Tag Archives: Jesus

The Jesus Bum The Barroom Chronicles… Episode 16

imagesCAOGENV6The door swung open, nobody paid any  attention. All eyes were glued to the television and the tenth rerun of A Christmas Story.  It was Christmas night and the bar was crowded enough to put a smile on my face. Until that night, I had never worked the holiday, and being my first year at the helm, I penciled my name on the work schedule. I was pleasantly surprised both at the amount of business and the relaxed mood. I didn’t know what to expect, whatever I was expecting wasn’t the softball of a night I was enjoying. Heck, I was so naïve about Montana culture, that three years after moving here, I thought all bars were closed like in my home town. A more cynical explanation was given that by 4:00 PM Christmas afternoon most people were sick of their families and needed an escape.

Cold air swooshed through the open door and accompanied him as he walked towards the bar. His hair was wild and dirty, his face haggard and rife with stubble. Above worn boots were ragged jeans, a ripped flannel and a down vest; he wore nothing else to combat the cold winter air. In his hand was a paper bag, which he set on the bar with a thump.

Could this be The Jesus Bum?
Could this be The Jesus Bum?

“What can I get ya?” I asked.

“Do you know a Blankety Blank?”

“Nope, never heard of her,” I answered.

Cold air radiated from his frown. “How ’bout you?” he asked the patrons closest to him.

“Nope,”  was the resounding answer.

The air seemed to escape his lungs. His head suddenly seemed too heavy for his neck. When he looked back up, sadness swam across the deep pools that were his eyes. “I rode the bus to Missoula, and I walked the rest of the way. I wanted to give her this, but I dropped it and busted it.”  He slid a wolf figurine from the bag. It was a dusty ceramic that looked like it hunted the back shelves of Goodwill, quietly earning a living preying on ceramic dear and elk, until snatched from its den and dropped on some roadside. The damage wasn’t horrible, a front leg had been amputated, but the bum managed to save the dismembered leg.

A crowd started to gather.

“Do you got anything to fix it?” he asked. His voice was quiet, but his gaze shouted. His eyes pierced my recently developing bullshit detector and I had the feeling this wasn’t some ordinary run-of-the-mill drifter.

il_fullxfull.244824797“Nope,” I said before turning to the crowd. “Anyone got any epoxy at home? Any glue?”

Most either ignored me or rumbled no. Someone said yeah, let me run home and check. While we waited the bum asked, “Got a beer? Don’t got no money, but I could use one.”

On a normal night, or if I didn’t have that feeling, I would have been on the verge of saying something like I’m not a soup kitchen for drifters, but I didn’t and instead I quietly poured him a pint of draft. Maybe it was simply Christmas spirit.

Others around him again asked the lady’s name.  He repeated it, everybody shrugged. He gave the address, it was a legitimate address in town.  Time passed, people returned to their crowd or watching the movie. The bum sat quietly, sipping his beer and watching those around him. From behind a cloak of ramshackle desperation a calmness emerged. It bathed him, it gave him presence;  a serene disposition. He waited patiently speaking very little until the door opened again and our local hero walked in with epoxy.  The crowd again gathered and a committee of ceramic veterinarians went about reattaching the wolf’s amputated leg. The bum simply watched.

When the operation was finished he moved for the wolf.

“Whoa, it’s gotta set,”  the lead veterinarian said.

“It’s gettin’ late, she’s probably in bed already,” the Bum said, his calmness slipping a tad.

“Have another beer,” I said. He didn’t refuse.  As he drank he didn’t have much to say. It was obvious he didn’t relish being the center of attention. People flittered away from him and went

The Bar Nazi and the Jesus Bum enjoying the moment
The Bar Nazi and the Jesus Bum enjoying the moment

about doing their things.  Soon he was just another loner sitting at the edge of the bar.  At some point while doing what I do, he slipped out the door unnoticed. Only his empty mug sat at the end of the bar.

“That wasn’t an ordinary drifter,” I said.

“Phffft. Don’t count on it,” one person said.

“You got a lot to learn,” another commented.

“Smelled horrible,” another complained.

And so on and on the comments reigned.  Maybe it was my idealism,  for I hadn’t yet earned my doctorate  in cynicism; I had yet been exposed to the general wretchedness of humankind. That night, I felt like there was something more than met the eye.  The simple events of that Christmas night still give me hope in humankind. Every Christmas since, I’ve wondered about the Jesus Bum and thank him for the lesson.

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Is That What I Think It Is? The Barroom Chronicles… Episode 10

The Grumpy Easter Bunny

When the view starts seeming normal, you may have been in the asylum too long. If you haven’t been to our asylum but enjoy the shenanigans from afar, you may have already begun to accept them for not too far out of the ordinary. If you’re new here…  :laughs:  “Good luck!”  You see fair reader, a grown man adorned with bunny ears and carrying a cross is par for the course.

Bin Laden hanging out before his date with Seal Team Six.

But, we’re not going to talk about said Easter Bunny. This week it’s all about the cross, not to mention our penchant for crucifying people in effigy. A heart-felt thanks goes out to our resident grump for the cross, for it has become one of our favorite conversation pieces, along with the blue balls, the buffalo, the parking meter and the palm tree.

It’s been said that timing is everything, and the timing of the cross’s arrival thrust it into immediate use.  As the above picture proves, in the days prior to Bin Laden’s date with Seal Team Six, he was spotted hanging out in our fair bar.

A prophet appears during 2011’s Rapture

A few weeks later, during 2011’s infamous rapture, it was also put to use when a prophet from God mysteriously materialized to enjoy a beer and tell our aging biker that his bike is indeed green.

But behold, the cross had yet to find its niche, that would come in the following months, when the town was introduced to a one-legged wonder we dubbed Peg-leg.   You must understand when you pedal your way up a sidewalk, stop in front of a packed bar and chew an apple while staring down a gaggle of people on the deck and your prosthetic leg falls off, you’re destined to become an instant legend.  For more on the legend of Peg-leg click here and here.  The links will take you to previous posts about the one-legged wonder. I’ve written about this gem twice…  It is required reading for any true fan.

The Bar Nazi admits the cross makes him nervous

Anyway, after Peg-leg rode the rail out of town, the idea to crucify Hitler arose one afternoon while a couple of us watched The Pianist.  Someone said they had a Hitler doll at home. I found this a little strange, but this is our town.  He returned with a Charlie Chaplin doll.  Hey, Chaplin did play Hitler in The Great Dictator, so it’s all good. Without a second thought, we taped the doll to the cross.

A reminder to potential disruptive customers.

When the Humming Bartender came in for his shift (more on him in a later post) little did I know an icon would be born.  That night he broke a leg of the poor doll and glued a peanut – which he painted red to simulate a bloody stump – into the void. I wish I had a dollar every time someone asked “What’s up with the cross?”  I know, I know, the expression is a nickle, but I have a reputation to uphold.

Aw, yes, I think you’re starting to agree that our asylum’s, errr, our establishment’s collective  twisted mind is a terrible thing to waste.  Don’t you agree, now that you’ve been here a while, it really does seem quite normal.

What’s that?  You want to know what the bumper stickers atop the cross read?

Stupidity Kills – just not fast enough, and my personal favorite, the one that answers that age old question: “What would Jesus do?”

Jesus would slap the shit out of you!

Yes, my world is fertile ground for an author. With this kind of inspiration, I better have interesting characters, or I’ll risk the reader slapping the shit out of me.