Tag Archives: bar

The Cats Pajamas

cats pajamas

“We carry our ancestors in our names and sometimes we carry our ancestors through the sliding doors of emergency rooms and either way they are heavy, man, either way we can’t escape.”

“Her father is fastened to his room, with his records and his drugs and his quiet. She crawls under her covers. It is her fault for triggering one of his spells. Normally she can tightrope through his moods. At least it had been brief. Most girls do not have to deal with a father like hers. They would be afraid of the way she lives, lawless in a roachy apartment. They would be scared of his fits. Madeleine would be scared too, she thinks, falling asleep. If she had only experienced finished basements and dads who acted like dads. But Madeleine loves her father, and how can you be scared of someone you love?”

Marie-Helene Bertino, 2 A.M. at The Cat’s Pajamas 

There is no picture on the cover of this book so I drew my own damn picture.
There is no picture on the cover of this book so I drew my own damned picture.

I don’t know why I included the word “damned”  in that caption.  Maybe because convalescing is dull and I think profanity will jazz up the experience.

Anyway, speaking of profanity and jazz, here’s the blurb about this book from Amazon:

Madeleine Altimari is a smart-mouthed, precocious nine-year-old and an aspiring jazz singer. As she mourns the recent death of her mother, she doesn’t realize that on Christmas Eve Eve she is about to have the most extraordinary day—and night—of her life. After bravely facing down mean-spirited classmates and rejection at school, Madeleine doggedly searches for Philadelphia’s legendary jazz club The Cat’s Pajamas, where she’s determined to make her on-stage debut. On the same day, her fifth grade teacher Sarina Greene, who’s just moved back to Philly after a divorce, is nervously looking forward to a dinner party that will reunite her with an old high school crush, afraid to hope that sparks might fly again. And across town at The Cat’s Pajamas, club owner Lorca discovers that his beloved haunt may have to close forever, unless someone can find a way to quickly raise the $30,000 that would save it.

I was a bit in love with Madeleine from the first page.  And crazy about her by the last one.  Sometimes the quirky prose in this novel reads like poetry.  It’s a good story, written from several different perspectives, over a time span of just 19 hours.  You’d be surprised at how much can happen to so many people in such a short time.

It’s a book made to be read in one sitting I think, and I might have done that if I hadn’t been so doped up on pain pills and falling asleep so much.  Today I haven’t taken anything, so I guess I can’t blame my sketch on mind altering drugs. This is how my brain sees a bar in the middle of the night.  What can I say.

I hope Marie-Helene Bertino writes another book soon.  I’ll illustrate it for her if she asks.  Huh.  Maybe the drugs aren’t completely out of my system.  But I’m very clear-headed when I say it’s the mark of a great author when she leaves you wanting more.

Bar Story

photo credit explorethebruce.com

Daily Prompt: Fill In the Blank

Three people walk into a bar . . .my sister, my brother-in-law and me.  We are in Small Town Ontario, it is late afternoon.  We have just dropped my niece off at the ball park where she’s doing whatever it is that ball players do to prepare themselves for the big game, and we have some time to kill.

Every small town in Ontario has a local hotel.  Every one of them is called “The Queens” or something similarly grand.  They all have charm and character. They all serve cold beer.

We sit at a small table on hard wooden chairs and the lady behind the bar shouts across the empty space asking us what we’ll have.  Three of whatever’s on tap, my brother-in-law law shouts back.  And how about you, Charlie, she asks, the usual?  Charlie has joined us at our table, although there are vacant spots everywhere.  The only other occupied seat is a stool at the bar where a big bearded man sits with his elbows embracing his glass and his hands supporting his head, mesmerized by the sports cast on the overhead tv.bar and grill

Charlie smiles at us and nods as he raises his hand in a wave of assent to the bar tender.  We all smile back at Charlie.  He is a little rough around the edges, somebodys forgotten grandpa, plaid shirt and oil stained ball cap as old and wrinkled as he is himself.   I think perhaps we have innocently chosen to sit at Charlies regular table, and he is not about to give up his usual space.

How’re ya doin’ he wants to know, and what brings ya ta here.  And what do ya think o’ the damned temperature out there, ain’t it on the high side fer this time o’ the year?   Charlie taps his stubby fingers on the wooden table top with one hand while caressing the grey stubble on his face with the other, listening to our polite replies.  When his beer arrives he grabs it with both hands to take long thirsty swallows, bangs his glass back down, and then releases a thunderous belch, for which he does not apologize.

I glance at my sister, who is staring at the beams overhead, her lips pressed hard together suppressing what I’m sure would be a loud guffaw if she let it go.  I clear my throat too loudly and take a long drink, hoping I won’t choke, spitting beer all over Charlie’s table.  We sit quietly for a minute.  The television drones.  The bartender hums as she rearranges some glasses and swishes a bar towel across the counter.  We look expectantly at Charlie but he has stopped talking.  His eyes are closed and his chin is resting on his chest.  He still clutches his beer glass in both hands as if someone might snatch it away from him when he’s not looking.

We enjoy the rest of our beer, anticipate the up coming game, check our watches, and then prepare to go.  The shrill jangle of a land line phone pierces the quiet and the lady behind the bar starts to curse.  Oh my Lord love a fucking duck, this Jesus phone has been ringing off the damned hook all fucking day!  What the damned hell, I can’t take this any longer!  She grabs the receiver and shouts HELLO!

We quietly make our escape.  I ask the other two if they heard the phone ring more than once while we were in there and they both say no.  I wonder what kind of emotional stress we might have caused by ordering a second round.  And when will Charlie notice that we’re gone?  Three people walk out of a bar laughing and don’t look back.