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A Fisherman's Guide to Bottomdwellers
Type: , ,
Author: Michele Dutcher
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A wild look at nightlife in the bars of Old Louisville Kentucky.

Rating: Unrated

Sample Chapter

Down here among the bottom dwellers, men have no reservations about finding women better than themselves to live with. 

            At first glance a person might think this pairing up would happen in Spring when all the world is abloom with love.  However, among street level men, it's far more likely to occur in the Fall just as the temperatures start to dip into the 20s.  That's because men are like rats.  When the air gets a little nippy, rats want to move indoors; to sit out the winter in comparative comfort.  The same can be said of bottom dwelling men who instinctively know how to earn an inside living space by saying nice things to females and cutting back on the jive bullshit.

            "You're looking mighty fine, baby," could translate into a warm bed and three hot meals a day, if whispered into the right lady's ear.  Or, at the least, it might get him shared body heat on those coldest nights in January when ice blankets the windows facing north, and you need to leave the faucets running so the pipes don't freeze.

            So it isn't by accident when bottom dwelling men take another look at the women around them in mid-October.  They have three million years of evolution pushing them forward.

            My boy, Bucky, for instance, moved in with me last November.  Now that it’s March, thank god there’s going to be a wedding.  And thank god it won't be mine.  Don't get me wrong, I'm a big believer in marriage, having been married four times myself.  It's just that the first thing I look for when I enter a sanctuary are those bright, friendly EXIT signs marking the way out.

            That's why I have to admire Bud's courage for getting married again after his two previous disasters.  Within the hour, Confederate Bud will become husband to a woman I have never even met before.  Which isn't really surprising when you realize he’s only known her for twelve days.  Me and Bucky and my best guys, showed up for the festivities at 2 P.M. on the dot, because Bud told everyone the first two rounds of drinks are on the house.

            So by 2:30 the party is in full swing with over 100 people crammed into the four rooms of Dan's Bar and Grill.  All of a sudden, out of the clear blue, up pulls Houston driving a brand new red Camaro.  Nobody in Old Louisville has even heard from Houston in over a year, figuring he either moved back to Texas or died.

            "Where ya been, Bro?" asks Injun Sam, shaking Houston's hand while dragging him to a vacant barstool.

            "Did you move back to Texas or what?" asks Bucky, slapping him on the back.

            Houston plops down on the chair and raises his hands.  "Hold up now, partners.  I've been on the road for five hours.  Who do I have to fuck to get a beer around here?"

            "I'll get it for you," says Shy Dougie .  "What kind, Miller or Bud?"

            "The only real beer, son," says Houston reaching into his pocket and pulling out a fifty.  "Budweiser, of course."  He hands Shy Dougie the cash, takes a gulp of his bottle, and charges into his story.

            “I’ve been staying with a sugar mama down around Johnson City, Tennessee.” She bought me this car here because I’m the best she ever had.”  He shifts his gaze to the street where the Camaro is on display in front of the windows.  Bottom dwelling boys love talk like this.  Bottom dwelling boys tell each other this joke:

            “Question: How is a woman like a piece of linoleum?

            Answer: If you lay her right the first time, you can walk all over her the rest of your life.”   And so it goes.

            The boys all “ooh” and “ahh” at his good fortune, but me and Janice are a little older and a little wiser.  We know Houston’s old lady is letting him drive her car, as long as he does his little factory job and pays the monthly and the insurance.  As soon as she gets tired of Houston’s antics, she’ll take the car back to be used as bait for the next boy floating past. 

            It’s like when you see an old man living under a bridge and he’s got this dog that follows him everywhere; any scrub can own a dog and any woman can own a boy.  I know first hand about owning a boy since I own one named Bucky.  I know how comforting it is to sit by the pool tables and ask my boy for a cigarette, watch him put a Marlboro Red between his full lips, light it and draw a puff into his lungs to make sure it’s glowing brightly before handing it to me.

            Right now, Bucky is listening contently to Houston’s tales of living life high on the hog.  “Whenever I feel like it, I tell my old lady that I’m headed out for the weekend and I drive off.  I just have to be back for my shift on Monday morning.”  Yeah, right, as if that relationship is going to last.

            I also have my doubts about the couple soon to be joined in the bonds of Holy Matrimony (as in Holy Matrimony Batman! What a fine mess this is!).  They got engaged just six days ago.  Maybe Tammy said she wasn’t putting out until she had a wedding band on her finger, and Bud figured six days was as long as he could wait.  The spectators to the ceremony have been quietly placing bets for days on how long this fiasco will last.  I lost my five bucks when both parties, bride and groom, actually showed up.  Other people have their money on two weeks, or a few months.  No one is willing to bet on a year.

