This time of year my mind starts to focus on our little town’s celebration – Railroad Day. This year more so than others mainly because of preparations for The Gunfight – Redux, especially if the rumors pan out about me appearing on a local TV morning show as Limp Along Larry, the soon to be notorious bad guy.
Despite that excitement, another story has been on my mind lately, and it involves my first Railroad Day as the proprietor of our humble little bar. The picture to the left has nothing to do with this story, it’s the only good picture I have of that day. Anyway, when you hear this story you may agree that now-a-days this sort of thing can only happen in rural Montana.
The story begins long after the last reveler went home and many were sleeping off a drunk. For me, it is told best through the eyes of the bar’s security camera. In retrospect, I regret not saving a copy, because it would have become a keep-shake.
Around Nine A.M. the morning after Railroad day, a person tries the front door and his expression is startled when it swings open. You see, the proprietor, me, in a fit of exhaustion forgot to lock up. The person was Kermit, a long-time regular, a self proclaimed mountain man and a person born after his time. He often said he would have fit in better in the nineteenth century. As far as anybody knew, what Kermit enjoyed most was cooking at hunting camp.
Without blinking, the camera watches Kermit turn towards his friends, yell something and wave for them to come on in. Moments later, a single file of his cadres stumbles through the door. Our ring leader walks behind the bar, opens the cooler and serves up the beers.
Over the hours, empties are lined up across the bar top until two hours later, the door opens again and it is the stunned form of the daytime bartender. Kermit jumps up, greets her and motions to the empties on the bar and proceeds to pay her for the consumed libations. Only in our town!
It is a heart-warming story, but what makes it more special is that Kermit passed away six months later. He had a bad-ticker that gave way in his sleep. He was forty-nine.
The following spring, on what would have been his fiftieth birthday, we commemorated the event by compelling everybody who came into the bar that day to enjoy a Miller High Life in his honor, of course the empties were lined up across the bar.
You may be saying to yourself the name sounds familiar. It is dear reader and not because of the famous frog. If you have read the post Haunted Town, you will recall we named the bar’s ghost Kermit, mainly because it’s a trickster, much like the person I knew for an all to brief time. In that time he gave us the gift of many fond memories and a headache or two with repeated Swen and Ollie jokes. For more of Kermit I also refer you to The Shithouse Poet Returns, he planted the following beauty on the Men’s room wall:
“It is as long as me arm
and thick as me wrist
with a head as big as me fist
and it just longs to be kissed”
Kermit, wherever you are my friend, don’t forget to stir the beans!