The Dive

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A busted exit sign above the door invites nobody to leave. The windows are barred, and the panes themselves are painted over with tar. No question as to what this place is for.

The regulars all stare into their drinks, lamenting futures, forgetting pasts. Bar stools are split at every seam. The Tavern Rules say “No Cussing,” though no one hardly speaks.

They’re married to their grief, you think. But here you are: Jack Daniels and your worries. The same as any drunk who will not lay the blame on himself: drowning instead in whisky and beer.

A man with roadmap eyes searches his pockets for jukebox change and comes up short. Instead, the ceiling fan keeps rhythm while each dead minute tumbles off the High Life clock. “It’s

closing time!” Time for another drink. The barkeep brings it over, snatches the cash, flicks his cigarette and drops the ash into the rusted pit of a clogged-up sink.

This dive, this glass, these greasy fingerprints, they’re each a part of something very old: a need to slow the way a story’s told to keep it all from making too much sense.