By the time spring started tickling the air with a dusty fever, the eight hundred pound gorilla had lost most of its weight. Dan was writing sporadically, leaving me to pick up the slack. Meanwhile, me and the Dame were figuring it out. And, because there is no such thing as simple math, a great big matzoh ball of a mystery was being played out, the results of which I wouldn’t learn until the blog was six feet under.
Me and the boys convened at McCleary’s Public House- a river town pub whose patrons were a funky soup of factory workers, college peeps and small business owners. It was the weekend and some cover band was pissing on the platinum sage lyrics of Cobain. When you make Lake of Fire sound like a boy band ballad, you should be brought up on charges.
It was my first and only time meeting Richie, and all those first impressions I’d collected were proving correct. He talked higher than his ass, about everything. When Chris and me started riffing about our ideas for the podcast, Richie had to interject his thoughts on the blog. The dude was floating more bells and whistles than a degenerate gambler on safari in Vegas. So far, he’d delivered shit.
We let him go on for a while since he’d sprung for the first round, but things were getting nowhere at the speed of light. It devolved into him talking about some chick from Jersey, and his businesses and his brilliant mind. His hairline was receding faster than the arctic glaciers, his paunch had more keep than a Rockefeller trust fund and his personality was a flailing strike. And somehow, Dan thought this asshole was a good idea for us.
Speaking of Dan, I couldn’t shake the feeling something was going on, to which Dan and Chris were holding tight. It wasn’t unusual to feel like the third wheel around those two, but this was different and I was pretty certain it had to do with the blog. It was doing nothing to assuage my suspicions that Chris and Dan were planning a mutiny. It didn’t matter that I was the only erstwhile scribe the fucking thing had going. By this point, nothing about the blog was making any sense.
“So what’s this about you writing on that chick’s blog?” Richie asked me out of the blue.
The question felt like a punch to the face once I realized what he was talking about. It took a few moments to put together where this line of questioning could have come from. Dan.
“What in the blessed fuck does that have to do with getting us a website?” I asked.
“She’s not pregnant or your cousin, so you wouldn’t be interested,” I said. The guys all cracked up after which Dan changed the subject quickly.
I was devoting more of my time to the Dame, sure. But that was because she’d stopped writing on the regular and without that steam vent, things could get menacingly perpendicular for us. My involvement in her writing life was equal parts wondrous fascination and self preservation. And it was nobody’s business but our own.
At this point, I knew I had to take a breather from this catastrophe of a get together or there was going to be a scene. So I told Dan I was going out to call the Dame and gave him a look as if to say If your asshole friend has any inkling to join me, Imma need bail money.
I called Dame, who cut our chat short because her oldest daughter was visiting, so I delayed my return inside by talking with Till Tuesday and her new friend- a construction worker who’d done work on Lincoln Financial Field. I was starting to feel the buzz of the shots, the Guinness and the smokes. It’s that peaceful, easy feeling when a certain time of the evening goes plush to necessary solutions. I was having such a good time chatting it up, I almost forgot about the miserable shit that awaited me when I went back inside. And then Dan made the scene.
“What’s wrong with you tonight dude?”
“Me? I’m listening to Richie sell us on ground floor real estate to a blog we built, and that you couldn’t care less about writing on now that we have a podcast with Chris. Never mind that it came about only because of the blog,”
“Sorry . . . It’s just, I’ve been going through it and my mind has been shit for,” Dan confessed.
“What’s going on?”
“Me and Em are fighting. I know it’s not fair to you or the blog . . . and maybe that’s what I need to do, you know? Just fucking write again . . take my mind off everything else?”
I almost felt badly for suspecting him of mutiny. Almost. But the more questions I threw his way, the more he ducked and ran. And while I knew this wasn’t about the blog, I also knew it was adversely affecting it. So I got to pressing before . . .
“You fellas going to Haydn Zugs?”
Standing directly in front of us was a breathalyzer test’s wet dream and this asshole wasn’t taking no for an answer.
“Sorry man, but if we were going there . . why would we be here?” I asked with a straight face. The irony was lost on him.
“I need a ride there! I got a date!”
“So . . what was the plan exactly? Get drunk here, with no ride to the place where you have a date . . . ” I smiled.
“It’s not your fucking business,” He slurred.
“Incorrect. Because you made it my business when you asked for a ride, Sparky,”
“Fuck you then . . I’ll just slash your tires!”
“Hey fuckhead, get a cab!” Dan bellowed, stepping forward and opening his jacket to reveal his revolver. He had a permit to carry, but I’m pretty sure he still would’ve carried it even without one.
“I’m calling my brother, man . . . he’s a state cop!”
“Call him and tell him you’re drunk and you’re gonna slash some tires . . and then tell him to bring donuts. Chocolate glazed . . .” I laughed.
“I should fucking call him right now . . .”
“Call him . . . ” I said calmly. “Tell him that I prevented you from slashing some tires by kicking your ass. After which my friend here put you down after you reached for his gun when he was trying to pull me off you before I put you in a coma,”
“You guys are fucking nuts!” He shouted as he walked off into the night as me and Dan laughed our asses off whilst popping the top on another pack of smokes.
The episode was a microcosm of the blog: An accident of misbegotten times and places that was blatantly offensive and downright stupid. A bat-shit crazy run on sentence that was destined for nothing good.
Full of bluster and fire until it stumbled off into the night.