He descended into Hell; the third day He rose again from the dead; he ascended into Heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of God, the Father almighty;
-The Apostles Creed
A golden haze reflected off of the Anheuser-Busch brewery, the gateway into Denver. It had been a wonderful ascent into Colorado, abetted by a helping of processed cheddar and roast beef sitting in our stomachs. Neither Bill nor I could resist the opportunity to over-indulge when the billboard for Arby’s came into view, our mouth’s salivating and our eyes widening upon its initial viewing while we passed through Laramie, Wyoming, and like always, it did not disappoint.
Yes, it can be said with total confidence that our spirits were on a constant up and up the moment we left Rock Springs, though being dragged any lower would’ve been a nearly impossible, yet impressive feat. Even the crazy lady on the freeway with her SUV covered in corn stocks and plastic soda cups with her hazard lights in a continuous flash seemed comforting! But aside from the fact that Rock Springs and its Motel 6 can make the city of Detroit look like Beverly Hills, we couldn’t imagine in our wildest dreams the elegance that we were to be blessed with upon our arrival into Denver.
To say we were thoroughly impressed with the city of Denver would be an understatement. Its streets were clean and its people friendly, people who seem to take pride in residing within the spread of the Mile High City, ensuring the beauty behind its skyline remains intact along the edge of the Rocky Mountains. As immaculate, gorgeous and amiable as it is however, its eclectic nature can many times go unnoticed, for the most intriguing aspect of the city sticks out worse than Donald Trump’s toupee. It takes hold and sucks you in, its presence un-ignorable to the point where all resistance is futile; where you have no choice but to accept and engage…
Beer. It’s everywhere.
Our first major landmark after passing the strategically placed Anheuser-Busch brewery was Coors Field, laying home to the Colorado Rockies MLB Club with the “Blue Moon Brewery” serving as a significant appendage to the sports complex. “It’s still early, let’s take this easy for now,” I suggested to Bill while passing the ball park, assuming the thoughts running through his mind were the same as mine.
But it was impossible to escape, and the temptation was pulling us from every direction. “Wynkoff Brewing Company… Rock Bottom Brewery… Falling Rock Taphouse… The Great Divide Taproom… Breckenridge Ball Park Brew…” Literally every block we walked down was a new bar, local microbrew, and taphouse daring us to get wrecked, drawing us closer with their tactical product placement, and working as the enabler to indulge in the deadly sin of getting ripped. “C’mon, just a little drink, that’s all… You can tool out here… Everything will be ok, I promise…”
“Let’s just get to Eric’s before it’s too late,” I told Bill, my heart pounding with both excitement and anxiety. I had to get away, channel my inner tunnel vision and make it to his apartment in once piece, to lay low for a little while before the alcohol takes control and forces me into directions and decisions I would deeply regret down the road.
“What’s up dingus!” said Eric, greeting us outside of the Ballpark lofts with a big hug upon our arrival. I was glad to see that his tank top still formed tightly around his pecks, a close resemblance to me and my wifebeater and a sign that he was doing well, still in good shape, and still the hunk I grew to love during the Fall of 2012 in Seattle when we would cozy up on the couch and watch Gagnum Style over and over again before strumming on our guitars late into the night. “What are we doing tonight?”
“Uh, I don’t know, we can take it easy for a while, and go from there.” It was the cliché “non-response” response, but it was the only thing I could say. I mean, yes, I wanted to drink, and I wanted to have a good time, but the amount of beer consumption mixed with the altitude could lead to big trouble, and whenever you’re in a strange city, you have to watch out for that type of stuff, especially here in Denver! It’s a nice place, and I would really like to come back again, and if it goes bad this time, well, who knows if we’ll ever get our opportunity ever aga—
“Well, there’s a local brewery down the street. You guys wanna get a couple round—
“YEA!” The instinctive reaction came out of both of our mouths.
“Uh, I mean, yea… sure.” I followed up with; a close save. “Only if you want to. I mean, I don’t know about Bill, but it doesn’t really matter to me. I can drink now, drink later, whatever.”
“Ok, let’s do this. Follow me!”
We followed Eric into the River North Brewery, not even a block away from his apartment. It was definitely the place where all of the cool kids hung out, people with flannel shirts, wild hair cuts, thick-rimmed glasses—hey, they even had a couple cats riding around on rollerblades, which was a bit impressive considering the size of the joint! The crazy corn lady came around again as well, driving/meditating while pumping a hip electronic beat from her SUV! It was wild. It was crazy. It was great!
