Notes From a Dive Bar XXXIII - Wheel of Fortune


MAC spins in for an early visit. He keeps count. 19 dead in 10 years in his shabby hotel. The latest, a blind man stepped into the elevator shaft on the 4th floor. The elevator car was on the 6th. Straight to hell, MAC says. He says a stiff was found sitting on the sofa in the lobby, last year. His hand was stuck in a bag of Doritos.

The bar is dead. MAC and I are watching Wheel of Fortune on TV. I'd like to go on a date with Vanna White, says MAC. The wheel spins. Click, click, click, cl-i-ck, Bankrupt! When Pat Sajak retires, I'll take his job, I say, and you will be my Vanna, pointing my finger at MAC. We look at our lottery tickets.

Skateboarders enter. Men on wheels. Americans love wheels. Wheels are freedom. The wagon wheel; the wheels on the Mustang; the wheels on the Jumbo Jet; the drum in the slot machine; the roller-coaster; the Lazy Susan; the burger bun is round. Americans invented the wheel. No skateboarding in the bar, I shout. And they ignore me, the rebels.

MAC sweeps, I run the final glass wash cycle of the night, plunk the stools on the bar, check no one is dead on the balcony, turn on the alarm, and lock the door. There is a homeless guy in a wheelchair on the corner. He's using one leg to power himself. I think about giving him my lottery ticket but give him money instead. His eyes are flat. I feel fortunate to be alive. MAC cuts off to his hotel. When the sun rolls round again, I hope I see him tomorrow.