Let me go home, whiskey.

It’s been a week of strange occurrences and abnormal happenings. All manner of weirdness and impossibility seems to have blown into town on the cold and dirty wind. Fucking February.

The old Jewish lady that sells plastic orchids and unregistered handguns out of the back of her van down on Jones waved hello to me and smiled, instead of her customary “FACKOFF”. I got a letter from a dude I know in Samoa who I thought was dead. Turns out he’s not. I saw three men in board shorts walking Shetland ponies around Union Square in the rain.

Last night was the icing on the cake; walking through Berkeley under an eclipsed moon, I poked my head into a bar long enough to see Barron Davis single-handedly defeat the Celtics with one bazillionth of a second left.

Celestial events, erratic behaviors, and the risen dead I can handle, but you know Heaven and Earth are in for some serious freakishness when the Warriors beat Boston.

——-

Jolene and I wandered into a pub somewhere in the TL on Sunday night. We had time to kill before a movie. The place was deserted except for the bartender and two eastern european dudes eating at the bar and flirting with some hideous, chain-smoking tourist.

How old are you, I heard one ask.

Twenty-three, she said. A little beer shot out my nose and I choked loudly. Twenty-three my pale, jaded ass. Twenty-three during the Reagan administration. Homegirl looked like an elephant seal in a Gap sweater.

The place was nearly pitch dark, but as my eyes adjusted, I realized all of the windows were immaculate, ancient-looking stained glass. I’m not talking kitschy, Academy of Art stained glass, I’m talking removed-from-a-window-piece-by-piece-and-stored-in-a-bunker-during-the-Blitz stained glass. Every single ornate, gothic window portrayed a different religious scene.

Now they decorate a bar in the Tenderloin.

I picked up my beer and wandered deeper into the empty place. Huge, 10×12 paintings with gilded frames hang on the walls, severely darkened with age and abuse. For whatever reason the settings, the backgrounds of the pictures fade faster than the subject, making the walls look like they’re populated with the floating ghosts of various long-dead white men.

Towards the rear, I found a door leading downstairs and ended up in a chapel-like area. Two gas lamps lit the small room, and on the wall were six icons. Saints, rendered in the same austere, symbolic style as the windows upstairs, their hands folded in benediction and their faces empty and serious, venerable.

I turned up one of the lamps and looked closer. Jolene crept down the stairs behind me.

Wait a fucking second.

Saint Charles Bukowksi, freak poet.
Saint Janis Joplin, with too much hair and a terrifying grin.
Saint Kurt Cobain, on a black background.
Saint Hunter S. Thompson, a cigarette in each hand.
Saint Shane Macgowan, of the Pogues.
Saint Jim Morrison, shirtless as always.

“Holy shit, what is this place.” Jolene said.
We stared, awestruck.
“This is the greatest thing I’ve ever seen.”
“I know.”
“This is amazing. There are no words.”
The saints looked back with the silent severity one expects from the beatified.

What can you say to something like that, you know? We drank our beers, and marveled, leaving out the back door without another word.

If you’re out there, whoever it is that painted the beautiful icon of St. Kurt of Aberdeen…

I salute you.

———

The rain is back, the wind blows hard as ever. It’s like winter just took a minute, a short break to catch her breath, and now she’s ready for more.

I should get home.

Instinct tells me it’s gonna be another long night.

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