I was sitting in a dark bar on a bright day with a cold drink in front of me and blues on the jukebox that I didn’t recognize, and I was trying to feel good about it. But it was no use. She was gone. Everyone said I should be happy and maybe they were right. She’d done me in good. I fell for everything except the one thing she’d wanted and now I was paying for it. I tried to be brave. But I knew it wouldn’t last. Once I finished my drink and stepped outside into the sun it would all come crashing down. The sun always got me. There was nothing like feeling bad when you knew that everyone else was feeling good.
I wanted to read some Hammett to distract me, but one thing this place wasn’t, was a library. For that I had to go to the men’s room and read the walls. But nobody wrote on bathroom walls anymore.
Then the door opened and everything fell apart. The situation wasn’t real. I was fantasizing, making things up as I waited. I was only imagining that I’d been wronged, that a woman had left me and that I somehow deserved it. Only the bar was real. It was the perfect place for feeling miserable and I wanted some of that for old time’s sake. The place was nearly empty. There was grime on the windows, filtering the sunlight. The barstools were heavy wood and the banquettes were wrapped in dark red leather. A mirror ball hung from a corner of the ceiling, slowly turning, and the light was impossible to read by. It was a room where something should happen. I felt a little cheated that I was only waiting for my wife and step daughter to join me for an early dinner and that everything was okay. I had a good marriage. There were plenty of vegetarian options on the happy hour menu. There wasn’t even a jukebox, just ceiling speakers, and the blues were probably coming from a Pandora station.
What a disappointment. There weren’t going to be any Mafia hits, or old drunks crying at the bar, peeling the labels off their beer bottles with dirty fingernails. It just looked that way.
“Wow, check out this place,” I heard my wife’s voice say from behind me. Her hand touched my back.
I’d had an all right life so far. I’d been looked down on by some and looked up to by others. In this place, on this day, it didn’t seem fair.