So I drove by this bar everyday. It seemed like a dive bar, a watering hole of sorts. A faded mural on the desert baked adobe walls wasn't expertly done, but someone invested their time a long while ago. I decided one day to stop into this bar to see what, if anything was happening inside.
Turns out, this was the bar where broken dreams went to lick their wounds - and died of infection.
I drove in, though had to try twice to slowly roll over the heaved asphalt that was as tall as the curb and then dropped back down to the broken and nearly eroded parking lot. I parked more on gravel then pavement.
Walking up to the doorway, I couldn't help but notice the exterior wall had pock marks like construction-grade acne, marring the faded wall mural. The eaves showed rot with flaking paint that had you supposing the lead content of. Bracing myself a little, I opened the door.
Upon entering, my eyes were unsure which way to not look, the ceiling or the floor. I started staring at the ceiling, which reminded me a bit of my bathroom floor. When I didn't pick up my dirty clothes. For a few weeks. There were faded t shirts, neon bike shorts, stretched tank tops, all stapled up there and having gathered a fine layer of dust - which was impressive being as they were, as mentioned, on the ceiling. There were also tattered bras, dingy panties, ragged boxers, each tacked up with varying degrees of success. I tilted my head to the left to avoid a particularly clumsily hung bra strap. To avoid this underwhelming decor, I cast my eyes down, and I became accutely aware of why the ceiling looked dusty. There wasn't any more room for dust on the floor. The cracked wooden floor wasn't so much visible as suggested beneath the layers of dirt, some places with apparent broom bristle streaks confirming that someone, once, did try to sweep it up. Perhaps the gravity was too strong. and that is why they gave up. Or perhaps the spilled beer had turned it into a cement-like adherent.
In an attempt to move occupy my mind with something else besides the dinginess, I went to the bar. I do believe my jaw dropped at the woman behind the counter. It was in dumbfounded astonishment. How this human being, a girl in her 30's, could be so comfortable and conversational while wearing just flip flops, a faded red bra, and the saddest little stretched out navy blue g string this world has known. She wasn't in great shape, with pudge on the hips and stretch marks on her sides, but it was the utter lack of her trying to 'own' the git up that baffled me. It was like she was just wearing a uniform assigned to her by the boss. Surely she didn't choose this for herself? She was very pleasant, I will give her full credit there, but then she explained to me they only do double shots in the mixed drinks, which is why my mason jar of whiskey coke smelled like turpentine and cost 9 bucks. I smiled, tipped the dollar I always do for a drink, and asked for quarters for one of the three pool tables. I was informed to use the one on the left, as the one on the right didn't work great and there was already some people on the center table.
I set down my burned drink and spent some time looking for a straight cue with the tip firmly attached. I finally found one that met 1 of the 2 criteria. I put in my quarters, pressed in the lever and heard the balls start to roll out. I viewed through the scratched window and so no more balls in the pen and let go the quarter slide. I went to grab the triangle and realized it was missing. There wasn't one at the far right table, either. I asked the couple if I could borrow theirs, and they happily let me use it. I put the balls into the triangle to rack and came up one ball short. Hmmm.. I felt up the chute as far as my hand could reach and found no 8 ball. I checked the other table and, shrugging, just grabbed the cue ball off that table to stand in for my missing 8 ball. I broke and played sloppily, musing to myself. I scratched almost immediately. In waiting for the cue to return, the table made some horrible thunking noises, and out came my cue ball. And another cue ball. And my 8 ball! All I could think was, "And this is the table that works?"
After killing 10 minutes hitting the balls around with a crooked stick, I went out onto the patio. It was hot, and there was more dust here, legitimate considering we were in the desert and this was outside. I struck up a conversation with an older guy who, I found out, did Union and odd construction type jobs across the country. While we were talking, the bartender flip=flopped over and asked the man for a smoke. He smiled and offered her one. She commented on how someone was cleaning their weed on the table out there and that she wished people would clean up after themselves. I thought to myself, "How does someone get concerned with weed chaff but not the general dirt and debris?" She then commented on how she thought the gal that just came in was 86ed from the bar but she couldn't remember. I thought to myself, "How does someone get 86ed from a place like this?" The bartender finished her bummed smoke and went inside, the little string of her thong looking lost and tired amidst the ample flesh. I was about to leave when the previous mentioned, possibly 86ed gal approached the guy I was talking to and also asked for a smoke. Her words were slurred, even though it was only 6:00pm, and she teetered a little on her heeled shoes. She was rather unkempt and looked like she had slept in her car. The man, generous soul that he was, let her have a smoke. While she lit it she inquired, "Now be honest, does the back of my hair look good?" The front and sides of her hair looked like she was practicing felting wool, and the back didn't look any better, but the guy and I exchanged glances, and both said, "Yeah, it looks fine." What else do you say? "No, you should put your other finger in the electrical socket," just seems like it would be riling up a rattlesnake.
As she teetered away, I said farewell to the guy, set my undrank mason jar on the sticky counter and left behind the under-dressed but pleasant bartender, the broken pool tables with their crooked sticks, the dirty clothes decor. I walked across the wood floors with their rock-like accumulation of dirt. I went across the remnants of a parking lot and drove ever so slowly over the heaved entrance onto the main road. I knew I was never coming back to this sad little world.