I can't remember the name of the bar down in the wrong part of town. It was run by an ex-football star in a football crazy town. Was it Jimmy's? Charlie’s? There must be thousands of these sorts of bars scattered all over the world. Regulars coming in every day, staying all day and maybe all night, too. Jimmy or Charlie or whoever he was would be tending the bar most of the time. A big guy with a big personality. He would personally beat the ever-loving shit out of anyone who got too far out of line. (And you think having a dumbass writeup removed is some sort of "penalty?" Just be glad the power structure of everything2 can't literally get their hands on you.)

So my girl and I would drive my Ford Fairlane down through the black neighborhoods to the bar on several afternoons. That car was a mess. The floorboard on her side was rusted out. There was a hole big enough there for a baby to fall through. Luckily for us (and luckier for the non-baby) we didn't have one. Also, at this particular time, I had a master cylinder which was leaking like an incontinent granny.

Once we got to the bar, we'd put a bunch of dollars in the jukebox and play Elton John's Benny and the Jets over and over. God, we loved that song in that bar. I don't think I liked that song anywhere else, but it was perfect in that place.

Then we'd start playing pinball. I don't remember the name of the machine, but it was one of those Bally classics. There was no multiball or ramps; just pure pinball excellence on a machine that was as finely honed as a Martin guitar. I was good. She was good. We'd play as a team and bet with some of the regulars in a foursome. We'd usually drink for free all day, and sometimes even leave with some cash in our pockets.

I could always hold my liquor fairly well, as long as I stayed with beer. She could drink with me, beer for beer, too. God almighty, she was so cute when she was tight. Well, she was pretty damn cute all the time, but she'd get a shine around her when she got loose.

This one afternoon, we left the bar about an hour before sundown. I guess we'd had six beers apiece, which was just a beginning, of course. On the way home, I was driving up a steep hill in the black neighborhood, approaching a stop sign. There was a brand new Lincoln Continental sitting at the stop sign, but there were no cars coming from any direction, so I assumed the car would move soon. It didn't; and when I put my foot on the brake pedal, it went straight to the floor. Since I was going up a hill when I hit the Lincoln, it was just a tap, really. I slammed on the emergency brake and jumped out to see the damage. It was just a little scratch, so I felt as if I could worm my way out of any further difficulty. I sure did NOT want the cops coming, to whom I'd have to explain that six beers was just a beginning and how sober I actually was.

So this big black lady gets out of the Lincoln and waddles back to where I was standing. "Ma'am, I'm very sorry, but my brakes went out, and I don't think there's enough damage to really worry about. I'll be glad to pay you out of my pocket to have your bumper repaired."

She looks me up and down, from my $2 sandals to my $2 shirt, and then it began. "My husband just bought this car," she screamed like Mahalia Jackson on Sunday while the plate is being passed. "This is gonna cost you, boy! That bumper ain't all that's hurt here! We gots to call the Po-Lice!"

The wailing of her speech gave me a slight headache, and it also made me begin to conjure up escape plans. I said, "Why don't you go up to that house right there and call the Police and I'll just wait here. I'm not from this neighborhood and you probably know who lives there."

"Oh, you can bet your sweet ass I know who lives there. And I know you're going up there with me, too. I know what you're thinkin’ about!" She must have been channeling the future from one of her favorite singers, Dionne Warwick.

So I said, "OK, ma'am. But let me go tell my girlfriend what we're doing so she won't worry." And, with that, I went back to my car and talked to my girl through the rolled down window. "Listen, I'm going up on that porch. When I turn around and give you the signal, you crank this piece of shit and haul ass out of here. Then I'm going to run." She looked at me as if she didn't believe me, at first, and then she remembered how fucking nuts I really am and said, "OK."

The black lady and I went up to this porch and rang the doorbell. An older black guy came to the door and said, "Can I help you?" Just then, I turned around and shot my arm up in the air. My girl began trying to crank the Fairlane. It wouldn't start. As she was continuing to try cranking it, the car began to roll back down that hill. I looked at the black lady and black man standing there with me. Their eyes were big and wide, sort of like a scene from Amos 'n Andy when Sapphire can't believe something the Kingfish has just gone and done.

My girl lost track of direction as the car was rolling back down the hill, and the car went off the road and hit a light pole pretty hard. I guess this was all the engine needed, 'cause it cranked right up then and she popped the clutch and got rubber as she went past us. I immediately took off running. The black lady started screaming at the top of her lungs: "WHITE BOY! WHITE BOY DONE HIT ME AN' RUNNIN'!" She screamed that over and over, but the sound faded away as I hauled my white ass as fast as I could through a nearby schoolyard.

Have you ever been pumped up with adrenaline and run so far that your chest was actually visibly pounding, like those cartoon characters when they're in love and you can see their heart jumping out of their skin? When I could run no further, I went down an alley and hid under an old car that was sitting in someone's back yard. I laid there until it got dark; about an hour, I guess. During that time, three gangs of folks walked by me. I could see their feet, and I could hear what they were saying. They were looking for me. They did not have good intentions for my well-being if they found me. So I stayed there another hour.

When I felt the coast was as clear as it was going to get, I crawled out from under that car and ran about 5 blocks to a Taco Bell. There were some college kids in there eating, and I convinced them to give me a ride back to my house.

My girl was there, waiting on me. Not too concerned; she knew not only that I'd be OK, but that she needed a few more beers. Well, maybe she just knew the latter. But we hid that Ford Fairlane in an old garage out back and didn't drive it for a month. Nothing else ever came of it.

So, what is the moral here? Obviously, it's that you should become the famous ex-football player and own the bar instead of being a patron. Oh, and keep plenty of brake fluid on hand.

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