Giles Humbert III strikes up a conversation with some of history’s greatest drunks through renowned spirit channeler Maria St. Longue.
Modern Drunkard Magazine: I rather thought we’d start with F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Maria St. Longue: The writer?
(Ms. St. Longue closes her eyes and slips into a trance.)
F. Scott Fitzgerald: What do you want?
MDM: Good Lord, you startled me!
FSF: Don’t expect me to apologize.
MDM: Not at all. Well, I just wanted to know what’s it like where you’re at. Where are you, anyway?
FSF: I’m in a bar that never opens. I’m in a motor car I cannot drive. I’m drinking from a glass that is ever empty.
MDM: Utah? Are you haunting Utah?
FSF: I am in what you would call limbo.
MDM: Oh. No drinks in limbo then?
FSF: There are drinks. There is a bar, long and wide, stocked full. There is simply no bartender.
MDM: Dreadful! Can’t you just reach across and grab hold a—
MDM: Give it a try. Perhaps you’re actually in Heaven and just haven’t figured out the system yet. Perhaps you’re supposed to be the barman.
MDM: Oh, give it a try. What’s it going to hurt, old man?
FSF: I’m going to go now.
MDM: Right. Give my best to Zelda.
FSF: Zelda. Zelda. Zelda isn’t here.
MDM: Oh. Down in the, uh, wine cellar, is she?
FSF: I’m leaving now.
(Ms. St. Longue’s face slackens.)
Maria St. Longue: Whom would you like to speak to now?
MDM: Sir Winston Churchill, I should think.
Winston Churchill: Good morning, sir!
MDM: Good God, that transition is startling! Morning? It’s late afternoon, sir. Is there a time difference?
WC: Time is for living men.
MDM: Very good, sir. How’s the whiskey in Heaven?
WC: Isn’t any. None that I can find, at least.
MDM: Horrible! Surely there’s a little around. Does God drink?
WC: Don’t know.
MDM: Bet he does. He just doesn’t want to share.
MDM: Does the Devil drink?
WC: All the time, I imagine.
MDM: Perhaps you can cadge a drink off him.
WC: Not bloody likely.
MDM: So Hitler’s drinking it up down in Hades and you’re flying high and dry in Heaven?
WC: Would appear so.
MDM: Well, it’s hardly fair, is it?
WC: You learn to get along without it.
MDM: Oh? Would you like a drink, Prime Minister?
MDM: Here you are then.
WC: Mmm, yes, excellent stuff!
MDM: Quite thirsty I see. May I have my flask back?
WC: Just one more little nip. I have taken more out of whiskey than whiskey has taken out of me.
MDM: Took quite a bit out of my flask too.
WC: Don’t worry about it, young man.
MDM: Well! You hardly left me a drop! Off you go!
WC: You cheeky little bugger! I’ll—
MDM: Off with you! I want to speak with Ernest Hemingway.
Ernest Hemingway: Here I am.
MDM: Hem! How goes it?
MDM: So you’re upstairs.
EH: You create your own heaven and hell, son.
MDM: F. Scott’s in a bar that won’t serve him.
EH: It was the same when he was alive.
MDM: I told him to steal a bottle.
EH: You know not with what you meddle.
MDM: Do I not. What do you miss the most, Hem?
EH: Mmm. The women. Sorrow. Bullfighting.
MDM: Surely God lets you, of all people, tip a few back.
MDM: I’ll be looking you up when I arrive then.
EH: Fine. I have to get back to work.
MDM: Great God! They make you work in Heaven?
EH: I captain a ship for the Old Man.
MDM: A cargo of rum and cigars for his poker shindigs, I imagine.
EH: No, just souls. So long.
MDM: See you, Hem! This is bloody good, isn’t it? Let’s chin with old Walt Whitman, what do you say?
Maria St. Longue: The poet?
MDM: Yes, the hoary old poet.
Walt Whitman: Hullo, comrade!
MDM: Hullo, you old pervert!
MDM: Where are you? Is it hot?
WW: You make your own Heaven and Hell.
MDM: Oh come now. You’re cribbing off Hemingway.
WW: There are universal truths all will come to know.
MDM: Oh? Does one get a booklet once one arrives?
WW: I’m going now.
MDM: So long, you old wino! Let’s talk to Jack Kerouac then. The Yank beat writer.
Jack Kerouac: Hey, Nate.
MDM: My name is Giles.
JK: Your body’s name is Giles. Your soul’s name is Nate.
MDM: Nate? How odd! I suppose Nathan would be all right. But Nate? This is really quite odd. Did you know my editor spent a night drinking on your grave? He poured wine on the ground so you could have a taste.
JK: I remember. We spoke.
MDM: Indeed! He said you tried to kill him later.
JK: I wanted more wine and he was hogging it all.
MDM: That was him all right. I—
Maria St. Longue: He’s gone.
MDM: What a pity. Can I talk to Bukowski?
MDM: Charles Bukowski. Famous Yank drunkard. Also a writer.
MS: He’s unavailable.
MDM: How so?
MS: Getting a lesson.
MDM: Flogged by the devil, I imagine. May I speak with Willie Nelson? The drunkard Yank cowboy singer?
Willie Nelson: Howdy, pardner!
MDM: Oh, come now. Willy Nelson isn’t dead.
Maria St. Longue: Isn’t he? Why’d you ask to talk to him then? That’s what telephones are for.
MDM: I was testing you. Confess! You’re obviously some sort of awful charlatan.
MS: Am I now? Maybe it was another Willie Nelson. Maybe it was the Devil in disguise.
MDM: Elvis! We must channel Elvis!
MS: I don’t do Elvis.
MDM: Can you channel the Devil?
MS: You don’t channel Lucifer. He channels you.
MDM: Very good. Let’s do that. Let’s chin with old Nick.
MS: Such a visit could do considerable damage to my soul.
MDM: I’ll pay you an extra twenty pounds
MS: (after considerable soul searching) I will do it. But you must promise me one thing.
MDM: Of course.
MS: You must not offer the Devil whiskey.
MDM: And why not?
MS: It makes him more powerful and evil.
MDM: Me as well. Agreed then.
MS: Lucifer, Prince of Darkness, are you—What do you want, mortal?
MDM: Good God, you startled me, old chap!
Satan: Well, that’s what I do.
MDM: Of course. Would you like some rum?
Satan: I would kill you for half a drop.
MDM: No need to be rude. Here you are.
Satan: Ah! This is all you have?
MDM: That filthy swine Winston Churchill nicked the rest of it.
Satan: Churchill. I nearly had that one.
MDM: He says the reason you’re losing so badly is you’re legless all the time.
Satan: That’s a lie. There isn’t a drop to drink in Hell.
MDM: I figured as much. Apparently a ghost can’t get a drink anywhere. Gives one a greater appreciation of life, wouldn’t you say? Say, is it true you were kicked out of Heaven for drinking all of God’s good scotch?
Satan: I was going to leave anyway. I’ll see you later.
MDM: Me? I’m certain you’re mistaken. I live like a particularly pious monk.
Satan: Do you now? Really?
MDM: Well, I always thought that . . . well . . . I can’t tell you how incredibly disturbing this is.
Satan: Bring more rum next time and we’ll talk.
MDM: I promise. So long!
(Ms. St. Longue begins spitting on the floor.)
MS: You gave him whiskey!
MDM: Nonsense. It was rum.
MS: Your time is up.
MDM: I should say.