I approached the advertising door that beckoned liquid promises from within the belching bowels of the aged establishment. The sign above the door used to have a name emblazoned on it, but the only clear remaining word is BAR in crinkled red letters. I pulled open the squalling door, pushed past the sour scent of drunken spills.
Rusty people wilted in the semi-dark while they sat on uncomfortably broken dreams that smell faintly of piss, farts, and painful yesterdays. I tucked into one of the two booths in the corner which garnered an eye roll from the overweight but still attractive bartender. Her bleached blonde hair required a touch less hairspray and a bit more dye. She rested her cigarette on the edge of the ashtray she shared with a hunched old man in graying overalls. He blended in with the dust as if he purposefully wore camouflage to hide from himself in the large mirror he sat across from.
“What’ll it be, sweetheart?” She asked with red lipstick staining her front tooth but not her lips. There is evidence of why on her cup and on the filter of her temporarily left behind addiction. She half attempted a smile.
“Beer, whatever you have on tap.” I reply as I skinned my coat from my shoulders. “And a bag of those chips.” I pointed at the display behind the bar.
“Honey, you don’t want those. I’ve worked here for twelve years and those have never been changed. In fact, I don’t think we’ve ever sold a one in here, ain’t that right, Bob?” She called over her shoulder. Bob takes a drag of his cigarette in reply. “I’ll just get you a beer.” She sauntered away.
Neon colored misspelled signs flicker reminders that hope comes in brown bottles and icy mugs of temporary happiness. A middle aged business man at the far end of the bar tapped a cigarette from the pack on the bar in front of him. He punctuated his inhale of the silver blue smoke with a cough; a slow suicide sparked to life with a touch of fiery death.
A pair of younger men, blue collar workers discussed the murmur of sports flailing in the air. The scores trickle across the screen with occasional hoots from the duo. The only thing that changes in their conversation are the names of the players and scores depending on the season.
The bartender slings a double shot down to the businessman, tops off the sports duos mugs, cracks a bottle of cheap beer for Bob, delivers a frothy mug of ale to my table which she rests on a cardboard coaster with the worn face of a woman holding mugs. I pay for the beer, give a generous tip so she wouldn’t roll her eyes at me any more, and settled back in the booth to wait.