Staying Off The Booze With Cocaine

My last post about my Fourth Waiting Job at the Rusty Pelican was kind of a set piece. I got lost in the reverie and unloaded. Meantime, the last ‘regular’ post was early July. So there’s a lot of catching up to do.

There have been two great developments at Carney’s Corner.

Frank the Bartender – previously known for his pious 6-year AA status, his Vicodin habit, and his slutty wife – has a new calling card. This one comes courtesy of his slutty wife. We’ll just call her Tara Reed, as homage to the actress with the similar name, because she didn’t take Frank’s name when they married, because she has a not-bad body, and because all she does is party and skank around.

TARA REID: 33. SO THE RELATIVE AGE IS OFF. FRANK IS 52, HIS WIFE IS 48

Tara (Mrs. Frank the Bartender), generally makes nightly visits to Carney’s to have a free drink or two and then head off to some other bar or club to meet her various boyfriends. Sometimes we waiters at Carney’s speculate that Tara picked Frank as her husband based on a rigorous qualification showdown. What are some of the things Tara needs to support and facilitate her lifestyle? As a major heading, she needs a

Reliable Hard Worker who is So Desperate and Insecure:

  1. He works his five shifts week in and week out. When he takes a ‘vacation’ it will really be just an extension of an existing holiday, with an extra day off or two tacked on.
  2. He, in order to illegitimately maximize his income, diligently rips off his employers week in and week out.
  3. He has a non-negotiable work schedule locked in for the evening, club-going, cheating hours. From 5 p.m. till midnight (or later) Frank will be in exactly one place: behind the bar at Carney’s.
  4. He is absolutely never going to come home early and surprise her. The bar closes late, and Frank is always there.
  5. He is a non-drinker who can pick her up from various bars where she has gotten too hammered and needs a drive home.
  6. He will willingly suspend all disbelief that she is cheating on him, because he can’t stomach the improbability of his getting another woman.
  7. He will pretend there’s nothing unusual about the fact he works his ass off while she doesn’t have a job (not counting breeding her dog) and yet parties every night.
  8. He is the one who actually does all the work breeding, caring for, and cleaning up after the dogs.
  9. He has a job which puts him in contact with various sources of drugs and who can easily ‘trade out’ for those drugs, or for better deals on them.
  10. He is pliable, forgiving, and clueless. He has no spine. He will adopt her hobbies. He will adopt her vices. He will adopt her rationalizations.

So back to Frank’s new calling card, besides Vicodin, etc.

It’s been a developing story with Frank, Tara, and Vicodin. We knew plenty about the Vicodin addiction, how his connection would come in and hand him a batch, how Jacqueline (another waitress) would hold some of his stash for him so he wouldn’t fiend it all away in one night, how Frank would be so flushed from his early-shift dose that his head looked ready to explode . . .

Ciera, who’s no stranger to drugs and anything else completely- or semi-sordid, had been saying for the last several months that she thought Frank was doing cocaine, not (just) Vicodin. We didn’t put much stock in her take on the thing. We thought it was just knee-jerk critique about a guy who was wigging out.

But. Ciera is friend and customer to Slick, the dealer who is Frank’s main connection – a bald guy with CIA-level clearance who made most of his bones doing foreign soil top-dollar construction work for the government because so few people were qualified at his level. Slick, says Ciera, is mostly a small-timer. He dabbles in the drug dealing enough to pay the bills; he’s mostly in it for the chicks and the social life. Ciera says she knows from Slick that Tara has become a regular customer for coke. A friend of Tara’s likes it a lot and had come into some money because her octogenarian millionaire ‘husband’ had finally died, leaving her (35 years old) the estate. Of course the Family had something to say, so she didn’t get everything – actually more like a few percentage points: a couple hundred thousand. But I digress . . .

So because of this background knowledge, Ciera is increasingly suspicious/convinced that Frank is doing not Vicodin, but cocaine. When we say, ‘Frank’s on his Vicodin frenzy right now,’ Ciera would counter with, ‘Or else a coke rush.’

