Thursday, October 6, 2016

The Bartender in CLOCK STRIKES THREE, a John Bradford Branney Novel

Figure One - Lloyd, the creepy bartender from the movie The Shining.
Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) confided in Lloyd. Big mistake.  
How many of you have ever befriended a bartender? Okay, how many of you have confided in a bartender, told them some of your more personal information? Have you asked your bartending "consigliere" their advice on important decisions in your life? Okay, hands up…let me do a  count….hold up your hands high if you have befriended a bartender and confided in them…

Yep, you over there! There's one. How about you? Did you befriend a bartender or are you scratching your nose? Yep, okay. You...and you in the front row and you in the back row, that’s right, you! Yep, there are quite a few people in the audience who have confided in a bartender. It may have something to do with the tongue-lubricating liquor served in these establishments.      

When it comes to discussing important issues in our lives, most of us would rather consult family, friends, or maybe a close coworker. However, as you can see from the show of hands, some people confide in their bartenders. These same people may not have friends or family to confide, or perhaps, they are too embarrassed to confide with friends or family, or perhaps, they have just become friends with the bartender. There is absolutely nothing wrong with bouncing ideas off your local bartender.     

During my own lifetime, I have frequented many bars and drank at the bar while watching a sports event or conversing with friends, but I have never befriended or confided in a bartender. I am a very private person, that might have something to do with it. My father was the exact opposite. He owned vending machines, such as pinball machines, bowling machines, candy machines and cigarette machines. He put many of them in bars and businesses around several towns. He would get to know the bartenders since in many cases they were his customers. There were a few of these bartenders I remember my father actually quoting and talking about. I am sure he reciprocated and spoke to them about what was going on in his life.   

Figure Two - Sam Malone from the TV comedy,
Cheers. Everyone trusted Sam.
In my most recent book entitled CLOCK STRIKES THREE, my main character, a young man named Joey Gellar, befriended a bartender, an ex-police detective named Hank. Joey had a pretty tough upbringing and so far, life had dished out some pretty rough times for Joey Gellar. In the passage below, taken from my book CLOCK STRIKES THREE, Joey just entered his friend’s bar and is instantly interrogated by Hank, the bartender and owner of the bar. Joey has to explain to his much older bartender friend why he was seeing a psychiatrist. I will catch you on the other side of the dialogue.

            “How are you, Joey?” Hank welcomed his friend and patron. “You are a little early to begin drinking today. Did your boss let you off early?”

“I had a doctor’s appointment this afternoon and decided not to go back to work,” Joey explained.

“Doctor’s appointment?” Hank queried. “Hope everything is all right, amigo.”

“Yeah, the judge ordered me to go to a doctor as part of my sentence.”

Hank looked confused. “The judge sent you to a doctor?” he asked. “Are you talking about the legal issue you had with those bikers?”

“Yep,” Joey declared and then added, “Double shot of Early Times.”

Hank turned around and retrieved the bottle of bourbon from the counter. He turned around with the bottle and fetched a fresh glass. “Rocks or neat?” he asked Joey.


Hank poured and handed the glass to Joey. “The judge has you going to a doctor?” Hank repeated his question, his curiosity mounting.


“What is the doctor supposed to do?” Hank asked with tongue in cheek. “Remove your head from your ass?” 

“Ha, ha, Hank, aren’t you funny?”

“Seriously,” Hank said with a grin. “Why would the judge send you to a doctor? It makes no sense. Did you get a hernia lifting those Ferrari wheels?”

Embarrassed by the questioning, Joey downed the double shot of bourbon instead of answering. Hank stood behind the bar, his arms braced against the counter, waiting for Joey to reveal the mystery. “Those bikers hurt you or something?” he probed. 

 Finally, Joey felt enough pressure to get Hank off his back. “All right,” he mumbled, barely above a whisper. “The judge thought it would be a good idea if I went to a psychiatrist. Now, are you satisfied that I answered your question?”

“HA! HA! HA! HA!” Hank burst into laughter loud enough to raise the heads of the two drunks in the corner, temporarily, at least.  

“C’mon, Hank, quit laughing!” Joey implored. “It ain’t funny!”  

“HA! HA! HA! Bullshit, it ain’t funny!” Hank roared. Finally, Hank calmed down long enough to ask Joey for confirmation, “Let me get this straight, young one, the judge ordered psychiatric treatment for you? What does he think the bikers screwed your noggin up or something?”

The questioning embarrassed Joey. He wanted to scream. Joey did not need any more questions or critiques from the peanut gallery. He felt insecure enough without Hank’s help. Finally, Joey answered the question in a very measured tone of voice. “The judge thought my bad childhood messed me up or something like that,” Joey recalled. “He told me I was a magnet for bad people and trouble. He thought that a psychiatrist could help me deal with my bad childhood and help me figure out why I attract so much trouble.”

“I am sorry, kid,” Hank apologized, suddenly very solemn.

In CLOCK STRIKES THREE, the relationship between Joey and his psychiatrist is something that Joey and Bartender Hank have to revisit often. Hank always looks out for Joey and Hank does not like what is going on with the psychiatrist's treatment. Hank does not mince words when expressing his concerns to Joey. How does this triangular relationship between patient, doctor and bartender work out? You won't believe it if I told you. You are just going to have to read CLOCK STRIKES THREE to find out for yourself.

In the meantime, you can order CLOCK STRIKES THREE on the link below. Please enjoy. Above are some bartenders you just might remember.

CLICK for CloCK sTrikeS THree


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