Portrait of the Artist As A Young Nutcase Who Is Kind of Scary

Duane Gundrum
4 min readFeb 21, 2018

I was out of the Army and spending a great deal of my time bar hopping for thrills. There really wasn’t anything else to do, and I no longer had any responsibilities, requirements or even a schedule. I had a job, but it was really unimportant and somewhat irrelevant to the grand scheme of things, so I started looking for bars to hang out for brunt of my free time in the evenings.

For me, this meant spending a lot of my time walking home drunk. Well, “drunk” is a mild way to put how I was most of those evenings. Let’s just say that I don’t remember a lot of what happened in between a few of those drinks and waking up the next morning. But showing up at a local bar the next evening told me that I must have had a great time the night before, because everyone in the bar was glad to see me again, talking about what fun we must have had the night before.

I’m a writer, so I chalk it up to one of those learning experiences you’re supposed to gather while working on the next all American novel. Only, 13 novels later, none of them really seem to have been all that American, or anything that would be considered “all American”. Years of experience has taught me that they’re just novels, and if people read them, then they were good novels, and sometimes you take what you can get.

But it was one of those evenings that I remember vividly because I remember talking to a woman I had been trying to get close to for some time at my neighborhood bar. You know the place. It was that bar where everyone came in, but no one knew who anyone was, although you came there so often that you kind of recognized everyone, even if you couldn’t place a name with a face. You’d nod at people, and they might nod back, but that was as close as it came to making a connection.

I knew the owner of the bar. He and I had been in the military together, studying Korean at the language school. This bar was actually located down the street from that post, and one day after he got out of the Army, he bought the bar where we used to go when we were still in the service. Army guys do that sort of crap. I never did, but I sure knew enough of them that did.

Anyway, my buddy was never at the bar but his wife was, and she always poured me a free drink or two because I had met her when she was just a waitress at this bar, before she married my friend. So we were old buddies, even though we really didn’t know each other that well. But she…

Duane Gundrum

Author of Innocent Until Proven Guilty and 15 other novels. Writer, college professor and computer game designer.