Monday, October 26, 2009
The Chica Chica Boom Room
"There's nothing you can do that can't be done.
Nothing you can sing that can't be sung.
Nothing you can say but you can learn how to play the game.
It's easy." - The Beatles, "All You Need Is Love".
"Save me, I'm lost.
Oh Lord, I've been waiting for you.
I'll pay any cost.
Save me from being confused." - Carolina Liar
"Is that you baby or just a brilliant disguise?" - Bruce Springsteen.
The strange man dressed as Carmen Miranda walked into the bar and demanded to know who had taken his pet iguana. "Who the hell is this cat Bensonmum?" I asked. The bar tender leaned stiffly forward over the bar and whispered in a conspiratorial manner, "This is Senor Krackow. He is a bit eccentric, but he is very good for business. Be nice to him, please."
"I said where is my figging iguana?" Krackow bellowed, "You ass warts didn't hear me? You butt crusts better get it together! I want my Buddha blamed iguana right flaming now!" Every face in the bar was turned to him as he rested his hand on one cocked hip and let his sequined skirt with the wide slit slide to one side, revealing entirely too much leg. He awaited results. Bensonmum's finger snap sounded like a gunshot as he grabbed the attention of the waiters and the rest of the bar. Wordlessly, he raised his index finger straight up and made a small circle in the air. Instantly, every person was in motion. Women dumped out their handbags while men turned out their pockets as if this was a well practiced fire drill. The waiters began crawling under tables and rooting through the large potted plants.
Bensonmum hurried around the bar and ushered Senor Krackow to a stool, "It will take them a few moments to find Mrs. Urethra Senor. Please, come and have a cool drink on the house while you wait. It should only be a moment, please, sit down next to the good Doctor." Krackow walked like he had a rented pelvis, thrusting it out ahead of himself, but he let Bensonmum guide him to a seat. "About time I got some sodding service," he muttered, "And you call this place a reputable bar. I was prepared to make a scene if I had to!"
"No, no. That won't be necessary. We have things well in hand now," Bensonmum said as he glanced at his wait staff who were pulling down the curtains. "Senor Krackow, may I present Herr Doctor Quackenbush. Doctor, the right honorable Senor Enrique Butch Blossom Krackow the third. You gentlemen get acquainted while I fetch some drinks," and with that, Bensonmum was gone, leaving me sitting next to a raving loony who was wearing twelve pounds of fresh fruit and enough sequins to pave Vegas. "Er, so uh, tell me Senor Krackow, what do you do?" I asked.
"Whatever I jacking well please," he said flippantly as he plucked a grape from his forehead and popped it into his mouth. He chewed noisily as he looked me over then spat a grape seed on the bar as if it was the most normal thing in the world to do.
"Here are your drinks gentlemen. Gin and tonic for Herr Doctor, and a Roy Rogers with a triple vermouth back for the Senor," Bensonmum said as he set the drinks down with a flourish, "Pardon me, I must attend to my wait staff as they seem to need some assistance in removing the paneling from the walls. Enjoy!" and with that, he was off.
"Doctor eh? What kind of a doctor? Podiatrist maybe?" Krackow asked.
"Gynecologist," I lied.
"Damn! I was hoping for a foot doctor as these heels are killing me!" Krackow pulled the cherries from his Roy Rogers and gently tucked them into his fruity hat before sucking down the drink with a gurgle.
I knew I shouldn't, but I just had to ask, "What's with the costume?"
He smiled, "What, this old thing? I only wear this when I don't care what I look like," he said with a giggled of a little girl. As he laughed his great horse's bray of a laugh, he put one hand across his breast so as not to reveal too much and held the other one in front of his mouth to catch the spittle. He leaned forward and whispered, "It's a disguise you see. I'm hiding. The King of Sweden has put a price on my head and I can't be caught until we get Alexander back into office."
"The Great, you silly boy!" He patted my arm as if we were old friends. He dipped his fingers in his glass of vermouth and dabbed a little behind each ear in a well rehearsed move, then he licked a cocktail napkin. Satisfied with his freshening up, he turned to the rest of the bar and bellowed, "Someone better come up with my dirt monkey iguana before I get totally jim-jammed here! I warn you, I have mustard and I'm not afraid to use it!" He turned back to me as the chaos in the bar ratcheted up another notch and made the Keystone Cops look like a well trained S.W.A.T. team. "Are you going to be in town long?" he asked.
"Just the weekend," I said, "I've come to study the cracks here in town."
He raised one eyebrow as the maraschino cherry juice dribbled down his forehead and into his eye.
"No, no. Nothing like that," I volunteered, "The cracks in the sidewalks. This town has the most interesting cracks in the world. It's something of a hobby of mine. I have a coffee table book coming out in June published by Rickenbacker, Flemish, & Bledsoe. They are very reputable publishing house and have given the topic the proper respect it deserves." I have no idea why I said this, but it seemed like the right responce for the time.
"Pity you aren't in town longer. We could have played racket ball."
"Really? How's your serve?" I asked.
"Oh I don't serve. I just throw the racket at the ball and see how far I can get it to bounce! It's quite fun!" Krackow picked up a full sugar shaker and flung it at a passing waiter's head. It connected with a sharp thud and sent the waiter reeling to the floor. The waiter thanked him for his kind attention and crawled off looking for his false teeth that had been dislodged with the blow. "That will learn you, you gob stuffing gravy spoon!" Krakow remarked.
"Here she is!" Bensonmum called with an armful of iguana as he scurried to the bar, "She has been found at last! The little vixen was hiding in the flour canister in the kitchen," he said with a broad smile.
"Probably thought it was my stash, the poor simpering, foolish adenoid," cooed Krackow. He gave the iguana a tickle under the chin and then performed a quick bath for it in the vermouth, with most of it running off into his lap. Then he pulled an enormous check book from his brassier and dashed off a check for a million pounds or rubles or something.
"Ta-ta darlings. I must gabble out of here. I've people to do and places to meet," with that, he hiked up his skirt and made a small leap off the bar stool to land perfectly on his lime green stiletto heels. He smoothed out his skirt and adjusted his fruity hat before turning back. "Bensonmum?"
"If a short, squat gentleman with a large facial scar stops in tonight and asks for me, would you give him a message?"
"Certainly Senor," Bensonmum licked the end of his pencil and held it above his order pad, fully prepared to take dictation.
"Tell him to eat the mushroom and forget about the tabby cat," Krackow nodded to himself as if he had done his best to accomplish a tough and painful task. He headed for the door and at the threshold screamed, "God Save Sri Lanka!" and disappeared into the night.
The patrons turned from one to another and heaved a collective sigh of relief. I took a long pull at my gin and stood up. This was as much of an adventure as I could handle for the evening. My twenty dollar bill looked pretty small next to Krackow's over-sized check on the bar. I filled my lungs with the cool night air when I hit the pavement. I lit a Players and hiked for my hotel, the Ben Wa Arms.
As I walked and smoked, I tried to make a little sense of my evening. Nothing about it made the slightest bit of sense. Not Bensonmum, the bar, and most of all, not Krackow. My gaze fell to my moving feet on the sidewalk. The more I watched my feet eat up the distance, the more I convinced myself that this was some horrible flashback from too many years sniffing model glue as a teenager or from the time I shoved white blotter acid under my eyelid in college so I could trip extra hard. It was all too surreal.
Then I stopped mid-stride. On the sidewalk, fallen between the cracks was a smashed maraschino cherry and some iguana dung. At that moment, I resolved to spend my weekend in the hotel and live off of room service, and with any luck, not run into another soul.
Sometimes you need to fall back and regroup.