“уходить с головой”

Pronunciation: uhaDIT’ s galaVOY  Meaning: to be fully engrossed/immersed (in something) Literal translation


Set in a Tavern on Ludlow Street. The Island of the Well Hatted Man also called the “Isle of Man”, or once “Manhattan” has a place to drink just about every ten paces. Libation prices vary radically from palace to place. Based on who the owners want inside at what price point of downtime. What class of a man, what tier of society, and so forth. Some several hundred years ago the races were allowed to mix, it ended in a disaster. As it says in several chapters of one’s school book for the under 30% of the nation that has access to a college degree of any kind. The staff at the tavern doesn’t care how fucking educated you are. Or even if you pay cash or card, stones or fingers. They only care about the things you can’t see.

You wouldn’t find it unless you were looking for it. The entrance isn’t loud and the clamor inside is well insulated by its system of layers. The Lower East Side area is a drinking dancing seven-day-a-week shit show anyway for university students and the children of the interior provinces upper-middle classes. Mehanata is also the club of choice for New York’s newly arrived undocumented immigrants from South America, Central America, and the former Soviet Union. You’d only be looking for it if someone told you about it. Perhaps you’d hate them for it later, but very few people are not amused the very first time. There never is just a first time. But, in the New York wilderness, a tavern of eclectic wilding foreigners and untamed domestic people dancing to the tunes of South America, the former Soviet Union, the Balkans, and the Roma can draw to it both angels and demons by word of mouth. Since 2000 it has been surviving pogroms, police raids, and venue changes via fire. The police department is doing everything in their human power from keeping the Breukelen Okrug location from obtaining a liquor license. Sasho has been trying to open it for three or four years it seems. Who is Sasho? He’s of course the boss. Of course a rule of the roof; for every boss, there must be an underboss’. 

Misha, the Bulgarian diamond dealer speaks with his hands: 

“It is rumored that there is a vast tunnel system running from under the City to multiple places unknown in the interior,” states wild-haired Misha to a group of young Shqiptarëti toughs outside. 

In the Bulgarian language, the word for tavern is “Mehanata”. This is also the name of a tavern that was once on Canal Street but now is on Ludlow Street. Though officially not open for some time since the great pandemic. Yet, business still is being done Pandemic or no pandemic, legal or quasi-legal or extralegal? Many things done here are not legal at all. The Tavern is open for business officially only on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Though typically and unofficially there are sometimes “underground lap dancing parties” happening very late Wednesday night in the basement’s Vodka cellar.  The lights are kept dim no matter what happens here. One needs that, that ambiance if you will hide subtle stains. From varying fluids. 

You can dance all night if you have to, but eventually, someone has to herd the cats out the door and hide the bodies on the floor. The Mehanata Social Club is tucked away discreetly on 113 Ludlow Street on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. This is their second location. Numerous police raids, intrusive state inspections, and finally a full-blown raid which then transformed into a brawling multiblock melee and succeeded in burning to the very ground the original location on Canal and Broadway. In a very ugly incident that took place in 2005 the lights of the “Bulgarian Bar and Cultural Society” briefly went out. 

The new Ludlow location is about ten times the size spread over three levels. Surely it will not be the final location. “Given the tumultuous nature of the existing times.” Sasho the owner has already begun planning an even larger Breuklyn based location, a whore house-themed resort in Kyiv or Beirut with the same name; Mehanta” and also maybe a School for Alcoholism in the crisp mountain foothills of upstate New York highlands.

At such an infamous establishment such as this one ought to always know the names of the men standing guard. Or the various women shaking and pouring the drinks. Or the little indigenous people collecting bags and coats. Most importantly you ought to be “cautious of the seductive forces marshaled via awkwardly inexpensive liquor and the black magic to lead you to things you ought not to be playing around with.” Such as foreign persons desperately, self-compromisingly in need of valid papers. Or creatures, yes I said it; creatures! That drink blood. “Or war like Shqiptarëtis.”

