Midgets and Guns Redux

The Best of the Zola System

There’s a midget living in the apartment above mine.  I hear him limping along the hardwood floors all night while two other voices cackle above the thumping.  I try to drown out the noise with George Noory’s dulcet voice on Coast To Coast AM but hearing the guests discussing UFO’s, ghosts and the New World Order only adds to the living in a Haunted House on Halloween feel of my building in the desert.  Thanks be to the great magnet my neighbors are snowbirds otherwise I would be so utterly freaked out I’d make Tweak on South Park seem normal.

Actually, I’ve met my neighbors and they seem to be quite lovely.  I find their Wyoming ways to be pleasant and unobtrusive.  They give me street cred because of my light New York accent.  The floor between us is our fence.  They are good neighbors.  However, when they’re in town, my home becomes uncomfortably situated in the Land of the Weird.  I’d like to tell you it began here in the desert: a few people living the snowbird life getting off on the wrong foot.  But Phoenix has nothing to do with my unease.  This is all about New York.

From February 25, 2009

There are certain tableau’s we all deal with that leave us speechless or simply unable to act in any sort of definitive way. Walking in on a robbery at the local 7-11 or discovering your significant other has decided to cheat on you in our own apartment, in your own bed.  Those tableaus will always remain indelibly ingrained in our memories.  A few weeks back, I had what may very be the singular weirdest tableau I will ever have to deal with.

As a favor to a friend, I offered to help by working his boozer’s closing shift.  I was actually looking forward to it as a nice change in scenery from the fine dining mishugas I usually have to deal with. No pairing of wine and food, no discussion of the differences in whiskeys and if someone wanted a rose, just pour the white and red in the same glass.  There’s your White Zinfandel.  There just seemed to be something freeing about slinging drinks, shooting the shit and not having to think about culinary components.

Fours hours into the shift, I remembered what the pitfalls were when it came to working boozers: people aren’t coming to dine; they’re coming to get drunk.  In these small bars, there isn’t any back up; it’s just the bartender to serve as security, therapist, drug dealer and final arbiter of sobriety.  The work is less mentally challenging but demands street smarts working overtime.  So although it was really great to flex those muscles and keep them in shape, I was happy when the shift was over.

As I gave last call to the assembled four or five patrons with a genial call of “last call kids, time to figure out who is sleeping with whom,” I walked out form behind the bar to lock the door.  The customer seated nearest the bar gate, a midget in a brown suede coat, was circling what was left of his Jameson around the quickly melting ice cubes in his glass.  I asked if he wanted on last drink for the ditch or if he needed his check.  ‘You better watch it tall guy,” he responded.  “I have a gun.”

I didn’t quite know what to say.  I think I said something like “yes sir, I understand.  However, it is 4 am and I am closed.”

The midget pulled out $20 from his pocket, smacked it down on the bar and started walking out the door backward.  He held his coat open with his left hand and pulled what appeared to be a 9mm Glock halfway out of his waistband.  The two other couples weren’t paying attention to my plight; they were too busy necking to notice.  I stood there shocked, with eyes wider than a deer caught in the headlights of an oncoming SUV.  He walked out slowly, deliberately, making sure I saw the 9mm in his hand.

I didn’t know what to say.  Once he was out the door, I wasted no time in emptying the saloon. After making sure there were no stragglers in the bathrooms and locking the front door tight, I made myself a proper Manhattan and sat down to meditate on my good fortune.  If he had been nervous, truly pissed off or just careless, he may have let go of a bullet.  How would I be able to explain to the GM at my regular gig how I got my kneecap blown off?




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Every Friday, get 2 for 1 movie tickets when you use your Visa Signature card.

Recent Comments