The Four Horsemen of the Biker Bar (a true memoir)
Our company's firewall blocks that site.
Can you post the story here?
Our company's firewall blocks that site.
Can you post the story here?
Okay, will do. See below.
Four Horseman of the Biker Bar (A True Memoir)
THE FOUR HORSEMEN
“Well, here we are.”
My good buddy Bob steered his Chevy over a broken driveway filled with annoying rocks and potholes. We surveyed the parking lot. About a dozen tricked out motorcycles swallowed space in front of the bar like wild stallions belonging to fleeing desperadoes.
The ramshackle bar was a dive--a lowdown, loud music, pool playing, cigarette smoke kind of bar where members of the Punishers Biker Club (i.e. gang) gravitated on weekends. Hell, their oldest member owned the damned thing. He obviously didn’t give a rat’s diaper what it looked like--cuz, Junior-- it was nasty.
I had been to some bad places with Bob, but this one set a new record in my mind. I didn’t question or balk. I sucked it up. I was wearing my Big Boy pants. You only live twice, Mister Bond.
Inside, an old red carpet had worn down to the wood floor around regulation pool tables surrounded by a Star Wars cantina assortment of bizarre creatures. As my eyes adjusted to the dim light, I adjusted that opinion. These were humanoid bar flys. Had I been walking down a street and saw them, I’d have immediately crossed to the other side. But not here and not now. No such option.
Bob told me he had been inside before for a couple of beers after work. He actually liked what he called the “ambience.” At first, I thought he’d said, “Ambulance.”
Behind The Four Horsemen bar, a decent sized plot of land, fenced in and rendered not visible by outsiders, stood on the old dirt road next to the seedy motel with its flickering sign: NO TELL MOTEL. Yeah. That one.
It didn’t take Sherlock to predict what went on in the secluded backyard patio. Bikers and their kindred spirits brandished hash pipes and exchanged dainty pleasantries in the open air. The CCTV system allowed denizens of the darkness to spy out the front parking lot just in case a police car should happen to pull up.
Inside The Four Horsemen, unique specimens of near-humanity drank, cussed, played pool, listened to live music, fed quarters to vintage video consoles, and exhaled fumes--then re breathed thick, noxious smoke with merriment and wild abandon.
Into this fine establishment one fine night, yours truly walked in--a man surely as out of place in such a bar as a man could be.
Thanks to my good buddy, Bob, I had entered a world of nightmares and terror. Thanks Bob!
Bob and I had been friends a dozen years. His daughter and mine became fast friends at school and we found ourselves at Camp Carter twice a year for Father and Daughter weekend campouts. No two guys ever had more in common. Bob played drums for a performing band in Canada in younger days. He was now an I.T. engineer for BNSF. Warren Buffett owned the railroad and my friend was one of hundreds of security technicians who couldn’t wait for the weekend to cut loose and get wild.
We simply clicked.
Friday evenings, Bob and I sought Live Music venues where we could sip beer and talk music, discuss life, and unwind.
Bob had spent his youth in lowdown bars and unsavory nightspots with the band, knocking the slack out of his drumheads--learning to fear nothing! Wrongly, he assumed I too feared nothing. Actually--I feared EVERYTHING!
What do you suppose was running through my mind? What about the minds of that bar’s inhabitants as two past-their-prime nerds strolled in like Rubes at the County Fair?
Into the Belly of the Beast
Here I am, inside a rat’s nest called The Four Horseman. Every set of beady red eyes is sizing the two of us up. Are we Narcs? Cops undercover? Looking to score crack? Nitwits who are lost? I leave it to you to sort that puzzle toward its unsurprising conclusion.
Bob makes his way through biker chicks sporting love handles and insurrectionist tattoos; weaving confidently around each cluster of bearded, bandana-on-head motorcycle ‘enthusiasts’ as he sidles up to the bar counter.
A much bosomed young thang smiled and asked Bob “What’ll you have?”
Feel free to write your own dialogue.
I joined Bob at the bar counter and tried to blend. I said tried.
Bob is chatting up the tender bartender with the kind of silly ease guys assume when they once were a real hit with the girls back-in-the-day.
I stage an intervention at once!