There are strange signs all over the walls warning the guests to be attentive. ‘Anything not tied down will be carried away into the night.’ Your bags, your two souls, and virginities. Of nearly every single kind of stealable thing. Come to think of it, there are such overt signs hanging everywhere! Literal and figurative signs. One claims “three teeth are needed for the entry”. One says anything not checked will be stolen. One says “get naked get a shot, get fucked on the bar, win a bottle”. That is hardly a bluff, but the bottles given out for that are never top-shelf stuff. 

It’s a ‘Gypsy Bar’, they claim to the public which sometimes romanticizes Gypsies, but often does not. But Gypsy’s all steal. Gypsy’s will trick you with music and some dance, lure you for tarot cards and then steal your internal organs and you will wake up in an ice bath in Bratislava missing some elements internally, then die of blood loss. The name of this place literally means ‘the Tavern’ in Bulgarian. It lives up to that designation splendidly.

There are three floors to the Tavern. The website extols patrons to “meet their future green card holding spouse.” There is live Mestizo music. Live fire juggling. Bulgarian contortionists on Thursday alongside Bordel Dali. Rafael and his business comrade Georgie who is from Bucharest, Romania. Or maybe he just says that knowing no Americans know any other cities there. 

“But I’m not freaking Gypsy!” he declares. He’s getting a Ph.D. in Computer science. His specialization, the tracking of petrol futures purchasing and predicting in relation to major airlines. The cast of characters around here boggles the mind.

The club has the look of a vast lawless pirate ship or a wilderness brothel. It is sometimes dim red and under the cloth tarps of the upper galley level which looks down with little tables on the dance floor. The main floor has a dance floor, a bar, and a kitchen. The downstairs has stripper poles, blue light, a bar, and an Ice Cage. 

The Ice Cage has bottles of wall-to-wall Vodka, which is all the same Vodka, but when people pay forty Americans to enter the cage and slam that wall to wall Vodka orgy in Soviet officer uniforms; they don’t notice. Vodka drinkers of repute, do not go in the Ice Cage, which also sits above a hatch to the abandoned railways under lower Manhattan. So one can walk or take a private train to Breukelen or JerseyCityGrad. That is also why the place is only officially open Thursday through Saturday, to facilitate that kind of high level traffic.

The waitresses and bartenders are skinny or shapely. All Post-Soviet Bucharest or ‘Sophia girls’ just arrived recently though generally well educated and for now, un-indentured. Calling themselves Sofia. Some claim they are ‘from Moscow’. But they are not from Moscow at all. They are all from shitty little Eastern European towns no one has ever heard of. They mostly don’t stay long and the reason for that is partly because of the mental and physical demands of the work and because their boss is the devil himself. The club is only open Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Things that go on during the week here are private and mostly didn’t even ever happen. There are private parties in the basement you’d do well not to crash unexpectedly or uninvited. Like the one on Wednesdays which is sort of high stakes a gang bang contest. There have been cockfights, dog fights, and also bear fights. But the biggest cash prizes generally are for bear vs. human fights and or human versus human bare-knuckle boxing to the death fights. There are a lot of meetings happening upstairs right before the place fills up in Eastern European languages that you’d do well not to hear.  The musical talent is highly varied. Normally three or four live acts a night on Friday and Saturday. A lot of live horns. There’s an anesthetic of “transcontinental bacchanalia ”. Or so says the liberal elitist Newyorkgrad Times. 

The booking agent for musical talent is petite and elegant Viktoria Lynch often wearing the hat of a Soviet officer, the shoulder-length locks of her hair falling over well old-fashioned skirts or flowing dresses. She was born in the Catskills, but has recently gotten her New Yorker residency card much to her delight; eight years later. The primary live acts are variants of Cumbia, Gypsy Jazz, some Peruvian Ska, and Balkan beatboxing, mostly. Roma meets Latin American for the most part. You get dancehall and reggae tone periodically from the Selectors, but for the most part ‘the brothers’ stay out of the place. The doughty wine happens, but as international, as everything remains, there are almost never any black people at Mehanata. Which no one has a problem with except maybe Kawa Zivistan who keeps bringing them there? But, they have one drink and politely leave after meetings. For some reason, the charms of the venue are lost on the brothers. One can blame magic, vibes, taste or structural racism, or all of them combined.

