Cliff was crazy. I’m proud to say that Cliff and I shared three special nights together that work a little like a trilogy of some sort. When I began drinking he was among the first to see it. Cliff was the embodiment of New York City, in the sense that he never seemed to sleep. This was perfect for a guy who just started drinking in a city where bars don’t close before five am. When everyone else was winding down Cliff and I were winding up. After our initial group left us one night in the East Village, a drunk Cliff asked if I’d ever had a New York rub n’ tug.
It was a horrible experience. The woman seemed as if she hated her life while she was doing it, and it was incredibly awkward because I couldn’t finish if she was upset, but she couldn’t finish until I had finished. “Nah, you just had a bad experience! Come on!” Cliff led me out of the bar we were at and flagged a cab down. We hopped in and moments later found ourselves in Chinatown
At 4:30 in the morning.
I followed Cliff in a drunken stupor while he waved people over, asking them where they could find a handjob place. Sometimes he would make a handjob motion in the air from afar. Surprisingly no one could help us. We stumbled across a street fair. It was obviously closed and all the tents zipped up. It would take more than that to stop Cliff, however. In he went, rustling around. I stood outside and kept watch. Cliff came out holding a handful of chinese plates with orange dragons on them. He straight up flung one. It flew across the street and clashed on a stop sign, shattering. He flung another into the air. Far away I heard the same noise. He handed me one. I tucked it in my jeans. He began unscrewing light bulbs and throwing them at the ground too. He handed me one. I shrugged and threw it. It started to remind me of my days with Matt.
Until someone came around the corner. He was a tall, slender man with hair greased back and a thick italian accent. “Hey excuse me!” He shouted while Cliff was attempting to steal an ice cream sign from on high. “My family owns these three blocks here. We’d appreciate it if you guys’d leave.” He put a hand behind his back. He was either hiding something or reaching for something. Cliff climbed back down.
“I just wanted that ice cream.”
“Yeah. Could you guys just get outta here?”
“Come on, Cliff.” I whispered.
“Okay have a good night!” Cliff shouted. We turned a corner as the Italian bent to pick up the pieces we had broken. I turned to Cliff to say that was a close one.
He was gone.
He was inside another tent.
“Cliff!” I whispered. “You gotta get outta there!” After a few seconds Cliff emerged from the tent, smile on his face, chewing on a baguette. A fucking baguette. I tried to rush him out but he kept a healthy pace. He wasn’t worried. He was Cliff! At this point the grunt workers of the world were starting to make their rounds. One of which was a truck loading up some fruit on pallets and wheeling them into the stores. Cliff helped a man with a pallet jack get it over the curb. When the man wheeled back to the truck Cliff grabbed a crate of the mystery fruit and ran. I followed in confusion. When we got a block or two away he pulled out something and took a bite. He spit it out. “Aw, what’s this shit!?” Then he discarded the rest of it. I still don’t know what it was that he took, but we parted ways as the sun rose and I arrived back at Carlos, Kelsey and Matt’s apartment.
The next time I saw Cliff was for Kelsey’s birthday party. Once again as we all got drunk the 9-5ers wanted to head to bed, but Cliff and I remained at the bar. I told him I had recently walked from Brooklyn to the Upper East Side. “No Shit?” He said. “Feel up to doin’ it again?”
“Sure.” I shrugged. With that we were off, but not before a brief stop at the convenience store for a couple Four Lokos. We drank from our paper sacks as we approached the Brooklyn Bridge. The city of blinding lights provided a great view as we walked across. We noticed there was some sort of construction going on, and there were cones everywhere. So what did we do?
You guessed it.
We picked up some cones and began tossing them over the fence and into the water. The whole way across the bridge we’d pick one up and heave ho it over that ten foot fence and watch it drop. Once it narrowly avoided a boat that was passing under the bridge just after we threw it. We also neglected to look when we tossed one out at the end of the bridge and it landed in the middle of a street below. Thankfully no one got hurt. All that tossing was indeed tiring, however, and we parted ways once we reached lower Manhattan.
It wasn’t long after that night that I figured I was on my way out of New York. Cliff appeared to be out before I was, however. He stated he was going to be moving to LA, and despite the fact that I had only a hundred dollars to my name, I wanted to see him off. After all, we had a brother’s bond. I met him at a club that one of his friends could get us into cover free. Inside were a slew of beer pong tables and a sizeable dance floor. The girl who had gotten us in had a boyfriend whose love for Cliff was undeniable.