Smiling, I toss off my gambit:
“Is this bar named after something in Revelation, Chapter Six?”
The young bartender, named Melanie, blinks wide-eyed. I may as well have asked her what a quadratic equation is.
A peculiar old gent with a scraggly white beard standing next to me sticks his head in close and startles me with his response.
“Original members of The Punishers are the four horsemen. When I bought this bar, I named it after us. I’m Fast Eddy. Who the fuck are you?”
Within the next ten minutes, Bob and Fast Eddy are great friends and drinking companions. Bob has a special charm about him. I listen and observe and practice shallow breathing inside the cloud of smoke where I stand. My ears melt from loud music. My eyes sting and water. I resemble a white mouse with a head cold.
We all drink Killian’s Red beer on tap from a pitcher as our tympanic membranes stretch into crinkled trampolines of abused scar tissue. Miraculously, Bob understands every word Fast Eddie speaks.
I, on the other hand, cannot hear. I understand nothing spoken--yet I have a genuine flair for nodding sympathetically. That’s my contribution to the ‘nonversation’.
Bob and I are propped up on red cushioned bar stools--the swivels-in-all-directions kind. He is laughing and telling me things drowned out by ambient noise. I am nodding and smiling. Every once and awhile, I toss in a facial expression of appreciative appraisal. Ours is a Kabuki conversation. Finally, the live band stops playing. I welcome the semi-quiet, so refreshing to my jangled nerves.
Fast Eddy has been challenged to a match of eightball by a little redneck in a straw cowboy hat and ostrich boots. This hotshot is not just drunk--he’s sassy--full of himself. He’s telling Fast Eddy how bad he’s gonna whoop him at eightball.
I see by Eddy’s eye crinkles that he is mostly amused at the runty little gnat.
Bob asks Melanie who the finest pool player in the joint is. Fast Eddy tops her list!
I explain to Bob where the name Fast Eddy comes from. He never saw The Hustler with Paul Newman.
Yeah, well--he’s about five years younger than me. Go figure.
Bob suggests we go outside in the backyard and sit on the patio deck so’s we can capture oxygen in our lungs and lengthen our lifespan.
I jump at the chance and snatch up the newly filled pitcher of Killian’s Red and off we go. Bob’s got the frosted mugs trailing close behind.
The smell on the patio is acrid--in a druggy sort of way!
I’ve never tried and never will try, drugs of any description. I’m a Sissy.
I had lived in California for ten years. Sure, I was offered everything on a regular basis.
“Why don’t you just TRY it and see if you like it?”
“What if I DO like it? I’ll end up like Janis Joplin, Elvis, and other geniuses like myself--dead as yesterday’s biscuit.” That was my rap. It worked.
This particular night, the scruffy crew on the patio have no such reservations about drugs!
Bob and I sit way off on the extreme end of the wooden deck. There are lounge chairs aplenty. The evening is pleasant and mosquitoes are enjoying themselves inside our air space. The skeeters who penetrated the necrotic haze at the other end of the deck and sampled crack whore blood have suffered unspeakable damage, never to return.
I and the Bobster settle in and finally talk--really talk--about music.
It never gets old. We like ALL kinds of music. We appreciate the details, drifting from one era to the next and back again.
Every now and then, the denizens of the dark come to waddle, creep, or stagger over and introduce themselves and offer us a hit, a toke, a smoke, a this and a that. I explain that I’m in recovery from congestive miasma and as such, can’t violate the terms of my parole or I’ll end up back in Alcatraz.
I get sympathetic nods and solemn head shakes. They truly feel my pain.
I’m finally fitting in!
After a couple of hours and as many refills, Bob and I wander aimlessly back inside for bathroom duty and to check what condition our condition is in. The bar has dwindled down to a manageable rumble of voices, laughter, coughing fits, clinking mugs, and the sound of the cue ball colliding with kindred spheres.
We have taken up residence on the barstools just in time to see the end of the marathon pool game between Fast Eddy and Half-pint Ostrich Boots.
Fast Eddy has lost!! Horseman Down!
Lord Gawd Amighty!
ZZ TOP reaches into his pocket and peels off some impressive bills and hands them over to the winner. The weasel-eyed runt unsnaps the breast pocket on his western shirt and deposits the wad of cash.
