Four guys are drinking in a noisy bar. One of the four is a plumber, two are in insurance sales and one is a cop. The four of them have come to roost this night at their usual table in a turbulent sea of drunks who are all hazed in cigarette smoke and noise. Sometime just before midnight, during a band break, Insurance Guy #1 rises slowly and unsteadily to his feet, peers towards the bar, places his hand over the top of his eyes, like Hiawatha looking for Pocahontas, and shouts “Aw shit, its mornin’ ”. The bartender, who has, over the years, become accustomed to the outrageous activities that regularly occurred around this foursome, pays no attention. Insurance Guy #1 sits down, turns to the Cop who is seated with his chair pushed back and his chin resting on the table so that only his face is visible and says “We’ve been here all night again, take me to your house so I can explain to your wife why I’m late”. The Cop ignores him and continues to practice his 1000 yard stare. Insurance Guy #2 peers intently at his beer like it was a newly discovered religious relic and says “it’s not morning you dumb shit”. Insurance Guy #1 sat still for a heartbeat then slowly rose again, repeated the hand jive towards the bar and roars in a thunderous voice “it’s mornin’ goddamnit the sun’s coming up”. The bartender now recognizes that this might be one for the books and worthy of future recall, so she also turned toward the mirror behind the bar, which is what Insurance Guy #1 had been looking at, places her hand over her eyes similar to his action and shouts “my god he’s right it’s morning”. She then gave the Secret Signal to all the other barmaids, that only they know, which can mean anything from “ there’s a mean drunk at table two” or “get the drunk girl at table six to the parking lot before she pukes” or “call the cops and get behind the bar” OR as on this night meant, “let’s milk this”.
Insurance Guy #1, who was henceforth referred to as Hiawatha during subsequent drinking bouts, even after being elected, many years later, to serve as a state senator in the Texas legislature, made a sweeping gesture toward the other three at his table then snorted “ya hear that? Connie says its mornin’ too”. With that the other three get up, as if on cue, stagger to the bar, push between the bar stool guys and yell almost in unison “that’s not the sun, it’s a fuckin’ bar sign”. One of the bar stool guys, who is now wearing most of the drink he had been sipping on before being knocked aside, takes a swing at the Plumber, misses, looses his footing and hits the floor with his face. The Cop ignores him and starts to move back to their table through the crowd, most of whom are now on their feet either to watch the fight or to go home since someone had said it was morning. The Cop, his path back to his table blocked by the now standing patrons and upset by this seeming affront to law officers everywhere, straightens to his full height and declares, in a loud voice, that they are “all under arrest”. Those now under arrest ignore him and continue pulling on coats and calling for their tabs.
Insurance Guy #2 reaches down to help up the Bar Stool Guy who had bit the dust after taking a swing at the Plumber a minute before. As Bar Stool Guy reaches the vertical, Insurance Guy #2 sees that a cigarette butt that had been on the floor has somehow become entangled in one of Bar Stool Guy’s eyebrows (who says God doesn’t have a sense of humor). Insurance Guy #2 starts laughing which pisses the Bar Stool Guy off even more so he takes a second swing this time at Insurance Guy #2, misses again, stumbles and falls across a nearby table and into the lap of a very large lady who is the personal assistant to the high-profile preacher of the downtown Baptist church. She pushes him away and screams a high-pitched obscenity that must have come from the Old Testament because no one had ever heard it before. Bar Stool Guy struggles and flounders around trying to regain his footing and some semblance of dignity, so he tries to grab something solid to steady himself. Unfortunately what he grabs is the left breast of the downtown Baptist church who let’s go with another string of loud but creative obscenities, picks up a heavy glass ash tray from an adjacent table and clocks the Bar Stool Guy slightly above the left ear and he goes down like a hammered hog.
Now the Cop had seen the large lady clobber the Bar Stool Guy and realizes that even though he is not in uniform, he is now a witness to a crime and will have to spend the rest of the night downtown filling out paperwork unless he can figure out how to get rid of the body. It would be simpler if the Bar Stool Guy was dead but he begins to stir so it seems that the magic cloak of drunkenness has protected him from terminal injury and he will suffer no extended damage once he gets beyond the concussion headache and the killer hangover due tomorrow.
The Cop realizes that he needs to establish some kind of crowd control fast and while he was not in uniform he was armed but pulling out a weapon in this place could trigger a fire fight that would make the Viet Cong proud.
He began to fish through his pockets trying to find something official looking to go with his badge, and found a toy his three-year old son had hidden for him in his coat pocket. (Now you have to keep in mind here and try and visualize what that room was like. It’s a Friday night, crowded, with a hundred or so people in various stages of intoxication, the musicians were walking back toward the bandstand and the prevailing language being spoken was common adult Bar Room Noisy). So the Cop looks at the toy his son had left for him that looked somewhat like a real police whistle but when he blew on it the sound that came out very loud, thin, high-pitched “meow”.
The sound was so profoundly out-of-place that it caught the attention of everyone in the room. The place instantly went totally silent and still. Then every head turned, every bleary eye strained to focus on whatever had just uttered a sound so alien to this boisterous den. Everyone in the place turned toward the cop who stood bewildered in the middle of the room. The crowd looked at the thing in his hand. The Cop looked at the thing in his hand. Then the cop looked at the crowd and the crowd looked at the Cop. Then in one instantaneous unified voice, thunderous and spontaneous laughter exploded from the place. This wasn’t a single chuckle or guffaw, no it was a hysterical, contagious group gale that continued to grow in volume and hysteria for many minutes until the entire crowd was out of breath and exhausted.
The whole episode couldn’t have lasted more than three minutes and in that short time the entire crowd had gone from varying degrees of drunkenness to sober. Since that is forensically impossible then it must have been a spiritual miracle similar to those you read about where the face of John the Baptist can be seen in a swirl of peanut butter. Curiously the typical bar room circus was over for this night and the crowd was almost all gone by midnight, a good two hours earlier than usual. I’ve often wondered if that benign finish to the evening caused by a child’s toy worked in some metaphysical re-direct of a more deadly paranormal event somehow.
Naaah, they’s just drunks.