t’s been another one of those days that take everything you got and a little bit more. You’re walking down rain-wrought streets, inner city symphony and you’re oh so weary. Too weary to go home and face your four walls. Your stack of bills, dusty rusted life. You just want to take a break from all these worries.
So you tuck in here, following a sign, the hand pointing you downward a short flight of steps. You reach a door, thick, wood hardened by time and salt. There’s a small pane of glass cut into it, frosted, but when you lean your forearm against it you see light and colour.
You imagine making this your place. Putting in your time, coming every day, day after day until you can use words like Regular and Usual. You’ll pull up a stool, put a foot on the rail and a pint will be waiting. You’ll get relationship advice from the bartender. You’ll banter with the barbed-wire gargling, heart of gold waitress. You’ll swap war stories with the resident experts. You’ll see that your troubles are all the same. You’ll be balm for each other’s pain.
It’s cold out here, so you push through the door, into warmth and noise. It’s everything you pictured. Dark oiled bar like a brass-railed schooner on a terrazzo sea.
Only, it’s empty. Nobody shouts your name at your arrival. No one returns from a game of darts in the back to buy you a round.
There are two college kids in ball caps, sitting in a booth watching the game on the teevee. They don’t even notice you. They’re not glad you came. It’s just another bar full of old glory gone sour in the taps. You just want to get away.
Remember when you were a minipop, and you saw that film, you know, the one you loved that never had a sequel? Well, let's say it did. And it was just like you imagined it, only a little bit worse.