“Go agin, old man?”
The Ostrich booted upstart is obviously pressing his luck.
Fast Eddy pauses and snuffles. . .hesitates. . .smiles and shakes his head.
“Nope. You’re the better man.”
Folks who know Fast Eddy have paused to watch and listen. With those momentous words hanging in the air, a titter of quiet amazement passes around the room kinda like the smell of a well aimed fart.
And that is when he walks in--the Man.
The mood in the bar suddenly shifts. Everybody seems to have won the lottery or something.
“Hey, Ray--how they hangin?”
The dozen characters remaining in The Four Horsemen are like kids around the ice cream truck on a hot August afternoon.
Hands are out for shaking.
Grins are hauled to the top of the flagpole unfurled.
The very large, impressive black man has his back slapped, hand shaken, ear filled with good tidings and compliments enough to set Bob and me to wondering who the heck this hero is who has graced this shabby bunghole in hell with such magnitude.
Our latter day Moses parts the Red Sea of fawning worshippers and makes his way, lumbering on polished alligators, toward the barstool next me at the bar counter and eases onto the stool as graceful as a butterfly on a dainty tulip.
He’s big. He looks to be at least 6 feet 7 inches and 265 pounds. His bigness is not simply a matter of size. He’s BIG, as in IMPORTANT.
To me, he’s anonymous--nobody I’ve seen before in my life. That’s what you’d expect from a Nerd, wouldn’t you? He’s almost certainly a major sports hero--a realm unknown to my sort.
Melanie’s beautiful young face becomes a starburst of fulsome energy! She dashes out from behind the bar and rushes up to the great man and throws her arms around him for a never ending squeeze that almost knocks the air out me just from watching!
Meanwhile, Bob has cornered Fast Eddy to get the lowdown on our guest.
“Is he somebody important?”
Fast Eddy purses his lips and nods a slow up and down movement with his whiskered chin and says not- word- one. He’s too busy staring a hole in the vision of Melanie and the Big Hug.
Call me intuitive.
I can suss out how it is--Fast Eddy doesn’t like Melanie and Mr. Big hugging on each other. I quickly theorize: Old Z Z Top here is infatuated with Melanie!
In the next few minutes, the old man will creep over to the pool hustler in the Ostrich boots and whisper a suggestion in his sweaty ear. I notice out of the corner of my eye as it occurs.
After the slobbering welcome has ended and Melanie is back behind the bar, Mr. Big makes a glacial slow turn to his right and his eyes lock on to mine. My face is a blank.
I’m just watching and waiting--not worshipping. What rules of the road have delivered this demi-god to my side? Why am I not drooling, I can see him wondering.
“I’m Rayfield Wright. Everybody knows me. I’m a Philanthropist & Humanitarian. I’m a two time World Champion Dallas Cowboy Super Bowl winner. You see these two rings? Those are Super Bowl Winner rings. I’ve played in five Super Bowls. I’m a Hall of Famer who retired at the age of 34. I’m a most valuable player winner. ”
The BIG CAT reaches into his jacket pocket and pulls out a business card. He hands it to me like he’s offering a hundred dollar bill to a starving third world child. The card reads:
Rayfield Wright, Philanthropist & Humanitarian, blah blah blah etc.
Now, it’s my turn.
“Yeah--me too!” I said it with a very straight face. Dead on.
I arched my eyebrows and offered him my hand. . .the way the Pope does when he wants his ring kissed.
Now, I never played football or developed the quasi-religious fervor for the game your average Texan is born throbbing with. I don’t watch Super Bowls. I don’t know player’s names, as Rayfield Wright has come to expect every-damned-one-of us to know and react accordingly. It is his legacy, you see?
My not being impressed has puzzled him for only a few seconds. Behind his penetrating brown eyes, inside that helmet-like skull, the gears whirred and a conclusion is reached.
“You’re a jokester!”
He grins and slaps me on my shoulder with his hefty boxing glove sized hand and I suddenly concuss like a test-dummy in a car crash at General Motors laboratory.
“Heh heh heh. You’re a jokester. Yeah, man.”
And that was that. First impressions are over.
In the next fifteen minutes, 66 year old Rayfield Wright has knocked back about eight or nine shot glasses of J&B on the rocks--except, without the rocks. He’s only warming up!
