I met Harp John in the middle of a double date. My girlfriend at the time, a couple friends, and I were sitting at the bar at Clive’s  digesting  the large Chinese feast we’d consumed only an hour prior. It was New Year’s Day, I think: the night was very cold.

Harp John came in out of the rain, and shook the water off of his Australian leather hat as he stood at the doorway. He looked at one of the many pictures of pugs, and laughed out loud to himself before approaching the bar to ask about an order he’d phoned in. The bartender went to the kitchen to inquire, and Harp John tipped his cap to the ladies of our party.

I was at the end of the bar closest to the till, so I started talking to him about the weather. He extended his hand, to me at first, and then to the others.

“Harp John’s m’ name!” he said.

The bartender then returned with a massive bag, which was filled to the brim with take-out boxes.

“Are ya hungry, Harp John?” I asked.

“Ha! Nope! I had some snails for dinner. These here boxes are full of French Fries for some friends of mine who’re living down at the Salvation Army. I’m on my way to drop ‘em off, but I’m thinking of coming back for a slurpee or two after. You guys gonna be around for a while?”

I looked over to my date, and she shrugged probably, so I said we’d wait. He lifted his cap, turned on his heel and disappeared into the rain. My friends and I started talking, and forgot all about the thin, leather-hatted stranger until he came back to sit beside us at the bar. He immediately ordered us all another beer, and we all clanked glasses with smiles on our faces.

As the evening became more animated, and relaxed in spite of the stranger in our midst, Harp John started telling us stories of his friends including John Cleese, one of the back-up singers for Pink Floyd, Bryan Adams, and many others.  He also took out his harmonica to show us why he went by “Harp John”: he was exceptionally talented on the “mouth harp”, as he called it.

My date and I decided that we should try to set her mother up with Harp John’s buddy, John Cleese. He shrugged and laughed when we told him, and said, “Sure. I don’t see why not! I will get a hold of him on Skype tomorrow! Your mother, is she as pretty as you?”

He winked.

We were intrigued by the man before us. I even texted friend of mine with instructions to come to Clive’s immediately, and he arrived just as we were leaving.

Harp John offered my date and I a ride home in exchange for one more slurpee: he called all alcoholic beverages, be it wine, beer, or whiskey ‘slurpees’. We were tired from the long night before, and were curious to see what kind of horse Harp John had so we took him up on his offer.

Harp John led us to a brand new Mercedes two-seater .  My date giggled on my lap as Harp John drove us to the Co-op I was living in at the time in record speed. He was thirsty for another slurpee.

to be continued tomorrow…

 

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