Clear & Transparent
It was an early June evening inside The Moon. I had sat sipping my Guinness, as Jane had tended the bar area. I had been inspecting the laminated menu for a healthy fish option.
“I miss, my donkey,” he said. He was a large chested man with smooth darkish-skin, his voice had a cadence that split the syllables for, don-key, from down-low, and then, a happy-high. “He was I friend, I good friend.” “I’m sorry, I’m Rob, You’re?” I said. I glanced up at the large man, he had a wide-toothed smile that worked even if he had not meant to smile. “What happened? I mean, to your donkey.”“Me? Javel, but call me, Mikey, it’s easier for you, I had to leave my donkey, now he’s gone,” Mikey said. He sighed. “Sometimes, we have to leave behind, those I love.”
Jane had walked over from The Moon’s busy bartender side, and she had shook the man’s hand.
“Hey there, good man,” Jane said. She appeared to have met the man many times before. “Jägermeister?”“Yes, please,” Mikey said. He carefully pushed his tubular, shoulder length dreadlocks away from his face. “That would be nice, thank you.”“How can you drink that?” I said. I sat back against the chair. “I mean, it’s like cough syrup.”
Mikey pointed over at my Guinness.
“I can ask you the same,” Mikey said. He looked over at Jane. “True,” I said. I shrugged. “It’s like evening coffee for me.”“My drink has herbs, spices, it must go through the patient-time,” Mikey said. He slowly tapped on the bar top. “To come together, as one, to be one, I.”“Yes,” Jane said. As she poured the ice-cold dark liqueur into a shot glass. “Yes, it does.”“I get that, I think, like bourbon?” I said. I thought about the time from college when several shots of Jägermeister taught me a valuable lesson on how to respect alcohol. I had been lucky. “I guess I should have read your name on your shirt, what’s that all about, you work there?”
Mikey examined his short sleeved shirt, it had his name stenciled on a oval patch in the upper right breast pocket; it was for a local craft brewery.
“It is not just work,” Mikey said. He looked down at me. “It’s I passion, work is for money, passion is for love.”“What do you do there?” I said. “Delivery? Since you’re a big guy, and all.”“No, man,” Mikey said. He looked over at me. He smirked. “I’m the brewmaster, I know how my herbs work, I create all the seasonal recipes.”“Sorry,” I said. “No disrespect.”“None taken, I,” Mikey said. “I don’t look like a brewmaster?”
We sat quietly. The bar was modestly busy as the dim sunlight that remained was cast behind us through the Snug’s windows.
“Truthfully, I don’t know what a brewmaster looks like,” I said. I stared over at a line of vodka bottles. “I guess you should look like an uptight German dude, with wireframe glasses?”
Mikey sipped the dark liqueur, and he smiled.
“You know,” Mikey said. “Beer was in the Bible, in Hebrew the word was shekhar, Egypts pyramid workers, a gallon a day wages, by the way, they were not slaves.”“I grew up a Baptist,” I said. “Perhaps that’s why I drink Guinness, but drinking was pounded into me that is was bad for you. But Guinness they say, it’s good for you.”
Mikey considered my comment. Across the bar he had watched a young man flirting with a girl. She appeared to have been over-served, but he noted that she was under Jane’s watchful eyes.
“I don’t drink beer,” Mikey said. “I only sip this one Jager, for my donkey, but most days, I don’t bring alcohol into my body.”
As I sipped the Guinness, I had thought about Mikey’s comment.
“How are you a brewmaster?” I said. “Sorry, no disrespect but how do you make beer, and not drink beer?”“Ah, Rob,” Mikey said. He finished off his liqueur. “You have to get outside of yourself, you think I look like I sit at home smoking the weed all-day?”“Well, I guess,” I said. I grunted. “I’m guilty, you’re right.”“You are a Christian man,” Mikey said. “I grew up Southern Baptist,” I said. “So,” Mikey said. “You are a Christian man?”
I squirmed on the chair. I sipped the Guinness.