I stepped up to the counter, innocent and ignorant with ebullience. There were so many choices, and it was all fresh and local with all of those organic ingredients that all of the tree huggers love. And it was such a neat little place! Why can’t I have something this close to my house? I would go there every day—
“What can I get ya?”
“Um, uh… let me see…” Oh man, this guy was a big dude with a big old beard—your stereotypical brewmaster that you just don’t want to look like a jackass in front of. But I couldn’t decide! There were so many choices, even stuff I’d never heard of before! Ok, let’s see here, there’s a triple, or a tripel, whatever you call it. Then a J. Marie Imperial Saison. I didn’t even know that those could be imperial! The Avarice Imperial Stout, the Rivernorth IPA—hey, I know what an IPA is! But a Witbier—what the heck is a Witbier!
“Excuse me sir, what would you like???”
Oh God, all these cool locals around, and all these beers—I don’t know what to get! Get something tho—but what! Think!! Anything! Just get something! Say something stupid, say something!!!
“…I… I would like… all… the beers…”
And just like that, the brewmaster gave me all the beers.
And then we drank all the beers. And then we drank some more beers. And they were good; they were damn good. And then we started telling dirty jokes. And then talked about girls and drank more beers. And then it started raining. And then we made fun of the turkeys on the rollerblades. And then—
“Hey, you guys hungry?” asked Eric.
“Actually, I’ve been working up a little bit of an appetite since Arby’s,” said Bill.
“Good. I know a great sushi place…”
“Then lets go!” I shouted while shooting out of my seat, unaware of the effects that elevation has on the body until I wobbled around our table, nearly knocking over the beer glasses scattered across it. “Let’s get some shushi!”
“Yes, I would like to order three sake bombs,” said Eric to our waiter in a polite and sustained manner, all of us acting on our best behavior in the middle of the iFish Sushi Bar.
“What’s a Sake Bomb?” asked Bill.
“I’ll show you.”
Moments later our waiter returned, holding up a tray with full of Japanese beer and Sake, setting one of each in front of us. Per Eric’s instructions, we set each shot on top of a glass filled with beer, held up by a pair of chopsticks lying in a V across the rim. Eric started off the salute, commanding us to answer the call.
“Ok, when I say Sake, you say bomb. SAKE!”
Each of us banged our fist against the table, loosening the chopsticks and causing the shot of Sake to drop into the beer. A loud crash sounded through the restaurant, startling most of the restaurant’s patrons while we each picked up our glass and chugged the Sake and Beer fusion, un-phased by the commotion we had just caused. Bill and I shook off the rough experience, not exactly regretting our decision; just glad it was over with.
“I think we’re ready to order,” said Eric while waving the waiter back towards us. “We’ll take an order of potstickers, the Yellow Submarine Roll, a Spider Roll, a couple lettuce wraps, and how bout a couple California Rolls.”
“Yes sir, coming right out.”
“Oh, one more thing; three more Sake Bombs please.”
“Whoa, Eric, heheh… are you sure that’s a good idea?” I whispered, nudging him on the shoulder.
“Oh yea, good call! Just give us three of those big ol’ 24 ounce bottles of the Sapporo and with our own bottle of Sake.”
“Wait, what’s going on?” Bill asked, his inattentiveness on full display.
“You got it, I’ll have those right out for ya.”
The waiter quickly returned, providing us each with our own bottle of beer and jar of Sake. Eric proceeded to set the example by pouring a half glass full of beer, mixing in a shot of Sake, then quickly downing the concoction, much before the mixture had time to settle. We followed his example by taking a Sake Bomb of our own. Eric poured another glass of beer, mixed in another shot of Sake and joined us. He seemed to have a handle on his Sake.
“Another Sake Bomb?” asked Eric.
“Well, if you say so,” I replied and Bill agreed. And down went another Sake Bomb.
“Ok guys, here is your California, Spider, and Yellow Submarine Roll.” The waiter set each plate down across the bar table, creating our own personal, Asain feeding trough, of which we took no shame and exposing our animal ways. “Is there anything else I can get you?”
“Yea,” replied Eric with a mouth full of Spider Roll. He held up his empty beer bottle with his right, the jar of Sake with his left, and then lifted up three fingers. The waiter seemed to understand, and quickly brought out three more bottles of beer and Sake with the rest of our order.
“One more Sake Bomb?” Eric requested.
“When I say SAKE you say BOMB!” Bill seemed more than eager to answer.
“SAKE BOMB!” I yelled in response and drank to his chant.
“Lets eat!” said Eric, reaching for a piece of the California Roll.
