Guy comes up to the bar, middle age, short, grayish-brown hair. A little overweight, ruddy face. I say, what can I get you? He says, do you have Corona? I say, we sure do. I get him one, grab a slice of lime, give it to him. He says, thanks, we finish the transaction.
It’s pretty slow, I’m cleaning dishes, we strike up a conversation. He says, is this a local bar? I say, yes, it is. He says, a local bar in Des Moines, Iowa? I say, you got it.
He says he’s not from around here. He’s a “drifter.” Traveling to see his brother he hasn’t seen in 25 years.
25 years? That’s a long time. Why so long?
He says, because I’m a drifter.
Then he says, I like music. Where can I go listen to some? Actually, there’s a music venue right down the street. Go out the door, take a right, half block down, it’ll be on your right. He asks, what’s it called? I say, the Vaudeville Mews. He says, what? I repeat, more concisely, it’s called the Vaudeville Mews. He shakes his head, says, the Vaudeville Mews. Got it.
About five minutes later, he says to me, where can I find some music again? I say, right down the street. Walk out the door, take a right, walk 80 steps you’re there. If you get to Court Ave, you’ve gone way too far.
He says, thanks, my friend. And then he slaps two bucks on the bar, he says, here’s for the directions. I say, no problem. Any time.
10 minutes later…where’s that music place again? I breathe. Out the door, take a right… 15 minutes later, he says, ok. So I go out the door, take a right, and down the block? I say, that’s correct. Just half a block.
I kid you not, within the next hour, he asks me for directions to the Mews seven more times. Should I just escort him down there?
There’s about five of my friends at the bar at this point. They are privy to this guy asking the same question over and over. I’m trying to keep my cool, but it’s wearing thin.
Finally, around 1am, Johnny Rock & Roll gets up off his chair. Yeah, he told me that’s his nickname. Everybody calls him that. Cool dude. He says, I’m taking off. Thanks for the Coronas.
I wait for it in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1,
So, I go out the door, take a right, then down the block?
This whole exchange was not worth the two bucks, I assure you.
He puts on his coat, says good-bye, leaves.
Five minutes later, one of my customers comes back in from having a smoke. She says, wasn’t that guy that was just in here going to go down to the Mews? I say, yeah. She says, yeah, we watched him walk down the block, past the Mews, past Court, all the way to Hessen House.
Hessen House is like two blocks down.