Who even knows the mystery?

The Columbus Chronicles, episode 4

 

We can still smoke in the bar

a relief for the reprobates

Pretty soon the pine smell is obliterated and a

blue haze floats just above our heads

We’ve become animated, my barfly friends and me

outside the sun creeps down the west side of the street

and brightens the inside just barely

we play liar’s poker, crack peanuts so stale

the shells are rubber pellets

popcorn is fresh, though

The woman with the Lucy eyelashes and smeared lipstick

laughs out loud with a bray that donkeys envy

I see black molars and bits of popcorn falling out of her mouth

A younger guy, maybe 25. slips off his stool and staggers to

the men’s room.  We laugh and catcall at his stumbling

silently vow to make sure we don’t do the same thing

After all, it’s only 7 am and real people that do real jobs

are prancing down the sidewalk

and we aren’t there

The mystery continues

This is the third piece in the series “The Columbus Chronicles”

 

The guy on my left a couple of stools away smells like

aftershave, the strong and cheap kind that comes

in a pickle bucket.  He apparently bathes in it.

Not as bad as what I imagine the little guy on his left smells like

that dude looks like he was put through a wire winder

his hair isn’t curly, isn’t kinky, isn’t anything but

black springs that have been stretched beyond their capacity

and they are just. . . there  His muscles are thin and visible under

his rayon knit polo,  a topo map of hard living

He drinks whiskey with water on the side

he sips and talks and his voice rumbles like a diesel

truck, one of the ones that rattle over the potholes outside in the not-empty

not-busy street

My sour draft is cold, at least

but the taste is perfectly hideous

I consider quitting drinking for the hundredth time

The mystery, part 2

The Columbus Chronicles, Pt. 2

The bar reeks of pine cleaner and cigarettes, a smell that puts off

all but the most dedicated drinkers

fluorescent lights are dull blue grey and look remarkably like

a hospital waiting room

It could be a waiting room, I guess

A waiting to die room

The bar feels sticky from thousands of quick swipes with a

dirty bar towel   The man next to me orders a PBR

at 50 cents, he can afford a few of them, I think

judging by the five spot he fingers

The rest of us spread out, but not too far

people who are too far away are suspect, more so if they order

something exotic or imported

“might be a terrorist” is the unspoken ripple through the rest of us

We remember 9/11.  It is fresh forevermore in this dive

We joke with the perpetually tired bartender, his shift made bearable

by sips of vodka and 7-Up.  He chugs coffee in between, wiping, talking

bantering with those of us who are functional

Touch the mystery

The Columbus Chronicles

At 6 am I watch them, the men, one woman

They stand on the sidewalk in front of the alcove and

they don’t talk much but their bowed heads and their

shuffling feet, cigarettes puffed quickly, speak to

not who they are but what they are

They are thirsty

They are anticipating liquid breakfast

They are uneasy from a night spent dancing

and drinking and making connections with ghosts

They get out of bed with a mighty thirst to ease a

banal existence.  I’m not dead yet, might as well drink

They look down at the sidewalk and tap their heels or shake their heads

an unconscious gesture, shaking off regret, depression, lost chances

but the “Open” neon sign lights up, the door unlocks

and all is right with the world for just a few hours