Since 2001 the Z.O.B. has made Mehanata its unofficial field office and also its social club. It’s a meeting spot and a drinking spot. Sasho allows all kinds of people to meet under his roof and being there has connected the movement to darker things. There is a power the club has to draw in the very worst and best of people. Mehanata is thus a fitting place for the Z.O.B. leaders to draw towards since many of the group are hardly saints. Its members are generally able to lump into general categories such as “ambulance workers”, “Party people”, “black market entrepreneurs”, “confidence criminals”, garden variety “sex workers”, and also some “post-leftist type radicals”. But in America, you can say you are whatever you want and no one even knows what you really mean. Sometimes a cadre, pronounced ‘Cadro’ is two or more of those things. A Cadro means a movement woman or man, to the very core. Zealots. Lifers to the end. Kitsuniim. Everything a Cadro can own can fit in one small bag. Party people as it were. The people that carry, the people that are addicted to the struggle.

Salsa, Dancehall, Balkan Beats, Bachata, Reggaeton, even the Tango, Cumbia, sometimes even a little Zouk are played by the various selectors, but ‘the brothers’ always immediately depart when the meetings are over. No one can say exactly why they don’t like the place, but they really don’t. it could just be that Eastern Europeans are their own type of ugly racist after all. But as it is a central location for all five boroughs, it’s remained an unchallenged haunt. It checks all the boxes one needs for not asking any questions or spending a lot on holding a meeting. The place has way more atmosphere than an Irish pub anyway.

Sasho and Kawa allegedly go all the way back to 2001 Gregorian, but they don’t always remember or like to talk about all the events in between. 

The most popular disk jockeys are Raphael Contreras Lynch also called Selector Rafflex and Georgie from Bucharest also called Selector Mishto. As stated Romanian but “not a fucking Gypsy”. Recently booked is the bearded, crazy-eyed Serb Adrian Jankovitch. The most famous of the current bartenders is Moxy Martina Hella Dubreskaya. She has been here a good deal longer than the others. A black-haired Bulgarian journalist, music blogger, and BDSM enthusiast. She has the special constitution that a bartender needs to work the shit show around here longer than a month. Though many suspect she will quit soon. Perhaps go into Real Estate. Martina smiles at everyone in ravishing hate. She is technically speaking the first person to publish the work of Kawa Zivistan by putting his sad poems on her website. She regrets that she encourages him, but secretly likes some of his work.

Outside and inside is James O’Burns the feisty retired Fenian cop on ¾’s pension. They call him James White because he’s white. After his ACL was torn chasing down a perp he retired to bouncer work. His partner is James Behemoth Brown Pererez a smart-talking, burly Mestizo from the Bronx. They call him James Brown because he’s Mestizo. Always outside is Slavi the stone-faced brother of Sasho, but no one trusts they’re actually brothers. Until sneaking a sly grin the Bulgarian strong man collects people’s papers, scans their IDs, and directs them to be retina scanned via this Illubadori device at the door which then biometrics all the guests.

 Slavi collects the cash or directs drunk patrons to use the external ATM which charges an ultra-extortionist ten dollar service fee, almost the highest in New York actually. The irregular admission charge never gets a smile, because Slavi doesn’t charge people he knows in money. Then he sneaks a sly happy grin, has a quick smoke, and sometimes, only sometimes asks people for money to come inside wearing a black Soviet wolf fur ushanka hat except during the summer. 

You should pay cash upfront for everything. Unless you’re a card-carrying regular. Giving them your credit card is simply a horrible idea. It means you’ll just keep drinking and very often, leave without your card. James White and James Brown are sometimes easy-going on admission for just about anyone not overweight and female. The regulars never pay. The various mob tough guys never pay. The Z.O.B. members never ever pay. Sexy young girls never ever have to pay. The endless Korean bachelorette parties never pay except to ride the Gypsy Bus. The guests of regulars, mobsters, musicians, D.J.s, rebels, and girlfriends of friends never pay. It’s between 15-40 dollars though if you’re just sort of showing up. Except on Thursday when everyone is in for free.

