Friday, October 31, 2014

Halloween in the Tempus Fugit.

My wife, who just on Tuesday had her hip bionically replaced, returned home from the hospital yesterday afternoon. Though I consider myself a decent person and a more than moderate husband, I'll admit, I am not the most solicitous of people. I'd rather be waited on than wait on. Alas, now, I have no choice. Though my wife is no termagant, I am fairly at her whim and caprice.

Naturally amid all this turmoil, insomnia chose that very moment to strike. So, at approximately 2:47 in the morning, Whiskey and I made our way through the city to the invitingly dim incandescence of the Tempus Fugit.

"Did I ever tell you," the bartender began, as usual, without any pre-mumble or salutation. "Did I ever tell you of the haunt that haunts these latitudes?" He swung gingerly around the bar and placed a small wooden bowl of cold water in front of Whiskey. Then, back behind the mahogany, he pulled me a Pike's Ale (the ALE that won for YALE) filling the requisite six-ounce juice glass.

"Haunts," I said, with my typical sagacity.

Violet Klotz, 1903-1930. Photo taken shortly before her murder.
"Haunts," he repeated. "Haunts that to me, resemble one Violet Klotz, the hatcheck girl in 1930 when the Tempus Fugit was still a speakeasy."

"A hatcheck girl. The place had class, huh?"

Ignoring my feint at cynicism, he continued on his way.
Hymie "Iambic" Goldstein. An artist's rendering by Patrick Hamou.

"Klotz was a looker, and the inamorata of one Hymie "Iambic" Goldstein. Goldstein was one of the roughest muggs in the Jewish mob."

"Iambic?" I asked.

"He spoke, believe it or not, Hymie did, in perfect iambic pentameter. It was the most uncanny thing I ever saw."

"Short syllable then long syllable. Uncanny to say the least."

"Iambic made fortune for the mob, stealing cars and losing them. The gang would collect $100 insurance per, and Iambic would make $10 of that. Things went along fine until he got too clever by half."

"A stressed syllable that should have remained unstressed," I added.

"You could say that. Iambic, instead of ditching those cars, he brought them to a junk dealer. Together they stripped the cars and Iambic made another $10 bucks."

"You can't blame him," I offered, "it was the Depression. Who didn't need the extra scratch."

"Well the mob didn't see it that way. They pushed Iambic off the roof of a 17 story building."

He pulled me another amber and offered me a bowl of salted Spanish peanuts. As always, I dismissed the goobers and drained the suds.

"Violet was checking coats when the boys that pushed Iambic came in. They were feeling good and laughing. One guy--I can't remember his name--kept repeating 'He got metrical feet, but he ain't got no wings.'"

"Quite a mouthful," I said, starting on Pike's number three.

"Violet got wise. She realized Iambic was no more and she pulled a small pearl-handled on the guys who offed her man. They beat Violet to the draw and gunned her down right over there, next to where there was a signed photo from Gene Tunney wishing me all the best. It was a veritable fusillade that did Violet in."
Gene Tunney, World Heavyweight Champion, 1926-1928.

"Wow," I said. "So now she haunts the place."

"She died amid the chinchillas and minks. And comes back every Halloween looking for Iambic. The holes in her corpus whistling in the wind."

"Grisly," I said getting up to leave. I slipped the leash on Whiskey and slid two twenties across the bar.

He pushed them back my way. "Happy All Hallow's Eve to you, says I."

All in perfect iambic pentameter.

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