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Marty’s Half Dozen Chapter 5: The Bigger They Are… by Jill

Ralph had done it. His warning had been haunting me for over a week now. When someone says something that you know or fear deep down is true, their words infect you. “He’s angry.”

I’d never seen Marty angry for a micro second. But he had this thing about him. My father was a full on Orthodox Jew when he was growing up in Brooklyn. He was so Jewish that his parents sent him to a Yeshiva in Israel when he was 18. And my dad used to tell me about these Rabbis that, within 2 minutes of talking to you would know your fears and dreams and strengths and insecurities. Their level of sensitivity and insight, only surpassed by their wisdom, allowed them to instantly see into a person’s soul.

I knew Marty had this. Night after night random strangers would sit next to him and with in minutes they’d completely open up, pouring out their deepest problems and darkest secrets. Without missing a beat, Marty would pay them a compliment would light them up like a 5 year old getting the best Christmas gift of his childhood. I loved to watch him do it. Marty, giving someone the reassurance or compassion or whatever it was that person needed…like a psychologist with a cheat sheet. But always in the back of my mind, I wondered, what if he wanted to do the opposite. How easily he could decimate someone. 

Ralph didn’t mean angry like yelling at someone who cuts you off in traffic or even a bad temper.He meant the type of anger that’s vindictive and out of control. And that’s what terrified me. I had opened up to Marty so much. Where with most people, mere minutes gave Marty all he needed to bolster them, with me he had enough ammunition for an arsenal. I felt dangerously vulnerable. 

Every night since then, I prayed that Marty wouldn’t come in to Wild Child Wings. And for the week I was lucky. Until Thursday night. He had such a smile on his face. I hopped he would sit down in a booth where Jess could serve him. Or maybe next to Carolyn or Eddie as they debated the Republican agenda. 

But instead he walked right over to me, smacked the bar counter and asked,

“Jill, tonight I’m doing a full dozen! What’s Gus offering on the specials?”  

The golf ball in my throat thwarted my efforts to play it cool. There was no way I’d was going to get out the nightly wings specials, so I coughed. Then I coughed again. Then decided to go with it.

“Are you okay?”

I squinted and smiled and let out two more suppressed coughs, then held up my finger to signal “one moment” and walked into the bathroom hallway to get a hold myself. But what then? What was I going to do? Quit? It took me 6 months to get this job. Then another 3 months to learn all the ins and outs so I wasn’t a deer in the headlights every night.

I leaned against the wall and sank down to my knees. I wanted to be so much stronger than I was. The whole reason I moved to New York was to toughen up. I left with my tail between my legs, a failure, more lost than when I got there. But here I finally felt like I had done it. Found my voice, doing something I was good at and actually enjoyed. And one man, who I can’t stand up to, takes that all away…makes me realize that everything I had built was all an illusion. And he didn’t even have to try to take it from me. But then, I felt a warm hand on my shoulder.

Jill…I think it’s time you told me what your problem is with me.”

 To be continued…

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Posted by on October 1, 2013 in By Jill, Marty's Half Dozen, Restaurants

 

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Marty’s Half Dozen: Chapter 2 — By Jill

Slow night.

Continued from Chapter 1.

Day 94

“Nothing ever changes, Jill.”

Marty’s lip trembles as he blinks to hold back his tears. I’m terrified. How could a person, so sensitive, so in touch with humanity, turn into this…monster? The bar is silent. Every single person’s eyes are fixed on me.  I have no idea what to do.

Marty breaks the silence. “I’m tired, Jill. Then he commands, “So pour me the drink.”

Day 5

It was a slow Tuesday at work. At first I was relieved as I was finally able to get comfortable behind the bar. But after about four hours I wanted to pull my hair out. There was me and a quiet and silly homeless man spending his “spare change?” money. I had nick-named him Sloppy Joe. I couldn’t help wishing Marty would come in. He and I didn’t really have a chance to talk the other night as I was perpetually in the weeds.

The front door opened and I sharply turned my head like a dog left home all day. But no Marty. Just a young couple. They immediately went to the back then started gratuitously making out. I could have gone over to them to ask them to order or get out, but when you’re working a painfully slow shift, you don’t really want to do anything. So I left them to their public privacy.

In your face!

Eventually, I couldn’t take it anymore and rested my head on the bar top. After what felt like seconds, I was awakened with a startling thud. Indentations in my forearms and cheek mirroring the rivets of the bar top paired with the warm apprehensive tingling sensation of the chest and neck were indicative of an ill-timed nap. I surveyed the bar. PDA couple, Sloppy Joe and…was it…could it…yes! Marty.