James White, James Brown, and grim stone faced Slavi sometimes have to get fierce quick to squash the brawls which happen, generally around 02:00 AM, generally instigated by the Shqiptarëtis, but often before and after. They can’t seem to keep the Shqiptarëtis from breaking people’s faces over the most stupid of things. But that’s part of their cultural charm, some say. Well anyway they always settle their debts.

Justin Toomey O’Azzello is the General Manager. He is a full-blood Fenian and has ‘wandering hands’ some women say. He is quite jovial and likes to tell elaborate stories about his days in the Air Force flying bombing missions over former Yugoslavia. He blames his flirtations with alcoholism over the years on bombing runs he inflicted over Bosnia. But Justin was never in the air force or ever in Bosnia. His hands do wander though. Recently he has taken up painting. Some say he’s Sasho’s top Capo. Misha is too much a playboy to really be a useful enforcer. He’s just not really violent enough for it.

The owner of this place is a fearsome, allegedly Bulgarian, yet likely at least half Ukrainian Ivory named Sasho, but his real name is Alexander Dmitrievich Perchevney. He was born in Kyiv, then Kiev. He lived in Bila Tserkva, Ukraine, and later moved to Sophia, Bulgaria before arriving here in America in 1992. He used to be a type of advanced dentist. He used to be a person of real note and importance in the now-defunct U.S.S.R., in the Inner Party. He thus has something of a soft spot for revolutionists. The debaucheries of fallen men too. As well as a hard spot for undocumented women of theater. Misha Kishbivalli, the long-haired millionaire playboy from Georgia also is his silent partner. No one ever knows or asks what Misha does for a living. But the answer is actually blood diamonds. The Mehanata “cooks” are all from the tropic of Capricorn but nothing is ever very good to eat except the beet soup or the Bulgarian salad; cucumbers, tomatoes, onions and pepper, and some strange white cheese. The feta cheese over fries is pretty safe too. Some type of Borscht which is rumored to sometimes contain menstrual blood. The pork dishes are outright made of the ground-up parts of poor unfortunate souls that used to be people. 

Sasho’s wife Tanya isn’t the cook anymore. It’s always undocumented Mexicans Sasho brings on over the years through ‘the under-tunnels’. They say the Breuklien venue, when it opens, will have ‘traditional Bulgarian food’, but no one knows what that means exactly. Tanya is not a vindictive person, but she cannot stand this ‘so-called Kawa Zivistan’. There is a very valid reason for that contempt, beyond him being something of a troublemaker. They have a history in other lives.

“Stop cooking mother fucking people and maybe more people would eat here,” Kawa once suggested, looking sullen. Seated at the bar.

“Stop being a fucking Communist, Blyat! And maybe, one day. Perhaps Daria can consider dating you, yet again, if you weren’t just so crazed and poltical!” was Tanya’s response.

“Democratic Confederalist!” Kawa replies, “Communism is so 1984!”

Some nights, Misha Kishbivalli pontificates outside of the club with clearly manic eyes: 

“An American engineered mega tunnel system runs under the entire country in case of insurgency, general emergency or nuclear winter.” 

The traffic around here is always hard to predict. 

“Of course I’ve been to camps,” Misha exclaims, ‘let me tell you, one time I followed the tunnels all the way back to Bulgaria!’

There are tall glass pitchers of apple cider ginger vodka that sit atop the bar, sitting there for HaShem only knows how long. There is a sign informing people that “get naked get a shot, get fucked win a bottle” and people seem to win all the time. Also, the rule that patrons ‘must have at least three teeth to enter the establishment’, is untrue. You just need to have cash money. Preferably American type. Or be vouched for by a regular. But, things are always pretty fucking negotiable.

The music is playing loud at the Mehanata Social Club where Daria Andreavna makes eyes. She then orders a Vodka-based energy drink. She then slides up to Kawa at the bar. He is wearing a slightly baggy black suit with a vest with lots of pockets this time. A week since his death, no one acknowledges or recognizes either of them.

“Well then. I thought you were dead,” Kawa exclaims.

“Martyrs never die, am I right?” Daria replies and then she winks.

“It seems that we have found each other yet again,” she then whispers.

