Notes From a Dive Bar XXIX


I head to work, a little drunk, a little high, what other job allows you to do that? Maybe an airline pilot, I don't know. The sidewalks sizzle. Look who's here? A mermaid lying on the ground outside the bar. Her eyes swimming. Hair locked around her face. Lips cresting, and the mermaid's song is beautiful, she's singing. Then drowned by the siren's call, fire, crime, the neighborhood's tune. A sleeping bag tail, but no ocean in sight, washed out on the concrete, a tin cup for quarters lie before her, the sound of my silver drops. Little treasure there.

On the plank, I pour and pour, pull and pull, three sheets to the wind for some. Like Tom. His veins tarred with Jack. Years on the boozy sea. Soon to be the Dead Sea. Or maybe he can be saved and de-liver-ed. Maybe he'll get a new one. Transplant his personality while you're at it, doctor.

You talk baloney, he says.

Terry has two heads. One for me and one for them. For me, smiles, chuckles, jolly good show. For them, grimace, growls, veiled threats. They complain. Ignore him, I say. He's a monster of the deep. A terrible terrifying behemoth. And they leave, annoyed, and I yell at Terry, You evil bastard. You're killing all the fish. How am I going to make any tips? But what does Terry care. He's the great white whale, gulping down everything, booze, drugs, pizza, and people.

Made it safely through the passage, perhaps a little drunker, a little higher, the mermaid's song is gone as I leave the dive. Beneath the sidewalk, a sparkling sea, a water of life, through the cracks I can see it. Maybe she's there.