I am still asking for feedback please.
The Cerebral Man
Chapter Two – Of Dives and Drives
They walked together in the crisp autumn air to the corner where there stood a hole of a bar that had been in that same spot long before the business district had built up around it. The owner, a scruffy looking guy, was the fifth generation owner of this bar that had never been owned outside his family. Looking at the guy you would think to yourself “I’d hate to run into him on a dimly lit night” as he had a bulbous beard and tattoos everywhere visible on his arms and neck, but to the business district regulars TJ was a good man to know. John once asked TJ why he always looked so scruffy when it was apparent to anyone who knew him well that he is a very astute business man and could manage a conversation on any business topic.
TJ looked at him and smiled. After a short pause for effect TJ said “It keeps those shitbird leeches from bothering me. You know the type, always asking for advice on how to do their job and when it is helpful they take the credit for it and then come back to try and suck more out of you.” TJ continued “When a business type walks in here and sees me standing here with tattoos, beard, and my casual attire, they automatically assume I don’t know crapola while they pay me way too much for the drinks I serve them.” While they walk around here with airs and think high of themselves, I work when I want, and live quite well in my lakefront home all on what they have handed over to me.”
“When I first took over the bar, I had to buy my father out at five times the annual profits just like he had to do with his father. I was clean shaven, not a tattoo on my body and in slacks and dress shirt every day. Those leeches would come in here all during the business day and tell me their problems at work. I would give them advice on how to fix the problem and they would run out again. A few days later they would be back bragging to their friends how they had come up with a grand business saving solution. I got tired, ah hell, I got down right pissed. I quit handing out advice and they started bitching. They bitched about the prices, they bitched about the quality of my liquor and they bitched about how my father had run the business better. One by one I threw the leeches out and started growing a beard. I lost the business attire and picked up a few tattoos and the bitchers I had not thrown out voluntarily quit coming. The clientele that replaced them came in without expectations and without bothering me for shit other than their booze. I found who I could talk to and get my fix for business knowledge that I first acquired while attending Yale and I also learned to spot the leeches too.”
As Jimmy and John walked in, TJ reached below the counter and brought out a bottle of Elijah Craig’s 21 year old single barrel bourbon and two glasses. TJ had that knack of knowing what the right drink was for his regulars just by looking at their facial expressions as they walked through the door.
“What’s the occasion?” Jimmy asked.
“John looks like he’s ready to blow a gasket, like he’s about to do a shake and bake convulsion. The assholes on the 15th must have pissed him off again” TJ replied with a smile.
“Don’t get me started talking” John said, “get me started drinking!”
TJ poured two glasses of the amber nectar neat for his two favorite clients but absolutely his two worst tippers. He chuckled as he thought about the time John had told him “Hell, I can’t even see the lake from my neighborhood! If anything, you should be tipping me!”
TJ was always busy behind the bar, but he knew how to keep business thriving. If he heard a customer complain about his co-worker, every so often TJ would pipe up with “to hell with co-workers!” and the customer would order another round. If another customer was complaining about his boss, TJ would walk by and yell “bosses suck!” and another round would be rung up. With John it was always the same thing; all TJ had to do was shake his head and calmly say “top floor assholes” and John would go into a tirade while ordering another round.
But TJ always knew when to quit pushing buttons too. His customers were his source of lifestyle and he needed to protect that. Shoot, there were even some customers he liked too; like Jimmy and John.
Tonight was not one of those nights when TJ was going to push John’s buttons. He knew John to be a smart man, but he also knew him to be extremely Type A and did not handle what he considered abuse well. TJ was sure that John had made his employers millions upon millions by the way John would sometimes look at the stock ticker that always ran at the bottom of the screen of the television set in the corner of the bar. John would watch for a while and then tell TJ “If you’re smart, you’ll buy a bunch of this stock tomorrow and be ready to sell on Friday.” TJ started to pay attention to John’s predictions because he rarely missed.
One time TJ asked “John, you are so good at the stock market, what are you doing in the clothing business?” John replied “Running the market requires money. Right now all my money is tied up in my wife and two income sucking life forms at home.”
TJ however did have the money and every time Johnny made a prediction, TJ found time to walk to the corner of the bar and call his broker. Every time a prediction paid off, TJ put two-thirds of the profit in his account and one-third into another account his wife knew nothing about. Once John’s last “income sucking life form” left the home, TJ was going to withdraw all the funds in that special account and present it to John and his missus. The way TJ figured it, John deserved a commission more than his broker did. For now, it had just passed a million and TJ thought it was going to be funny how it would cause all sorts of federal inquiries as to the source of that newly found income.
TJ didn’t need this business since John came through the door and started making him money hand over fist and occasionally thought about selling it, but it had been in his family so long and what the hell was he going to do? He was 40, owned his home free and clear, didn’t have a single debt anywhere, and besides John’s contribution to his retirement, it got him out of the house. When it came down to the point, TJ liked tending his own bar.
After three neat bourbons, TJ suggested that he order steaks from the restaurant next door and the three of them enjoy three medium rare cuts of filet from one of those fine Iowa corn fed cows they serve there. He didn’t want the J’s getting too inebriated and then getting in trouble with the law after they left the bar.
John thanked him for his offer but said his wife had one of her world famous pot roasts in the oven that would be sitting on the dinner table at 7:00 and if he was not there to partake of it, she would not make him another for a very long time; and John loved his wife’s pot roast with potatoes, carrots and onions; it was as good as his mother made.
The J’s pulled their wallets out to pay the bill but as TJ was known to do, he told them to put their wallets away because in the long run they would be paying for his Caribbean cruise soon enough.
The two stepped back out into that cool air which even though neither considered themselves drunk, did seem to wake them both up as they walked to the parking garage.
John watched as Jimmy left in his beat up old Chevy pickup truck and thought about how Jimmy who was making six figures drove a rusty old truck. When asked about it, Jimmy always replied that people who drove nice vehicles were at the mercy of drunks with no insurance, while even the drunks didn’t want to hit his truck which was an eyesore, but was mechanically sound.
John then slipped into his Explorer with the leather heated seats and backed out of his parking slot. The drive west to the suburbs gave the alcohol time to relax his mind and for the first ten miles he drove with the windows open as it helped him remain alert. By the last fifteen miles the temperature had dropped to where his hands were burning from the cold so he closed the windows, turned on the heated seats and turned the interior thermostat up to 75. The warmth emanating up from the seat and the warm breeze in his face gave him the feeling he was melting; a slow soothing melt. His eyes became heavier and heavier; the last thing he remembered thinking was “Ah hell, I have driven this route at least five times a week for 20 years, I could drive this in my sleep.”