How many nights have I walked these streets, boots clunking against the pavement, snow crunching every few feet. Thoughts in my head shattered by the glance of a passer by. Each of us wondering what reason could the other possibly have to be out on a night like this.
If only they knew.
A cross street stops me as I suddenly recognize the soft glow and low rumbling tempo of some long forgotten Springsteen song. At least I thought it had been forgotten, until now.
I step off a curb and barely keep my balance against the ice beneath me, cleverly hidden by a fresh dusting of virgin snow. The walk is familiar to me, narrow street . . . few cars . . . a five stair ascent . . . the door which opens out instead of conveniently inward. Always warm . . . and that smell, stale cigarettes and even staler booze. Who could resist? Or forget. And why would they?
I mosey on up to the bar, yup, mosey, I always wanted to say that. And now that I have, I have no idea why. Anyway, there I am at the bar, I push aside a stool as I have no desire to sit, at least not yet. The bartender looks my way, nods and then proceeds to completely ignore me. A little game he likes to play, to always remind you he is in control here. Nothing shall transpire in his establishment unless he first sets the ball rolling.
“I thought I told you never to come back in here?”
Control . . .
“Umm, yeah, you did, but I thought maybe you had changed your mind by now. It’s been two days. People change.”
“Hang on a second. KENNY! watch the bar, I’ll be right back. Come with me.”
Shit, what’s this all about? I follow him down a hallway to a back room filled with empty beer boxes, each labeled crudely with a specific month and year. This Must be his office.
“Sit down jag off.”
“Well, since you put it so nicely…”
“Look, that shit that happened the other night, not a big deal. I can get over that. Problem is, I’ve been hearing some pretty twisted shit about you and I’m not liking what I’m hearing. I don’t need your kind in here.”
“Man, I’ve been coming in here almost every night for the last two years, why the fuck is there suddenly a problem?”
‘What are you talking about?”
“What do mean?”
“I work here seven nights a week, three hundred sixty five and I have never seen you in here before the other night.”
“Man, I don’t know what you have been smoking but I moved out here almost two years ago and I’ve been in here all the time. There’s been a couple nights you and me got into some pretty deep conversation. Remember that chick from the Circle K you were talking to me about last week?”
“Oh shit, that’s you?”
“Umm, yeah, what’s wrong with you man?”
“I don’t know, fuck. I think it’s these new meds they got me on. It’s fucking me all up. Don’t tell anybody about this, alright?”
“Yeah man, no problem. Just try to lighten up a little, huh? You’re fucking tense.”
“Alright, it’s cool, what are ya drinkin’?”
“Captain and diet.”
“That I remember, all that fucking rum you drink, the diet pop isn’t going to save you.”
“Calories brother, calories.”
It’s funny how we try to see things differently through a four dollar glass of something. A lot of it just comes down to time. And time is not on my side, not anymore.