“You are completely misbehaved I dare tell you,” he says, “you got us both killed yet again. This time for true blue bullshit.”

“I was bad. Bored? Rude should I say? I am told. The other night, I insulted your hospitality, very greatly.”

“That you certainly did.”

“What are you drinking Tovarish?” she asks with a smile.

“Astika,” he replies. The Bulgarian beer that is never in stock. It hasn’t been in stock since 2001. But he always asks for it. Knowing they one squirreled away somewhere.

Daria catches Martina’s attention and gets him his special drink. Martina winks at her. ‘Good work you little whore’, Martina thinks in Bulgarian. One man’s hot commodity. Still is the cheapest drink in the whole damn house. 

“So,” Daria whispers again, “Cheers. I have no memory of anything last weekend. Forgive me for that. I don’t even know what I did. Or didn’t do. Might have done? Fuck it. Cheers.”

“So you remember nothing more?” 

She just gives him a coy but devilish smirk. And she shakes her head.

“I drink a lot for fun. I don’t always remember my Friday or my Saturday nights. Outside work, where I also drink, the week gets interrupted by the school, and then I party hard on the days off. I was told I was really bad to you. So, I’m sorry. For the being of bad. What are you really drinking? This is our custom. Astika is total shit,” she says.

“Nothing? No single recollection?”

“No nothing at all. Oh, okay,” she smiles at him, “you were wearing a suit that’s a different color from the suit you’re wearing now. This I remember for sure.”

Kawa is now in a black suit. The night she almost killed them last it was white linen. It’s almost always a pretty cheap party style suit. Or a navy blue uniform.

“You never acted all that drunkenly. You were calm and in control throughout, your, shall I say outbursts. My friends have told me that it’s too late to stop your vodka calamities from unfolding sometimes. But, you nearly killed us. And you bit me,” he says, showing her the red ring around his index left finger.

“Well we all have our demons in there, don’t we? I’m good at drinking. Until I sometimes fall down. I fell down those steps one night,” she says pointing to a long downstairs plummet into the downstairs floor where the Ice Cage is hidden.

The Ice Cage is a freezer box in the basement where people pay forty ahead to slam wall to wall cheap vodka over a period of two minutes. It never ends well for those who get in that cage. There is a perilous flight of stairs down to the basement where they keep the stripper poles and the blue-lit fuck cage by a second bar and dance floor.

“That looks like it could have hurt,” he replies, “if you remembered it”.

“I don’t remember it,” she smiles wide and seductively.

But that’s a silly thing to say. Seductively. Dasha is the most beautiful woman he has ever seen. Her proclivity for homicide aside, she is fascinating. Describing just how beautiful she is almost doesn’t fit in a later play he could end up writing. Her golden locks are like a lioness. Her eyes are capable of quick swing between fierce, curious, and loving. She loves to hear men say it, how beautiful she is, but beauty isn’t where a man falls from when he falls from the heart not the groin. Beauty is a thing of lust. It has no bearing on love when that love is real love and not lust with imagined feelings. Love is energy, a wave crashing over you. Kawa has drowned several times before. He’d be very careful to use the word again. In that regard, he is reckless to no end. He feels an attraction and can’t comprehend it, it must be love. The previous formula for the same emotion dictated that whatever woman resisted his affections the most adamantly and then let down her guard to an elegant seduction of deeds and art, must be love. There were loves at first sight, or interaction as well as friendships that became romances and he was unafraid to say the words again. The words often came out without his permission. 

Over time several women had accused him of bastardizing the loaded phrase via serial usage. There were over a dozen women he’d uttered it to over the course of his twenty-eight some years. Generally after the conquest of kisses, but to a couple stupidly even before. 

They were all very different women of course and they all brought out very different rolls to his emotional dice. Side to his coin being a limited idiom. Supposedly in popular fiction man or woman is supposed to have only one true love in a lifetime, to marry them or be parted from them tragically. So Kawa was working hard by that standard, which truly in real life can never be that simple, that limited. 

“You’re really something to write home about,” Kawa says.

