“Well isn’t everything more fun with a crazy bitch!?” flies out of the mouth of Mark the merchant marine, as a drunk couple finally stopped quarreling and left in a cab.
“Why yes it is!” laughed Erica the bartender.
Earlier I had taken a nap to put a break between a long day and a social experiment. More than the rest, I wanted to look through the lens of not really feeling like going out, but doing it anyway. Walking in the rain, across the street to the Workers Tavern, washed my face and cleared my head.
The creaking door and wet stained wooden floor greeted me. I eyed and claimed a stool at the bar. Moments later a guy (who could be Neil Diamond’s son) sat down next to me and said, “You a fisherman?”
“Oh, I’m a merchant marine. Anything exciting going on in here?”
As a quarreling couple brought their issues back inside from an herbal smoke break, she plopped down on the vacant stool between me and Mark.
“Really…Really! You’re really going to do this – Now?!” barked the guy. “The cab is here.”
Silently she stared forward while I ignore them. He moved closer toward me while pounding her with various forms of “Really!” As suddenly she pushed back from the bar and marched outside, followed by her guy.
In the following silence I sat and watched drops slide off my beer and run into carvings on the bar. As the words ‘Toys for Tots’ filled I noticed a sign behind the bar, “Those caught carving on the bar will be fined $100 – funds to be donated to Toys for Tots.”
Three guys rushed in like waves and landed on empty stools on the other side of the bar. The older one seemed to lead, whether by blood or air he acted like their father. After about an hour of noisy conversation with other locals the muscular one who’d been staring at me walked over and put a heavy hand on my shoulder.
“We’ve gotta stop all of this shit…” and something about “..Paris” was all that I could understand.
Father figure grabbed him and the other guy by the shirt and ushered them toward the backdoor. He growled at them, “If we can get out of here without a fight – I can go snuggle with my wife.”
Through the evening I made eye contact with a couple of senior locals, a smiling logger and a silent disheveled Santa. Their eyes reflected a weathered ‘Seen it all before’ look, quietly they sat and sipped.
Four hours, four beers and a shot of Crown later – I’d lived in another dive bar story.
I enjoyed the experience of another writing workshop “Dive Bars and Dark Stories” on Friday the 13th November 2015.
Matt Love lives and teaches in Astoria, Oregon.