He gets up and heads toward the bathroom. Melanie leans in and gushes about The Man.
“He’s a Philanthropist & Humanitarian, ya know?”
I can’t stop myself from blurting, “So, he says--and he’s got a card to prove it!”
You see, I’m not being an asshole, not really. I just don’t understand a man tooting his own horn so boldly to a stranger. I mean, would Mother Teresa introduce herself as a Philanthropist & Humanitarian and a saint?”
Melanie goes on to explain how Rayfield calls her up every week or so. If she needs money, he gives it to her to help her out. Her girlfriends too. All of them. Hmmmm.
A picture is beginning to emerge in my dirty little crow’s nest of a mind as to the definition of Philanthropist & Humanitarian.
I keep wondering to myself, why is a Super Bowl Champion in a biker bar outside the city hobnobbing with misfits when he could be someplace / anyplace else?
“He invites all of us to his suite when he’s in town on business. He gives the most wonderful parties!” Melanie’s eyes glisten with fairy dust as she purrs.
Gushy details spin out of control and pass the boundary line of TMI too much information.
Bob gives me a look and I return the same look.
We both reach our conclusion as to what enchantment this bar holds for the Champ.
The bathroom door opens wide.
As Mr. Big Cat emerges, guess who is standing in his path with a cocky, hat-on-the-back-of-the-head challenge to a pool match?
Fast Eddie’s better man. The Half-pint in a straw hat and Ostrich boots.
My guess is that he’s been put up to it by old ZZ TOP himself, wanting to see his competitor for the hand of Lady Melanie bite the dust at the hand of a runty nobody. Or, failing that--he’ll see the runt bite the dust at the hand of a black giant.
Either way, Fast Eddie was in the catbird seat.
Machiavelli with a beard
At the sight of the two men talking--Melanie has a sharp intake of breath, like you hear in horror movies when the Creature leaps out of the water with those webbed claws splayed.
Bob makes his inquiry and Melanie offers insights.
Little Half-pint and Rayfield the Magnificent hate each other’s guts, she tells us.
Half-pint is a racist of the down home, shit-kickin’ variety. But he’s a rarity in a couple of ways.
You see, Half-pint has been tossed out on his skinny ass by the Four Horsemen in the past for using racially charged language.
Say what? Since when are bikers racially sensitive?
Oh, Yeah--I left out the part where the black police officer was in the bar at the time!
You see, that makes the little diaper full in Ostrich boots a deliberately provocative revenge move on the part of Fast Eddy.
How Machiavellian! No matter who wins or loses--this will spell trouble for them both. The giant and the mosquito. Goliath and little David. This match is shaping up to be something worth witnessing!
Now, what happened next is a story I’ve been itchin’ to tell for a number of years and simply haven’t done--mainly because it has to be told just the right way, patiently and with keen attention to detail. Otherwise, it’ll be wasted. I couldn’t risk that--no no--not my best story!
_______ Duel of the Titans_______
I must tell you first off--our two gladiators are hammered as shit. Wall-eyed and wonky. Too drunk to fall down; drunker than gravity.
I’ve never before witnessed a drunk lining up his shot--steady on for a minute and a half, to within a centimeter of dead-solid-perfect, only to miscue and send rocketing off the table like a missile launch at Cape Canaveral, the hapless cue ball!
At least a dozen times in an hour, each man whiffed it!
Somehow or other, when his turn to shoot came for Rayfield Wright, a supernatural grace crept in. Imagine a ballet dancer wearing skis or a high diver holding an anvil and you’ll acquire a notion of what I’m describing. How’d he do it?
Rayfield the Giant was a terrifying, hardcore competitor.
He’d rather let red ants eat honey off his balls than to lose to a redneck racist runt. His concentration was chilling. Determination brimmed. Focus was deeper than Grand Canyon riverbed--and yet. . .he was spinning inside his head like a pinwheel on a merry-go-round. And all the while, the gnat in a hat was workin’ him, psychin’ him, with ungentlemanly gamesmanship.
“Hey Champ, how is sex for a man your age?”
Rayfield froze and stared down at him like a man who has put his Sunday best shoes in dog shit. He snorted and grinned.
