When we last left Otis, he was going to bed after being up for a very, very long time. He had just a few hours to sleep before heading over to Sam's Town. As he walked by the bar closest to the elevators, he ran into Daddy, Iggy, and Big Mike. It is here we pick up our story
Sherwood Forest, Pt. 1
Sherwood Forest was home to Robin Hood and his Merry Men. There, beneath the shade of the tall trees, they hatched their plans to steal from the rich, give to the poor, and generally stick it to the Sheriff of Nottingham.
Near the Tower 1 exit of the Excalibur Hotel and Casino, there sits the Sherwood Forest of an alternate universe. To the casual passer-by it looks like no more than an open-air bar that might be frequented by the bored wife of a poker player or a hooker in search of one last trick. But through increasingly drunken eyes, the bar looked just like the real Sherwood Forest might on a warm robber's night.
Though I didn't realize it at the time, I was arriving late to the meeting of Robin and his Merry Men. Little John (aka Big Mike) towered over the bar, a double shot of Soco in his hand. Friar Tuck (aka Daddy) stood looking weary but happy, as if he had just endured his fabled water-logged beat-down from Robin. And there, slumped over the bar, his locks brushing the marble, holding a greyhound in his hand sat Robin Hood himself. Apparently, he was already incognito, so as to fool the bad Sheriff. He called himself Iggy.
"Otis," they said almost in unison.
I looked in the air, wondering if Daffy Duck might be flying by, his buck and a quarter quarter-staff in hand.
Though every ounce of good sense I'd consumed in the past 17 hours told me to do otherwise, I stopped, greeted the pranksters, and, much to my own peril, accepted the offer of...one last drink before I went to bed.
Big Mike was buying. I considered my options. Some Vitamin C and Vodka sounded good, but since it was breakfast I opted for a Guinness. While we waited for my drink to arrive, I chatted with Robin Iggy and mentioned that BadBlood and G-Rob were still playing no-limit poker.
Mischievous eyes sneaked up from beneath the locks of brown hair. A smile crept in and turned up the corners of the van dyke beard.
Although I know I was moving under my own power and will, I felt drawn to follow the leader through the banks of slot machines. When we arrived at the poker room, I sat back and watched as Robin Iggy put on a show.
Much like he'd been sitting at the bar, Robin Iggy put his elbows down on the rail and shot lasers into BadBlood. I thought briefly to ask if he wouldn't rather just go smack Blood upside the head with a quarter-staff, then thought better of it. I know what Robin did to Friar Tuck, after all.
BadBlood was all in with big slick. It held up and he gave us a look like, "I can't believe what these guys will play." Then, as if drawn by the Jim Jones-ish Robin Iggy gaze, Blood stood and walked around the rail.
"I'm BadBlood," he said, extending his hand.
Robin Iggy shook Blood's hand, but said nothing. That smile was still there.
Blood turned to me. "Friend of yours?" he asked. I could see he was growing ever so slightly annoyed.
"I just met him," I said truthfully, although I was starting to feel bad. Blood obviously thought I had cooked up this gag in failed attempt at drunken humor.
Confused, annoyed, and looking a bit bedraggled, Blood went back to the table. As I sat down on a slot machine stool and wondered if my beer had arrived at the bar, Robin Iggy took up his perch on the rail again and again stared down BadBlood.
I'm not sure how much time passed before Robin Iggy let Blood off the hook. I think he mouthed the words, "I'm Iggy." BadBlood stood and came back across the rail.
After a brief conversation, Iggy came back to meet me.
"What did he say?" I asked.
"He said, 'I believe you.'"
I briefly pondered the theological implications of the scenario, while Iggy talked about his reservations about renting a dwarf to play the role of Iggy in the Holiday Classic, now just slightly more than seven hours away.
Oh, jeebus, what's happening to me?
We made out way back to the bar, where my Guinness sat taking on the requisite room temperature, I took a drink and realized that I was not only ill-equipped to play cards. I was ill-equipped to do much of anything. That included drinking.
"I'm ill-equipped," I said out loud. Daddy heard me and offered some soothing words. I don't quite recall what they were, but he assured me I was going to be okay.
Several people have asked how I remember so many details from this bender. It's a legitimate question. When I'm drinking on my home turf, I am prone to blackouts that sometimes last for two or more hours, while at the same time, in Vegas I can drink for literal days and remember small details that should escape me.
