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.


Excerpt from Ordinary Handsome. Available at

Free downloadable Kindle app also available.

Published by

Steven Baird

Writer, poet

2 thoughts on “The Handsome Hotel”

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