“Hey, that one’s mine!” I followed, reaching for my own piece before dousing it in a pond consisting of half soy sauce and half wasabi.
“I’ll give you the rest if you take a Sake Bomb with me.”
“SAKE BOMB!” We drank again.
“Hey Eric, try some of this Yellow Submarine Roll. It’s like the Beatles!” said Bill, excited for the contraption, especially after the Fool on the Hill incident.
“Ok, but you have to take a Sake Bomb with me.”
The two ate their Yellow Submarines and took their Sake, and the meal continued, each of us groveling in the fish, rice and seaweed creations presented before us.
“Eric, you haven’t even eaten half of your Spider Roll yet,” I teased.
“Oh yea, I’ll eat it all, don’t worry. But first, SAKE BOMB!”
“SAKE BOMB!” Bill and I replied and joined him in another. Soon afterwards, Eric finished off his Spider Roll, washing it down with another Sake Bomb, this time all for himself.
“Hey, we’re done with the Yellow Submarine. How bout another Sake Bomb?” Bill suggested.
“Yea, a Sake Bomb!” I replied. For some weird reason, the more Sake Bombs we took, the easier it was for us to drink.
“If you guys say so,” replied Eric, joining us in another toast, followed by a couple lettuce wraps, then another Sake Bomb.
“Oh, we still have the potstickers left,” said Bill.
“We’ll work on that. Eric, you take care the lettuce wraps. Sake bomb?”
“SAKE BOMB!” yelled Bill.
“Hold on guys, I don’t feel very good.”
“Oh, you’re fine!” It was true. He did look ok; his demeanor hadn’t changed since we arrived, as he took on the role of host seriously.
“I need some water,” said Eric, taking the full glass of water in front of him, coated with condensation from the melted ice and pressed it up to his mouth. The rim of the glass touched his lips and the water disappeared.
“We good?” I asked. Eric hovered over the pint-sized glass, his lips curled as if he were using he cup as tobacco dispensary. Instead, a thick-brown substance seeped out, leaving a layer of film at the bottom of the glass. He paused for a moment, leaving time for his stomach to settle before returning to the cup. He leaned into it, and a smooth and solid stream of dense bodily fluid flushed out from his pink, curled orifice, quietly filling the glass completely full as if he were dispensing a Jamba Juice smoothie from his mouth. He set the glass down on the counter, where we sat; three boys, five empty plates but for a few spreads of lettuce and potsticker, six near empty bottles of beer, a bunch of Sake, and a pint of vomit at a sushi bar.
Eric’s reply was calm, as though he was unaffected his body’s recent rejection, but behind the cool figure, he was struggling. Sooner or later, someone would take notice and act unfavorably to a glass full of puke on the counter, hardly a sanitary situation to say the least, starting with Bill. He kept his face forward, acting like he didn’t know us and sipped on a glass of water, his attempt to alleviate his sudden paleness and preclude himself from undergoing a similar event. It wasn’t working though, for his eyes kept drifting towards Eric and the glass, turning his stomach closer to failure. He was fading, and fading fast. Something had to be done. I brainstormed and perused the restaurant—the bathroom was down the hallway, just between a few tables and seated guests, and there was something very peculiar about this collection of throw-up… almost like I had been here before… like I had seen it in a place, long, long ago…
September 4th, 2014: Opening day of the NFL season. Mike Gibson and I are eating Subway Sandwiches in a shop in Seattle. I’m cautious, for a Packers shirt can be cause for contention amongst a swath of Seahawks fans, especially on game day, and the green and yellow shirt is a sore contrast in a sea of blue jerseys. “Just don’t do anything stupid,” I tell myself, an easy enough thi—“Uh oh.”
It was at that moment that I realized I wasn’t as accustomed to smoking cigarettes as Mike Gibson was, and that perhaps matching him cig for cig until 4 in the morning while talking about the good times wasn’t the best idea for me or my un-acclimated body. I ran to the bathroom. “OUT OF ORDER” it says. I ran to the trashcan—I don’t make it. Puke goes everywhere; Seahawks fans stare at this Packers fan causing a mess, in THEIR Subway. It’s bad… really bad. I look over to Mike for help, desperate and hoping he is most merciful for my mistake. “What do I do?”
Mike takes a good, hard swallow of his sandwich, wipes his face with a few napkins, and gathers some more, his stature strong and stoic. No eye contact was necessary. “Pack it up.”