Beer and a shot
Beer and a shot
Beer and a shot
Over and over. This man loved Cliff. He got him absolutely wasted that night. He was more drunk than I had ever seen, and I hadn’t had a drop. Around midnight the couple left and it was just Cliff and I. He slurred as he opened a tab of his own and got me a drink. We chatted for a bit, until Cliff spun and shouted, “I need some pussy!” before walking right up to some girl sitting alone at a table. I sat by and waited to see how the conversation went. It appeared cliff was going to get what he needed, so I felt the need to call it a night. I walked over to say goodbye and Cliff wrapped an arm around my shoulder. “Hey, this is my buddy Errol!”
“Nice to meet you.” She said.
“So where’s your friend at?” Cliff said.
“She’s in the bathroom.”
“Cool. Well when she gets back we’ll all do some shots!” Cliff pulled me in and whispered, “Dude you gotta distract the friend for me.” I had little to no experience as a wingman, but I’d do my best. When the friend returned Cliff brought us all over, ordering four shots and a round of beers. I talked to her about school and all the usual bullshit smalltalk people do. She was visiting from Boston and staying with her friend. Cliff continued to make moves on his girl, and offered up that we all play beer pong. They agreed and Cliff ordered a pitcher. As we walked over I pulled Cliff to the side. “Hey man, you think you should be drinking so much?” I was getting worried he was on the verge of blacking out. He must’ve thought I said something else, because he leaned in like we were being watched.
“I gave ’em a card with no money on it.”
“Yeah dude I do it all the time! We’ll just dip out like a half hour before they close and it’ll be great!”
Now I was expected to play beer pong with stolen liquor and two strange women. Okay, I guess. We played back and forth until Cliff got tired of beating around the bush. “Yo can I kiss you?” He shouted to the girl he was hitting on. She nodded and they started making out. Her friend and I looked at each other wondering what we should do. She excused herself for a cigarette and I excused myself to the restroom. What to do what to do? When I came back out Cliff was trying damage control with the girl. She was freaking out about where her friend was. Overreacting was an understatement. “Where the fuck is she!? She’s just visiting she doesn’t know where anything is!”
“I’m pretty sure she’s outside smoking.” I said, perplexed. We went outside and ta-da! There she was, finishing her cigarette. Cliff’s girl was upset with her and wanted to know why she didn’t answer any of her texts. She said her phone was on silent but that wasn’t a good enough excuse apparently. Cliff and I ducked out and went back inside. He ordered some more drinks with his fake card and went out to chat it up with an overweight Asian. I tried to intervene and let him know he was probably too drunk, but he wasn’t having any of it. Watching him dance with her was priceless. I wish I’d have gotten a video. I looked at the clock and it was 3:30. The bar was going to close soon, and I walked up to Cliff, who was no longer understandable.
“Hey dude, you ready to go?”
“Yeahfeitsgetthefukowtaheay!” I put him in front and followed him out. As we walked outside two servers saw us.
“Aw you guys are leaving?”
“Yeah.” I said.
“Sure you don’t wanna do a shot with us before you go?”
“Yeahshots!!!!!” Cliff interrupted, spinning around and walking back inside.
“Um.” I said, “I don’t know if he should have anymore.” The server smiled and winked at me.
“Ahh, he’s just having fun!” I nervously scratched my head. “I love your hair!” She shouted as they left to get the shots. I nodded in thank you as Cliff leaned against a table.
“Dude we gotta get outta here.”
“What?” He smiled at me. He had no idea what was happening. The servers returned with a tray holding four shots.
“Here ya go!”
“You ordered these sho-”
“Yeahshots!!!!!” Cliff grabbed one. A server handed me one and we all cheersed. I gulped it down and pressed myself against the wall while I watched the servers tried to get Cliff’s info for the tab. He flailed a little and spun around a couple times and I wiped my face. The server who enjoyed my curly lockes came over.
“Hey, we’re trying to get your friend to pay, but he doesn’t seem to know what’s going on.” The other server approached.
“Well I think he has a tab open.” They shook their heads.
“We can’t find it.”
“Well, did you try-” I looked up.
He was gone.
Nowhere to be seen.
“I guess…I’ll pay.” The server got all pouty on me.
“Are you sure?”
“Yeah it’s fine.” I handed them my debit card, calculating all the drinks for the night. Luckily I had only been charged for the four shots. Unluckily, they were ten bucks a pop, so 40 bucks plus a tip was lost from my bankroll. As I signed the receipt the server smiled at me. “I really do love your hair.” I laughed.
“Thanks.” I walked out the door with a smile on my face that night. What was forty bucks compared to a story like that? Never a dull night with Cliff. Messin’ with mafias one night, tossing traffic cones into the river the next, and drama filled psychos and pulse pounding thievery the third. Cliff was a regular bull in a china shop. Anytime the phrase is mentioned I think of him. I know it all too well.