The Bartender Chivvied Me

  • by Kentdidn’t buy his fish story
  • I still get goose bumps
  • America? No, Australia.
  • where is your finger?
  • called that “popping grapes”

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The bartender chivvied me through the narrow spaces of the kitchen toward the rear exit. My mind was still rejecting the image of my father on the zeppelin ramp, and apparently I was muttering about it under my breath.

The bartender looked me in the eye and said, “He pulled a pretty good disappearing act, and even though as a Pink I was clued in about such things and didn’t buy his fish story, I still get goose bumps remembering when I first heard about his ‘death’ on the news.”

I lapsed into sullen silence and let myself be loaded onto a freight elevator. I don’t have a name for how the news made me feel, but it certainly isn’t ‘goose bumps.’

Once we were alone I said, “You honestly think the whole scandal, the humiliation, was preferable over being president of America?”

America? No, Australia.

“Um, no.” I laughed. What else was there to do? The elevator remained still and silent even though it had been closed for many seconds. “Hey, where is your finger? Shouldn’t it be pressing a button to make this thing move?”

Now the bartender laughed. “That’s not how this elevator works.” She pulled out her flask and a lighter. I dove into the far corner and rolled up in a ball as she spewed flames on a black glass panel.

When the roaring noise and indoor-sunburn heat abated, I unrolled and stood up. The elevator started rising. I wanted to ask my companion’s name, but she had much to say. She explained, for instance, how she learned to operate this elevator, and that in the Guild they called that “popping grapes” but she wasn’t yet of high enough level to be told why.

The elevator stopped, and the doors opened.

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