A seat in a bar I've heard spoken of as a good place
pine panneled, well-lit, the usual temple shrine of bottles
smokers in an outdoor sitting area sounding drunk even though it's only 9
bartender's cautious, never seen me around here before, gets my beer
and it's not long before he probes discretely with a question or two
artfully revealing a mutual friend, a regular, who sometimes comes in just after closing
and they talk, drink and listen to jazz until early morning...
A patron in his sixties cracks a joke about nurses,
moves in closer, tells me he was a tunnel rat in Vietnam,
and he's got a girlfriend with a smart-ass son in his 30s
who thinks it's funny to jump out and startle him at every opportunity
this last time he did so with a kitchen knife in hand which prompted
my new friend to go out to his car and get his Ka-Bar
which he then brought back into the house and asked sonny boy
if he wouldn't like to be killed with it,
his girlfriend apparently didn't understand.
At the same time, two guys are arguing down the bar,
"She's got MS, asshole. That's a terrible disease."
"Yeah? She's got BS too. You should stay the fuck away from her"
"Your talking shit about someone with a disability"
"Look, just because she's disabled doesn't mean she's not an asshole"
"You been drinking Jack and Cokes for six hours. I can tell by your mood"...
Turns out sonny boy drowned in a rip tide
off a Boston area beach soon after, a risk taker,
some people just don't understand what they're fucking with,
and the bartender fills me in on his brush with the Russians in Germany
during the Cold War 70's and he tosses out the names of several other people we
know in common between pouring his customers drinks and weighing in on the
character of the chick with MS.
I've been here 20 minutes.
We three shake hands, I've got to go pick up my daughter.