In my last installment I mentioned that I wrote a story about a bartender I had known for a long time, over 15 years at least. His name is Keith Blair, though I doubt if a lot of patrons knew his last name, to most everyone he was just Keith and he had been the main bartender at The Bombay Bar & Grill for nearly 20 years at the time he left to go live closer to his grandchildren. That he was a grandfather would also have surprised most his patrons as well. I knew a lot things about him because, even though a slab of wood was usually between us, we told each other things just like real friends do and to each of us, we were real friends.
For one thing, Keith was fascinated with the fact that I wrote stuff. He was also disappointed that I was not famous since he liked the stuff I wrote. On the other hand, I was fascinated that someone with his mind and education would pursue a career in bartending, that is until I found out that he was just following in is mothers footsteps. She tended bar most of her life as well.
Keith started his career as soon as he could at the age of 21 and he was still doing it when he moved away at the age of 60. During the time we knew each other we swapped a lot of stories and information. I always wanted to write an article about Keith but he wouldn’t consent to it, and I would not do it without his consent, because he thought it would be “too boring”. So that left me with only one option and that was to write a fictionalized version of his life. This was something I meant to do for years but I kept putting it off and putting it off until it was almost too late. Once I found out that Keith had given his two week notice, it was now or never if he was ever going to see it. So I told him what I was going to do, left the bar, and did not come back for week. When I returned I handed him the story Weekend, which is now featured in my book Angel and the Bear http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00KZ3QF8I Before it appeared there, though, it was included in the great Amazon Shorts program that has since been discontinued due to lack of PROFIT for Amazon. Sadly, Keith had moved on before this occurred so he never knew about it.
The story is a compilation of many of the events he had told me about in his lifetime as a bartender. I took the most interesting of them and squeezed them into a weekend and when some of the other bartenders read it, they confirmed that all the events could essentially happen in that time frame.
When Keith read the story, he had tears in his eyes. I took it back from him, signed it, shook his hand and told him it was something he could always remember me by. He smiled and said that forgetting me was highly unlikely and that brought tears to my eyes.
I don’t think Keith ever knew what a popular person he was until just a few days before he left when a local paper published an article about his departure. That is saying something when a bartender leaving his job is news, but then that is Keith . He was always something special.
If you’d like to read this article, here is a link to it: