By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
At the end of the bar is a guy who looks disarmingly like Darryl Strawberry; he's even wearing a Yankees cap. "The eye is Egyptian," the guy shouts.
"It's Shriner. It's Mason," Anthony shouts back.
"It's not Inca, it's Egyptian!"
"It's Shriner, don't tell me, what the fuck, I belong to the church."
Anthony goes to the bathroom. Darryl (who says his name is "none of your fucking business") shouts after him. "That eye has nothing to do with the Incas, you know it and I know it. That's Egyptian!"
When Anthony is out of earshot, Darryl says, "Everybody is so fucking smart. It's the L.A. water. These are the people who piss and shit on your streets. There wasn't an Inca around when they made that dollar bill." He launches into a caustic monologue about the superiority of New York over L.A.
"That eye belongs to Morton Salt, from Utah," says Anthony, back on his stool and ordering another pitcher. "He's the head of the Mason Church. It's a secret society. The first president was George Washington."
"I'm sorry to interrupt," says Darryl, not sorry to interrupt as he sticks his face in front of Anthony's, "but he doesn't know New York is better because he's never been there. Look outside, you see that? In L.A., two sides of the street are like one side of the street in New York. Two sides like one!"
"You handle a one-dollar bill more than you handle any other bill, that makes him the most constructive president," says Anthony, "not the hundred or the thousand. The eye means altar, means above life. If you see life in a bar or wherever, we see life as it goes. When they died and wrapped them up with food and moneys, so when they see the deities, they can pay their way through."
"In Mason, they believe in Satan, Satan is the redeemer. I'm a Mason," says Anthony. "I can go to court right now and get out, only because I'm a Mason. All judges are Mason. It's a very, very strong society. They're also called Shriners. To become a Shriner you have to go to the 58th category, that means you're above all levels of the law, you're on the level of God. I know Satan, I'm a Shriner myself."
"Shriners are fucking Polacks," says Darryl, and walks out of the bar.
Anthony talks about what he'll do at the pyramids. "They have you read hieroglyphics and come up with an interpretation. [The Incas] believed in extraterrestrials. So what I'm doing is, I have a girl named Yaqui, she's about 18 inches tall and she's green. She'll contact you . . . She don't go with me everywhere. I'm the grape, she's the vine."
Does she inform him?
"Yeah, she does. She's a champion, she's the queen of the green people. I don't take drugs. I don't see illusions. When she appears to you, who's going to believe you? I swear. No, I don't swear, I promise. She'll make it her business to contact you, she just told me."
A Native American woman with a mullet and a black Lurex blouse helps an old man in a walker around the bar, toward a seat by the open front door. It's a pretty day outside.
"And I'm expecting some income from the Veterans Administration," says Anthony. "I went to Vietnam, in 1970. I was there nine months and 21 days. In Hemp-Ho. H-E-M-P H-O. I was in the Marines. I played in a band, too. Guitar, and piano, too. I wrote my first song when I was 16."
Can he sing it?
He closes his eyes and makes his hands play the chords, stops, tries again. He smiles as though he's genuinely surprised. "I can't remember the words."
Forty minutes after she started, the Native woman has yet to get the old man comfortably into his seat. Bill comes from around the bar to help.
FRIDAY, 8:30 P.M.
IT'S COLD OUTSIDE. LOOK FOR A parking spot close by King Eddy's, where the car can be seen from inside. This is easy, as the street is empty, it always is after dark, though one block east a hundred people jostle for food in front of the Midnight Mission. And, on the corner of Fourth, half as many agitate a few feet in one direction, then back; it's impossible to see what, if anything, is making them move like a mass of seaweed.
Inside King Eddy's, it's warm and bright. A Man Called Horse plays on the TV, Richard Harris looking blond and fey amid the swarthy villains and the Native children, who walk off-camera giggling after flogging Harris with sticks. The Native woman with a mullet has added large pearl earrings to her ensemble, and is lip-synching to "kiss me once then kiss me twice then kiss me once again," her eyes closing dreamily during the sax solo.
"You'll be more comfortable sitting there," Bill says, indicating a stool farther away from a few drinkers who look as though they've had a long head start.