A nameless bartender works in a declining Hollywood bar. Morbidly amused by the decay of his surrounding, he watches the patrons fall into their nightly oblivion, making notes for his novel. In the hope of uncovering their secrets and motives, he establishes tentative friendships with the regulars, including Merlin, psychic of dubious ability and sinister intent; Ignacio, a pathological liar who lives with his aunt and makes his own leather clothing; Junior, an ex-college football star turned crack addict who carries a machete blade in his pants; and a once-famous child actor, his baby face now red and bloated. But as his tenure at the bar continues, the bartender begins to serve himself more often than his customers. Trapped by his habits and loneliness, he realizes he will not survive if he doesn't break free of the bar. And so he hatches a plan of escape, and his only chance at redemption.
Ablutions is a classic tale of addiction and its consequences, and an often comic twist on the novel. It is boldly unconventional in form, but so beautifully crafted, and written in such a seductive, over-the-shoulder voice that it pulls you instantly into its world.