Frank had no compunctions about hitting up Ciera for a Vicodin. One time she told me about him, jaw quivering, pleading if she could lend him a Vike? . . . she said she found one in the crease at the bottom of her purse. It was snagged with lint, there was even a pen mark. ‘He didn’t complain at all. He just thanked me,’ said Ciera.

Well, it finally happened. The other day Frank sidled up to Ciera and said, ‘Hey, you don’t have bump, do you? I could really use it right now.’

Of course, for the unfamiliar, ‘bump’ is slang for a snort of cocaine. Like, wanna do a bump?

Mr. AA. And he still is. No alcohol . . .

* * * * *

The other biggie is that Schotz, the well-to-do electrician who is friends with the owners of Carney’s Corner (Carney and Harry), dropped a bomb on Carney last Sunday. And all of us waiters want to find his address, go to his house, and shower him with gifts, flowers, kisses, and free drinks.

But first a little background.

Schotz is an extremely pleasant and affable guy. He’s part of the core buddy crew for Harry and Carney – those who’ll sit in a booth playing dominos for four hours. Schotz is also one of their go-to guys. Whenever they need some serious electrical stuff done, they call on their ‘friend.’

For instance, when Carney and Harry had to replace their old dishwashing machine, they took the opportunity to blow out a decaying and poorly-wired and -plumbed wall in the dish station area. They had Schotz in and he did all the electrical heavy lifting, delivering a first-class, up-to-code product. In this case and others, he politely refuses money (as a master of his craft in an upscale locale, his real rate would probably give them a heart attack), so Carney and Harry will give him restaurant gift certificates as compensation.

However, the only time Schotz and his wife eat anything at Carney’s is when they come sit in the dining room to redeem a gift certificate. They never even buy a quick bite in the bar. Which proves the gift certificates mean nothing to them – or else they’d be eating at Carney’s all along. To his credit, when Schotz and wife get their free dinner, he often tips 100%. Great guy.

Carney and Harry are extremely underdeveloped socially. Carney lives a life of rigidly-constructed delusion to protect her from feelings of severe inferiority. Harry is a late-stage alcoholic who drinks from sun-up till early evening, when the bedroom TV goes out of focus and his brain and liver finally surrender to the booze and THC.

They are not competent to have friendships outside of their controlled domain: the restaurant. Invitations to weddings, funerals, dinner, drinks, or miscellaneous outings like a movie or concert are rebuffed with excuses about how busy they are, how hard they work, how Carney has to have another colonoscopy the next day, or how Harry has to get another test on his prostate cancer.

(Incidentally, this fatal disease syndrome has been going on and on since I started there five years ago. And, no, they never have anything. Carney only regales us with tales of their medical woe. Ironically, the only thing honestly plausible – Harry contracting cirrhosis of the liver – has never been mentioned as a life-threatening ailment.)

Further in this direction, the owners absolutely refuse to allow any employee (or probably customer, for that matter) to have worse circumstances than their own.

‘How was your day off, Carney?’ I’ve asked many times. The restaurant is closed Mondays. ‘Hope you had some time to relax.’

‘Oh, no. Busy, busy. We were here at 7:30 waiting for the new air conditioner. Then when they were installing it, they knocked out a breaker, and Harry spent the next three hours fixing it. They got it in, but it wasn’t working in the front so . . .’ etc.

Or other times she might ask how I’ve been?

‘Pretty good,’ I’ll say. ‘I kind of had a stomach ache three days ago, thought I was coming down with something, but I guess it passed ’cause I feel great today.’

‘Oh, I’m sorry. I’ve had diarrhea for three days running . . .’

Well, so, anyway. It’s Sunday. Schotz invites Carney and Harry over to his place for evening cocktails on Monday.

‘Oh, I don’t know,’ Carney said, ‘we’ve just been working so hard lately . . . we just really need that day off to rest. Otherwise we wouldn’t make it through the next week.’

Schotz said, ‘You know what? I’m getting fucking sick of always hearing how hard you two work. I asked if you wanted to come over for a drink. Just answer the fucking question.’

It’s just so great because Schotz is such a beautiful guy, even Carney and Harry can’t spin that he’s just a jackass. One of the nicest guys in the world unloaded on her about their self-aggrandizing, selfish dishonesty, and for a change there was absolutely nothing she could say.

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