I was already there, two drinks into the morning and outside of the Star Bar when I saw Hank tumbling out of the bus. He was dressed for work and I was smoking a cigarette outside with my third beer in there covered by a napkin, and I puffed quickly. Hank didn't see me and he likely didn’t see anyone; he was in bad shape. I watched him take a few steps and three things were apparent. He was still half drunk but mostly hung over from the night before, he was broke, and he had no plans on going to work.

Hard to blame him on any accounts.

Quickly, I tossed the cigarette and went back inside, taking the napkin from the top of my draught and Hank walked in, he looked like death. Tony had opened the place and was already passed out on the other end of the bar, Francisco and Teddy were arguing about baseball, and Hank and me made five. Hank took a seat next to mine, I could tell he was broke by the way he walked. I had some money.

“Hey, sweetheart, get Hank a beer on me.”

“Thanks,” Hank said. It took him a while to get a little bit straight. “The openers are all here,” he said, referring to us five, the hard core drinkers, the drunks, the hopeless.

“Just got here,” I said. I was lying out of kindness.

“Thanks for the beer. Thank you too, Lolite,” he said and raised his glass to both of us. He drank and I drank, and Hank looked better about halfway through that first glass. The whole world looks better after that first beer. The only difference between Hank and me is that I had to get there earlier. We had been on both sides of that necessity.

Lolite is the morning girl, Monday through Friday. They’re all Filipinas, morning, noon, and night, no one knows their real names. They’re only nice to us for the tips. Otherwise, we’re just a bunch of God Damned drunks. Lolite spends the morning on the side of the bar with Tony, because he isn’t a problem. Hank and me, we’re problems, so are Francisco and Teddy. Sometimes they fight, sometimes they don’t. I don’t fight much, but I don’t stop any of them, either.

“Haven’t seen you in here for a few days, Hank,” I said. “Been working?”

“Took the day off. What have I missed?”

“Not much,” I said. “Some guy walked in the other morning and gave Teddy a hard time. Teddy finally swung on him, but he missed. Cops came. They were both gone by then.”

Hank grinned for the first time that morning. “Guy never came back?”

“No. Not yet. Yesterday, some preacher came in here, telling all of us that Jesus would save us. That was a hoot. Tony chased him out, finally. Threatened to kick his butt all the way to the Pearly Gates.”

Laughing, Hank looked back at Tony who was still passed out. “Dumb bastard looks so peaceful.”

Hank then looked up thoughtfully. “Christianity. The belief that over 2,000 years ago, a Jewish man who was executed turned into a zombie and can grant immortality if one symbolically eats of his flesh and drinks of his blood and accepts him as one’s master in order to cast demons from the souls of all of humanity because thousands of years before he was born a woman who came from a rib followed the advice of a talking snake and ate some fruit from an enchanted tree.”

That was when I knew that Hank had his groove back. And then it happened; I smelled her perfume before she even walked in. When you spend enough time in a bar in the mornings, with the drunks and the desperate, you can have your eyes closed and know when someone new enters the place. Everyone looked over at once. She wasn’t a working girl, we knew all of the hookers, and she wasn’t the prettiest thing either. But she was enough. She sat in the middle of the bar, next to no one, and ordered a drink. I got Hank and me two more beers and covered mine with a napkin and excused myself, I needed another cigarette outside.

I puffed on that cigarette, slowly, while counting how many more drinks it would take in there before another fight broke out. Reaching into my pocket I pulled out a twenty dollar bill and thought that maybe that would be just enough, and maybe I would be drunk by the time it was done. The sun was getting too hot to keep me going outside and waiting for it. Sometimes all it took was some broad with nothing better to do than to get us drunks in a fight over her. It wasn’t even noon, and I wondered what would happen next.

More like this:

Comments

MsGrant April 24, 2010 @ 9:47 p.m.

The Star Bar!! This is sooooo good. The Star Bar is where you go to spend your SS checks. It had a moment in time of being cool when hipsters thought it was great to be slumming with the real sideshow of humanity. We all know how that goes. Boredom ensues, and the Stingarees open up to a new economy and so on and so on. One time during my arrogance I sat down to a cheap cocktail at the Star only to have my bartender's lunch be besieged by cockroaches. She ate as if nothing happened. I've never gone back.