I have only one answer. When drinking at home, I deal in in the realm of the quick-binge. That is, I drink as much as I can in a three-hour window. That usually results in some form of what Uncle Ted likes to call, "losing time."
In Vegas, however, the body conditions itself to function on one long, steady, mind-bending buzz. Losing time trends not to happen. Moreover, details tend to stick out. They burn themselves into my psyche and only by purging them here can I exorcise the demons so that they don't eat my medula oblongata for brunch.
All of that said, it was at this point that things start to get a little cloudy.
Somebody said something about an Irish Car Bomb. I'm pretty sure I said, "I'm ill-equipped."
Nonetheless, Big Mike had entered some sort of high-level negotiation with the bartender and it seemed rude to turn down the offer. Within minutes, the drink was in front of me. It didn't look right. The Baileys had somehow congealed in the bottom of the whiskey. It had a sickening layered look to it.
After it was over, Daddy didn't look so good. Again, things started getting gray. I'd stopped thinking of the boys as Robin and his Merry Men. These guys were male Sirens, calling from the rocks, singing a sweet Irish ballad that I was sure to follow until the hull of my already sinking ship was wrapped around some boulder.
Somehow, I culled this moment from the morning in something I wrote for my other blog:
It's 6am and I've just downed a glass of Guinness. Inside it was a half-shot of Makers and half-shot of Baileys. It's breakfast, after all.
I've propped myself up by my elbows on the bar and am sitting within whispering distance of a guy I'd first met face-to-face only six or so hours before.
"Otis, you should write a book."
The sun is coming up and it's painting the guy's face with an awkward mix of natural and fake light that would drive a professional photographer batty. Somewhere, a few seats down, a guy they call Big Mike is negotiating with the bartender to whip up another batch of what we just had.
I should write a book, they say.
I take a swig from the bottle sitting in front of me, scan the room for anybody who may be listening, and say half-outloud, but more to myself...
"A book. About what?"
As my liver negoitated with my brain for a few more minutes of visiting at the bar, Mrs. Can't Hang joined us. BadBlood and G-Rob joined us. Al joined us. Others were there, but, frankly, this is where things move from cloudy to tornadic.
I talked with Iggy for a long time on life philosophies, life histories, and the like. I tried to get him to lay out his suspect list for the coup d'tat on the trademark Guinness and Poker site. It was the one thing I couldn't get him to talk about.
Mrs. Can't Hang downed a shot of 7:30am tequila and played video poker. I counted the hours of sleep I would get if I went to bed at that very moment.
At some point, someone there (I know who it is, but I won't say. He/She can cop to it if they want) said the funniest thing I'd heard in hours.
"This is surreal. I'm sitting at a bar at 7:30 in the morning with Patrick Swayze and Tony Siragusa."
I digested that and expressed my thanks for the summation of the morning.
At 8am, just two hours before the meet and greet at Sam's Town was supposed to begin, I quietly slipped away from the growing group and rode the elvators to the tenth floor of the hotel. I found a smelly room, full of people, and no bed space available.
I collapsed on the floor and wondered if I would wake up in time for the tournament.
Something was very wrong. I knew that I had gone to sleep on one portion of the floor. At some point in the past 45 minutes, I had moved. Or somebody had moved me.
While odd, that wasn't what was wrong.
My ribs and stomach were starting to hurt. Something very wrong was happening to my body.
Through the clouds, I heard the voice of some Monty Python-esque god.
I think I answered, "No." I might've said, "I'm ill-equipped."
I smelled cigarette smoke and the pain was growing worse.
I opened my eyes to mere slits and looked up. There--more than six feet above me--stood G-Rob, his hair a mess, a cigarette dangling from his lips. He was kicking me in the ribs and stomach. Repeatedly.
"Get up. Big Mike just called for a stretch Excursion to take us to Sam's Town."
Within a few minutes, unshowered, in the same clothes I'd been wearing for 36 hours, I stood up, grabbed my Otis jacket and hat, and followed G-Rob back to the elevators.
One thing I learned on this trip: When Big Mike is being generous, it is a foolish man who doesn't accept the generosity.
* The WPBT Holiday Classic
* Sleepless at Sam's Town
* Re-birth and Albania
* Playing in the rock garden