After my clean shaven companion and I returned to the con hotel and went our separate ways, I realized that the cool bar recommended by the cute counter girl at the barber shop was the very same bar in which the Black Mask party was set to take place later that evening. I’d already made plans to meet Donna Moore for dinner and for lack of a better idea, we figured we’d give the counter girl’s Tapas place a try and then hit the Black Mask party.
I met Donna and Martyn at the allotted hour and we headed out into the wilds of Indianapolis, armed only with this map:
The black dot on Washington is the barber shop. The unreadable blur near the center is the Tapas restaurant. The X in the upper right is supposedly the Dorman Street Saloon.
I have a very good sense of direction and rarely get lost, even in cities I’ve never visited. We figured we’d head in the general direction of the Tapas place but stay flexible in case we saw something we liked better on the way. We didn’t, and the restaurant turned out to be exactly where the cute counter girl had indicated. We found it without a hitch, which clearly made us cocky. Donna and Martyn got a few pomegranate margaritas into them (I had no such excuse) and we decided we’d hoof it to the Dorman Street Saloon. On the map it looked like we were already half way there.
The map is not to scale.
The first leg of our epic, post apocalyptic pub crawl took us through clusters of empty “Luxury Condominiums” stuffed between raw, industrial buildings and sorry-looking gas stations. It felt like we were on an abandoned movie set. Once we passed under the freeway, we wandered into even grimmer territory. Shabby Victorian houses and more unmarked industrial buildings. I kept expecting to see Mrs. Bates silhouetted in an upper window as we passed. We only encountered a single live human, who immediately ran away from us as we approached. We were convinced that zombies were about to come shambling out of the shadowy alleys and eat our brains. At that point, it didn’t seem like such a bad alternative.
Also, keep in mind, Donna was wearing these shoes.
Although it isn’t obvious in the lousy phone photo, the pattern on her shoes is tiny ice cream cones. Horribly appropriate, since by the time we got to the intersection where the saloon was supposedly located, our feet were nearly frozen solid.
So there we were, standing at Michigan and Dorman street. There was nothing even remotely resembling a bar for as far as we could see in any direction. Still no humans, but we eventually spotted an empty cop car. No idea what had happened to the occupant (zombies?) but by the time we had given up all hope of ever finding this damn bar, the missing cop came out of a nearby house. Checking out a prowler report for a beautiful young housewife who’s husband works nights, maybe? I figured we should send a Brit over to ask for directions, but the cop was not swayed by Martyn’s “posh” accent (note the thick layer of sarcasm between those quotation marks.) He tried to blow us off by claiming he couldn’t help us unless we had an exact address. Lucky for me, I’d put the addy into my phone when I got the Black Mask invite and the uptight bastard was shamed into admitting that the bar was four zig-zagging blocks north.
Possibly the longest four blocks of my life. In fact, the less said about those last four blocks the better.
Amazingly enough, we made it. The Black Mask party was already in full swing when we arrived, full of happy, tipsy writers who had been ferried to the bar in a warm, cherry ‘38 Cadillac. I wanted to kick every one of them in the shins, but my frozen foot might have shattered on contact.
Since I felt responsible for leading my foreign friends astray, I bought them a round and gave poor Donna a desperately needed foot massage. Normally you’d have to pay $4.99 a minute to listen to the kinds of sounds that were coming out of her over the course of that massage. That and the ride back to the hotel in the ‘38 Caddy made the whole crazy misadventure worthwhile. Plus, it does make for a pretty entertaining story.