I am not what I was.
Before my head on car crash on the Grand Central.
I have not yet regained my strength.
Though my "numbers" seem to be going in the right direction--the threat of Hepatitis has diminished--I am still suffering from atrial fibrillation, which leaves me dizzy and short of breath. Of all the things you don't want to be short of, breath is about number one on the list.
I am too weak still to even walk Whiskey around the block, much less head uptown to the Tempus Fugit, a dark former speakeasy that's hidden in an old warehouse building on east 91st Street. I miss the place, however. Miss the companionship of the bartender--a guy who seems to have some answers, and I miss the sweet nectar of the brew they serve, Pike's Ale (the ALE that won for YALE.)
So, I was pleased last night at 2:17 in the morning when my iPhone began vibrating. It could be just one person at that hour, the bartender of the Tempus Fugit.
"I trust you will soon be darkening our door," he began with no introduction.
"How did you know I am sick?" I stammered.
"A good bartender is like a good wife or a good friend. We know things without being told. I am glad your counts are heading back down and others are heading back up."
"I am fighting my natural inclination to rush things. To rush back to work. To once again be the bulwark."
I could see him in my mind's eye, cradling the phone between his cauliflower ear and his well-muscled sloped shoulder, wiping the bar all the while with his damp white terry.
"A bulwark. Like Fort Eben-Emael in Belgium. Here's the thing about being a bulwark...the Belgians learned this in 1940 when the Nazis blitzed in.
"It was the largest fort in the world, Eben-Emael, and believed by most to be impregnable. Yet in less than a couple of hours, a couple of German DFS 230 attack gliders with fewer than 60 soldiers knocked over the place."
I instinctively bent my elbow and drained an imaginary eight-ounce juice glass of Pike's Ale.
"The thing about being a bulwark is that you take a lot of hits. Everyone comes at you. Take it easy on yourself, my friend. You'll be back soon."
With that he hung up the Ameche.
And I went back to sleep.