Monday, February 28, 2005

Aides to the Ex President 6: Gonzo Journalism

[Like I said, I swear, these were our true motivations at the time.]

We grabbed a table as far away from the door as possible, which meant we were sitting in near total darkness. This was good for my brain and my eyes too. Soon, our server came back to greet us. She was, it seemed, not even as old as I was (and I wasn't even old enough to be in there), and pretty in that sorority house way that I quit being attracted to shortly after arriving at college a year or two before. But that's OK--the entire district was full of ball caps and bangs, so while Jim and I were out of place, it was no different from any sports bar anywhere else.

"What can I get you fellas?" she asked with a dazzling smile.

"Turkey and coke, and a Bass Ale," was Jim's reply. She nodded and began to bounce away.

"HEY! My friend here might want something to drink too!"

She turned and reappraised us.

Jim was well on his way to being the "two hundred pound bald man," and with very little sleep over the last couple of days, not to mention no shower, he was beginning to look rather...scruffy. And vaguely menacing, I realized later. I probably wasn't much better, despite all my attempts to catch her eye and smile reassuringly. While I was probably not what you would call "menacing," there was most likely something subtly wrong with me, but not in any way she was able to pin down.

"I'm friend's been on the road a bit too long. I'll take one of those as well."

"One of what?" she asked suspiciously, "a Turkey or a beer?"

Oh Jesus, I thought, I HATE Wild Turkey. But it was too late now; we had to get the upper hand on this situation quickly, otherwise we would get tossed before we even had a chance to run up a bill.

"Both," I said, with an inner wince.

She flounced away, Jim got up to go look up the stairs, which had bright Texas sunshine spilling down the steps, but suspiciously no traffic at all.

She brought us our drinks, and retreated to the bar, where she glanced at us nervously while talking to the bartender, who likewise inspected us. "This is going nowhere," I thought. "We're gonna get tossed. Maybe even go to jail. God, I don't want to go to jail in Dallas, I thought."

She approached again, directly to me, and smiled her most winning smile. In a matter of seconds, I thought, I was going to be carded and tossed. I finished my Turkey, and eyeballed the beer.

"What are those?" she asked, nodding at something on the table.

I looked down. In front of me were two yellow legal pads and a pencil. I didn't remember bringing them in, but there they were--covered with what might be euphemistically termed "notes." They were pretty sloppy, and interspersed with a number of decidedly odd doodlings, and she seemed pretty interested in them. For my part, I couldn't decide if I should hide them (because the notes were one part nonsense and two parts criminal confession) or dangle them as bait. My indecision operated in the latter choice's favor, of course, so she grabbed on of the notebooks and turned it her way. I could see the word "ACID" written on it.

Jim suddenly snapped out of a reverie and snapped "Aides to the Ex President, ma'am. Those documents are classified!" He snatched them up and wandered off to the bathroom, cursing and throwing baleful looks around the bar.

The waitress was utterly confused by his bizarre behavior, but instead of looking at the bar, she looked at me. I shrugged, and tried to keep my hands where she could see them.

"He's crazy," I said, "they always give me the crazy ones."

"What are you doing here?" she breathed, looking into my eyes. Could she be...flirting with me?

"Well, our cover story, as you just heard, is that we're Aides to the Ex President. Nixon, you know? But really, we're writers from Rolling Stone, and we're here to cover this fantastic weekend here in Dallas. You wouldn't have gone to Lollapalooza last night, would you?"

She'd gone rather unfocused pretty quickly after I said the words "Rolling Stone," and her jaw dropped a bit. I could see the tip of a very pink tongue, and the glint of pearly whites.

"Wow," she said, "Rolling Stone? You mean, like, the magazine?"

Yes, I replied, but I didn't want a whole lot of notice. While we needed Total Coverage, we were here on a shoestring budget and had, in fact, stayed up the entire night before because we couldn't find a hotel room. Thus, I said, my notes were rather garbled--that, and we'd talked to a number of freaks from the Lollapalooza show the day before. Did she know anyone who'd been there?

"Ummmm...what's that?" she asked, almost embarrassed. "I just moved here from White Settlement."

"I'll bet you did, honey," I thought, as Jim staggered back to the table.

She disappeared back to the bar, and returned shortly with more whiskey and beers. She sat down across from me, and began asking me questions about our "assignment."


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