The Handsome Hotel

The place fills up about 4 o’clock in the afternoon. Not to-the-rafters full, that doesn’t happen until around eight, but full enough to keep me and the boy busy pouring beers and refilling shots. The men here, they like to drink.

A couple of the regulars, they’re on government assistance and ain’t ashamed of it. Brag about it, usually. One of them – that would be Gus – he’s not married. No mystery there. And Stanley, he’s got himself a wife, but I don’t guess I know how or why. I can barely stand him in my place, never mind his poor milksop wife who has to endure him the other eighteen hours of the day. A waste of spirit, he is.

I don’t know; some folks are born stupid and sorry, but manage to keep ahead of everyone else. I try not to consider it too much. It’s like the law of gravity: it’s there, but that don’t mean I have to understand it for it to work.

I do understand what draws men here: the need to tamp down a hard day of nothing with a cold glass of something. After a scalding wind grabs you by the shirt collar, there’s nothing like a blessed cool place to settle in.

But they also come in for another reason, one they ain’t quite aware of, one that’s just on the fringe of their thinking: to forget they’re dying. They’re dying in a used up town, doing things that don’t amount to spit, but doing them anyway. It’s like they smell themselves rotting from the inside. They think they smell the dry-bone dirt and the watery pig manure on their pant cuffs. What they really smell is their own tripe. And I’m not making an exception of myself. Only difference is, I know it. If things were different, I’d be sallying up to the other side of the bar.

OrdinaryHandsomeII

Excerpt from Ordinary Handsome. Available at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00P46ZPA0

Free downloadable Kindle app also available.

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