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So I head over to the Iliff Park Saloon (2300 South Chambers Road, Aurora) with the idea of having a nice, quiet happy-hour beer and maybe getting a tattoo at Ill-Mannered Tattoos, the bar's ink parlor that opened last month. But the next thing I know, it's fucking mayhem outside. We're talking at least six cop cars, two fire trucks and a few ambulances. And, oh, yeah — there's a helicopter in the middle of the parking lot.

Turns out that just half an hour earlier, while I was engrossed in a trivia game, some guy in a white mini-van had barreled down Iliff, plowing into cars like it was a pinball game. From where I was sitting, I couldn't see any of the action, and I didn't hear a crash or sirens or anything, but I did notice about six guys running out the door. I'd figured it was a minor fender-bender or something.

But when the entire bar clears, I decide I'd better see what the deal is. That's when I find the helicopter in the parking lot, maybe fifty yards from the bar's front door. The bartender, who's standing outside, tells me what happened: After hitting three cars, the guy driving the van had swerved over the median and struck a tree directly across the street; the crash pushed the engine into the cab of the van. One of the six guys who'd run out right after the crash picks up where the bartender leaves off: He'd gone over to the van right as the cops got there and saw that the driver's eyes were popping out and that he couldn't move because he was pinned between the engine and the seat, so he just kept tapping on the door. And his passenger must have flown over the seat and into the back of the van, because there were boot marks on the ceiling. "His leg wasn't where it should've been," the guy says, and it was squirting blood. Since he'd had been an Army medic, he told the cop that he needed to apply pressure to the wound.

After the helicopter takes off and the ambulances leave, most of the people go back inside the bar. The trivia game resumes, with a question about which German philosopher came up with the theory of Categorical Imperative. I don't have a clue, but two guys who join me outside for a smoke debate whether it's Kant or Nietzsche.

"I thought Kant was French," one guy says, pronouncing his name like "can't." Not to sound holier-than-thou, but if there's one thing I remember from my freshman philosophy class, it's that the dude's name rhymes with "want." And by the way, Kant is the correct answer.

Then I finally remember that the main reason I'd come all the way out to Aurora was to check out the tattoo parlor, which as far as I know is the only tattoo parlor in Colorado that's actually part of a bar. So I go back inside and see that the door to the parlor is just to the right. A sign says that according to state law, a person can't get a tattoo while intoxicated. Since I'm already three beers and a shot into things, I figure I'll come back the next day.

Which I do. The bar is open, but the tattoo parlor is closed. One of the security guys tells me to return the next day, then shows me three tattoos that the resident artist inked.

I return once more on Thursday, only to find that the tattoo parlor is going to be closed for the next few months in order to make some modifications so that the room is up to snuff with Aurora city code. And man, I even have my copy of Charles Bukowski's outstanding Women in my car, since I've been thinking for a decade about getting the cover illustration permanently etched in my forearm. But I guess it can wait a little longer.

Club scout: Fans of Belgian beers can rejoice in the just-opened Cheeky Monk (534 East Colfax Avenue), which serves up a healthy selection of ale as well as food.

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Jon Solomon writes about music and nightlife for Westword, where he's been the Clubs Editor since 2006.
Contact: Jon Solomon