            So I offer Bud a shot of Tequila and usher him into a corner where I ask him straight out:  “Did you fall in love with her that fast?”

            “Kat, she’s got 64 cable stations, a truck, and a two bedroom apartment in the East End with a clubhouse and a pool.” 

            I try a more direct route.  “Bud, you do love her, right?  You’re not that big an asshole, are you?”

            Bud thinks over his answer before replying.  “She seems really nice, you know.  But 64 cable stations and an F-150 pickup!  Wow!  I just can’t wait to have my hands on the steering wheel.”  And so it goes.

            Now that I clearly understand Bud’s motivation, I wonder what Tammy is getting out of this, so I go fishing.  “So, Bud, how long has Tammy been divorced?”

            “How did you know she’s divorced, Kat?” he asks, waving to a friend.  “Well, it’s no secret.  She’s been single almost two months now, but her ex is really a nice guy.  That’s him standing right over there.”  He points toward the side door.  I turn around and see a middle-aged man of moderate means, standing with a blonde woman in her twenties.  Tammy’s past is that close, and she’s eagerly shoving her rebounding ability in her ex’s face.  There, that’ll teach him AND his blonde bimbo!

              I figure I’ve gotten the answers to my questions so I tell him, “You and Tammy have fun on your trip.”  I step away and Bud goes back over to his soon -to- be bride.  I go over to update my bet with Flattop Chris.  I put my five bucks on four months.

            So Tammy’s buying herself a boy, while I’m just renting mine.  The higher ups think owning a boy is a sex thing, but it’s not.  I knew one lady who was 76 and her boy was 44.  They may have been doing the bumpadee every night, but odds are they hadn’t done the wild thing in months.  It’s just comforting to own a boy when you’re too old to believe in fairy tales anymore.  It’s like love, only better: you don’t cry as much when you own a boy.  Hearts too broken to cry, souls too bitter to mourn.  Doves marching with wings dragging the ground.

            Me, my boy, and our two cats live in Old Louisville, a safe haven close to downtown.  It’s four blocks wide and five blocks long.  I want to be sure you understand exactly where this is, in case you decide to visit.  Two blocks in either direction could put you at risk.  Old Louisville proper runs from West 2nd Street to West 6th Street and from St. Cats on the north to Cardinal Boulevard on the south. 

Dan’s bar and grill sits facing Ormsby, which is about dead center of Old Louisville, and is more of an Irish Pub than a pick-up bar.  You can pick up a girl at Dan’s, but most of the ladies are in relationships.  No one ever gets married at Dan’s, not ever.  Okay, Confederate Bud is getting married, but not to one of the usual suspects.  He’s gone outside our circle and is marrying Tammy and 64 cable stations.  He’s marrying someone he’s only known for two weeks.

            Maybe once you get past 32 that’s the only way to get married, fast and blind.  Tammy is mid-thirties and Bud is pushing 40, both of above average height and I.Q.  Confederate Bud is so called, because he’s the curator of a three-room Civil War museum located in a small building in back of the Folsom Club.  Bud also travels into the Deep South to participate in Civil War re-enactments.  He’s proud of saying he once saw Mel Gibson riding a horse during one of these pretend wars.  He says they’re going to use the scene in a war movie.

            Suddenly, Bucky rushes over to me and says: “I almost forgot to tell you.  Tabitha is having her kittens right now!”

            "Well when did that start?"

            "Just before you got here, while you were still at work.  Injun Sam and I were at the apartment when Tabitha started screaming, and kittens started falling out her butt.  We were drunk, and we got - you know - really nervous.” 

            "You should have stayed and helped," I scold him.  "It's too late now for me to check on them.  It won't be long and the ceremony will be under way."

            Injun Sam walks over when he sees Bucky and me fussing.  "Don't holler at Bucky about the cat.  I got scared too, and I was in prison for two years."  His face melts into a smile as he makes his voice sound higher and he says, “I don't know nothing about birthin' no babies, Miss Scarlett.”

            I can't help but laugh at this ex-convict's really bad impression of a scene from Gone With the Wind, so I let Bucky slide. 

Houston is standing near-by and takes my hand, pressing my palm to his lips while looking deep into my eyes.  "I'm sorry to see such a fine lady as yourself in such distress.  Please accept this southern gentleman's sincerest offer of assistance."

