Researching Nathan James, Part 4: Prohibition
This place felt so familiar. Unlike the other lives, I felt at home, comfortable in my surroundings.
"Do you know where you are?" Barbara asked.
"Yes. I'm in New York during prohibition...and I'm a guy."
It feels weird to say that out loud, but I am indeed a guy. Not just any guy, I'm a top guy. He wore a bespoke suit, winged tipped shoes and a fedora. I could feel the arrogance seeping out of him with every step. The way he carried himself was incredible, like he feared nothing and no one. I envy his confidence.
"Where are you walking to?" Barbara asked.
He enters a narrow alley off a side street and knocks on a nondescript door. The area looks familiar. It's clearly downtown, possibly the East Village or Lower East Side, but I can't be sure. There is a small peephole in the steel door. After a moment, the door opens and he is immediately greeted by a man dressed in a white collared shirt and fitted vest. The man is rather large, but seems to cower at the sight of my former self.
After greeting the doorman, he descends a dark staircase. The faint sound of music from a piano along with a female singer can be heard through another large steel door. He approaches the door and knocks. A rectangular hole slides open to reveal a pair of eyes, then quickly shuts. The door opens into a large room filled with people dancing and sipping cocktails. A scantily clad dancer near the piano eyed him as he walked in the room.
"Do you know this woman from your present life?" Barbara asked.
As if on cue, he answered her question. "We fucked a few times, but nothing serious. She's just a girl I see from time to time."
I could feel myself blushing at his response. This was unlike anything I had experienced in pervious lives. I was seeing the world through his eyes, hearing what he is thinking, but he is answering my questions. It's like he is talking to me.
"No," I replied.
*Up until this point, I had been pretty honest with Barbara in telling her what I saw or heard, but I decided not to tell her that my past self was a playboy that slept around. I was a little embarrassed to say it out loud. Can you blame me?!
He smiles at his sidepiece and walks in the opposite direction toward the bar. Burn. The bartender had already spotted him when he walked in and had his drink waiting for him. It is some kind of rye cocktail. I am guessing an old fashioned, however I can't be sure. He greets the bartender with a firm handshake and a smile.
"How many we got left?" he says.
"Just enough to get us through tomorrow. Can you stock us up tomorrow night?" the bartender asks.
"We got it. Tomorrow in the alley. Be ready," he said with a wink as he grabs his drink from the bar and turns his attention toward the entertainment, raising his glass to his sidepiece.
The more I walk in this man's shoes, the more I begin to like him. Yes, he is an arrogant womanizer who is clearly some kind of top mob guy, but there is a certain appeal about him I can't explain.
"Take us to the next significant event in this life," Barbara prompts.
I blink and am taken out of the bar, now standing in the small alley where I had come in previously. There are there old cars lined up outside with five or six men moving product into the basement bar. They don't seem to be moving very fast considering they are doing something wildly illegal for the time. My past self is standing by the door smoking a cigar, just shootin' the shit with the bartender from the night before. He is so relaxed. He feels untouchable.
Suddenly, three black and white cars dart down the street, stopping just short of the delivery. Six armed police officers exit the cars. Still he is not phased. He nods at the bartender and flicks the remainders of his cigar on the ground. The bartender shuts the door and bolts it from the inside. What I assume to be a low level guy, greets the police officers in an exchange I can't make out. All of the men who were delivering the liquor are slowly moving back toward the three cars carrying the delivery. He follows, heading toward the front seat of the first car.
I hear a shot fired, from who I don't know. He grabs an old gun from the from the front seat of the car and loads it calmly. I can feel him smiling, embracing the chaos of the situation. In his mind, I literally see the words "fuck it" appear. He pulls the gun to his shoulder, shielding himself behind the passenger door, and pulls the trigger, letting out a hailstorm of bullets into the police officers in front of him. His men follow in suit.
The doors of the old car he used to shield him are not what they are today. Though it protected him for a while, eventually it was perforated by the police officer's bullets. He was shot multiple times, but the one I really see is in his chest. He crawls to the door of the pub, still letting off a few rounds. The bartender must have been watching through the peephole, because the door swings open as he approaches, closing immediately after my past self is safely inside.
He is definitely fading. I can feel his mind getting fuzzy, but dammit if that son of a bitch isn't still smiling. He is literally laughing at death. His lack of fear is startling, but admirable. The bartender is trying to stop the bleeding with some bar rags, but isn't succeeding. The bartender is talking to him, but the words aren't coming through.
"Are you afraid to die?" Barbara asks.
A resounding "Hell no!" resonates through my mind. When he dies, I look on the scene from outside his body. He died smiling. I shit you not. The man was smiling.
"Allow yourself to leave the scene. Ask if there is anything else you should need to learn from this life."
His voice appeared in my mind clear as a bell. Chuckling he says, "Don't piss off the cops!". I could not contain my laughter, nor could Barbara.
"Allow yourself to float out of the scene. I am going to lead you back into the present now," she said.
Tune in next week for my return to reality and my reflection on the experience. In the meantime, pour one out for our old friend this evening.
Till next time,