Something About Sammy
“Grief never ends, but it changes. It’s a passage, not a place to stay. Grief is not a sign of weakness, nor a lack of faith …it is the price of love.” — Unknown.
I yearned for my son, friends left behind, the lodge, and security of my job — pining for the familiarity accustomed to in every facet of my life.
At prior times in Bluewater Springs, whether to see Cody, go to a concert or both, I visited local bars and restaurants in my spare time. In the beginning, I frequented a small bar called ‘A Spot.’ Not far from the motel I stayed; it’s now closed.
I remember on a trip in November 2014, I visited another bar west of the motel. I can’t recall the first time, but I’m sure I ventured in at least once prior. It’s called Rusty’s. Far from being a dirty, disgusting joint, cigarette smoke permeated every nook and cranny. To the older adult in me, it’s damp, dark, drab, and dreary. I wear a jacket, no matter the outdoor temperature, to ward off the chill rodents and bugs shun. A strange fetal connection — a link of sorts to a years-gone-by familiar, cozy place, enwombs me. I took a liking to the main daytime bartender, a lady around my age named Allison. She poured shots like a swashbuckling pirate and stocked beer bottles on ice with a thrust that would make an offensive guard proud. I returned numerous times. Although I would be in town for several days, I stopped in the afternoon, and near always on a weekday.
After moving, I busied myself getting organized, bought things for the apartment, worked on updating my resume, purchased a new car, and went to Rusty’s every day. I don't recall having seen him during those times. Since I moved out of a one-room abode, I owned little in the way of furniture. A 55-inch ultra-high definition curved television made inclusion on my shopping list. Dozens of trips to Wal-Mart and other stores loaded me with bedding, dishware, cookware, photo, certificate frames, lamps, a chair, a desk, and other items. For what I anticipated to be management-level employment interviews, I needed dress suits, shirts, and ties. The salespeople at the local Men’s Wearhouse beamed when they saw me approach!
In reference to my vehicle purchase, there is a humorous story. On the day I bought it, I carried no intention of doing so. I set out to buy a Lazy Boy dual recliner. On my way, I approached a dealership and stopped to browse. I drove away in a brand-new car! My recliner purchase didn’t happen until a week later.
During a telephone call with my dear friend Angel, it dawned on me my whole reason for having moved to Bluewater Springs was to be with Cody, his new bride, and my granddaughter.
Angel said, “I’ve wondered how long it would be before you to realized!”
I can’t bring forth the first time I set eyes on Sammy. The thing is, something hit me. I’m reminded of the song by Lobo, “I’d Love You to Want Me.” I found him intriguing, even mystifying. He reminded me of my son, but differences existed. Though I didn’t know him at all, the strangest and most overwhelming sensation of love, caring, and concern swept over me. There was something else. I felt a powerful sexual attraction. I considered this a bombshell and deemed both feelings incomprehensible. I’ve never felt attracted to a guy! What the fuck? Had I turned gay? If so, I would have handled it with less grief. I’ve not engaged in sex for close to thirty years. Unable to participate in intercourse or sexual activity, far too many years have passed. I’ve had intimate relations with four women.
I recognize and appreciate physical beauty, cuteness, handsomeness, etc., in both males and females, yet have no interest in sex with the person. As strange as this sounds, in mentioning those I’ve consummated sex with, I never felt a sexual attraction to anyone — until him!
It was not about sex. Still, I had no idea the whole affair would become a saga I never experienced. He's decades younger than me. At the time, I wasn’t privy to his age. I'm a terrible judge of age, weight, height, and distance.
Sammy’s overall features are by no means stunning, nor effeminate in appearance. A clean and well-proportioned male with piercing blue eyes, straight brown hair, and radiant white teeth, his typical attire is casual, neat, and appropriate. I’ve never taken a survey, but I’ll venture most individuals consider him to be average or above in the looks department. Females describe him as “… a cutie!” Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, and in my eyes, he’s exquisite.
I found it fascinating he could sit for hours playing games on his phone. As time passed, I noticed others gravitated toward him. Male and female, almost all older. They said hello, exchanged brief chat, and followed with a half hug. Most of them were regulars. I noticed people I had not seen before, but they knew him, and the same pattern acted out.
When these people congregated, the life of the party revolved around him, though he appeared far removed. Yes, he engaged in brief conversation. A member of his clique spoke a few words, and he said a few in return. He always returned to his phone game.
He preferred sitting with females. Of the regulars, they were older — mid-thirties and into the fifties. It’s as if a harem surrounded him.
And geez, can he drink! Pitchers of beer and shot after shot without showing outward effect from consumption — at least I’ve ever seen. I’ve never seen him act different, whether sober or after having put away volumes of alcohol.
I struggled to comprehend this. How could this kid sit for hours playing on his cellphone? Why did he sit in a bar — by himself and at times with older people? It's rare when younger ones come in, and when they do, they're tourists (the more youthful crowd comes in later when they have a DJ — around 10 pm. Long after he and crew have left). Why did he seem so popular? It was a mystery. I couldn't understand it. Determined to learn more, I found in addition to drinking alcohol, he’s a heavy marijuana smoker, as is Allison.
