Bourbon’s Bastards: Dispatches from the Edge

The words hit me like a punch to the gut. It was if the words themselves were a fist, and my gut was my mind hearing the words, but instead of hearing them, they were feeling them, because the words were a fist, and my mind was a gut.

“It’s not long enough.”

The editor – my friend, my confidant, my drinking buddy (bourbon, natch) – he spoke these words to me, coughing them out like smoke from a cigarette – the type of smoke you exhale after a sip of fine bourbon.

I sat there, still, silent – like a still, silent glass of bourbon.

“What?” I finally managed to exclaim, in a smooth, bourbony voice.

“The piece. It’s good… but what if it was 4000 words longer, and you talked about bullfighting for some reason?”

Bullfighting. The bourbon of sports. Of course.

• • •

Madrid. 2005.

I fought through the crowds and entered the gaping maw of the arena, readying myself for the bloody spectacle to which I was about to bear witness.

The matador’s entrance drew a deafening roar from the bastards in the stands.

He danced with the bull – I was watching a myth being written in front of my own eyes – the eyes of a writer. The end came suddenly, and with a crimson flash.

I felt a wetness on my face. Tears, dripping like the wax seal on a bottle of Maker’s. In the midst of the fury, I had come to love that bull.

It was as if I had imbibed a potent concentrated brew: 1 part awful brilliance, 1 part brutal truth, 1 part the dog episode of Futurama.

• • •

The high seas…

Would anything ever be the same?

I had struggled with the marlin for hours, a maddening battle reminiscent of Vimy Ridge. We fought until the sun rang the horizon’s doorbell.

My wife Karen told me to hurry up. I told her that maybe I would have caught the fish faster if we had sex more often.

God, I needed a bourbon.

That trip had changed me, as it had changed my wife (8.5, 9 on a good day).

• • •


“The nectar of the Gods,” I thought, as I savoured that first sip, and the second one, and the first gulp.

“That is, if God ever existed at all,” I also thought, immediately after the first bourbon thought.

I slammed the bottle down like a matador would slam down a bottle of bourbon. The red cape… I see now why the bulls are so haunted by it.

The woman in the red dress still stalked my dreams, her every move sending me into spasms of ecstasy.

Bewitching. Impossible. Achingly beautiful.

Hell’s own damn bastard, Satan himself, the bastard, couldn’t keep me from her.

I pretended my fist was her vagina and started jacking off my boner.

• • •

The bombs had gone off at 2:49.

4 hours into the race.

Most of the people left were really shitty runners. Like, I mean, they were okay, but nothing special.

What a powerful image.

• • •

I sat in the restaurant, waiting for the celeb to arrive. I was going to interview the celeb, and she was hot.

The whole damn restaurant nearly fell out of their chairs when she entered the room. She smiled at me, and sat down. Every man in the place was extremely horny and jealous of me.

I ordered a bourbon and a steak, rare – bloodied, really. She ordered a glass of wine and a steak, rare – bloodied, really.

She was hot as hell. It was hard to look at her face because she was so gorgeous. But I still looked at her, because I was a writer, and that was my job – to look, to learn… to love.

I sipped my bourbon. She sipped her wine. I asked her if she liked bourbon. She said it was okay.

I shifted in my chair, unsure of myself – confused, as a child would be.

The waiter brought over our steaks – dripping with blood. If the steaks had ever had a relationship with fire, it had been a short one – and they probably had really bad sex, which was almost certainly the fire’s fault.

We spoke of bullfighting, of bourbon, of steak. Once again, I asked her what she thought of bourbon. She didn’t really seem up for talking, but whatever. I had my bourbon and I had my steak.

She left – a beautiful phantom, etching herself in the collective memory of the room. The bourbon was good, and I drank it.