NAKED, except for a pair of red Jockey shorts, I shivered in the brisk winter air. The thirty-eight revolver pointed at my head should have been a wake up call for me. As it was, it was just another in a long string of warning signs that I duly ignored while I raced headlong into danger, desperately trying to get myself killed before cystic fibrosis could do the job for me.
I had blasted into Wenatchee Washington on a whim six months earlier riding my Honda CBR 600. Wearing a complete outfit of red and white racing leathers, I took the mountain passes at one hundred knee-dragging, white-knuckled, limit-testing, scuff-pad- scarring miles an hour. All my belongings were strapped to my bike, I had left behind everything else; including a relationship with my Grandparents that had grown increasingly tenuous and, most of all, a busted marriage engagement with the woman who had ripped my heart out and stomped all over it.
One thing was obvious to me. I needed a change of scene; a place to drown in forgetfulness. The only connection I had in Wenatchee was my mother, an itinerant nurse, and my younger brother, Keef, punk at large. Other than that, I didn’t know a whole hell of a lot about Wenatchee, and I didn’t really care. I was soon to learn that it is difficult to escape past problems and much easier to create new and improved problems. This city, I was to find, was rife with such opportunities.
Wenatchee was primarily an agricultural town. The summer months brought 90 degree plus temperatures and a wave of migrant workers that kept the Red Delicious apples flowing out to places as far away as Japan. In addition, I was to discover, Wenatchee was an axis point for drugs moving in from Seattle. Illegal drugs flowed like wine. The supply was plentiful and a dangerous underworld existed beneath the sleepy exterior of the city.
On my mission of self destruction, I quickly immersed myself in the night life and club scene where I was to become, all too, intimately acquainted with some of the movers and shakers of Wenatchee’s thriving drug industry.
Within three days I pinned down a job bartending at Redd's. The manager, Elliott, was overweight, uptight, and stressed by the pressure of running a restaurant. I could see that what he needed was an employee that knew his stuff, someone that he wouldn’t have to lead around by the hand, someone who could jump in and take charge so he wouldn’t have to. During the job interview, I became that employee. I threw out the recipes for a dozen different drinks and told him I could make three hundred of them from memory. I told him I’d been bartending for several years and tossed out the names of a few bars back home. Forty-five minutes later I had the job sewed up with an invitation to start work that evening.
The fact was, my sum total of experience bartending was derived from a lot of experience drinking and a bartenders manual I had purchased several years ago and studied the hell out of. Truth be told, after seeing a few movies glamorizing bartending, I decided that it would be a cool line of work.
In the end, I approached bartending with a religious fervor, intending to make the Hollywood image my reality. Bartending became a creative expression for me, and so I became a doctor, a lawyer, a marriage counselor, career counselor, sex therapist, psychiatrist, theologian, philosopher, lover, drinker, and a connoisseur of fine foods. . .you name it. A bartender is whatever, to anybody at any time.
Once I got behind the bar my circle of acquaintances grew rapidly. In the next few weeks I got to know hundreds of people. As a bartender you have to have a wide range