This post could very easily be an addition to The Barroom Chronicles, except that this is a fictional story, even though the Humming
Bartender may or may not be inspired by someone who is destined to receive his own episode of the nonfiction series. The voice is James Morrison, the narrator of Cemetery Street. Montana Rural is the continuation of his story. Enjoy this sneak preview of my work in progress, Montana Rural.
By the time we reached the bed and breakfast all I wanted was sleep, but my father insisted on buying me a beer. The three of us trudged down the street and slipped inside the semi-crowded bar. We plopped ourselves around a small table and within moments we were accosted by a humming bartender with an alien tattooed on his neck. “Hmmmm… Welcohmmmm to Boyd and Chadwick’s, where the beer’s warm and glasses are dirty, tonight’s special is if you don’t like it you can shut the fuck up! Hmmmm… What can I get you? Hmmmm?” he asked.
Diane and my father looked at each other and I tried not to laugh. I had firsthand knowledge of Reginald’s antics and until I noticed him when we walked in I never thought of subjecting my guests to his whims. When we hesitated, he said in a fairly good English accent: “Come on now mate, hurry the fuck up, I ‘ave other inmates to attend to.”
Dad and I ordered two beers and Diane ordered a Cosmopolitan.
“Hmmmm, I’ll be right back… Hmmm,” he hummed and shuffled away.
“That was rude,” she commented and then added: “He’s kind of a strange bird.”
“You can’t imagine,” I told her. “He’s name’s Reginald and he’s a local legend. People come from miles around.” What had me interested was what kind of drink he would whip up for Diane. I was fairly certain he had never made a Cosmopolitan before and he wouldn’t waste his time looking it up; he was known for throwing concoctions together and demanding that you finish it.
A few minutes later he returned with our round. “Hmmmm Two Beers and a Cosmo – politan.” He somehow managed to switch accents from gay to English between syllables.
Diane looked from her drink, which almost glowed neon green, back to the bartender. “Ummm, this isn’t a Cosmopolitan.”
“Hmmmm… What do you mean? It’s good enough to be on the cover of any magazine. If you don’t like it, take it to the compliant department.” He pointed to the front door where a Compliant Department sign hung over the doorway. “Now if you’ll be kind enough to pay me eight dollars I won’t complain. Hmmmm”
My father handed him a ten and told him to keep the change.
“Hmmmm… Blessed plenty,” Reginald said in a southern accent before humming and shuffling off.
“Wow,” Diane said watching Reginald again switch gears attending to someone else.
“The best part is that he believes he was abducted,” I said.
“By?” My father asked.
“Wow,” Diane repeated before turning her attention to her cocktail. “I’m afraid to drink it.”
“And you thought there wasn’t any culture in the sticks. You wouldn’t find someone like that in a city,” I said.
The both of us watched as Diane sipped her drink. “It’s not bad.” She couldn’t contain her fascination with the bartender as he bounced about. It wasn’t long before he came back to the table to check on us: “Hmmmm… ’ow’s your drink m’lady?”
“Good, what’s in it?” Diane asked.
“You like it? Hmmmm.”
“That’s good, because it’s Alien Piss with a pinch of Spanish Fly… Someone will be busy tonight. Now if you’ll excuse me… Hmmm” He clapped twice, pirouetted one-hundred eighty degrees and shuffled off.
“He’s unreal,” Diane said half-amused, half-insulted.
When we turned in for the night, I couldn’t help burry my head under the pillows. Just in case Reginald wasn’t lying and he did spike her drink, I wasn’t sure how thick the walls were and I didn’t want to hear the results.