44, part seven
Back to DC. It was bourbon at the Hotel Washington for Eisenhower. I don’t know the connection, but I’m sure it seemed logical at the time. I also couldn’t tell you where we ended up for Truman, but a deep slice on my arm was bleeding steadily. I had several napkins stuck to it, fouled with blood and dirt.
James had calmed somewhat since the Quarry House.
“Thirty-five?” He asked me.
David giggled, “With a bullet!”
A hush fell over the adjacent tables and David blanched.
“When can I have my 22 ounce glass of Heineken freakout?” James asked.
“Not yet,” I told him. “Let’s go to the Post Pub for old Jack. It’s just down the street.”
“Why is it just down the street?”
James grabbed my arm, “That right there is why I hate you, Nacho.”
“Sorry. We should go because it’s just down the street.”
“What’s the JFK connection?” David asked.
“JFK was in DC.”
James rolled his eyes, “I see where this is going. The first quiet booth in a dark bar that we find, and we’re losing Nacho.”
“James, we’ve been drinking for what feels like weeks. Maybe we can ride out the modern presidents somewhere nice.”
“I’ll give you some recharge time at the Post Pub, but then we’re on the move.”
And it was at the Post Pub, where I double-fisted Dr. Pepper and vodka shots, where things started to fall apart. Though we weren’t really aware of it at the time. Everything seemed okay. But there was something brewing in James on that instinctual, sub-conscious level. I could hear it in the tremolo of his voice as he started ordering scotch. You could pick up this vibration of evil emanating from deep within him.
I opted to ignore this. Don’t get involved. Don’t try to do anything. Just be ready to run, and run fast, when the shit hit the fan.
“Thirty-six!” David said, “Is LBJ.”
“Notable points?” James asked.
“Ears. Dogs. Texas. Medicare. Great Society. Vietnam.”
“Civil Rights.” James added. “We can go to a negro bar.”
“Aren’t we saving the negro bar for the end?” David asked.
“We need a half negro bar for the finale.” I replied.
“The Mulatto Cup.” James giggled.
I finished my vodka, “I haven’t heard that word since 1930.”
“I knew it! You’re a vampire! A Confederate soldier turned by a small boy on the road to Atlanta!”
“So maybe we’re staying here for LBJ,” David mumbled.
“I am afraid to move.” I said.
“Fine,” James waved down the bartender, “three Erin Go Braghs!”
I glanced over at David, “Oh my god.”
Healthy-sized tumblers of whisky arrived and James knocked his back in one, hateful gulp. “Three seven!” he shouted.
And then there was silence.