0

CuddleFish April 25, 2010 @ 12:31 a.m.

Oh yuck!

So you know this Star Bar, MsG? Where is it located?

0

SDaniels April 25, 2010 @ 2:38 a.m.

'She ate as if nothing happened. I've never gone back.'

Wooooooo. [severe grimace]

0

SDaniels April 25, 2010 @ 2:41 a.m.

"When you spend enough time in a bar in the mornings, with the drunks and the desperate, you can have your eyes closed and know when someone new enters the place."

This is the best sentence! I agree, good read.

"It wasn’t even noon, and I wondered what would happen next."

This is the lyingest. Can't have that attitude among the desperate :)

0

CuddleFish April 25, 2010 @ 7:22 a.m.

There's a strange vibe about this thread.

0

MsGrant April 25, 2010 @ 8:40 a.m.

E Street, between 4th and 5th. Go check it out. Seriously, it is a different world. They keep it super dark inside during the day. My bar days are long over, but The Star Bar held a strange fascination.

0

CuddleFish April 25, 2010 @ 9:21 a.m.

Well girl, it couldn't have been much worse than the club I used to spend much of my time in. I should say, in my groupie days, as we've discussed before, I was far-ranging in my travels, and when I worked downtown, there were some nicer places to hang out at after work. But when I got down to serious clubbing, I used to go to this place in National City, the Trophy Lounge. Serious jammed pack booty music blasting meat market, waitresses all Filipinas with boob jobs in daisy dukes, WestPac widows grinding it on the floor with sailors on leave, OMG crazy drama.

I remember when I was working on a government project some years later and this nice older man and I were in his car going to a training site and we drove by the Trophy and he pointed at it and said, Don't ever go in there, nice ladies like you would hate it.

0

SDaniels April 25, 2010 @ 10:26 a.m.

The comment thread has a wierd vibe, or the story has a wierd vibe?

Both Cuddle and MsG should also try their hands at this kind of prose, e.g. @ posts 2, 7, 8. Of course, I also look forward to more from this writer ;)

0

SDaniels April 25, 2010 @ 10:29 a.m.

"we drove by the Trophy and he pointed at it and said, Don't ever go in there, nice ladies like you would hate it."

;)

0

nan shartel April 25, 2010 @ 12:01 p.m.

great write!!!

great background Grantie...SDaniels and Cuddles

when i was that young i used to party in Tijuana or Ensenada (at Hussongs dance on the tables)

where i could dance like a maniac...work up a lovely moist attractive sweat all over so that my clothes would cling...watch the men smile and snicker and say obscene things to me in Spanish

drink cheap beer with a shot of Tequila for free

and just generally "raise hell"

my gawd that was a long time ago!!!

0

CuddleFish April 25, 2010 @ 12:50 p.m.

Nan, girl, my sister from another mother!!!

Yep, the club days were a long time ago for me, too. But I sure do remember them well. :)

0

nan shartel April 25, 2010 @ 12:56 p.m.

i wish i'd known u when Cuddles...we could have had SOOOOOO MUCHHHH FUNNNNN!!!

0

CuddleFish April 25, 2010 @ 1:04 p.m.

Hey, we are both still a lot of fun!!!!!!!!!!! :))

0

MsGrant April 25, 2010 @ 4:51 p.m.

I would not be surprised if we shared a bartop dance. You two would be seriously fun to hang out with. Dangerous, but fun....

"Serious jammed pack booty music blasting meat market, waitresses all Filipinas with boob jobs in daisy dukes, WestPac widows grinding it on the floor with sailors on leave, OMG crazy drama."

"where i could dance like a maniac...work up a lovely moist attractive sweat all over so that my clothes would cling...watch the men smile and snicker and say obscene things to me in Spanish"

Hose me down!!

0

CuddleFish April 25, 2010 @ 7:11 p.m.

Oh yeah, we could party down, nan and MsG and me!!!! :))

0

Sign in to comment

Join our
newsletter list

Enter to win $25 at Broken Yolk Cafe

Each newsletter subscription
means another chance to win!

Close