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Free Internet Gaming, Butler's, and the Blades

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The enemy approaches. I can hear them squeaking against each other. Ten thousand helium balloons, maybe more. It's a bloody shitstorm of fire-retardant latex and iron-plated polychloroprene, self-propelled and broiling into an unstoppable horde just behind the horizon of the battle track. Let them come. Surveying the field, I see we are ready. I've got an army of monkeys. My front line is a wedge formation of dart-chuckers flanked by glue-launchers to slow the enemy advance. My boomerang specialists are dug in at the midpoint just past the second bend, perfect positioning to arc their glaives along the approach strip for maximum kill potential. I've got heavy artillery - and plenty of it - holding the rear, long-range spigot mortar units armed with 320 mm high-explosive-tipped warheads and white phosphorous incendiary payload. A bloody sun rises, leaving streaks across the sky. Let's get Biblical.

Free internet gaming: it ain't living, but it keeps the brainpan functioning at a high level while I'm clawing my way out of debt, trying not to go mad. Resources are thin. Year one was the real mud fight. I maxed out the Visa right away and stepped into the NYC octagon with a pronounced limp. The job hunt launched immediately, roaring out of the subway the following afternoon with a fistful of resumes.

I strode first into a place called Butler's. I found out later the place was named for Gone with the Wind’s Rhett Butler, which explained such slavery/racism-themed menu items as “The Plantation Burger.” Apparently one of the servers begged "Mammy's Fried Chicken" not be included; a minor victory.

The owner, a hulking British transplant, was lurking at the front door. He glanced at my resume (and, I suspect, the color of my white skin) and immediately dragged me further inside for an interview. I was hired, but it didn't last. The place was a disaster. Broken espresso machine, lousy food, no clientele to speak of minus a handful of drunks and irregular regulars (including the inimitable dragon-bitch Nancy Grace). Cash came in a trickle, and the dam broke when I witnessed the owner dragging a coworker across the floor by his collar for asking a customer if they’d like whipped cream on their Irish coffee. If he tried that on me he'd hear his wrist bones snap prior to kissing the floor.

A real and accurate review:

Ever walk into a bar and get the sense that the entire ‘staff' and all the 'patrons' had only just moments before committed a grisly murder and you're the first one to walk into the bar as they collectively struggle to keep a straight face? "EVERYONE BE COOL! BE COOL!" they might have just been heard to scream before we walked into Midtown East's very own Butler's.

"You guys gonna order food?" The goon bartender asked while straightening his tie, as if to say, 'There's nothing to see here.' I'd go back to Butler's, but I'm afraid that since they've seen my face, I'm now some sort of accomplice.

Having said all that, I guess the sweet potato fries were pretty good.

The key to victory in trench warfare is to keep your head down and trigger moving. You have to manage resources and maintain pressure. A faceless enemy like this isn’t vulnerable to a single killstroke; no, the balloons keep coming. That’s what they do. For every war ape I position on the ridgeline, the enemy counters with a thousand fluttering party weapons, snaking relentlessly up the slope and past my companions, exhausted and buried in their own spent shell casings.

I lined up a gig before leaving Butler’s, another restaurant in another neighborhood. It was their grand opening, a cute little boutique spot stretching its legs for the first time. I was to be the ace of their staff. One job going out, a new one coming in, and my car was listed on Craigslist for $3000. The whole situation had a pulse. I wasn’t beaten yet - not by a long shot - and when I looked down at my hands, I saw fists.

What I didn’t see coming was the Mothership, a behemoth, dirigible Death’s Head war balloon, groaning slow and deliberate along the landscape, ghastly shadow in its wake.


sandro1981 said...

I've waited 4 days now. I need closure to this anecdote.

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