Weeks evolved into months. He was so close, and yet, so far away. I couldn’t talk with anyone at the bar about him or my enchantment. As time ticked by, we became cordial. On weekends, it was me and him in the place for hours — or one or two others who weren’t regulars. We didn’t converse much. I’d watch television, and he’d engross himself in electronic entertainment on his phone. He or I chatted with Allison, or she’d speak to one or both of us. If there before he arrived, I’d say, “You’re late!” And vice versa. We sat together more and more. We started to exchange, “Hi, Sammy!” “Hi, Andrei!” His magnetism and sensations trapped me. He has the most peculiar laugh I’ve heard.
Ever since hearing his name, “Samuel” was the standard version.It was rare when I heard him called “Sammy.” I call him Sammy but inquired which he preferred.
“All my friends call me Sammy.” I didn’t give it much credence, but it weighed on me. Allison, his circle of friends, other bartenders, regulars, all called him Samuel. I’d hear his name often. People in his clique, Allison, even other bartenders, often shouted out, “Samuel’s on his way!” after having received a text. In a convoluted way, it’s as if he’s the center of the universe — at least at Rusty’s. Everyone loves Samuel.
I started to absorb information, yet understood little. It became apparent he’s gay, not in the flaming queen sense (although instances when he’s taken on such persona have shown), but it’s clear in his mannerisms and speech. I want to interject: Rusty’s is not a gay bar. I began to associate with other patrons.
One, a lady named Sandra, took an instant liking to me. She doesn’t keep company or converse with anyone except Allison. Over the months, I became aware of her collection of painful events and memories. Her husband passed away years ago, and her son died of a drug overdose. A longtime male friend committed suicide. Despite misgivings, I liked her. A tendency to toss her head back in a jerking manner concerned me. Was it a symptom of nervousness, or a sign of arrogant brashness? I enjoyed her company and our talks. We empathized with each other, and she often told me she loved me. I saw the possibility of a closer relationship. Another patron, Jack, is a quiet and low-keyed gentleman in his forties, who is a hard worker with a tale to tell.
I never joined or became involved with Sammy’s clique. We could be sitting together for hours, yet when one or more of his group came in, he'd sit with them — without saying, “Goodbye.” Although it made me sad, I understood. I relished the heaven-sent moments of his proximity and presence.
I wondered why Sammy didn’t have a boyfriend. I heard him utter the term in the past tense once. What happened? Had he been so damaged he never sought anyone else? I pondered whether he received abuse. Is he embarrassed to be gay? Did he ever have a girlfriend? I never heard the term come out of his mouth. Had he ever partaken in sex with anyone? At no time did I hear him mention or discuss sex. Why did he prefer to be with older women? It entered my mind he didn’t like guys to hit on him. I discerned he felt protected and secure in the bar.
I’ve regretted not trying to get him to open to me. To find out his likes and dislikes. What his favorite foods are; his least favorites; does he have a preferred color, and so forth. I never asked on account of I didn’t want to interrupt his game playing! Stupid ass me!
I told him about the skydiving adventure my son and I experienced. I told him I had my heart set on doing it again.
“I’ll go skydiving with you, Andrei!” Excitement enveloped me, and I looked forward to performing the feat. Dreams and visions of sharing enjoyable times together outside Rusty’s occupied my brain — dinners, concerts, quality time spent, predicted a future I envisaged with elation.
Allison and I discussed the sad state of our respective finances. I heard a chat between her and Sammy in the past in reference to his. He alluded his were not the greatest. “Well, I can always move in with Sammy!” I had no idea where he lived or what his residence is like. I had insight he lived alone with his dog, Fritz. He showed me photos on his phone of Fritz.
“You’ll have to walk my dog!”
Several times after, I made the same statement whenever the problem of money arose. I commented, “We can always move in with Sammy!” He’d have the same response with respect to walking his dog.
After weeks of this banter, he said with a chuckle, “I live in an efficiency apartment!”
I remarked to Allison, “I never saw him lash out at anyone or show anger.”
“Oh, I’ve seen him go off. He can get infuriated if people get on his nerves or if he’s wronged. Two years ago, a customer went through a stressful divorce. Samuel badgered him to try CBD oil and bought him a bottle. At first, the guy showed no interest but relented. Samuel made no mention of repayment. The next day, Samuel demanded the man reimburse him. He hounded the man for weeks. He hounded him!”
By now, Sandra and I became friendlier. A regular customer asked one day why she wasn’t with me and referred to her as “your wife.” I advised him we’re friends, not husband and wife. Sandra always talked with me, whether Sammy sat by me or not.
On the days I stayed late, I bought Allison a beer or two after her shift ended. A couple of times, I brought a takeout dinner from a local restaurant for her to munch on, and cart the rest home. She’s not a big eater.
I told Sammy he reminded me of my son, and the fact made him important. We became a little closer. By this time, I bought him a shot every day. Now and then, two. When it came time to knock one back, he’d raise the jigger in toast.
“Bottom up, top down, Andrei.” A good thing I was always sitting. He drank far more of them, along with pitchers of beer. Over time, I noticed Allison started to roll her eyes when I’d buy him one. It got to the point where she’d ask,
“Why are you doing this?”
He has a frequent cough. Not continuous but an occasional, single cough. He began to hack more than usual one day.
“Are you okay?”
“Smoke too *cough* much *cough* pot!”