            "It’ll be okay," I tell him, pulling my hand out of his grasp.  "Bucky is just an asshole, that’s all."  I turn to Bucky and tell him, "But try to be good from this point on.  Don't make me spank you in front of all these people!" 

            "Ooh!  Spanking!" coos Houstin.  "I always knew you were freaky, Kat!"   We all laugh before they take off to the bar to scare up some more mixed drinks. 

            Tom the Hair guy is already at the impromptu nuptials, having the dubious honor of being the Best Man.  The way that Tammy keeps eyeing him, maybe she agrees that he IS the Best Man.  And so it goes.  Tom is dressed in full leathers with a tan leather fringed jacket.  It reminds me of a jacket I once saw a man wearing at a musket-firing contest in Indiana.  Although I was married to my third husband at the time, I had been so attracted to this stranger, that I followed him from a distance through two buildings.  I never quite saw his face, but his long black hair and the way he carried himself was so magnetic that I was pulled along for about ten minutes.  The man in question was definitely NOT Tom.   Tom is straight, but in touch with his feminine side.  Tom is in his mid-forties and the wigmaster at a local theater company.  Every time he mentions his job title, I can envision Tom using a tiny whip to keep his wigs on their little stands.  Like the rest of us, he was physically more attractive decades ago.  Tom is not my tall handsome stranger, but the coat seems familiar.

            I walk up to Tom, giving him a kiss on the cheek.  “Tom, you look Mahvelous Dahlink,"

            “Kat, my love, how are you?”  He completely envelops me in a hug. “I was married to my 2nd wife in these leathers.  The pants may be a little tight, but I can still fit into them.  I borrowed the coat from Cadillac,” Tom says turning to a man standing close to him, and pulling at his arm.  “Cadillac, you’ve met Kat, haven’t you.”

            As Cadillac turns around to face his friend, he looks down into my eyes.  The man is amazing with lush black curly hair, dark eyes and full lips.  He has a closely trimmed black beard and is at least a decade younger than Tom or myself.  “I don’t think we’ve met,” says Cadillac, shaking my hand before putting it to his lips.  This continental greeting is a bit overdone, but still sweet enough to make me giggle.

            Tom keeps lumbering up to the bar, buying his companion one bourbon and coke after another.  “Good to meet you,” I purr at the yummy stranger.  He’s obviously Tom’s lover, Tom being bi-sexual.  Cadillac heads towards the bathroom to see a man about a horse.  

“Isn’t he great?” raves Tom.

            “You’re right, sweetheart.  He’s a real looker.  Why do all the great looking ones have to be gay.”  Tom looks puzzled for a moment, then bellows into a laugh.  “Kat,” he spews out in a hushed voice, “Cadillac isn’t gay.  He’s just a friend, although a nice three way might prove interesting.  In fact, he says he can get it up with anyone, anytime, anywhere.  Well, as long as the anyone has one of those” he explains pointing to my crotch, “instead of one of these,” pointing to his own.

            “Well, my, my,” I stammer in my best Southern Bell drawl.  I pretend to fan myself with a hanky, while giving the tall handsome stranger a lustful stare.

            At that moment Bucky appears out of nowhere, stepping between Tom and me.  “Come on, Kat, they’re starting the vows.”  He steers me towards the middle of the room.  I not about to stray far from Bucky anyway, because I know the secret: everyone at a bar is broken.  If you know anyone long enough and well enough, there’ll be something to take him or her askew.  There’ll be something that makes them unacceptable as a marriage partner.  The fly in the ointment is usually the size of an ostrich.  And I know another secret too: Men don’t change.  If you meet him at a bar, you’ll be looking for him there the rest of your life.  If he is "between jobs”, he’ll be mooching off you until you drive him away with a gun.  And no man at a bar can ever get it up regular.  Period.  End of Story.  Well, Cadillac says he can, but that’s yet to be seen.

            That afternoon at Dan’s, promises are exchanged, much liquor is consumed, and the bar owner, Dan the Man, is happy with the register tape.  Afterwards, Houston and Bucky drive the Camaro down to Stevie Ray’s Blues Club on Main Street, and I go home to do dishes and check on the newborn kittens.

I know I can trust Bucky, so I’m not concerned when the guys still aren’t back at midnight.  One o’clock has me worried, but the two revelers are warmly welcomed back at two in the morning.  Houston immediately stumbles into the bathroom while Bucky stays in the front room eagerly giving me a proposition. 

