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& • The Secret Menu


We’d been sitting at the bar trying to catch the eye of the bartender unsuccessfully for twenty minutes when a man wearing a beret down the bar from us turned and said, “They won’t come without the gesture,” and saying this he made his fingers roll in a very peculiar way. One of the bartenders broke away from the conversation and approached him. Beret man gestured at us in turn. The bartender sighed heavily and looked at us.

“First time at Nox, huh?”

He handed us two enormous and remarkably heavy menus bound in a dark blue leather, then returned to his conversation. Beret man leaned over. “Try the Maltese Falcon,” he said.

I began to look over the menu. “No, no,” he said, “It’s on the secret menu.”
I attempted the gesture twice and had no luck. Brynn got it on the first try. The bartender approached. “Is there a secret menu?” she asked. He sighed again. I noticed for the first time his sigh seemed well practiced and almost royal in it’s world-weariness.

“There are three drinks on the secret menu,” (and saying this he raised three fingers) “First, fear and trembling and loathing. Tequila and Tabasco. Spicy. Second, the mariner’s revenge song. Rum and saltwater aged in a moldy cask. Tastes like the Disney Pirates of the Caribbean ride smells. Third, the Exorcist. Absinthe and holy water from Trinity Catholic Church on Park Ave.”

“Is there… is there a secret secret menu?” I asked, afraid I was making a fool of myself.

The bartender regarded me cooly for a long moment. “There may be,” he said at last.

Brynn chuckled nervously. “Is there a secret secret secret menu?” she asked.

I chuckled too. He looked at us until the laughter died in our throats.

“Get the fuck out of my bar,” he said.

So we did.

Karl J. P. Smith

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