Exploring the Life and Works of Edgar Rice Burroughs

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What is a Bar Drabella?

A Bar Drabella is NOT a sequel to the 1968 Jane Fonda "Barbarella" film!

A Bar Drabella is a new class of Drabble that has three premises:

1. All are a "guy walks into a bar...", hopefully a joke!

2. The drabella must include at least one Edgar Rice Burroughs character or ERB himself.

3. No longer than 500 words.

If you want to play send your Bar Drabella to tangor at erblist.com for consideration. No hateful or prurient submissions will be accepted. Family Friendly, please!.


Bar Drabellas

The Curse of Fame


Three men walked into a bar. Edgar Rice Burroughs, A. A. Milne, and Charles Dickens. The barkeep immediately recognized the authors as he spread out paper coasters in front of each seated man.

Pointing at ERB: "You're the Grand Master of Pulp Fiction!"

Pointing at AAM: "Still feeding that bear pots of honey?"

Pointing at CD: "Scrooge still miserable?"

The three men chuckled and gave their orders, which were swiftly delivered. The barkeep took a bar towel from across his shoulder and efficiently wiped the gorgeously polished walnut counter top. With a wink he smiled:

"Can't wait to tell my relief I had the opportunity to serve the 'Grand Pooh Bah!' "

Kantos Kan's Kuandary


Kantos Kan, the right hand of John Carter, Prince of Helium, walked into a bar located in Lesser Helium southwest after a long day of duties for his Prince. The lighting was dim, the seats were sparsely occupied as it was actually "early" for business.

As the warrior sat to the bar he checked the drape of his longsword so it would not tangle in his legs. The barkeep turned around.

Who was surprised more was not immediately obvious, but the man behind the counter raised a finger to his lips. "Say nothing!"

"Yes sir, your—" Kantos Kan ceased to speak, glancing around to check the hearing of those few in the bar. However, the patrons seemed oblivious to the two men, which suited the barkeep to no end!

"This is my great-grandson's joint. He had to run an errand and asked me to watch the place for a few minutes. Expect him back any tal.*"

Almost on cue, a sturdy young fellow stepped out of a door to a storeroom behind the bar. "Thanks, Gramps! Let me have that."

The youngster took the bar towel and shooed his grandsire's martial figure from behind the counter.

With a sigh of relief John Carter sat on the stool next to Kantos Kan. The grandson put two goblets of Duhorian wine before the two men, then turned to putter with glasses and bottles on the back wall.

A few minutes of small talk passed between John Carter, now more at ease as a customer instead of stand-in barman. Kantos Kan suddenly smiled and tried to choke back a laugh.

Just a bit annoyed the Prince of Helium scowled. "Did I miss something?"

"Sorry, your highness. Something that came to mind."

"Well," Carter asked, demanding an answer.

Kantos Kan quickly drained his wine, as much to enjoy it as to drink it before there was no chance. After all he knew John Carter better than any one on Mars—excepting perhaps the incomparable Dejah Thoris, John Carter's wife.

Kantos Kan took a deep breath, then spoke:

"Of all the titles you have held since you arrived from Jasoom, I had a vision of what the Palace Guard might say about your mission today."

"And?" John Carter prodded when his lieutenant fell silent.

"Well, your highness. I suspect they might bestow the title:

"John Carter, Warlord of Barroom!"

* Tal, a Martian Second.

Things That Are Simply Not Done


Tarzan dropped by the Trading Post to examine the new outdoor juice bar. Jane indicated she had been quite impressed during her first visit.

The outdoor ambiance, near the edge of the jungle clearing, was refreshing as the sun dropped behind the tree top canopy—the lighting becoming diffuse with a pleasant green glow.

"What can I get for you?" the barman asked.

"A melon and sparkling water, thank you."

The barman looked below the counter, located a seedless melon and carried it to a Tantor hobbled a few yards away next to a large flat rock which had been chiseled and shaped with a series of grooves that converged on a single run off. A glass was placed below the "spigot" and the melon was placed on the stone. The barman shouted:


The sleepy-eyed elephant raised its left foreleg and stepped on the melon, shattering the rind and pulping the fruit. The released juices ran through the stone grooves to fill the glass three-quarter full.

"Ho, Tantor!" the barman slapped an affectionate hand on the creature's neck.

The juice-filled glass was set on the counter as the barman rummaged below for a Seltzer bottle to finish the mix.

Just as the glass was about to be offered a young liana, no bigger than the width of the battle-scarred pinky of the seated patron, dropped onto the bar top.

"Happens all the time," the barkeep sighed. "Just swing it to one side."

The Lord of the Jungle examined the young plant shoot and shook his head.

"I will swing no vine before its time!"*

* Nod and wink to Orson Wells' last years on TV.