“It’s like shootin’ pool with a rope.”
Fast Eddy, at the bar, watching with keen interest, gives a belly laugh.
“Hey Champ, you ever won any money playin’ pool?”
“No. Have you?”
Half-pint glances over at Fast Eddy and winks. “Yeah, I always walk away with a little pile of cash.”
“You probably do that by starting out with a big pile.”
Fast Eddie again--another belly laugh.
What are we witnessing here--vaudeville or a duel to the death? From moment to moment the mood shifted. Jolly to solemn. Angry to giddy and back again.
Every so often a clean shot would fire like a bullet, hit its mark and the targeted ball dropped like a coin in an old payphone. Ding ding ding.
The Half-pint came within a gnat’s eyebrow of running the table after his first break. No such luck. The moment passed with an awkward fumble and miscue.
The little guy’s face reddened and he stumbled backward onto a stool.
Rayfield stepped in and sent the rest of the remaining numbered circles whizzing and caroming off the cushions into the sweet little pocket like money from home. End of Game 1 of 3.
Rayfield: 1 Ostrich boots: 0
Rack em’ and stack em’
As inebriated, lubricated, saturated, and decimated by alcohol as Rayfield is--he steps lightly back to the bar counter where Melanie has topped off the shot glass with gleaming J&B--the elixir of the gods.
On the other hand, the Racist Half-pint is tossing down Boilermakers: a shot glass of whiskey dropped inside a mug of beer. The difference in size and weight of these two guys is day and night. There is no way possible for a little man to match drink for drink with a man three times his size!
Suddenly, Rayfield stands up straight and tall and announces to whole joint:
“Drinks are on me! I’m a Philanthropist & Humanitarian!”
I decided to believe him there and then as every spectator excitedly orders the most expensive drink the human mind could imagine on the spot.
The second game lasted forty-five minutes with half an hour spent bending down and picking up balls batted off the green felt onto the floor by the two drunks.
The Half-pint is soon forced to use his rake on a tricky shot with a blocked ball toward the end of the table. Rayfield has set him up for a certainty to fail. It is an impossible shot.
Half-pint squints and gulps. His eyes are swimming inside his sockets like guppies in a fishbowl. It’s not a certainty he can even see the pool table, let alone the ball.
Rayfield starts giggling like a schoolgirl with a hand up her dress and Half-pint froze and stood back from the table until things grew silent again.
“Hellfire--I beat Weenie Beanie and Squirrelly Joe last Saturday and I was drunker than now.”
The Half-pint suddenly shouted as he took a deep lungful of air and popped the cue into the white ball and set the spheres scrambling, dashing like cockroaches when a kitchen light snaps on. The crazy fool made the shot!
Rayfield stood and saluted.
Fast Eddie yanks at his scraggly white beard and moans, “Well, fuck me!”
Bob and I break out in gobsmacked applause like teenagers watching Elvis shake his ass.
Filled with confidence, booze, and raw ego--the Half-pint goes for the kill. Each line up is easy peasy like stringing pearls or spearing fish in a pond: bing, bang, bong. Score a win for the Runt in the Ostrich boots!
Rayfield: 1 Ostrich boots: 1
Rack em’ and stack em’
Fast Eddie never sits down. He has a nervous energy like a skittish hunting dog. He makes the rounds of the bar emptying ash trays and whispering something to each customer as he passes their table. He’s back in a flash as the final game is racked for first shot.
Melanie says something I can’t hear and Bob has to repeat it to me.
She says, “Fast Eddy is taking bets on the winner.”
It’s not clear to me either man will stay conscious for the entire third game. If they were in bad shape for the first two games--they’ve been on a steep slide to ruination in a hurry. The little Half-pint is starting to get mouthy. Melanie senses trouble brewing with the unerring intuition a bartender develops serving all sorts of nasty men night after night.
I hear her say something distinctly to Rayfield who is half sitting, half standing next to his barstool. He’s barely upright at all.
“I’m brewing you a pot of black coffee, Ray Ray.”
His solemn face widens into a wide, white grin of appreciation which creeps up into his eyes.
“Thank you, Baby.” The music in his voice says it all.
