Our local wino

I suppose every neighborhood bar has its local wino. Ours did, and he was quite a character.

He was s slender fellow of course, with tattered clothing and an awkward gate. It is difficult to walk with grace and confidence when you are constantly drunk after all.

He had an interesting name which I won’t mention here. I think it was just his last name, but it was one that I had never heard of in my ten, long years of living.

He talked constantly to himself and used vigorous hand gestures as he walked the neighborhood.

I was frightened of him when we first met, but that changed over time. At first I thought he was following me and might kidnap me. I remember those thoughts and running home as a young child.

Eventually, over time, he seemed harmless the more I saw of him. Like with anything, becoming familiar with something often makes it seem less frightening and more normal, even if it isn’t.

He would come into our bar and order a small bottle of Tokay. Tokay is a cheap, sweet wine for those of you who are not in the know. It was his favorite for some reason.

He would sit at the bar and talk to Mr. Martinez for as long as his behavior allowed him to remain. He must have had family around somewhere as he was clean shaven most of the time and apparently had a place to go and “freshen up” at once in a while.

Mr Martinez had been dead for many years by the way, and was only seen by this fellow, who we will call Thomas. He was Hispanic, as all of my friends and adult acquaintances were at this time in my life.

He would stay in his seat and talk to his imaginary friend until the wine kicked in and he started making obscene gestures to our female bartenders and annoying others, seated at the bar.

That was when my two older brothers were called into action by one of my parents.

My two brothers would pick his slim frame up from the red barstool of his choice by the arm pits and drag him to the front doors of our saloon. The doors were just like those seen in the westerns and swung in both directions with ease. It was two steps down to the concrete outside.

I seem to remember my brothers tossing him through the doors more than once and watching him float through the doors and land on the concrete outside. He was a hardy fellow.

This treatment hardly persuaded him to stay away, and he would return another day to go through the same routine. Perhaps his need of more money for his drinks was what determined when he would return.

As I see him now in my quasi-adult mind’s eye sitting here at my desk, it occurs to me that he may have been a paranoid-schizophrenic and was just self medicating with alcohol to quiet the voices that constantly talked to him.

I hope he finally received the help that he needed and joined Mr. Martinez when his time came. They seemed to be very good friends.

All of my friends at this time were adult drunks and junkies. Some of them did have redeeming qualities as difficult as they might be to discover.

I often had time on my hands and talked at length to them. They were all interesting in their own way. I wasn’t working constantly after all.

I wasn’t raised by wolves. It just seems that way sometimes when I look back on my childhood.