The Drinking Room (Part II)

(An Account out of Donkeyland – continued from Part One)

Part Two of Two

Mike turned about, spat rudely into th  EarnWithSocial.  e basket, some blood, his gums were bleeding, “He knocked out a tooth and loosened up a few, but I gave him a good fight.”

“What do you mean,” asked Evens.

“Well, he’s a pro I mean, ask anyone, I put up a damn good fight. Am I right Don?”

Don the neighborhood drunk, shook his head up and down, then said, “Anyone know who my wife is poking?”

Evens knew, Sandy St. Clair, Don’s Sandy, he knew who she was screwing; the St. Clair girls, all five of them, were of Native American origin, it seemed after his father-in-law passed on, he picked up his drinking, going like the devil after it. He drank plundered the home savings ran headlong into debt. It was no use making him take the pledge to halt his drinking, he was sure to break it as soon as his head stopped spinning.

By fighting with his wife into the presence of his sister and whoever else was around, and not working, one evening she slipped into her sister’s house-off Sycamore and Jackson Streets, and there she’d stay for awhile.

After that they lived apart, Don moving back in with his mother. And so he was obliged to work odd jobs in the neighborhood, or at a day-labor outfit, most of the time he’d simply just visit friends, sit on their porch, off Jackson Street, watch the cars go by with other drunks; Sharon his wife, became very chummy with her sisters, and the bar life without him.

Don had the reputation of being a hard jealous case. He found using soldiers’ obscenities normal, and if not passed out in the afternoons, he’d drink himself sober and close the corner bars. Sharon’s sister Sandy, moved in with Sharon, they both moved up the street a ways, not far, got an apartment together next door to Bram’s bar, Sandy the youngest of the five sisters, had eyes for every Tom, Dick and Harry, and especially for Evens’ brother, Gunner. A perverse Madonna; this was not to Don’s liking, now he had to play sheriff, as Sandy was very lively, and had the run of the men, and Sharon now was available-although none of the young men meant business, this situation went on for a longtime.

That when Sharon knew that she was being watched-Sandy and those in that apartment building not saying a word to Don when he came around, yet that in itself, that so called persistent silence could not be over, and was overlooked by those in the building, shunned is a better word, nor after awhile, misunderstood. Who was she seeing?

At last when she judged it to be the right moment, John intervened; now she had to deal with moral problems, but at this point she had made up her mind, and that is when the affair started. It was for the most part-figuratively speaking-a promising heat for the winter cold, if not a fresh breeze blowing threw the window curtains.

Sandy was not afraid revealing her purpose by her self-contained demeanor. A few times Evens would stop over to see how they were doing, usually having breakfast, and the breakfast table usually covered with last nights steaks and eggs and bottles of beer and wine; one or two fellows just waking up in arm-chairs. It was awkward, and usually the phone kept ringing, and this entire flooded Evens’ mind as Don stood by, perhaps he was thinking: there must be reparation made in such cases. It is all very well for the man who is screwing the other man’s wife, but not for the man who gets blamed for it, and isn’t doing it-not having that moment of pleasure, but being convicted for it. John had thought once confronted by Don, he had patched up the affair by saying Chick Evens was poking her-no honor among lustful young men.

In any case, Evens knew Don was fishing, but he didn’t say anything, not yet anyhow, it would come out at Bram’s bar-where per near a fight would take place over that issue, the following weekend of December 1, and the truth would come out, for now it was postponed.

“Not much of a story between Don Quinn and me,” said Mike Gulf. I see you don’t have much beer left; I got to go, Don and me we’ll take a little nipper of that whiskey though.” Oh, the decisive expression on Don’s face thought Evens, florid smile on his face, satisfied for the moment. Don’s hands were unsteady that he had been obliged to fold them behind his back. Chick Evens was sure the affair would be talked about at the bar, all would be certain to hear of it.

The phone rang, and Nancy picked it up, it was for Evens, Sandy, his Sandy at Born’s Bar, she was calling to see when he was coming to pick her up: he felt his heart leap, warmly in his throat, as he got up to answer phone, then sat back down, he was excited, his imagination anyhow, it is more the anticipation of what might take place later on, then the actual act, the psychological effect, the problem was, once he got drunk, nothing would work properly anyhow, so he called out in a rasping voice: “Tell her I’m playing cards, I’ll try to call her at the bar later!”

((Knowing she’d go to his apartment and meet him there later, if she cared to–and got bored at the bar, and usually she’d be ready for cardinal sins, even if Evens was too drunk to perform; that is to say, she had his key.)(As years passed she danced in a half-dozen night clubs throughout the Twin City’s of St. Paul, and Minneapolis.))

“Fine,” said Mike Gulf, “that’s the latest. Thrusting it into your hands, don’t go making a lot of noise about it, if you know what I mean,” he started walking rapidly towards the door, “well thanks for the drinks,” he yelled back.” Don followed him waving as he left the kitchen archway, thinking it was always a great affair at Jerry’s place, perhaps wanting to stay, because the liquor was flowing freely. But never once did it seem to occur to anyone to ask him to stay, and Mike had told his hearers they were just there for a moment-yet there was no extravagant purpose or place to go to, not really-if he might use the metaphor, he might have said: what people and places do we have to go to, we don’t have any spiritual account, to account to. I suppose we all have at times give way to our temptations, our failings, and he wanted to stay were the booze was flowing freely-this is what his mind was thinking, his body was craving, but he followed his brother nonetheless, but to admit the truth, the literal truth, there were in his mind’s eye, the voice of his mind: a few discrepancies, to be frank, and say like a drunk would say, if he could say what he was thinking that is: ‘Look here dummy, this doesn’t take any divine understanding, I will sit right here, right now, until I fall off the stool, because these are my friends, and they got lots and lots of booze,’ but Mike could be a hard taskmaster, and perhaps would be insulted, and look bad in front of his friends, because Don’s friends were Mike’s friends, and Mike had pride, and Don didn’t.

And then they both left, Don and Mike, as one could hear all the gossiping and laughing and fussing and poking fun at each other, and eating that popcorn and smelling that chili and smoking one cigarette after another in that twelve by twelve foot kitchen, with a side corner pantry.

You could hear from the television in the other room, a special on the death of President Kennedy, people saying where they were and what they were doing at the time they heard of his death on the radio and television and so on…

“Fine jolly fellow,” said Bill, “Better than Johnson.”

“That was a man,” said Ace.

“And tell me Jerry, you think he was a good President?” Jim said to Jerry, “that is to say, what’s your opinion?” wanting for particulars.

“They’re all good men when they’re running for president, once in the office, they become unworthy of the title, or position, the name they carry and the promise they give to the nation: he was sleeping with the movie star I hear, and he screwed up that invasion in Cuba, and he started the war in Vietnam, what makes him so good…to be worthy of our worshiping him?”

“Perhaps you’re right,” said Jim. “We forget there are two sides to his character.”

They all took a drink again, one following another’s example.

“Ah!…he was a splendid man,” said Evens, “I heard him once on television, he said something like, ‘Don’t ask what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country’ I kind of felt that’s how you get out of the pit, you know, the one we all fall into…the-“

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