He was sitting in the exact same stool from a few nights ago. Black trench coat, hat resting beside him and his briefcase propped open on the bar. That explains the thud. I approached him as he sorted through his papers.

“What’ll it be stranger?”

“1/2 dozen hot buffalo wings and a club soda with lime.”

He ordered matter-of-factly, not looking up from his papers.

“Sure, you don’t want a Negroni?”

“A club soda with lime will be fine, thank you.”

Nothing. Nada. He is a customer. I am an order taker. I was a little heart broken. Maybe he had gotten drunk the other night before he came into the bar. Hell, maybe I had imagined the whole thing to begin with.

“You want those less cooked, so their not crispy, right?”

He gazed up from his papers and took a good look at me.

“And if you don’t want a drink, Can I make it a ‘Marty’s Half Dozen?”

“Why that sounds magnificent, Jill.”

He smiled and went back to his papers.

***

When his food finally came up he put his papers away and we started talking. I told him about New York and my mistakes with Mack prompting me to move back to Seattle. We were interrupted by PDA guy.

“Excuse me. Can we get some service, please?” he demanded.

“Thought you two wanted your privacy.” I quipped.

He sneered then, “Two shots of Patron.”

After dealing with him I went back to Marty. “Can you believe those two? This isn’t a motel.”

“Well, I don’t take to his rudeness, but at least you can be happy for them.”

“What? Why? It’s disgusting.”

“I guess so. But I walk through this city, riding its buses, and with the constant overcast, I find myself surrounded by so much solitude, so many grimaces, and utter contempt. It’s nice to be around someone enjoying themselves.”

“Well it doesn’t make me feel any better. It makes me feel angry. It feels unfair.”

“I know. Believe me, I know. That’s hurt. That’s loneliness. You wonder why love has been kept from you. Rationalizing that luck simply just hasn’t gotten around to you yet. But when you see two lovers there, in front of you, it’s real. Like being picked last for baseball, there’s no denying the problem is probably you. And you sink deeper.

But that breeds something dark within you, Jill. I used to have a friend. She’d  say that we should always feel the joy of others. For the longest time, I rejected that. But I’ve found that she has a point. Something magical happens when you spread the good.

“Sounds like some cheesy after-school sentiment to me.”

“Maybe it is.”

With that he left me a 20 for his wings. “Hey Marty, one thing before you go. You always do the club soda thing. You ever drink?”

“No. Never.”

“Why not?”

“Let’s just say, I lost something very very special because of it. And I’ve been wandering ever since. But that’s a story for another time.”

“And you still, ‘spread the good'”?

“Yes, I have to.”

He put on his coat, packed up his briefcase, gave me a smile, and went over to Sloppy Joe.

“Have one on me.”

Day 94

I’m still terrified, but I stick to my guns. “Marty, if you want a drink, you’re going to have to go somewhere else.”

“No Jill. You’re going to pour the drink. Or you’re next.”

And that’s when it occurred to me. That when the best of us fall, they do the most damage.

 
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Posted by on November 20, 2012 in By Jill, Marty's Half Dozen, Restaurants

 

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Marty’s Half Dozen Chapter 1 — By Jill

This one’s next to the bathrooms.

Well almost a week passed by and I had figured that my dreams of working at Wild Child Wings were never going to be more than dreams. Then, yesterday I get a call. It’s Gus.

“Jill? You wanna come in tonight?”

No second interview, no background check, no come down for an orientation and to fill out some paper work. Apparently, I’m on the schedule now.

“We’ll need you at 5:30.” Click. It was already 4:45. I rushed down to the secret Eden of Pioneer Square getting there just in time. When I opened the door Gus was on a ladder fixing one of the ceiling’s hanging fan/lamps.

“Finally, you’re here. Go get changed and I’ll show you the ins and outs real quick.” Changed? He didn’t say anything about a uniform. Maybe there were shirts in the back. I took off my leather jacket throwing it on a nearby bar stool. Doing so revealed my naked arms as I was only wearing a tank top. I was about to head to the back when Gus exclaimed, “Great, you’re changed!” He scuttled down the ladder and led me around the bar top.  “Wells are down here, top shelf up here, everything in between is everywhere in between.”

He squatted down and unlocked the coolers. “Domestic beers and white wine are in these low boys. European and Russian beers are in the far one. Ciders, sparkling water, and non-alcoholic beer are in the behind the breakage bucket.” He pointed to a bright red bucket.