“Absolutely I am. And I never say sorry to men, but Rafael said he would cancel his friendship with me if I didn’t say a true sorry to you. Apparently, I underestimated that you are the favorite host. The dashing revolutionary saint. The darling also of the owner. The grandeismo! Wait, I’m not sure what that word means blat! You’re great. Also as the confidant of Raffo and Viktoria, you should become my confidant too.”

“I’m just Kawa on my very best nights. Good old reliable Blacksmith Winter.”

“And on the bad nights then who? Tell me some of your other silly names,” she whispers at him up close.

“Zachariah, Valera or Vasyli Pveada, or, wait, wait, my memory is growing back, perhaps your papers really say: Sir Sebastian Adonaev! Ha! A royal victory? Where did you concoct these strange and slightly atrocious monikers? Moniker, is that the right word?”

He nods slightly.

“I’m Kawa when the drinks flow and the desire to dance returns to my hard hips. All other times I’m at war. With myself and my nature, with a world of sheep and a den of wolves. In such circumstances, I require a hard Russian name, and the luck of a royal victory.”

“Hmm. Well, it sounds ridiculous the way you say it. I’ll call you Valera, highly sparingly, it’s an insult you know! Some girl insulted you and you made it your Russian name. We can get you a new one. But, Kawa is okay too. I’ll see what rolls better off the tongue. All that other stuff, well I have no idea what you’re talking about.

“Martina, two shots, Russian Standard please,” Daria proclaims, dropping another twenty on the bar. Martina the bartender comes over and gives Dasha a little wink again. She pours them out.

“This is sorry alright,” she smiles “I have said the words sorry! Now I again reserve the right to be rude to you and forget about it later. Fair game, yes? You got two drinks.”

He looks deep into her blue eyes and gives a half-smile wondering how much she really remembers. In her eyes he sees someone looking out at him below the swagger of her posture, behind her beauty is a much older beauty.  

“Well aren’t you impressed with my new manners?” she asks

I find you quite a bit stunning, he thinks and almost says.

“Of course I am.”

“What are you drinking next?” she asks.

They clink the shots and she proclaims, “Nazdrovia!”

She drinks like a fish, but really she just drinks like a Russian.

“Astika,” she orders for him.

She has years of recent training in anticipating the needs of men. By realizing those needs, controlling them. And she thinks, what terrible piss but of course she orders him another one from Martina. The raven black-haired Bulgarian bartender who knows exactly what she’s doing. Since Daria never buys men drinks. Because Russian apologies are based on acts, not words.

“Are you coming to our little festival?” Daria asks him almost casually.

There will be a four-day Bohemian Festival happening Labor Day Weekend where all manner of fuckery will take place in a park in Queens called the Onderdonk Public Historic Fields. Sasho the owner had let Victoria allow Kawa to do a benefit concert for their Haiti efforts at Mehanata a month ago. So a week from now Kawa and his colleague EMT, a Paramedic in training Comrade Jared Yetter the Forgetter from distant Kalifornia will be freelance EMTs covering the first two days of the festival. 

“Wait,” she pauses.

“You are working the festival as our very own people’s paramedic,” she says as she presses her palm to his sideburn and face-side.

“Sharp as a dagger you are Dorogaia,” he smirks. 

She smiles with big bright eyes. Who the fuck taught you that word, she thinks.

“Don’t call me your dear ever again, I’m not so old! I’ll alert you that I may well come to some of that festival and if I fall down, drunk, I will ask for very intimate and professional service.”

“Hand pressed ice,” he promises, reaching for her waist then thinking again.

“Hand-pressed absolutely everything,” she demands.

“It’s at the service of all attending,” he declares.

“You are a true servant of the people!” she mocks with a wink.

“Dasha, you’re a tough act to follow.”

“You’re gonna keep calling me that are you?”

“Is that still a problem?”

“It’s rather intimate. I don’t know if we know each other like this or that.”

“Well, I suppose we can work on that over the festival.”

She smiles a lovely, well-practiced smile.

“Kawa, or whatever stupid name you’re calling yourself tonight. Press me the best you can. The risk is completely yours, not mine.”

A song about the great and noble Commandant Che Guevara by the Buena Vista Social Club comes on and she thrusts herself into his arms for the last dance. They take the floor to themselves.

