“Oh the night is my world…In the day nothing matters, it’s the night time that flatters.” Laura Branigan-Self Control.
If you had stepped into Baby Sauce’s beach bar on dance night you would have seen Mackie Best sipping his white rum, stepping out every few to smoke a cigarette and catch a moment before coming back in, and as the night progressed, wobbly and full of bluster, singing old time crooner songs and doing kaiso waistline dirty dances, joking around with Perry and his girl-for-the-night, dancing around the pool table acting like fools laughing heartily.
Lil man Perry. Napoleon complex in full affect, chest puffed out grinning and laughing louder than the music coming through the sound system.
“Mackie use to be something more once…” Baby Sauce said, to no one but herself, as she watched the shenanigans going on around the pool table.
Baby Sauce, she was the color of a brown paper bag and her beauty was only in her twinkling green eyes and smiles now. All the rest of it was wrinkles. When she danced she would hunch up her shoulders, stick out her hands and shake them from side to side, her feet doing a little jig. She wore a frilly purple top and some black pants and was adorned in silver and turquoise jewelry: a chain, bangles and rings. She smelled of citronella oil and Chantily lace perfume, it came off her strong, if you got to close on some nights it would make you giddy.
She had a way about her, she wouldn’t have to say anything to show you that she approved or disapproved, it was all in those eyes and the way she would tilt her head, squint and set her mouth. She looked like a mischievous garden gnome, with a shock of grey hair on her little head, but those eyes, those eyes held wisdom and you wouldn’t want to get on her bad side.
She inherited the bar from her Daddy, Saucey, but in his day it was just a rumshop. It was Baby Sauce who turned it into what it was today.
It wasn’t really a beach bar per se, it was after all on the other side of the street from the beach, tucked in a little off the road, two big almond trees in front shading the entrance and a coconut tree in the back. It had the vibe of a speakeasy, someplace where a man would take his outside woman.
On that night though, you would have seen the further disintegration of Hank and Marabella’s love affair. With all the moves of a telenovella, Marabella comes in first to meet her home girl Penelope, who’s there with her Sugar Daddy, Donald, a fat rich white tourist dude with a bulbous nose. Donald is from the U.S. and older than Penelope by many years.
Marabella gets there early before Hank, bounces off and comes back after Penelope and Sugar Daddy been there sipping on rum and cokes for an hour, chit chatting and laughing with Charlie.
You would have seen Mackie try a ting on Marabella, when she came back in a big taxi from her mysterious sojourn. You would have seen her ignore the old fart or give him a look that showed that under all the gloss and long legged fineness she had seen tough times up close and knew what she was working with.
You would have seen Perry forget all about his girl- for- the night and step to Marabella, make her laugh and dance, take pictures with the cell phone, and then, feeling buoyant, make some raunchy remark that Marabella just wasn’t having, and she would shoot him down.
Long after home girl Penelope and Sugar Daddy Donald leave, you would have seen Marabella get up real close and personal with Charlie. Give him a grind and an easy sway to the Lover’s Rock coming over the sound system. You would have seen Charlie savoring the moment, the scent the feel, so close, so tight. Charlie gone to Paradise.
This time Baby Sauce off in a corner watching it all, keeping her eye on the steamy dance. You would have seen the dance done quick as Hank pulled up in his frantic hard charging, chain smoking, meat eating way and Marabella sit down, returning to her Heniken, and Charlie returning to his spot behind the bar.
“You know what I’m drinking Charlie.” Hank says in a huff sitting down next to Marabella and saying a few words of greeting to her.
Hank doesn’t like to dance much, and that’s the least of it. “He’s not a nice guy. I like him as a friend, not a husband. I wasted two years of my life, that’s how I look at it…” Baby Sauce listens, shooing it off as Marabella tells her her woes. Hank is one of Baby Sauce’s best customers and Marabella is out of place for saying something like that about him. He, who takes care of her.
You would have seen Claude with his new hair cut come in quick diffusing the tension buying a flask of rum and rushing back out. “I can’t stay I got somebody waiting at home for me.”
Once, on another dance night, two hustlers collided on the dancefloor. To call it a dance floor might be stretching it, all Baby Sauce did was get Gus to move around a few tables and chairs. But on one such night two of the strip’s finest collided.
The hustler forms fast friendships, but they aren’t genuine friendships, the intention is to see what they can get out of the interaction. They make friends easy by making the tourists laugh and touching ’em up: an arm around the shoulder, around the waist, a pat on the back. Loud talk, exaggerated talk they come with. Like Vince, who’s quick to tell you that he sells hand crafted coral jewelry to the upmarket clientele down on the west coast by Sandy Lane. Vince only deals with tourist women, been married twice to ’em, he and the local girls just don’t click.
Then there’s Gloria. A natural people person she is, a social butterfly. Her approach? Get into conversation; laugh at their jokes louder than anybody else. Tell about the people she’s met, places she’s been and places to check while on the island. Before you know it she’s one of the group. They’re buying her drinks and she’s the first one on the dance floor, pulling them to join her. Quick talk she comes with, encouraging the tipsy tourist to stick around for a while buy more drinks, why not? “You’re on holiday”, she reminds them. “Live it up.”
