“See what you mean, it’s pretty fantastic.” So, is somebody telling a story all the time?”
“No, it’s a lot like a bar anywhere, you sit and talk, tell jokes and stuff. There ain’t no dart boards or them awful electronic games or slots or anything like that and there’s no background music like in most places.”
“So you just drink and talk to things that aren’t human?”
“Yep, like I said, don’t know how it works but you just speak in your own language to anything you meet and they can understand you and you can understand them. Somethin’ else is odd too, you know how you have to shout at someone who is right next to you in a noisy bar; well at Tuit’s you never have to do that. You can always hear, what ever you’re talking to, just as if you was alone in a quiet room; the background noise just seems to fade away somehow. When you tell a story, you appear on them big screens and everything in the place can hear you perfectly. It’s purty damn amazin’!”
“Sounds like it’s quite the place, you do know that this story gets stranger by the minute don’t you?”
“Mebbe you got to see it to understand?”
“Oh, and one thing I forgot. Old Tuit makes a special free drink if he really likes a story. Blue, the thing is blue. Made it for one of my stories, he did, damn sure! He’s got a machine that he makes it in and God only knows what the Hell’s in it! The glasses all look the same ‘ceptin’ they’re different sizes for the different kinds of customers. Probably so’s you get just the right amount of the stuff. He sprays somethin’ in the glass and puts all kinds of ingredients in the machine and it mixes it all up and then he lines all the glasses up on the bar and fills ‘em with a hose. Then he puts the swizzle stick in ‘em and the little flying tray brings you yours.”
“Little flying tray?”
“Oh yeah, the ‘waitress’s’ are little flying trays that bring you your drinks. You stir your drink with the swizzle stick, it dissolves, then Tuit makes a toast to the story teller and everybody bottoms up and the trays collect the glasses. Then the bar get real quiet for a while everyone sorta trips out or something.”
“Trips out or something?”
“Yeah, hard to describe, floaty and high but you don’t get dizzy or nothin’. Purty fantastic and amazin’ and you gradually come back down to reality. Such as reality at Tuit’s is, ya know.”
“No, I don’t but I’m sure interested, I said.
I could see he was thinking about that drink as he took a sip from the one he had here. Then he said, “Then Tuit starts tellin’ a few people that they have a call. That’s the signal to go home. He calls out name’s and says to collect their stuff and that they got a call. Everyone says adios and they go out to the phone booth on the porch and get sent back to wherever they’re from at the same time they left to come.”
“Same time they left?”
“Yep, It’s ‘Tuit’s Time Out Bar’ ain’t it?”
“Yeah, I guess it so,… and hoping they get to come again I bet,” I said.
He looked me in the eye and whispered, “You better believe it partner, damn sure!”
“Well,” I said, “that’s about the most fantastic tale I’ve ever heard.”
I told you to just take it as a story, you know.”
Yeah, you did. I couldn’t do much else, I guess. I write a little Sci-Fi but this is beyond anything I’ve thought of.”
“Yeah well, you’ll think Sci-Fi when you go there and I’m pretty damn sure you’re supposed to do just that.”
“And how would you know that for sure?”
He just pointed to the Round Tuit on the bar top, but now there wasn’t just one, there were two. “I never saw you put the other one there!” I said.
“That’s ‘cause I didn’t. That one’s yours and this here’s mine,” he said as he picked up the one closest to him. “Keep it handy, get some quarters or silver dollars, partner, you’re going to get a call from Tuit.”
“Thanks, I think,” I muttered.
“Oh, you don’t have to thank me, but I’d bet you will. I’m just the messenger boy, but I’m here to tell you, you’re one lucky son-of-a-gun. Experience of a lifetime! You best be gettin’ your story together and it better be, good, if’n you ever want to go back!”
We talked for a while longer then he said he had to get some shut eye and went out into the terminal to look for a place to “camp”. I sat on that bar stool looking at that Round Tuit until they closed the bar at two in the morning. I ended up sleeping sitting up against the wall on the floor at gate twenty on Concourse B.
The planes started flying about six in the morning and I never saw him again. It’s been about a month and if I didn’t still have the Round Tuit, I know I wouldn’t believe any of it. But I’ve got the thing and now I carry it in my pocket with a roll of quarters and I sleep with both next to my cell phone on the nightstand everywhere I go. I’ve figured out what story I’ll try. I’m waiting for the call.
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end: Tuit’s Time Out Bar