We cater to a, shall we say, specified clientele. We don't have regulars so much as people who belong here. Most of the folks who frequent my establishment might as well be furnishings, they keep to themselves and are so essentially at home in my polished oak and soft, scarlet leather (comfort is a priority) that an inattentive visitor might sit on them. So it should come as no surprise that new faces don't go unnoticed. I remember one young man who found his way here a while back in a bit of a situation.
He was misproportioned, almost comically so. With a scruff of ratty brown hair and panicked eyes like dinner plates. He looked like he hadn't slept in at least a week and his last bed may or may not have been made of cardboard. He twitched up to the bar and mumbled an incomprehensible order. It could have been anything but he looked like he needed some whiskey so that's what he got. A few overzealous drinks later our new friend was starting to look pretty well lubricated so I asked.
“Why the long face friend?”
He looked up, sullen and red-faced, eyes sunken deep but still over-wide. Then it came, a torrent of shamed, angry, words poured from between his thin lips. Like so many others before him, he seemed to deflate as the story that led him here was told. As if he had stored the whole of the situation physically within himself and releasing it out into the world took something from him.
It turned out that his brother had made some bad choices in an effort to “earn” those things he felt he deserved.
"He sells drugs mostly, but he's been trying to break out. He knows a guy who runs an import/export thing who told him about some guys who were looking for some girls. That's my brother so I had to help him, tried to talk him out of it, but he wasn't having it. So I told him to let me help, take care of the product so he didn't get screwed over for sending out broken merchandise.
"I tried to let some of them go, accidentally y'know? But he caught me and flipped out. After that I just had to try and make it a little easier on them."
Then came the tears. His voice grew harsh and bitter as he carried on.
"Then he started asking about my ex girlfriend's kid. She's ten man. I tried to talk him out of it. I begged him and threatened him. He was all strung out, told me he'd kill me and my ex and sell the girl anyway if I didn't shut up about it.
"She's gone man, I got a call from my ex today, asking if I'd seen her. He took her and I don't know what to do."
Now Irv's is not some white hot nightclub with long lines and bleeding edge house music, but that doesn't mean I'm not busy. His story was tragic, but not uncommon. His weakness had landed him here and he couldn't help but hope his weakness would get him out. He was just lucky it had landed him here.
“Sounds like Hell, my friend.” As I poured another drink. “If I were you I'd give anything to get that girl back. Get her safe.” This is when the client becomes wary; curiosity and caution warring. Its beautiful.