July 7, 2019
My brother, Tom, was a bartender. He worked at little dive bars mostly. Almost always he worked the graveyard shift from 12AM to 8AM. On days he was without a vehicle, I would get up and drive him to work. I would stay and have a drink and some food. I would go home and sleep. Then, I’d get up, grab the kids and go pick him up. We would usually all go out for breakfast.
On nights I didn’t have to drive him, I would still go visit him anyway. I just wanted to visit my brother. My brother was never more than 20 minutes away. Traffic at midnight in Vegas is pretty slow. You really can get anywhere in Vegas in 20 minutes, at the right speed, if you are close to a freeway and your destination is close to a freeway.
For years, I treasured the time I would go and hang out with my brother. My kids would be asleep. My husband would be asleep. My parents would be asleep. The whole world would be asleep, except me and the drunks, who visited the bar. This was the time for me to watch my brother in action.
He worked at a couple of bars. One of the bars he worked at was next to a strip club. You can’t drink alcohol in a strip club, so the patrons would come over to the bar and get liquored up before heading in to see some tits and ass. They would then come back over after seeing all the boobs and butts. There were a fair amount of strippers who frequented the bar as well.
Tom had a steady clientele of strippers, hookers, pimps and playboys. It was an eclectic mix. I loved watching it all. I just sat back with my vodka and soda. Sometimes, I would gamble, if Tom gave me a $20. A lot of the time, Tom would introduce me to these late night people, “This is my little sister.”
I would have shots bought for me. Conversations ensued. These people were crazy fun and just all around crazy.
Some nights were rowdy. Pimps and hookers shouting about money. Tom didn’t stand for it. He told them to take it outside. They respected him and always did.
When lowlifes were trying to pick up on the strippers after a long shift of stripping, he interceded and had them move along. Those girls just wanted to drink in peace.
Tom was a good bartender. He knew when to fill a drink, dump an ashtray or order you some food. He was almost a mind reader. He memorized people’s drink orders. He was a very social person and people loved him. He could talk about anything and hold a conversation with anyone.
One of my favorite things that happened at the bar with the strippers was a fight.
There were three women, not sure if they were hookers or not, but a guy approached them and started getting into their business. The ladies got pissed and told him to fuck off. The guy didn’t get the message. He kept pestering them. Tom interceded. He bought the guy a drink and led him to one side of the bar and bought the girls a drink and took them to the other side of the bar. Problem solved.
About an hour or so later, the groups met back in the middle by the jukebox. A clash ensued. The guy said something to one of the girls. She smacked him and threw her drink, glass and all in his face. He turned around and back handed her.
The two other girls, jump on the dude and wrestle him to the ground. They were are all a blur.
Next thing I see is Super Tom, leap over the bar with a baseball bat in one hand. He’s throwing bitches right and left. He calls me over to intercede and keep the girls off the guy. He had separated them, but the guy was still on the ground. Tom had the guy’s arm wrenched behind his back. Tom was kneeling on him telling him to calm down.
Tom had me usher the girls to the other side of the bar and call the police. When I went behind the bar to get the phone, one of the girls started grabbing glasses and throwing them at the dude on the ground. It wouldn’t have been a problem but my brother was down there, too. I had the police on the phone in one hand and I karate chopped the chick with my other hand. I warned her to stop or I would be hitting her in the face next glass she threw at my brother. She stopped.
The police came and arrested one of girls for having a warrant and the guy for assaulting the girl.
I went home after writing up my statement. It was getting to be light outside and I needed to be home for breakfast with the kids. I drove home, amazed at my brother in action. He was like a superhero. He flew over that bar in one single leap.
I would go on to spend many nights with my brother at all his bars. This was the most memorable.
I would go in late. He would make me a drink. I would sit and wait while he served his customers, then, he would come over and we would just talk. We would talk about everything. We would catch up on what was happening for the week, what was happening in each other’s lives, how the kids were doing. We would plan what movies we were going to see. We would plan to go have breakfast.
These late night excursion are some of the things I miss most about my brother being gone. It was time I had alone with just me and him. It was our time.