“Pack it up,” he says to me again. “We’re leaving.” He points his thumb hitchhiker style to the doorway and gathers what’s left of our sandwiches. His words linger, as I was still frozen in a panic, but Mike took control, commanding the situation towards safety. He walked and acted swiftly, and I stood next to my puddle of up-chuck, the words circling my head… “Pack it up… Pack it up… Pack it—“
“BAM!” My hand slapped down on the table and I rose to my feet. “I got this!”
“I got this!” I repeated and reached for the glass of vomit, my eyes on nothing but the restroom in the distance.
“Excuse me, comin’ through! Oh hey miss, just let me squeeze by real quick… can you scoot your chair in just a little—oh, thank you. By the way, that’s a very lovely dress you’re wearing tonight. Oh hi, how are you doing—oh crap, sorry, didn’t mean to spill, I’m trying to—wait… oh my God, you look kind of like my friend Jimmy… No, you looke exactly like my friend Jimmy! Hey Bill, come over here, it’s Jimmy… Yea, Jimmy, Jimmy! Come over here and let’s get a picture—uh, hey, you don’t mind if my friend and I… just one… Awesome! Let me just set this down real quick… Alright, cool. 1, 2, 3, cheese! Great, thanks man, I hope you all have a wonderful evening! By the way, may I suggest the Yellow Submarine Roll? Yea, it’s delicious, well worth the price; the Spider Roll though, uh, er… not so much, for obvious reason! Well, nice meeting you. Cheers guys!”
I made it to the bathroom, the last five minutes blowing by in what felt like a matter of seconds, first going for the stall—occupied. Quick, don’t think, just act. The urinal was vacant, the coast was clear. With one swift motion I emptied the contents of the glass into the urinal with a minimal amount of spray splashing back onto my shorts—nothing I can’t handle. I set the glass on the bathroom counter, the smoking gun left at the scene of the crime, taking my cues from the Godfather, just as Michael Corleone would’ve done, and walked away as if nothing happened.
“What happened to the glass?” asked Bill.
“Oh, what the Hell!” screamed a man from down the hall. By his tone, I assumed he was a restaurant worker. “Somebody barfed in the urinal again!”
The night ended with a DJ session that Eric was so gracious to put on, showcasing his talents to us and to the rest of the residents of the Ballpark lofts, where we continued our mischief well into the night. The lack of oxygen in the air struck me at the edge of Midnight, leaving me in an unconscious state by the time we got back to Eric’s apartment. I slept heavy and dreamed hard; a dream so vivid, so lucid, and its characters and settings so familiar, that it became something more; two men conversing, knowing they want more in this life, and searching, deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole, down into the dark depths of inhumanity, and refusing to come out until they get what they’re looking for. There they sat, and searched… and searched…
Eric sits at a table with Bill. Bill says he is tired, his eyes strained and weary. Eric agrees to let him sleep, but he stares into him, requiring him to accomplish a simple task.
“Bill, do you realize the amount of potential you have?”
“Well, I guess I’m pretty—“
“That’s what I mean! Here.” Eric throws down a golden device, a round face with three hands, each with different lengths, moving at different speeds, and pointing in different directions. Bill is far too intoxicated to know what he’s supposed to do.
“What is this?”
“Sell me this watch.”
Bill stares at the mysterious device, unable to compute a logical explanation of benefit. He does not understand.
“Wha… What time is it?”
Eric looks over at a digital clock on a microwave. “It’s 2:30 AM.”
Bill’s palms get sweaty. He complains that he cannot sell such a device. He says he is far too tired. Eric’s mind strains, his search for a watch worth purchasing yielding no constructive results.
“I can… I can’t do it—“
“No. Bill… Sell me this watch.”
Bill drives himself into a world of tick and tock, becoming one with the mechanics of timepiece.
“It’s a gold watch, fine quality, beautiful steel—“
Eric tries to instruct him, but he cannot…
“Are you right or left handed, Bill?”
“I just sold you,” replies Eric. Bill knows this to be true, and knows what he must do to sell the watch, but the words cannot escape his lips. He grows weary as the time passes, the intensity of the each tick and each tock of the watch increasing, drilling into his head with a maddening desire to escape!
Eric stares at him, his head spinning “sell me this watch;” his arms swinging “Tick and Tock,” much like the hands of the golden device. Bill stares back in hopeless failure, crying the tears of a watch-less man.
In his mind he screams! It is raining a combination of hands pointing towards a relevant interpretation of time; he has “Sell me this watch,” engrained in his left temple… and he does not understand. Eric weeps in the corner long into the night. He is starving…
“Bill, please… sell me this watch…”
…Starving, for the watch…
“Sell me this watch… Sell me this watch… Sell me this watch…”