Written from thoughts on a sad obituary I read the other day.
All names and places changed to protect the inebriated.
Empty of thought and low of pocket, Tweed threw one Army-booted foot in front of the other and carried himself to his afternoon. His afternoon (except Sunday, when they were closed) was named The Red Rooster. Low ceilings with smoke hanging like Chinese lanterns in a place that held two pool tables, three pinball machines, a shuffleboard table, four red tables for sitting with four chairs apiece (none matching), and a bar that he knew as well as he knew anything in this life or would ever know about the next one.
Tweed used to drive his pickup to this bar every day until the local constibulatory establishment decided that nine DWIs was about as many as any citizen should be allowed. Double Digit DWIs would not look good when the MADD crowd began looking into the county court records in that lone outpost of good ol' boyhood. So now he'd walk back and forth each day to his reverie. Well, he'd walk there and stumble back, to be honest.
The schedule had changed a bit over the years. What seemed like not so long ago, he would arrive at mid-afternoon and come home when they threw him out an hour after closing time. These days he would show up when they opened at noon and would usually wind up back home in bed before the sun went down. That damn sun. It used to spawn less guilt when he only saw that son of a bitch on his way there. Nowadays, he was seeing it twice, and that bastard was so bright after coming out of the darkest bar in Oklahoma, it would put an ice pick in your cornea.
Tweed would start with le premier brewsky du jour by ordering a Budweiser long neck. He'd sit at that memorized bar and shoot the shit with Candy (the leatherized bartendress) until the other regulars arrived. It seemed more seemly when he'd walk in with the room already hopping, but now it was his show to start. He was the opening act.
As with any insular environment, the stories would usually wind up being about something that someone did in the bar or outside in the parking lot at one time or another. "Remember the time that Jonas laid his dick on that college girl's shoulder and she turned around and said, 'It looks like a dick, only smaller'?" The history of the room would be told and retold and would warp and weave until the stories were about the stories and not about the things that happened to engender the stories. It was better that way. They could be funnier each time they were told, and the participants who were still in the room could be absolved of any wrongdoing. All the malicious intent could be laid on the dead or the vanished.
Tweed would work his way to the pool tables for a handful of games of 8-ball around beer number six. Then he'd start the whisky. It was like a transformation worthy of the Ancients to see him move from "Tweed - The beer drinker" to "Tweed - The consumer of brown wine." This is when the moods would settle in. If it was a good day, he'd move on to the pinball machines and that would slow the drinking. This would mean that he'd come back tomorrow full of piss and vinegar, ready to open the show with merriment and a hopeful eraser for the blight that was on every forehead in that room, every stinking day. But, if it was a bad day, (and the bad days were becoming more frequent; they were up to once a week now) there'd be an ass whoopin' or a cuss fight, at least, and he'd make that walk home with that ice pick in his eye and enough remorse to fuel a suicide.
Tweed McKinnie. Born in 1949, died Sunday, July 22, 2001. No family but lots of friends. Memorial service at The Red Rooster, Highway 9, Saturday, July 28, from 6 PM 'til closing time.