“Kat, Houston says he’ll give us $400 dollars to do it,” he sputters out.

“To do what?”

“Come on, Kat.  You know.  He wants to watch us fuck.  He’ll give us $400 to watch us fuck.” 

I just laugh to myself because I know what that means.  Given the opportunity, “just watching” will turn into “just touching” and then “just joining in”.  And beyond that, I think back on a truth I learned on Star Trek.  At the end of one episode, Mr. Spock the Vulcan tells an adversary, “You may find that the wanting is better than the having.”  At 46 I can’t imagine some man being satisfied to pay me four hundred bucks just to watch me fuck someone else. After Houston gets his rocks off, he’d probably want part of his money back anyway.  No, no, too messy.  Better to just bide my time and keep a friend.

“Bucky, I just can’t see it happening,” I sigh as Houston opens the door to the bathroom.

“O.K. Bucky,” says Houston bluntly, drying his hands on a towel.   “Are you guys in or what?”

“She says, no.  Sorry about that, Houston.  Seemed like a good idea to me,” he says, shrugging his shoulders.

“What’s up, Kat?” asks Houston shifting his gaze towards me while throwing the towel on the bed.  “400 bucks to watch you guys fuck.”

“Yeah, right.  As if you got 400 bucks after being out half the night.”

To my surprise, Houston pulls out his wallet and shows us four one hundred-dollar bills.  “I’ll even up the ante, Kat.”  He reaches into his front pocket and pulls out two fifties, throwing the money on the bed.

“It won’t happen, Houston,” I tell him, handing him back his money.  “I’m with Bucky, period.  I don’t have much control over my life, but I say who I fuck and who I don’t.  Anyway, how about your sugar mama? Wouldn’t she mind you doing a three-way?”

“What she doesn’t know won’t hurt her,” says Houston.  And so it goes.  Houston puts away all the bills except one.  “I’ll give you $50 just to sleep in the same bed with me, Kat.  Fifty fucking bucks, and you keep your fucking clothes on.”

“I’ll sleep on the floor, Kat.  It doesn’t matter,” offers Bucky.

“You’re on, Houston.” I sit down on the bed, while Bucky lays down on the floor.  Houston holds me until four in the morning, at which time I’m awakened by a feeling of cold wetness.  I reach around to feel Houston and he’s covered in cold urine.  This ex-Marine sergeant has pissed his bed.  Well, not his bed, MY bed.  There’s nothing left to do but change the sheets, turning the drunken soldier from side to side as I put dry sheets and blankets on the bed.  Then I take off my soaked clothes and lay down naked in Bucky’s arms, covering myself with his sheet.  About 8 A.M., Houston wakes up and flies into the bathroom, grabbing his duffel bag on the way.  He leaves right after breakfast and I never see him again.  But the fifty bucks is appreciated, especially after him pissing the bed a second time during the night.

                                             KOLE’S BAR

            So Bucky and I decide to head downtown.  We’re passing through Koles Bar and Grill about 11 A.M. and even at that time of day, there’s a dozen people in there, drinking drafts one slow sip at a time.

  If you want proof of why ugly people shouldn’t breed, Koles has to be Exhibit A.  The women there are just as ugly as the men.  Rumor has it the owners pay ugly women with bad wigs to sit there, to encourage the men to drink more.  No one has actually seen money trade hands, but I've heard the same story from a number of sources.  After midnight, you can find the freaks there: one-armed guys and midgets, for real.  It’s like a drunken circus or a bad rerun of Jerry Springer.  Of course you have your terminal junkies, your dime store alcoholics, and skanky whores who are 10-karot crazy.  There’s always someone selling cream or razors or earrings or a CD Walkman- anything someone can steal and unload fast.  At some point the bartender will flush these vendors out of the bar, but on a busy night, these guys might get to bother people for ten minutes.  That’s usually long enough to finance a dime bag.

Even if the women are ugly, everybody needs somebody once in a while.  Just throw a flag over her head and fuck her for Old Glory.  My third husband use to say that, but he ended up impotent after we divorced.  I saw the medical reports that proved he couldn’t get it up for a year.  The doctors gave him pills to lower his blood pressure, and they gave him stress tests.  I figured the women he tried to mount were so ugly, his dick refused to do battle, even for a warm bed and a free meal.  Ralph use to say this too: “If you’re willing to fuck the ugliest woman in the bar, you’ll always have a place to sleep.”  And so it goes.

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