“I’m a sceptic, let’s say,” I said. “Let’s call it that…”
Mikey examined my face. He leaned back.
“That’s no commitment,” Mikey said. He shook his head. “But you have to had chosen your own path, without a purpose.”“I just don’t buy into being manipulated,” I said. I leaned forward. “Is there a God?
Perhaps, but I don’t have any facts, it’s only a feeling, and I don’t respond well to people working to get into my wallet, or people roaming about wearing fancy costumes messing with little boys, and acting like they did nothing wrong.”
“Ah, I, I feel your heat-heart, now mon, that’s were you are hiding,” Mikey said. He pointed over at me. “Science, but you trust the science?”“I do,” I said. “For the most part, if it’s legit.”“Then that’s why, I, can be a brewmaster,” Mikey said. He grinned. “I have a degree in microbiology, I, passed your standards.” “It’s not my standard,” I said. I curiously stared at Mikey.“Yes, it is,” Mikey said. “You just said it, but you man, would consider me overqualified. I, have a masters in microbiology, from here, a brewmasters’ an easy job then, right?”“Well, I would think you’d be doing something medical related,” I said. I nodded. “Work at a lab, I’ll give you that.”
Mikey smiled at me. He nodded.
“I am,” Mikey said. “I, share my Jah with all living things, my donkey loved my beer. It would hee-haw, and grin at me.”“Jah?” I said. I crinkled my face. “Is this going to get weird.”“Only for you,” Mikey said. “Jah, my God, Jah lives within me, and Jah lives within all living things, like my donkey. My donkey was my friend, he knew me, he always welcomed me home.”“Got it,” I said. I thought at least Mikey’s not going to convert me, and I didn’t have the hair commitment for the faith. “God, or what you call, God.”“My hair remains uncut,” Mikey said. He gently touched the end of a dreadlock. “As a commitment, for Jah.”“It does set you apart,” I said. “Jesus was a brown man,” Mikey said. “You know?”“Yeah,” I said. “He’d have to have been, I understand your point, so, you are Rastafari?”“I am,” Mikey said. “Slave in my blood, but I am not a slave.”“You are far from that,” I said. I puzzlingly looked over at Mikey. “Can I ask you something, not to make you mad?”
Mikey grinned over at me. He touched my right shoulder.
“Weed? You people focus on that,” Mikey said. “As you call it.”“What’s up with that?” I said. I leaned my head toward downtown St. Petersburg. “Over at Jannus, I was at a concert, Raggae music night. I don’t partake, but, I had a contact high, and there were a bunch with dreadlocks, and what not.”“Ah, that is not a grounding,” Mikey said. He frowned. “That is a waste of the holy herb. If the music does not celebrate, Jah, it has not a purpose.”“I suspected,” I said. “An excuse to get looped.”“You have your wine,” Mikey said. “We have our holy herb, it’s for our discussions, to discuss, to open our minds to Jah.”“You know something, Mikey,” I said. “I wish I had your faith, I don’t, I won’t lie.”
Mikey nodded down at me. He took in a deep breath, he stood up tall, and he crossed his arms.
“Someday,” Mikey said. “You may change, Rob, you don’t know a man until he remains quiet, with Jah.”“You know, Mikey,” I said. I shrugged. “Guinness, it’s good for you. I should have another.”“Why do you drink it?” Mikey said. “It keeps me calm,” I said. I thought about what he had really asked me. “It’s my liquid friend that slowly numbs me. So, what makes a good beer?”
Mikey looked over at the Snug’s windows, and he appeared to inspect out into the then turned night time.
“In the water, the Jah water,” Mikey said. “The pure water is all. I have seen Jah, in my microscope, and then, in my recipes, herbs, spices are a joy, a celebration for sharing Jah.”“I don’t think I’ll understand Jah,” I said. “But I do appreciate good beer, thank you.”“Ah, mon,” Mikey said. He glanced down at me. He whispered. “Jah, comes…”