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Edward Phillips

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The Flaming Fondue
By Edward Phillips
Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Rated "PG" by the Author.

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This might comprise a couple of pages if I were ever to write a memoir. And I have no intentions of writing one.

The Flaming Fondue
Tales from the Dark Side: A Narration

The year is unimportant. I was 35, living in an old broken down trailer that was perched on a knoll among a lot of other broken down trailers outside of Kansas City, Missouri. I was in my final semester working toward a BA in economics. My alma mater was a church-related college that has since become a university. I am guessing the God Squad left the grounds and enrollments went up by a hundred or so students since then in order for them to have been upgraded in the ledgers of academe to a university. Student housing was coed and too risqué by reputation for someone of my age and stature to have sought residence there. (That’s my story, and I’m sticking with it). My objective had begun 17 years earlier, and after stints at 5 different colleges and universities, that degree was finally in my cross hairs. My own demons were doing their best to keep me away from that lofty goal. Other than capturing a diploma, I wasn’t sure why I was there. Perhaps it was the periodic exams that forced me to find periodic sobriety.

I was an alcoholic. I wasn’t a falling down drunk or a suicidal lunatic. Not yet, anyway. I still had not figured out how to coexist with a cruel world that did not want me in it. So booze was my buddy. I eventually overcame my drinking problem, and today I do not even think about it. Back then I was immersed in it right up to my bloodshot eyeballs surrounded by those ghoulish intermittent blackouts. At this juncture in my life, my habit was aided and abetted by a perfectly situated saloon. It was right by the entrance to my living quarters in said trailer park. This gin mill had a most inglorious although apt name—the Flaming Fondue.

In the preceding 17 or 18 years I had been in saloons in the dirtiest parts of town from New York to LA, and at many points in between, as well as in a goodly number of joints and “propriétaire du bar” scattered to the far reaches of the planet. Fortunately, my memories of them today are blurred at best. But the Fondue was unique among them all. The women were tougher there, and they knew how to put you in your place faster than you could read a punch line or catch a fist in your face. It was no place for the tender of skin or the squeamish of sights and sounds.

Let’s talk about those punch lines and fists. They had “menus” at the bar and on all the tables. These menus contained some 300 questions and answers. The questions were cast as pick up lines, while the answers were either positive or negative depending on how the person to whom you were casting your question had sized you up. The questions ranged from polite to excessively gross, while the answers were mainly in the gross column. Most were “put downs” that ripped at your manhood. For example, a newbie to the bar might find the lady bartender attractive. But rather than telling her so, he might just shout out “I’d like number 12.” And the menu reference for number 12 might be “Nice tits, baby. May I suck on them?” The bartender, of course, knew all the questions and answers. She might fire back: “47 to you, dipshit” which instructed him “You can do your sucking in the men’s room, faggot boy.” The questions and answers went downhill from there. All the regulars who hung out there also knew all the questions and the answers. Needless to say, you learned to behave fast or suffer the consequences at the Fondue. Still, a lot of teeth were lost in fist fights there. It was more or less a relic left over from the old west. Personally, I never ordered from the menu. And I got along just fine with the bartenders. At closing time I had only to stagger out the back door and follow a trail of beer cans and assorted other debris to my temporary home in the park.

One morning I awoke in my trailer to a loud voice coming at me from a megaphone. My brain had not yet dissipated the prior night’s booze intake. For a moment I thought I had died and gone to hell. The voice was threatening: “This is the police. You are surrounded. Come out of that trailer with you hands up.”

“Holy shit balls,” I managed to say. “What the fuck did I do last night?” I crawled to the window and peered thru the lower slats of the venetian blinds. “This is your last chance, tough guy. Come out or we’re coming in.”

I gave myself the once over, and only then realized I was naked as a jay bird. “Where in hell are my shorts?” I muttered. Those flashing lights on top of that menacing jail on wheels outside my window told me this was going to be a cold and embarrassing ride to the slammer. “Well, screw it. A man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do,” I said. I crawled to the door, and banged on it. “Don’t shoot, I’m comin’ out,” I yelled. Then I opened the door and stuck my hand out while waving it frantically. No shots rang out and no slugs penetrated my door, so I stood up and put my arm out. I opened the door very gingerly and stepped out onto the broken concrete blocks stacked at my doorway. By now there were 8 or 10 gawkers peering out from behind various trailers and trucks with and without wheels. They were all looking at me. I raised one hand to the sky while trying to conceal my manhood with the other. “I’m not armed,” I yelled.

The cute little blonde who had the trailer across from me was waving at me. “Now you wave,” I thought. “Where were you before I sold my binoculars?”

Suddenly one of the cops waved at me and yelled “Hey you, naked guy. Get your ass back inside and get down before you get hurt.”

I ducked back into my trailer and glanced around in all directions. I finally got it. They weren’t after me. Those fine upstanding men in blue had the trailer next to mine surrounded. I watched as they brought their handcuffed criminal out and shoved him into the back seat. As they drove away I remembered the blonde. Wouldn’t you know it? She was nowhere in sight.

There were still 5 or 6 gawkers hanging around. I stuck my head out the door and asked “Has anybody seen my shorts?” They all scattered.

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Reviewed by Jansen Estrup 3/1/2015
Sounds like that real-life nightmare, being naked in public. But the risk is not acute embarrassment ... only death. Very entertaining.
Reviewed by Ronald Hull 2/26/2015
That was cute. I'm glad it wasn't you. I'm still trying to figure out why you couldn't grab a pair of pants and skip the shorts. It looks like you have some stories to tell that are well worth reading. A memoir wouldn't be bad either.

About that time, I was riding with Nick in his beat up 60 Sprite that had lost its top in New York State coming back from Expo 67 on our way back to California. In St. Louis, it had lost part of the clutch, making shifting difficult. Nick had to make a side trip to see his sister in Kansas City. She lived in a seedy part of town, in an old ramshackle house, and worse, in the basement. Nick made me stay in the car for about a half hour while he went to see her. Then, we were back on the road. Strange, that I didn't run into you, then… Isn't it?

About 11 o'clock in Colorado or Nevada, I can't remember. Nick wanted to go into a country bar to "check out the local scene." I had no desire to lose any teeth and my paralyzed hands couldn't make a fist if I wanted to. So I declined while Nick went in and had a beer or two with the local cowboys. I guess he got bored and came back about a half hour later. We were on our way again.

Reviewed by J. Roseline 2/25/2015
You need not write a memoir, all that we need to do is put all this together.Now I can understand when people say, "I have lived different lives and my present cannot connect with my past. I always look forward to your stories, please keep writing." roseline
Reviewed by Danae Wilkin 2/25/2015
Funny story. Plenty of grit and wise-assedness. Some of those bars sound like they belong in a Bukowski story and I love his works. I have had problems with blackouts but now I know my limits. Also, it took me 13 years and 4 colleges/universities to complete my bachelor degree. I totally want to visit that bar! Hehe. Nice naked ending. I suspected they were after someone else. Great imagery throughout. Thanks for sharing. Best, Danae

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