As I tried to quickly develop a mnemonic device, he sprung up and continued his rapid fire explanation of locations. Simple syrup here, fresh mint there, old mint for mojitos in the grocery bag, lemons, cherries, olive juice, etc… “You’re familiar with Aloha, right?” he said pointing to the touch screen computer. “Umm…” I started to reply. But then he cut me off, “It’s pretty much like any other computer system. Just don’t run anyone’s debit card twice by accident. We open in 10, but it won’t get busy for another hour or so. I’ll be in the back fixing an air duct. Training number is 123, if you wanna practice ringing stuff in.” He picked up and collapsed the ladder. “Oh one last thing. The owner might stop in tonight.” He smiled, gave me a playful salute, then was gone.

The owner? Fuck.

From this…

I pulled out my iPhone and downloaded a cocktail mixing app and tested making a few drinks. People steadily started to come in one by one. Luckily they mostly wanted the beers on tap. Then just as it started to get busy this one guy came in. He was an oaf of a man. Could easily play the disgruntled neighbor on any 90’s sitcom. He elbowed his way into a bar stool and snapped at me. I was worried he might be the mysterious owner.

to this.

Even though I was pouring three beers, he snapped three or four more times for me. “Honey, I’ll have a Negroni on the rocks. And make it strong.” If he was the owner I didn’t want him to see me cheat on my iPhone and I was pretty sure I had made one earlier. I figured I’d fish for some information.

“What whiskey do you want?”

To which he replied, “Whiskey? Really? Does Mike know he’s employing bimbos who don’t know their drinks?” I didn’t know how to reply. My heart was beating like crazy. He wasn’t the owner, but I was sure he’d be telling him. Before I could calm myself down he snapped again, “I asked you a question, tuts!”

More and more people were coming in and crowding around the bar. I couldn’t remember which beer I had poured in which glass before the oaf started talking me. I couldn’t remember whose debit card I had just taken or if I’d even run it already. Hell, I couldn’t even remember my code to enter drinks on the computer. It was my worse than my worst waitmare.

“I’m sorry. What tequila did you want?” I guessed again.

He leaned back slapping both hands on the bar. “Wow, who’d you blow to get this job?” The world around me started to go silent. I could hardly breath. The oaf continued to lambaste me. “You know how long I’ve known Mike? I helped him build this place. When he hears that flat chested stoner chicks are running this place into the ground–”

Suddenly just before I was about to collapse, a soft spoken phrase from a bar fly on the 3 stools down cut through all the clamor and ravings of the busy bar silencing the asshole oaf’s rant.

The Stranger I would come to know as Marty.

“I think you mean Mitch. Not Mike. And he didn’t build this place. He bought. And just because the guy comped you a plate of wings opening weekend doesn’t mean you’re friends.  Now stop trying to scare the girl into giving you a free drink, let her get back to work.”

The man was soft spoken, late 40s or early 50s. He wore a light brown trench coat, glasses, and had long-ish white hair. Like how Jack’s hair is. He had a calm and confident ease and a troubled smile. And bore a slight resemblance to the actor Bruce Davison.

At this point, Gus had returned and noticed something was amiss. “Is there a problem here?” he inquired. The oaf starred locking eyes with the stranger. Then the oaf glanced at me and finally turned to Gus. “Yea, this yutz in bartender’s clothing–” but the stranger wouldn’t let him finish.

“Ralph’s had a few too many again. He’s bothering me and he’s kept this lovely creature from making drinks for anyone else.”

The oaf, Ralph, started to defend him self, “Where the hell do you get off? You think you’re so much better than the rest of us?” But Gus put his hand on Ralph’s shoulder. “Is this going to be a repeat of Cinco de Mayo?” At that, Ralph finally relented. “You know, this place has gone to hell since you took over, Gus.”  He got off this bar stool and headed out with Gus following him out.

“It’s okay. Take a breath. It’ll all come back.”

He was right. I remembered which beer was which, and served them. I went back to the computer to find a credit card receipt printed ready to be torn off and delivered. The rush died down and everything calmed.

“Sweet vermouth, Campari, and gin.”

“Huh?”

“A Negroni is equal parts sweet vermouth, Campari, gin. And an orange slice. But even if you’d have known that, Ralph’d still have told you, you made it wrong. He does that to all the new bartenders. Then he trumpets he knows the owner. Word of advice. If anyone says they know Mike or Mitch, they’re full of it. Mitch’s friends call him The Pearl.”

“Thanks for your help back there. How about a Negroni? On me of course. You can tell me if I make it right.”

“Thanks, but no thanks. Just a half dozen of the hot buffalo wings. Less cooked. I don’t like them crispy. And a club soda with lime.”

“You sure?”

“Absolutely.”

“What’s your name stranger?”

“People call me Marty.”

“Well Marty, Jill. Pleased to meet you. Maybe I can get you a couple of extra wings.”

—And that’s how we got the term Marty’s Half Dozen.

 
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Posted by on October 27, 2012 in By Jill, Marty's Half Dozen, Restaurants

 

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