I wish knew you back in Cuba,” she whispers in his ear.

I’ve never been to Cuba,” he replies with a stone face.

She Latin sashays with him across the dance floor muscling out the other couples with her buxom way. She’s part crass and part wonderful. She lets him lead and he does a fairly good job under pressure to keep up. It’s been over a year since he’s danced with a woman of any substance.

You dance like you’re actually from the Illubabor,” she whispers to him.

But I’ve never been there either,” he repeats., “since it doesn’t exist yet.”

He dips her slightly. She’s a gorgeous, powerful woman who will always get what she wants in the end so it seems. Except perhaps happiness which no power or money can so far buy.

You’ve gotten much better at playing an Amerikansky style radical lately,” she tells him in an old Ivory language. 

You are even better at playing. A tragic but dangerous Russian courtesan,” Sebastian replies and they dance the rest of the night.

It is way past 04:00 am now and efforts to clear the worst kind of rabble out the tavern have begun. Only card-carrying regulars and lovers of staff can remain and light things up or pound things down. It’s now with the storm shutters sealed just over two dozen left lingering around the bar. Smoke them if you got them. They count out the cash on the bar. For some reason, with almost no music, drunk as hell, Kawa and Daria are still dancing. Slumped into each other.

“Right never on fucking schedule,” says Justin Toomey O’Azzello to Sasho, the burly owner smoking a cigar at the end of the ground floor bar passageway, packed up with intoxicated core circle patrons, tight except around his circumference. 

“Hasn’t changed his partisan cap or tune much in ten years,” Justin notes.

“I know him of course,” Sasho says without looking up, “with or without the ridiculous peasant cap. He’s been the same good man for over a decade. Dependable killer. Knocked the fuck around while in Ayiti, that is for sure.”

“He’s dancing with Daria Andreavna, good for him! She’s got great big ones for him,” O’Azzello says.

“He’s always dancing with Daria,” replies Martina, “or at least trying to dance with her anyway.”

“You’re thinking of…” ponders Justin.

“No my friend O’Azzello. I’m thinking exactly what I mean to be thinking! He’s always dancing with my Dasha right before things get interesting around here. And it sure will get interesting fast.”

They just met, boss!” says Martina.

Sasho slams his fist on the bar and almost yells in Bulgarian: 

You’re thinking of things three-dimensionally and I am thinking of things fifth dimensionally, even sixthly or seventhly and I know that when those two dance! Fucking trouble. Chorney with fire and arms in the streets! Illubadori mind games. Decapitations on camera and lynchings off bridges to boot. Lynchings I say! Gays being flung off the rooftops! And lots of piles of burning bodies. Walking dead and fucking flying robots. It’s time to call up all our troops, every single man to the front!”

Justin the General Manager sometimes suspects the boss is fucking insane, but the old man had a gift for utilizing that insanity. The lights come on and the remaining guests not vouched for are herded like drunk cats out the second exit onto Ludlow street until no one is left inside but the staff, a handful of regulars, and of course Sasho with his cigar. Daria and Kawa wander out into what’s left of the night on the Lower East Side. Wander out into the time before dawn.

Out of the corner of his eye, Sasho notices the mini Mexican weight staff are carrying the body of a man out of the tiny room upstairs where people go to fuck whores, or their drunk lady girlfriends, or college students. Or, he supposed less frequently, but evidently in case tonight; kill a man, drain his blood and empty his pockets. A little room to the very back of the second-floor mezzanine. You can fuck or even murder at the top of your lungs and no one would know.  Of the four little Mexicans, none are taller than four feet apiece and they must drag the body down the stairs. The corpse is pale from exsanguination. Having been totally dry. 

Into the soup or the soap?” asks little Enrique from Monterrey in Spanish.

Sasho nods, “Let the dead keep eating the dead as they do out in the colonies.” 

James White and James Brown sit with their drinks in near silence. Tanya just counts money. Martina counts more money with smoke in her pouty mouth. For some reason, she is as naked as the day she was born. Justin Toomey the General Manager sits on the bar next to Sasho wondering how many days the Tavern in its current incarnation has left above ground. 

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