Half-pint has fed a handful of quarters into the jukebox--feverishly punching numbers and letters he obviously cannot see with clarity.
The crackle of a 45 rpm single sizzles aloud, followed by Eric Clapton’s voice and guitar:
“If you want to hang out, you've gotta take her out, cocaine / If you want to get down, get down on the ground, cocaine / She don't lie, she don't lie, she don't lie, / Cocaine. . .”
Meanwhile, Rayfield chugs a hot cup of steaming black coffee like it's iced tea. His ears perk up like hound dog and he stands, clapping his hands to the beat, shouting,
“Awwww Ri-i-i-i-i-ght! My man, Clapton!”
Half-pint sneers and pulls his straw hat off his head and slams it on the floor with a shout.
“Goddamn it! I didn’t play THAT--I wanted Waylon and Willie!”
Fast Eddie belly laughs and Melanie begins to sing along.
The Half-pint scoops up his hat and loses balance toppling over like a house of cards. Quick as a panther, Rayfield Wright has snatched him off the floor like a wide receiver gaining possession of a fumbled ball.
“Where ya goin’, my man--it ain’t over till the last ball drops?”
Half-pint is livid with embarrassment.
“Shit fire--I’m about to beat your ass--let’s get er done!”
About now I’m realizing this little fellow hasn’t really said anything racist all evening.
A man this drunk--if he’s of that sort--is loose enough with his tongue to say anything if provoked. Our little hero has been cool enough for Sunday school, start to finish. He’s not the type to be scared, he’s not smart enough and his ego is too big. I’m thinking whoever has labeled him racist misjudged him.
I lean over and wave Melanie over to ask her something.
“What is it he said to the black policeman the day he got thrown out of here?” I point at the red-faced Half-pint as he chalks his cue tip.
Melanie rolled her eyes a moment and nodded.
“He said out loud he refused to buy Crack with that Pig standing there. He was pointing right at the black cop.”
I frowned in puzzlement.
“How is that racist?”
Melanie gave me her best are-you-kidding-me face and replied.
“Duh--the cop was Black! There were two cops standing there and he pointed to the black one.”
I let it go. Who cares at this point? I’d say the jury is out on that one.
It was getting to be closing time at The Four Horsemen bar. Last Call was shouted out and the free rounds piled up--two drinks each. Rayfield had better win this game just to break even on the cost of the alcohol.
The front door swings open and the air changes inside. A little Mexican guy not more than five and a half feet tall creeps in carrying some kind of ice chest by its plastic handle. He walks up to each patron and offers to sell them the contents of the container.
Bob wonders aloud what the cabellero has to offer.
Presently, it’s our turn. The lid opens and home made beef carne asadas are revealed. A quick parlay and Bob purchases one for me and one for himself. They are hot and delicious, filling a very large empty space in our belly.
This pool match is dead even.
Roy Orbison is Crying on the jukebox, and Rayfield is suddenly as steady as the mast on a dinghy in a typhoon--which is to say--he’s about ready to tank.
There has been scratch after scratch, back and forth the entire game. Now, the last ball must be sunk and it’s Rayfield Wright--Philanthropist & Humanitarian for the win. IF. . . and only if.
The entire biker “club” is standing around the pool table now and the Half-pint is holding on to a nearby stool for purchase against a faceplant. Rayfield is as blind as a dead skunk.
He grabs another red hot cup of java and let’s it roar down his throat without touching his tongue. All of us watching cringe like it’s us on fire.
Melanie leans forward across the bar counter with her ample bosoms pushing up like the twin moons of Mars. She smiles at Rayfield with the sweetest smile a master artist could paint on his best day.
“You are a World Champion, Ray Ray. Winning is what you’re all about.”
And with that vote of confidence, Rayfield Wright stands up taller than the Washington monument, strides over to the pool table and lifts the Half-pint’s cue out of the little man’s hand.
“Let me borrow this--will you, Son?”
He turns, lines up the shot and--in one firm stroke sends the eight ball into the corner pocket after calling it.
The room echoes with deafening applause.
So let it be written-- so let it be done.
Rayfield: 2 Ostrich boots: 1
Game and Match
That was really well written.
Lol absolutely LOVED it!
This story has been edited by me subsequent to posting and rewritten to include an extended ending here: