Vagrants, or “the local talent” as I like to call them, often frequent our restaurant. Not exactly as patrons, but as theatrical acts. Where my restaurant is located is sort of, well…perriferal. It located smack between a major interstate and downtown; and as many city centers are, ours isn’t any different. Busy with business professionals by day, and laden with all walks of life by night. Only until recently has the neighborhood made efforts to gentrify the area; my boss spearheading the mission. But given the geographical location, no matter how ritzy the neighborhood may become, the vagabonds will own the streets by night, and grace us with their (occasional) presence.
There have been countless memorable close encounters with the wandering kind and have sometimes learned a thing or two from them. Winter seems to be high season for vagrant encounters. From being given soup and bread on a snowy night, only to have them yawn in Technicolor all over the front door, to ordering a Coors and an ambulance in the same breath. The latter encounter is one that occurs more often than one would think in the winter months, and is actually a brilliant tactic:
A vagrant will wander into the bar, order a beer and an ambulance claiming an “allergic reaction.” Within minutes the paramedics arrive and rush them to the hospital. There they will find a warm bed and food during the months when homeless shelters are at capacity and haven’t any room to accommodate a surplus. As no paramedic can refuse medical attention to anyone, and an allergic reaction requires 24 hour surveillance in the ER, by god they’ve found a loophole and a place to stay. Smart little bastards, aren’t they?
I can’t exactly give this particular vagrant any points for intelligence…or excuses. This encounter was all-to-close and of the urinary kind.
Let’s start with the season: Spring.
Springtime in New Mexico does inflict mild schizophrenia on you as it snows one minute, and is warm and balmy the next. This particular evening was delightfully warm and the masses were frequenting the bars like honeybees to blossoms. I was fortunate on this insanely busy Friday night, to have three of the swarm of honeybees infesting the bar, be dear friends of mine. Two of them arrived, and I quickly brought over their nectar of choice.
“Pretty busy tonight, huh?” rhetorically stated one of them as they watched me blaze by with yet another armload of dishes. Where my busser was? As usual, couldn’t tell you. I hurried over settings for two of my tables and greeted the next turn of diners.
The northern face of the restaurant is all glass windows, stretching from the hostess stand to (my domain) in the bar. The view isn’t exactly stellar: a stop-light intersection, a Mexican fast-food spot in the shape of a red A-Frame with a charming revolving sign that displays the day’s (misspelled) specials, and a Genealogy library…and that’s by day. By night, each diner has headlights in their eyes, the A-Frame turns into a crack-slangin’ whore house and the Genealogy library a vagrant hostel. Regardless, people just love to sit there and on occasion, get dinner and a show. Tonight’s show? Peep.
The tables were reset, my honeybees with their second round of nectar (still awaiting the third), and I greeted my third turn of diners. As I chatted with one table discussing the evening’s specials, I noticed a man with a zombie-like stagger walking up the street. As he neared, I would have confirmed him a zombie, but he lacked the aggressive craving for human flesh in his eyes. But the rest of his appearance fit the bill; the stiff-legged dragging gate, a soot-covered face with eyes drawn thin and glazed over, long and greasy (slightly) dreaded black hair, a mouth ajar with a constant strand of drool that strung down to his torn and disheveled clothing. He looked quite battered and swayed side to side with his arms out like an Olympic balance-beam gymnast. All in all, it is an image that doesn’t exactly stimulate the appetite.
I was mid, “preserved lemon and organic truffle vinaigrette” when the zombie graced my table with his distinguished presence. The two diners felt the sunlight on their arms eclipsed by an ominous figure and turned to see what it was only to sit upright and pivot toward me, listening to my every word. Immune to the occasional vagrant I consoled the two.
“…truffle vinaigrette and- oh, don’t worry about him. He’ll be gone soon.”
I took their order and slid to my right to deliver the specials to my other table. Once again, I was mid-description of “wild boar tortellini with-” when the zombie staggered up to the table. Like clockwork, the two diners shifted toward me. I assured them as I had the previous table, when I noticed an abnormal amount of coordinated motor skills and dexterity occuring at the zombie’s waistline. My words drifted as my jaw began to drop. The two diners who were hanging on my every word, terrified to turn around were just about to see what was causing my catatonic reaction.
“No! No. Um, uh…don’t look. Just look at me for a moment,” I stammered. As I tried to awkwardly start conversation with them to distract them, my reason for shock was revealed by the following sequence of sounds: thump, gush, sigh (of relief).
I shit you not, the zombie had unbuttoned his pants at my table and was pissing on the window…and while sitting, your eyes are perfectly aligned at urethra level.
Mortified, I offered that the couple quickly move up to the bar for a seriously necessary drink and slowly turned to my table of honeybees.
“Dude…Did you just- did you just see that shit?” I uttered.
“Yeah, the bum? Yeah we saw him. Too funny!” said one as he nursed the nectar from his martini glass.
“No- you don’t get it. Did you see…it?” trying to be discreet. The expressions on their faces weren’t scarred like they should be after such an exposé. “The bum just pissed on the window at my table-” Their eyes went from nectar-sedated to wide-eyed instantaneously.
“Shut up-” said one, “No fucking way!” exclaimed the other honeybee.
“Shh! And yes ‘fucking way’ he did. Just, do me a favor? Look behind me and see if he is still…relieving himself.”
Their eyes wandered behind me looking for the zombie, only to find his back faced toward them.
“Nah, you’re good Katix- he’s walking away,” assured the honeybees.
I thanked them for the scout and could hear them bantering about the zombie as I rushed to punch in some orders in the computer, when my boss tapped me on the shoulder saying hello.
“Hey darlin’ how ya doin’?” he mechanically asked as he walked away. I grasped his arm and attempted to explain what just happened.
“Hey- um…so…table 76, uh…I’m not a urologist but-” and just then, the busser pointed releasing the loudest “Oh my God!” which only prompted the entire main dining room to turn toward the windows and find the zombie, urinating on the windows.
My boss bolted out of the restaurant, in his pastel-colored get-up, to personally escort the zombie into the afterlife.
About 5 minutes went by, and I was chatting with my honeybees when the third finally arrived. She bee-lined from the front door over to the table and could hardly contain herself as she twitched with excitement.
“You will never believe what I just saw!” she vehemently blurted.
The three of us looked at each other, laughed and told her that we had a pretty unbelievable story to tell her too, but to go ahead with hers.
“So I was driving here, and was at the stoplight when I saw your boss point at this guy across the street, and demanded that he turn around…” my third honeybee proceeded to tell us that my boss, after he had bolted out the door, flipped his tie over his shoulder only to grab the zombie’s face and start screaming at him. The parking attendant then quickly waddled over and revealed his retractable beating stick and was en guard behind my boss as he continued to damn him to hell for relieving himself on the window. As she finished her story, my boss- in a hot mess- entered the restaurant adjusting his tie and walked toward me.
“You won’t be seeing him again-” he gasped.
“Oh? What did you tell him?” I questioned, doe-eyed in hopes to get the most accurate dialogue.
“I grabbed the son-of-a-bitch’s face and told him to ‘get out of my neighborhood’ or I would ‘sock him in the face so hard, that he’d land in the Bernalillo county jail’ where he clearly belongs- I need some water,” and he walked off.
The honeybees and I were in total shock. My boss is typically level-headed and would have ordinarily just called the cops- but not tonight. I approached my table (who had returned to their seats) with appetizers.
“Does that happen often?” asked one of the diners.
“That, doesn’t,” I began to explain. “But, I did tell you that these seats provide you with dinner and a show- I just never anticipated-”
“-a peep show?” suggested the table beside them.