dharma Drunk heroes roving the streets from Manhattan to Brooklyn, passing from winter to spring to summer, gently falling from afternoon to evening, hoping and praying for a place called inebriated hope at the end of their trail.)
Marylou and I drift upon the Drift along the Brooklyn Queens Expressway.
“Someplace new, my friend,” Marylou says. “Someplace new.”
The BQE crawls with rush hour traffic next to us. We start to feel the day’s heat moving up off the sidewalk as the day begins to curl into night, the heat moving back into the sky as if the radiant energy is making its way back to the sun for the evening.
We step into the air-conditioned bar.
“It’s a ski-lodge as directed by David Lynch,” Marylou says as we sit at the bar and order Bulleit Bourbon neat.
The taxidermy fox on the wall watches us in the dark.
What secrets do you have?
What have you seen in this place? The wealth of slurred humanity that have passed through this bar. The good, bad, and ugly that have drifted through the Drift.
The agony and ecstasy that you’ve seen from your perch on the wall.
Are you real?
Did you live and breathe and hunt and forage in a New England forest, crying out in the middle of the night while claiming your territory, screaming that high-pitched mating call in your shrill register? Did you find yourself ensnared savagely in a trap and immortalized with sawdust in some taxidermist’s workshop? Did you anticipate spending the rest of eternity decoratively mounted on the wall of a themed Brooklyn dive bar somewhere in Greenpoint?
Or are you an urban facsimile? An affectation? Are you a plastic, haunted doll built in a factory somewhere across the Hudson?
“He’s spying on us,” Marylou says as she looks up at the fox. “He’s culling data from us and sending it back to the Mother Fox.”
“What do you think he has on us?” I ask Marylou.
“We’re lost,” Marylou says. “But we pay cash, so we’re not so easily tracked.”
“We tracked the fox for so long,” Marylou continues, “the fox now tracks us.” She takes another swig of her bourbon. “So we pay cash. The fox can’t track us if we pay cash.”
“What do we do when we run out of cash?” I ask Marylou.
“We play spoons on a street corner for more cash,” Marylou says.
“Do you play spoons,” I ask her.
“Of course,” she says.
“Where did you learn to play spoons?” I ask.
“The kitchen,” she says.
“Of course,” I reply.
“That’s where we kept the spoons.”
“We pay cash until we have no more. Then we play spoons for more cash. Then we pay cash again until we have no more. We only pay cash. Otherwise, the fox is tracking us and the jukebox in the corner is listening to us.”
“And the pinball machine is playing us?”
“And the television? What about the television?”
Marylou takes another slug of her bourbon. “The television is between channels, so the television doesn’t know what to do anymore. The television finds itself caught between the fox and the jukebox and the pinball machine. The television can’t watch anything anymore. Not since it fell in between channels.”
Marylou and I finish our bourbons and order a couple of Montauk ales.
“Language is strange,” Marylou says. “You can ‘drift’ slowly down a stream and ski quickly down a ‘drift.’ You can ‘drift’ at a snail’s pace through a lake. But a snow ‘drift’ can happen in a flash.”
“You can catch someone’s ‘drift,’” I say.
“Like you ‘catch’ a fox,” Marylou says.
“Like the fox that’s tracking us,” I say.
“Language is strange,” Marylou says as she sips her Montauk. “It’s amazing anyone says anything to anybody that makes any sense anyway.”
The mountain scape glows behind the bar.
I ask the bartender where the scene is.
He doesn’t know.
And I suddenly want to find that place and see that view in living, breathing color. A place so far away.
Terrain so alien to the valley outside flanked by the BQE.
That mountain glowing behind the bar was under construction long before this bar was here.
Long before this city was here.
Long before this country was here.
Wonder if it will be there after all that is gone.
We can climb the mountain.
Can we beat the mountain?
We can trap the mountain’s spirit the same way we caught the fox on the wall and set it in stained glass forever and ever.
“The long road ahead,” Marylou says. “Take us away. Take us to another place.”
We pay our tab in cash so the fox can’t track us and drift away from the Drift.
The heat still rises off the Brooklyn sidewalk.
“Where to?” I ask Marylou.
“Down the long road ahead. To another place.”
And she heads down the street toward Fidelity Triangle.
And I follow.
Because I always follow Marylou.
(To be continued…)