Now when Vince and Gloria collide sparks fly. Their paths have crossed before and although Vince is no fan of Gloria and she definitely is no fan of his, the tourists are all paired off, coupled up. Vince jubilant with the free drinks flowing, and Gloria in the same way, sees a chance. A chance with a local girl, why not? Who knows what could happen. A slight problem arises however. A tourist man who is unattached stumbles in and Gloria does her ting. Backing up on him dance hall style like Rhianna. Singing, winding down low, but all the tourist man does is grab her around the waist, keep her at a distance and shake his head from side to side.
Vince watches this, backing off while Gloria tries to seduce the tourist guy. Vince has seen the guy before down on the west coast with his wife and kids. He tried to sell them some jewelry. The guy doesn’t stay long and Gloria once again is free, so he makes a move, throws out the lines: “you so sexy. I remember you from way back…” and on and on. Gloria has had enough, too much and she sulks away, the tourist soon follow, the night grows old and Vince is left on the dance floor doing a funny little dance seeming to have not a care in the world.
A bar is like a ship setting sail out into the night. If you lucky you might run into some mermaids, but, you could also run into some sea monsters.
On some nights Corky would stop by. He was Gus’ good friend. Corky was nearly fifty, the black sheep in a family full of doctors and lawyers, he lived off a monthly allowance provided by his family. Corky liked to play a lot of games and had a lot of toys and gadgets. He was a jovial guy, quick to provide a chuckle, but also capable of getting really pissed off and throwing temper tantrums.
One day he came to the bar with two walkie talkies, left one with Gus and walked down the street, chattering all the way. People at the bus stop thought he was an undercover cop. Corky liked that reaction.
Another evening, minutes before the bar opened, he brought by a new toy, a remote control helicopter. He was very excited to show it off to Charlie and Gus. He pressed a button and it lifted up off the gravelly parking lot, hovered for a bit, and came crashing down, much to Corky’s dismay. He took up the toy and looked it over. Charlie, knowing a thing or two about electronics took it from him and looked at it. “You need a new motor Corky. This one all burnt out.” Corky looked perplexed as Charlie handed back the toy to him and went to open up.
“You too old to be playing with toys anyway Cork.” Gus said.
Corky was wearing a white t-shirt that hugged his girth tightly, boldly emblazoned on the front in red letters were the words ‘Jesus Rocks!’ He had on a baggy pair of brown cammo shorts, loose, baggy they came down to his knees some black boots, that would have made a cowboy proud, completed his outfit.
He had a box like hair cut, the sides short and a little bit more on the top but he was going bald so keeping this up was a struggle. His moustache he kept neatly trimmed in a style like hitler and Charlie Chaplain, a fuzzy little square right under his nose on his top lip. The color of bread crusts he smelled of a mixture of old spice and bacon, his favorite snack,
“This isn’t a toy.” Corky said sounding a bit annoyed, “this is a remote control machine, there is a difference.”
He got upset and left. The next evening he was back, with a remote control car this time. This didn’t work either.
“Like you ain’t got no luck with these remote control toys Cork.”
Corky didn’t argue. He stayed a while that night playing pool with Gus and drinking Guinness. He was in a celebratory mood, because of his youthful spirit, the new age church he had just started going to made him the secretary of the youth group, and Corky, the eldest yout’, had big plans.
As the night went on a few folk came in. A few tourists and some of the regulars. Claude, for his single cigarette and stag beer. Maureen for her flask of Cockspur rum and Roman for his coke, mints and snacks to get him through the night shift at the hotel up the street.
Pee Wee came by and he and Corky nearly got into it around the pool table. Shouting loud and carrying on. Pee Wee started it, ’cause despite the remote control car not working, Corky was still in a joyful mood. But, he, Corky, could become get very boisterous at times and could be a bit of a snob.
They started arguing about something or the other, Pee Wee was always kicking up dust, he was a short man too, shorter even than Perry. He drove a big truck during the day and use to haul rubbish. He was a local white guy, his skin suffered from some type of irritation and you could tell he was sensitive about it. Well Corky crossed the line and said something about Pee Wee’s skin condition. Next all you heard was them shouting at each other, up in each other’s faces. Corky looking down and Pee Wee, on his tip toes, looking up. “I would bust you in the head.” Pee Wee, he had a mouth on him, always talking shit trying to start something. He was fuming and had turned the color of a baby mouse, pinkish.
“Bust me in the head then, bust me in the head.”Corky said, shouting and bending over to make his head an easier target, daring Pee Wee, calling his bluff. Pee Wee held a pool stick in his hand and was ready to strike when, from behind the bar, Charlie stopped them with a shout.
