There were no strange dreams last night, only the abyss of a dead drunk sleep. This morning, the sickness. Coffee sickness. Cigarette sickness. Moving sickness. All the sickness a third level piggy-backed hangover can muster. The heavy pressed full-stop at the end of each of my last three days has a name, and its name is tadioto. Or perhaps it isn't a full-stop at all, but a long drawn out ellipsis...
Tadioto is a bar in the making. It isn't open yet, so I'm not going to tell you where it is. There are no customers, only consultants. I am the Jamesons consultant. The bar top is a long expanse of dull black rock, the kind of bar top that should only exist in a Murakami novel. I like to sit at the far end of the bar so I can gaze down its light absorbing length. It reminds me of the obelisk in 2001 - except you put your scotch on it. The lights are low, the music excellent and unobtrusive. The other occasional consultants are an eclectic mix of the scum of the earth - reporters, photographers and the like. The bar stools are unfeasible narrow and uncomfortable. If you want to sit at the bar it is hard work. If you can't take the pain of the stools, you are relegated to the easy chairs in the corner. Only the real drinkers, the professionals, sit at the bar. The consultants.
The young Vietnamese bartender - practicing for when the bar finally opens - is uncomfortably handsome. He is tall and elegant, and doesn't so much move as silently glide from space to space. He has that strange quality of being-almost-not-quite-there. A skill shared between the best barmen and ghosts. Or ghost barmen as in The Shining. His voice is barely audible, and often I wonder if we have conversed at all, or whether the entire communication has taken place by telepathy. On the top of my bar tab that he meticulously updates in impeccable handwriting he writes 'Mr Jamesons'.
And then there is the other one. The owner. I don't want to write his name, or even think it. Of late, each time I hear his name a rapid pain shots through my internal organs. My kidneys and liver strain like a terrified dog on the end of a chain. He does not write anything on my bar tab - and if he is behind the bar my glass is never half empty. This man is every alcoholics dream, every alcoholics nightmare. An assassin with bottles. This is why the consultants gather here. This will be the finest bar in Hanoi if it ever opens, but the bar is but the body. The man is the heart and mind. And like moths to the flame, so the consultants come and work towards their early graves, to listen to this man. Like some hideous parody of the sermon on the mount, the owner dispenses his wisdom and we lap it up like starving curs. We should be ashamed.
I do not look forward to the day when this bar opens. Part of me hopes it never will. Customers will clutter the place up, degrade it, sully it with their noise and pointless chatter. I much prefer the quiet company of the consultants, gathered around their despondent Jesus. Perhaps the only good thing that can come from this bar opening is it may just save my life.