All Stories, General Fiction

Everybody Drinks at Bemelmans by Adam Kluger

Nothing can come when it’s forced.

Or when distractions pile up too high.

Or when the font is too thick.

That’s what aspiring writer Fin Palworth thought to himself as he looked at his computer screen and pondered over the stubborn foolishness driving his futile attempts to become an author.

There were so many great writers that Palworth revered like Hemingway and Bukowski and yet, so many more bad writers saturated the marketplace.

Life and misery. Misery and life.

And then all of a sudden.


It happened.

Through some miracle, Fin Palworth had published a book.  A real book.

He had been discovered, finally. It was by a kind and intelligent French publisher, a friend of a friend, who wanted to bring out more of Fin’s unpublished manuscripts every few months and translate his writings into French.

The black cloud lifted.

Fin felt like himself again, his old self, for the first time in for so long… he didn’t want to recall.

He could breathe again.

He held the book.

292 pages.

He marveled at the cover.

The publisher had designed it and it made no sense at all. Like Fin’s life. It had a typewriter in the middle of some abstract imagery. Fin liked it plenty and before he knew it, a few weeks later, after months of discussion, a book arrived in the mail.

The spine had the title and his name. The background color was a bold yellow. What an unusual and pleasant surprise.

The very first copy.

Over 50 years of life had been poured into this book and it was done.

Fin studied the colors on the cover, he felt the heft of the book.

It was heavy with pages and stories. The grease from his fingers left marks on the shiny black cover material. A well read book, Fin thought, collects many grease stains.

His Iphone beeped. The Ex. Time to discuss bills and schedules.

Later on…


Coltrane’s A Love Supreme, almost 2 hours long –was the only music  Fin would play over and over. Discordant jazz presented with a repeating coda and drum beat, with an adventurous horn that would flow down streets and alleys and the whole of New York City.

Fin drank and wrote.

Coffee. Very strong. And the squealing horn was like a good friend encouraging Fin to keep going, faster and faster…to let it out…let it all out.

The iPhone beeped again.

It was Cecile.

She had sent a photo on a red carpet.

The correspondence had heated up into a proposed meeting.

Bemelmans was chosen.

It was Fin’s choice.

The Carlyle Hotel.

Jazz. Hard drinks.

Cecile wanted Fin to whisper into her ear while reading to her from his new book.

The story Fin chose for Cecile was a conversation between two rakes about a beautiful woman that involves a twist with a knife and a gun.

He sat at the famed Bemelmans bar nursing a glass of water, with his book in hand watching the far staircase in anticipation of Cecile’s dramatic arrival. The piano player had begun playing a playful jazz number and Bemelmans was filling up quickly with couples. Tables had a $100 cover.

One older gentleman with a deep tan and a shiny gold Rolex and pinky ring welcomed a tall blonde model wearing an ostrich and leopard jacket. Sharif the bartender, resplendent in a red blazer, oversaw all manner of introductions and requests for libations with the experienced hand of a host who had seen his share of bar side shenanigans and knew how to always keep things Cafe Carlyle classy.

Where was Cecile? Would she descend the staircase in a peacock gown and head-dress looking like a 1920’s flapper with her classic Midwest features and brown curls?

Cecile  was really pretty. Maybe she would stand him up. It had happened before for various reasons. Being practically broke is not a big selling point.

“Vat’s that?” the blonde-haired model asked with a slight Eastern European accent to match her aquiline features.

“My book, I’m embarrassed but excited to say.”

“Very nice …vat’s it about?”

“Failure…my failures as a man but as told through various male protagonists.”

“Vat does that mean?”

“Well it is sort of an exploration into…”

“Hey, uh…let me see that… the older, tanned man with the Rolex interjected, “I’ll give you twenty bucks for it… my girl wants to read it.”

“Oh, I’m very honored, thank you so much… but this is the first copy. I’d really like to hold onto it.”

The older guy collected his drink from Sharif and replied, “it may not look like it but I’m worth $200 Million dollars, I was a lawyer and then I got involved in pop-up Christmas stores and I’m incredibly wealthy.”

“That’s amazing! Santa was good to you. Are you going to buy us all a round?”  Fin’s jest fell on a deaf ear.

“25 bucks for the book? “the older man replied impatiently as his young date watched on bemusedly at the nonsense she had triggered.

“I’d do it for $50.”

The man was suddenly bored and looked at a message on his phone. He reached into his pocket and brought out his alligator skin wallet and then took out his business card and handed it drunkenly to Fin. Here’s my business card. Google me. I’m worth $240 million dollars.”

Fin took the card and pulled his book off the bar ledge and stuffed it into his coat. The cover now had a slight tear.

Where was Cecile?

Would she be gently surrounded by a unique Cecile scent that would be a mixture of mint, vetiver and patchouli that she had designed in a spice and perfume market in Florence for herself and herself only?

Would Cecile’s knuckles hint of that same addictive aroma as Fin held and softly kissed her artistic, slender hand?

Would Cecile dare reveal a slight cleavage and pale breasts that pushed out defiantly against her sparkly dress as a silver charm necklace dangled off her majestic, white neck surrounded by copper and gold waves and curls?

Docked on the lower half of her face, would there be a pair of shiny, pink lips shaped like a bow, waiting to be kissed?  Would each wet and soft application elicit new shocks of pleasure and soft cooing?

Fin took a sip of his expensive whiskey on the rocks that he definitely couldn’t afford. It tasted like liquid velvet.

And then there was a soft tap on his shoulder.


Adam Kluger 

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4 thoughts on “Everybody Drinks at Bemelmans by Adam Kluger”

  1. Hi Adam,
    Another excellent character based story.
    You made me look up Bemelmans and I want to go there!!!
    You help make this site what it is my friend.


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