“Ya’ll take that shit outside.” Charlie wasn’t having it, he was well liked and respected by both men and they settled down. Good thing too cause Baby Sauce came in early that night. She had a bee in her bonnet and wanted to confront Charlie and Gus about it. She was annoyed because they had been encouraging this down-on-her-luck girl to come around and she didn’t like it.
“I don’t want those kinds of people hanging around here.”
“What are we to do when she comes around?” Gus asked.
“What you mean ‘what you to do’? Tell her stop coming around here, tell her I say so.” She looked serious, her eyes were open wide, bulging, and her face was all screwed up.
Charlie said nothing, just wiped down the bar and busied himself at the cash register. Baby Sauce was his Mum. They had clashed a few days earlier over some money he had lost at the track and he was still giving her the silent treatment. She didn’t hang around long, it was her Bridge Club night and after she was satisfied that she had made herself clear, she left.
Some nights started off hype. As soon as the bar opened people would come in for a coke, a pack of cigarettes and play a game of pool or darts, but then, especially in the early part of the week, nighttime would drag on with no excitement.
Weekends of course were different. From Thursday night the place could get busy. It was a happening little spot sometimes. Cozy and rustic. During the day, when it was closed, it looked like an abandoned building. It was a two storied structure made of wood and stone. From the front, it looked like one of those steam boats that use to churn up and down the Mississippi river.
On the inside, in the back room by the pool table, it had the feel of a cave. It was a fairly big building, brown with a lime green trim. Out front there were two benches with the driveway coming up between them. Off to the side, in a detached building, was the kitchenette and in the back of that a vacant space that once housed a convenience store.
The location was ideal, two hotels were nearby and Oistins was right up the street. On a Friday night packs of tourist walked up to Oistins and when they came back down Baby Sauce’s place was always able to catch a few.
To Baby Sauce the tourists, it was like they weren’t people. They were tourists. A whole different thing all together. Every once in a while though, one would become a full on person as she got to know them better, but the tourists, you had to put on a show for ’em, almost a performance, an enchantment, to get them to stay and spend more money. At least this is what she seemed to think.
She had the ability to bond with people, all kinds of people, easily, quickly and she wasn’t crass like Gloria, Baby Sauce was more refined. This was something she gave much thought to. She perfected the art of being the perfect hostess, able to engage in polite conversation on a wide range of topics and build bonds that lasted for years. At the end of many a vacation a picture of Baby Sauce was the one many wanted to get. That one shot with the old dame, a memento of a time well spent.
One night a little after nine Oneal came in. He was an ex-wind surfing champ in his mid fifties who lived out in the neighborhood in the back. Tall and lanky with a head full of knotty dread locks, he was often already fucked up when he came to the bar and tonight was no different. It was a breezy night, it had been raining for most of the day and the breeze had a certain chill to it. The ocean across the street was roaring and raging.
Oneal wore some tore up jeans and a blue tee shirt; he had been drinking rum and came to get another bottle and a pack of cigarettes. Oneal now rented out beach chairs and umbrellas to the tourists and also taught windsurfing. He had a lean face, high cheek bones and sometimes use to shake his head like he had the shakes. When he was drunk he sounded like what you would imagine a pirate would sound like. Full of growls and cuss words. He would mumble and throw up his hands to stress a point. You couldn’t really make out what he was saying but you knew it wasn’t anything good. In a sober state he would often tell about his glory days riding the waves and travelling the world.
He had three women that use to visit him from overseas. A lawyer from Washington D.C. ; a wild woman from Canada, and his son’s mother who was from somewhere in Europe.
When the wild woman from Canada came down the last time it was a big thing in Oneal’s world. Her world too, her name was Amy. She was a stout girl, an outdoorsy type, a brunette with a short hair cut; she liked to wear baggy clothes and had a raucous laugh. Amy quit her job, sold everything she had and moved down to the island to set up a watersports shop with Oneal and his brother, Errol. She even bought a boat, but things went sour after she had a big blow out with Errol who had somehow swindled her out of the boat. She left and went back to Canada disenchanted.
When the lawyer, Pat was her name, came down she would try to get Oneal off the rum, and she would succeed for a couple of days, but before she left he would be back on it.
The woman from Europe, his child’s mother, Greta, was a Nordic looking woman with short blonde spiky hair. She was sturdily built and tall, taller even than Oneal by a few inches. She was the mother of his boy child, a teenager now rebelling and giving trouble.
Greta held a high up position in government, in the country where she was from, and she was making good money. She set Oneal up with a duplex, one side he lived in and the other he rented out.
For a few years Oneal had it running like this. Pat would come for two weeks in March. She was an older woman, had to be in her late sixties, doughy, pasty, colored skin, fatish with shoulder length brown hair. She was pleasant enough and when she came by the bar she and Baby Sauce spent much time talking politics. Her drink was gin and tonic.
Oneal had been a traveler, touring around the world windsurfing, he was an international man but when he got to drinking and the pirate came out you couldn’t help but wonder, couldn’t believe, that this guy had all this swirling around him. He was a good guy though, one of the regulars.
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