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A Dive Bar Denizen: Portland, Oregon, Monday Night 11/21/23
© 2023 James LaFond
Football had brought in a full crowd of viewers. The Land Lady held open the door for the limping hoodrat. He bore the day’s chow, a single rectangular covered bowl of cardboard filled with burrito ingredients from the food truck across the street at the Other Dive Bar, with extra beans instead of rice. She would tear off the top, use it for her bowl, and hand him the hobo’s share.
A man named James is introduced. He pulls the lame hoodrat in with his big bear paw hand and hugs it, declaring, “Now we are friends forever!”
The emaciated hoodrat, caught up in lumbrous gripes drawled, “That’s good—the alternative feels unappealing.”
It limps to the bar, at the corner, to pick up a pint of lite bright.
To the left is yet another big western man, who looks down at the slithering urban critter from eastern climes, as if wanting conversation. The supposed journalist pretends not to notice.
General conversation among the regulars focuses on the fate of a sister bar named Ship Ahoy, where a more vigorous urban man backed a UHaul truck into the side wall in an unslaked bid for gain.
The big man to the left looks interested down at the rat-faced serpent watering at the River Forget, West of the Garden of Got.
The asphalt ape sits at the table under the TV to eat with his sponsor. Soon done the modest meal, she goes out to smoke. He rises, changes seats for a view of the Eagles versus Chiefs game, reclines, back to door, at the round table. The wicked little lizard has had his fangs drawn and no longer worries about warning or advantage.
The big man leaves the bar, walks over, bends slightly with a big hand on the open chair to the right, and asks, “May I have a seat with you?”
“Sure,” mumbles the eastern imp.
The ill begotten easterner makes no overture of friendship, trying to avoid charting the doomed trajectory of another lost soul.
Eventually the man says, “So, is your girlfriend a Native American?”
“Yes,” it drawls, weary of the bright and lonely for the night.
“Good for you. My wife died. Two girlfriends died since. I’m seventy-six. I suppose you’re younger then me?”
Lured from its selfish lair, the primate-shaped crustacean answers, “Sixty, I just look seventy. Dad and Granddad made it to 62. I’m tranquilizing for my last two years.”
Hefting his beer glass in salute, the hoodrat lied, “Nice ta meet ya, Sir.”
Glasses set down, the big man reached out half of a vast wingspan terminating in a great big hand said, “Rex.”
Rex continued, “Busy drinking myself to death—but it’s not working. I take the bus and walk. Born and raised in Portland. In the Air Force I was an electrical repair technician. I’m not mechanically inclined. Ended up working for the Post Office for 31 years. Sorting mail, it turns out, is what I was born for. It was pleasant, this time of year, to sort and deliver all of those Christmas cards going to children who you knew would smile.”
“What about you—you’re not from Oregon? California?”
“I’m from the east.”
“Baltimore, Maryland.”
“I hear that is an interesting place!”
“You didn’t like it?”
“Not as much as it didn’t like me.”
“What brought you west?”
“Accidents, mostly.”
“How long have you lived here?”
“I don’t. I have stayed in the Pacific Northwest the last four winters. This will be my fifth, Hate willing.”
“How did you pick Portland?”
“It picked me. Then, one day my gimp ass is tired and ducks in here for a beer and my girl there adopted me, picked me out of the line up.”
“Nice coat—where’d you get it,” says Rex.
The slitherous ape nods at the approaching Land Lady and returns, “Her dead boyfriend’s coat. I don’t own one and she’s sick of seeing me in my one black jack.”
Rex smiles, “You are lucky in friends, I see. Me, I’ve tried church and senior groups, bingo…” uncomfortable pause, “How are people in the East?”
“When you hit Chicago they start judging you. By Pittsburgh, they find you wanting. Once you finally arrive on the East Coast, they will run you down on sight just because you aren’t in the cross walk.”
The big man sighs and raises his glass, then notes that an older lady has entered in a wheelchair, rises, arranges her space and makes certain she is parked as the Land Lady supervises in pleasant tones, like one of Santa’s elves.
As the four of us sit, Rex continues, “I’ve just discovered that church people, well, they aren’t that friendly. It’ easier to make friends with people who do this. Of course, I drink too much. I believe in Heaven, I do.”
The Easterner grins, “You are in good company, Rex. What are you drinking?” as he rises and picks up the Land Lady’s glass to get it refilled.
“Oh, I’ve had enough. I need to go after this.”
The Land Lady then asks, “Rex, what are you doing for Thanksgiving?”
“I was going to bake a chicken leg.”
“You don’t have any family?”
“No, I’m seventy-six—won the longevity booby prize and got left behind.”
She then pulled out a notepad from wherever little women keep these things, produces a pen, writes out some information, rises and hands it to Rex.
“Rex, you are welcome to come and visit with us any time after noon. If you need a drive, call this number and somebody will come get you.”
Rex thanked the Lady and the Lizard. As he walked to the bar to cash out she asked, “Should I drive him?”
“He’ll be okay. He takes the bus down to 60th, won’t have to cross the street.”
“That poor man, he lost who, a wife or a girlfriend?”
“Both, in multiple editions, hopefully not all at the same time.”
“At least he accepted the offer. I recall you declining and staying in that cold garage, rather than have dinner with me.”
“Well, I didn’t know how many hobos you had buried under the house with the remarkably fertile flower beds—for instance, this guy with the $500 El Paso coat.”
“Whatever! CrayCray!” judged the Land Lady
-James, Island of Broken Man Toys
Ghost Criminal
harm city to chicongo
when you're food
on combat
songs of aryаs
by the wine dark sea
broken dance
the greatest boxer
your trojan whorse
crag mouth
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