She goes on in an elevated voice as if talking to a child. "A big strong man like you shouldn't be in here, you should be out in the world fighting evil."
A rabbi, a priest and a monk walk into a bar.
The rabbi ordered a Dirty Bird and downed it in one swift gulp. His beard was one of the more impressive ones I had ever seen and, as the night wore on, his Kippah became more and more skewed until eventually customers were using it as a nut bowl.
The priest ordered a Bay Breeze and chewed on the lime wedge for most of the night. He didn’t seem too pleased to be there, and spent most of his night hitching up the bottom of his chasuble, so that nobody could step on it.
The monk ordered a Sex On The Beach, ignoring his friend’s jeers. He requested “Dancing Queen” by ABBA on the jukebox and danced up on a table of cheering (and very drunk) women.
I hadn’t worked at the bar for very long and that night was one of my busiest. The air was thin and customers were shoulder to shoulder, but nobody seemed to mind. Somehow, the trio found free seats up at the bar. Perhaps God, whichever one, was on their side that night. I was young and impressionable. In all honesty, I really only had two things on my mind.
The first thing was how long I could continue working a place like that before I found myself on the floor with a fist imprint on my face. The second thing was whether Tara Grayson would ever be as interested in me as I was in her.
Tara Grayson was plain looking. I mean, if you had her in a lineup of girls you probably wouldn’t even notice she was there, but she made me laugh. And once, I saw her eating the left over fries off of a customer’s plate, so I felt like I wouldn’t have to try that hard with manners if we ever went out on a date. Sometimes, when she handed me the shot glasses, our hands would gently caress each other’s and her face would go as red as mine felt. It happened that night.
“Busy night tonight, hey?”
She smiled but didn’t reply. I knew she had a boyfriend, but he went to college in another state, so clearly he was getting action from somebody else. And his name was Dixon. I mean, if she was willing to date a guy named Dixon she could at least go to a cheap restaurant with me once.
“When do you finish your shift?”
“I know. It’s the same as every other night.”
The priest rapped his knuckles against the bar and my attention turned to the curious religious trio. They had just entered the bar only twenty minutes earlier, yet had somehow befriended everyone in that short space of time.
“I thought priests weren’t allowed to drink.”
“They say that the confession booth is the only place that is completely free of judgment, but have you ever seen a priest go into one. Where do they go to escape judgment? Right here. At this bar I am completely free.”
“And what about your friends?”
On the other side of the room, the rabbi and the monk were dancing together. They raised their glasses high above their heads. The song had now changed to “Kiss” by Prince and everyone in the bar was singing along.
“Some people just like to have fun. What’s your name?”
“That’s a dumb name.”
“Better than Dixon.”
“You should ask that girl out anyway. You don’t know how much longer you’ll be alive and I doubt the good Lord will let you into heaven, knowing you wasted your time on earth.”
“I’m not sure that’s how it works.”
With his glass now replenished, the priest left his seat. I watched him as he tiptoed his way around the dancing, or perhaps drunkenly convulsing would be a better way to describe their movements, bodies, careful not to spill his drink. He finally made his way to the other side of the bar where he, after quietly praying, entered the men’s bathroom. I poured myself a shot for good luck.
I found Tara scrubbing stains off of plates and I wondered if she did the housework at home or if Dixon did it whenever he was over. Like how chefs generally don’t cook for themselves and instead order take-in. The light was harsh back here and one of her eyes looked a little puffy, but I didn’t mind.
“Look, Tara, we don’t know how much longer we’ll be alive and I doubt the good lord will let us into heaven knowing that we’ve wasted our time on earth.”
“I’m not sure that’s how it works.”
“Anyway. I’m sure people define a life’s worth by how much money they had, or how beautiful their wife and children are or how much charity they had done, but if I could just take you out to dinner once, I would’ve done enough in my life to be satisfied.”
Before she could answer, screams erupted from the front of the bar, from every side, piercing, fearful. Screams that you learn to recognise if you work the early morning hours at a successful bar. We snuck quietly forward to see what was happening.
The rabbi stood on top of the table of a table of screaming (and very drunk) women. He held a handgun in each of his hands and was rapidly shifting from screaming person to screaming person, trying to gain silence. To send a message, he shot the jukebox, which exploded in the middle of “Roxanne” by The Police, and caused an eerie silence to settle amongst the crowd.
The priest emerged from the bathroom pulling a semi-automatic machine from underneath his chasuble in one hand a small whittled cross in the other. The way that the moonlight shone through the window made him look saint like.
The suddenly sober monk came towards me, waving a knife in a skilled and deadly manner. Tara clung onto my arm in fear, digging her nails deep into my skin, as I handed him the key to the cash register. Tara’s voice cracked with fear.
“Why are you doing this?”
The monk’s face cracked into a smile as he began unpacking the cash. With his knife now caressing my neck, he whispered.
“Have you ever heard that joke about the rabbi, the priest and the monk who walk into a bar?”
A rabbi, a priest and a monk leave a bar with two bags of cash and a trail of blood behind them.