Tarzan, N'kima, and Edgar Rice Burroughs walked into a bar. Actually, N'kima rode on the ape-man's shoulder.

The barkeep, busy at the ice machine, pleaded, "Be with you in a moment!"

The barkeep finally managed to extract a very large lump of ice from the ice maker and, with no other place to put it, set it on the bar counter.

N'kima, fascinated by the glitter of frozen water, jumped from Tarzan's shoulder onto the ice. That lasted about two seconds. The startled monkey shrieked and leapt off as the cold numbed feet and fingers!

Ed nudged Tarzan with a grin.

"He's certainly a chimp off the old block!"



Buck Mason, Diana and Texas Pete walked into a bar. Buck scanned the darkened interior, noted the fluttering candles in glass on the tables, and the NOISE of the cantina band.

"Been a while since I was in a saloon," Buck muttered.

Diana was not worried about hubby, he'd been on the wagon for DECADES. "There's plenty of coffee, I'm told."

Texas Pete seated Diana like a real gent, grinned at Buck, then took a seat at the table while beckoning the senorita over.

Buck looked to Diana who said, "Wine." Buck said "Coffee, black." The waitress looked to Texas Pete who said, gazing at the bar and the bottles...

"I want that bottle of mezcal ... the one on the end. See it?"


"That's the one. Fetch it. Muchas gracias!"

The young woman with the puffed sleeve blouse and festive billowing skirt hurried to the bar. She returned shortly with a stemmed glass for Diana, a massive tin cup for Buck, and a glass and the bottle with less than an inch in the bottom ... and a rather strange looking worm awash in the liquor.

Texas Pete gauged the size of the glass to the contents remaining in the bottle. With a firm nod he poured the amber liquid into the glass, making sure the worm came along.

"Bottoms up!" the cowboy exclaimed, downing the glass, and the worm, in one gulp. Followed by a bite into a juicy slice of lime.

Diana chuckled as Texas Pete made a face.

Buck said nothing, blowing across his steaming coffee to cool it just a bit.

"That's strange, Pete," Diana remarked. "You know they are going to charge you for the whole bottle and all you got was one drink!"

"Not to worry, Diana," Texas Pete replied. "After all those years riding with your hubby before you educated him with civilized behavior I learned that if one gets the worm early he can wake with the birds ... and no hangover!"



Jimmy Torrance, one time Efficiency Expert, found himself between jobs again, and began working in a bar to make the rent. The speakeasy was fairly popular, but the Feds and the Local Police were beginning to show teeth in recent days as Prohibition continued.

Jimmy kept his head down and nose to the grindstone, so to speak, but eventually Officer Flanagan tapped him on the shoulder late one night as Torrance was heading back to his flea flop.

"Youse a good boy, Jimmy. Always liked ya, but youse need to know things a'changin' and youse'll be caught in it. Here's your only time to set it right."

"What you want to know?" Jimmy narrowed his eyes, ready to take a powder if needed.

"Whose those in charge, Jimmy? The speak's gonna get raided and we want all the hooligans running the place. Give us some names and ..."

Jimmy blurted: "Get your pad. Only gonna do it once: Slats, Blackie, Joe Big, Al you know who, Artie Spark, Melvin Morton, The Black Russian, Giovanni Veneto, and Mama Love. That's it. I'm outta here."

Flanagan looked up after writing furiously. "That easy? Jimmy, I never thought you a rat!"

"I ain't. I'm an efficiency expert. I figure a snitch on nine will save some time!"



After a long run on the hobo trail and hitching rides on trains unmonitored by railroad bulls, Bridge walked into a bar shortly before closing and found a stool to perch upon.

The barman, ever busy as the hour was approaching lights out, asked: "What can I get for you? Ten minutes to closing."

Bridge, meanwhile, had perused the astonishing complexity of shelves behind the bar displaying bottles and glasses and snacks.

"My good fellow," Bridge reluctantly admitted, "I am in the same plight as the mosquito who arrived at the nudist camp, surveyed the territory and said, 'I don't know where to begin!' "



Edgar Rice Burroughs stepped into the VIP section of a well-known Los Angeles bar which catered to the rich and famous. As one of the "rich and famous" he was accorded respect and a private table to the right of the intimate stage where a jazz trio, guitar, bull fiddle and drums, was performing a medley of song hits from 1949.

Fifteen minutes later a waiter in tux, no jacket, bent his head low and whispered: "Mr. Burroughs, there are two gentlemen in the outer club who say they are friends of yours from Michigan Military Academy."

"Oh?" Burroughs turned his head slightly as he winked: "Wheel them in!"



Korak was surprised to see a bar on the savannah and he didn't even know if he was of legal age. But he was thirsty so he thought he'd give it a try and walked into the bar.

