April 2, 1980
He stares into blank space, I stare at him, and the dancer glares at both of us for not staring at her – and not tipping.
This is one the dancers who really needs people to look at her, and get peeved at me for my constantly writing.
“Why don’t you got to the library if you want to write?” she asked during one of my previous bouts with her.
“The library isn’t open this time of night,” I told her.
“Then go home,” she barked, only to get the owner – a guy I call Wolfman because he looks like a wolfman with his beard – to bark at her for chasing away business, after which she shut up about it but continued to glare.
This is my second night in a row here, unusual even for me, partly because I don’t really have the cash to keep coming, but can’t stay away.
I can’t concentrate when I’m not in a bar and when the band isn’t working, I need to come here to study or feel at home.
And then there is this guy seated across the bar from me for the second night in a row, dressed in a wrinkled suit and a worn brown leather brief case on the bar next to his drink – next to his too many drinks, staring into space, mumbling something about his job and the faulty something or other he screwed up, and how his life is one big mess, and some such stuff like that, something, too, about his trophy wife too young for him, who doesn’t miss him because she’s off at some fancy social club with her friends and her lovers.
When he was sober last night, some of this makes sense, but tonight, he just mumbles and stares, and the most I can get out of him is some level of guilt, having had lovers of his own, but that he still loves here.
Endings are often terrible because they linger. I’m still not over my ex-wife, even though I haven’t seen her in years, and probably never will be, partly because real love doesn’t end or die, it just doesn’t always have a chance to continue growing.
This guy tried to fill the empty space with other women – mostly prostitutes who give him time, but no sympathy, and a few other things like VD he didn’t want, and now he’s here taking up space at the bar, creating a void around him that swallows up other people, like me, like the dancer, even Wolfman looks annoyed enough to risk chasing his business away.
And me, I worse than he is, staring at him, jotting down these notes, trying to capture a reality I know he wishes he didn’t have to live, and I know just how he feels and still I do it, secretly glad that this time it’s him instead of me.