Notes From a Dive Bar XIIII


The neighborhood in the wee small hours. I leave the bar drunk. Only the finest cognac. I want more. I know where to go. The streetlights hum. But nobody looks up around here. Best to keep the eyes focused down. You might fall over humanity. There is a sleeping bag. It's writhing. What's inside is trying to get out like a butterfly ready to leave the cocoon and fly away into the freedom of the night, to escape the gravity of living on the sidewalk, all stained and cracked where lives fall through, trodden down, without home.

I knock on the window. I know they are in there. After hours. Other bartenders and their guest list. 3 a.m. then 4 a.m. and no need to invade a country when all the fuel you need is here. We're sucking up the boozy gas and rising like hot-air balloons. But I shouldn't have eaten those greasy Lays potato chips. And now it's getting sloppy. Two are making out in the corner on the floor, writhing like larvae, and I put New Life by Depeche Mode on the juke box.

Someone says, Jake died. We all drop a few rungs. He owned a bar. Lung disease. He never smoked, unless you count the smoke of others. It's still dark outside. The f*cking cognac tastes off. So much for the sour grape. So much for the troops of the Dionysian crusade, all orgiastic, until the final press of exhaustion. We leave. The hint of the sun now in the skyline. Night bartenders never see the rise of the day. Never see the birth. And I notice the sleeping bag has gone.