The Bartender

The bartender was a screenwriter. Still unpublished, he said, hence the liquor behind him. I sat in the hotel bar for two hours, letting him talk.

He'd been living in California, trying to sell a script. Got close, too; a producer wanted to make it, but backed out at the last minute. "He had another project, very personal to him," said the bartender. "I understood. But I still went crazy."

I kept ordering bourbons. Two ladies at a table behind me split a turkey burger and each had a glass of wine. One owned an art gallery and the other a marketing firm. I had many bourbons.

"I became a migrant worker," the bartender said.

He said it three times -- "migrant worker" -- which I thought was strange -- and I just kept drinking bourbon. The bartender told me he spent a season landscaping golf courses and living in a $400/month motel.

"I lived across the hall from a prostitute. Sometimes she'd come by and we'd watch movies together. But we never did anything more."

One day she came by and apologized for being so loud. "It's what the guy likes."

The bartender said he kept his motel room spotless. "I cleaned a lot. It helped keep me sane. And of course, there was no cleaning service." One day he got someone else interested in his script, but that fell through also.

"I knocked on my neighbor's door and asked if I could clean her place. That's how upset I was. And then I decided it was time for a change. So I moved to Austin."

The whole thing sounded like a movie script to me -- and maybe one he could actually sell. But I didn't tell him that, figuring maybe I'd write it myself.

He comped the two women their check. One of them knew someone who knew a director, and the bartender was looking for a connection. They tipped him $20, which I took to mean the chances were slim.

I tipped $20 also, for the drinks and his story. When I write it though, he'll sleep with the prostitute, write his script and get it made. It seems like a better ending. He wasn't a happy guy.

Posted on December 30, 2013 .