Instead I worked till about 2AM, then threw on my heavy English wool overcoat, a shearling cap, my boots and gloves and walked with Whiskey (who needs no such accoutrements) up to the friendly confines of the Tempus Fugit.
The man on the radio said temperatures were going down to the low teens. But I was wrapped against the elements and they bother neither me nor Whiskey not a whit. In short order I had leaped the piles of snow at nearly every corner and was peregrinating my way through various hallways, stairways and doorways to the felicitous incandescence of the age-old place.
I removed Whiskey's leash and hung my gear up on an old oaken coat-rack. Mine was the only coat there, the only thing hanging there, save for an old-style policeman's hat which is there, I suppose, as a decoy to discourage rough-housing and other miscreance of the type that so often arises in drinking establishments.
Like the great Dodger's short stop, Pee Wee Reese, the bartender was out from around the bar with a small wooden bowl of crisp cold water for Whiskey, and in a trice he was back behind the mahogany, pulling me, in a six-ounce juice glass, a Pike's Ale (the ALE that won for YALE!)
I rested my unmentionables on my usual stool, one in from the end, and drained my suds like a Bedouin at an oasis after a long trip through the Great Sand Desert.
The bartender read my empty as an alert and with hands moving as fast as wild birds, swooped my glass away and drew me another amber, placing it like a space-craft landing atop a small cardboard coaster embossed with the logo of the Tempus Fugit.
|A coaster from the Tempus Fugit. (Artist's rendering.)|
"2017 is upon us," the bartender said with some gravity.
"As is the apocalypse," I responded in kind.
"Perhaps the only thing that can save us from that man--whom I will call 'Clockwork Orange'--is the gift of laughter.
"You are my Scaramouche." I said. "You were born with a gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad."
"More than a sense that the world is mad, my friend. A firm conviction based on all I have read, seen and heard."
"There's no laughter there."
"Apropos of nothing, then here is my laughter for the evening: A great Orangutang was sitting in his cage at the local zoo. He was reading two books."
"Two books," I interjected dumbly.
"Yes, Darwin's 'Origin of the Species' and the 'Bible.'"
"Not bad choices. Though I've always found Darwin a difficult read."
"Nonetheless, the zoo-keeper asked him why he was reading those particular tomes."
The bartender grabbed my empty and pulled me a third Pike's. He slid over a small bowl of salted Spanish peanuts. I returned volley and pushed them away.
"'I am reading them,' said the great ape, 'to discover if I am my brother's keeper or my keeper's brother."
I snorted Pike's through my nose.
"Take care of your brothers," he said, wiping clean the surface of the mahogany. "That's tonight's sermon."
I rose from my seat and dressed against the bitter cold of the outside.
I pushed two twenties his way, which he pushed back.
"On me, brother."
Whiskey and I walked home. Slowly.