The well-maned lion behind the bar was busily licking the glasses clean. To you or I, that would be a turnoff. But to Korak accustomed to the ways of the wild and never washing his food or his hands before eating, didn't mind at all.

"What'll it be for you today?" asked the Lion.

"Oh, give me a Black Russian," said the killer.

The bar lion turned to his stock and began pouring and soon had the drink sitting in front of Korak.

"I'm kind of young," said Korak, "so I'm a little bit surprised you even served me."

"Oh we haven't served you yet," smiled the Lion. "The rest of the pride is coming through the door right now and you'll be served to everyone in a minute or two."



John Carter and Dejah Thoris walked into a Los Angeles bar after an early evening at Carter's nephew's house in Tarzana. Ed Burroughs couldn't accompany them as other business was in progress that had to be accomplished that evening "...but try the Blue Room. I will call in a reservation for you," Ed suggested as the couple had left the Tarzana hacienda.

In their rented car Carter remarked to his wife—who was a bit uncomfortable dressed in the close-fitting apparel women wore on her husband's home planet:

"You are in for treat, my love. Music, dancing, and delights in a glass quite unlike what can be found on Barsoom."

The maître d' sprang into immediate action when Carter whispered, "Reservation by Edgar Rice Burroughs—"

"Of course, sir!" the maître d' smiled. "Your table will be ready as soon as possible. Meanwhile, would you care to wait in the bar? Please, this way!"

"Pardon!" the maître d' apologized as they entered the cool luminous darkness of the bar just within listening of the orchestra in the ballroom. "The booths are occupied, will those seats at the bar be suitable?"

Carter smiled as he slipped a sawbuck into the man's hand. "That will be fine."

John assisted his wife, clad in a black sheath ankle-length vision of silk, onto the varnished bamboo stool upholstered with a red velvet cushion. The Warlord took the adjacent seat.

The barman, clad in some kind of fanciful gaucho attire, approached. Before the maître d' could say a word, the bartender said to Dejah Thoris. "ID, please."

John Carter barked a laugh, which drew a scowl from his wife. Dejah Thoris imperious demanded:

"What do you mean?"

Carter shooed the mortified maître d' away with a grin. "Let us know when the table is ready." To his wife he gestured to the barkeep who, by this time, realized he'd stepped in it big time. John Carter said:

"He wants to know if you are old enough to have an alcoholic beverage." Carter placed a gentle hand on Dejah Thoris' arm about to raise a wagging finger. Carter said to the barkeep:

"She's my wife, thus legal unless you want to ask for my identification. Tell me ... how old do you think she is?"

The bartender pondered a number of responses, the most appealing was a run for the exit. A bit red-faced, the young man spread his hands in an apologetic manner and attempted a respectful smile:

"I have several ideas but the only trouble is that I hesitate to say you are ten years younger on account of your looks or ten years older on account of your intelligence!"



Edgar Rice Burroughs' physician was seated in a bar when he noticed his patient enter and seat himself at the opposite end to order "Bourbon, neat."

The physician, ignoring all around, spoke harshly to his patient:

"Don't drink that filthy stuff; bourbon is the worst enemy you have."

"True," Burroughs replied, raising the glass to his lips, "but we are commanded by scripture to love our enemies."



Tarzan walked into a bar and told the barkeep he wanted to plan a kegger for his Mangani friends.

"It's time I rewarded them," the ape man said. "they're always doing my bidding and I don't have to pay them anything because I know they'll soon forget about the work I had them do and return to turning over rocks and logs to find delicious grubs and beetles. But I want to make it up to them, even if they'll forget about it soon after."

"We can do that," said the bartender. "I can fix you up with a private room and roll out the best barrel in the house."

"Sounds like a plan," said the ape man.

The big night came and Tarzan led the Mangani into the bar and down the neon-lit hall to the party room. Once they were assembled, they signaled readiness by corporately giving the wild and terrible cry of their people. The bartender dutifully came in, rolling a huge keg.

"I like it," said Tarzan. "It's like the polka—roll out the barrel, we'll have a barrel of fun."

The barkeep smiled, stood the keg on end end and broke it open, allowing two dozen small primates with tails to climb out and scamper around.

"Hey, where's the beer?" asked Tarzan. "I was looking for something more fun than a barrel of monkeys."



Edgar Rice Burroughs and Mark Twain entered an uptown dinner where a free-flowing bar had lubricated the audience to a high pitch. When patrons called for speeches Twain spoke for over twenty minutes and was received with great enthusiasm.

Burroughs immediately followed and said:

"Ladies and gentlemen. Mr. Twain and I made an agreement to trade speeches. He has just delivered mine and I'm grateful for the reception you have accorded it. I regret that I have lost his speech and cannot remember a thing he had to say. The bar remains open..."

He sat down to much applause.