I came to write, but I find myself in new surroundings with the sound of hypnotizing horns and guitar licks in the background; the lighting is dim. There’s a craft show on the coffee lounge side where my usual table now hosts a pile of crocheted hats; I bought a rust colored piece called "The Phoebe" even though I'm not much of a hat person. It has a big pom pom. So I’m working at a counter on the “tap” side of things. The glow of a Budweiser neon sign reflects off my screen, shining a red tint on my thumbs as they rhythmically touch the space key. I consider swapping my hot cup for a cold glass and giving in to the temptation of the “1 credit - 25¢” flashing to my left. Maybe it’s my lucky day.
“What’re ya writing today, G?”
“A blog post. Maybe some poetry.”
The owner smiles and walks toward the front window with a 12-foot ladder. Into the blinding light of what feels like the first February sunshine, he and the ladder disappear. My concentration returns to the images below and atop my bifocal line, and the view is more than I expect. Bottles of varying shapes and sizes rub up against their smooth labels, as patrons converse above the horizontal formica; side by side on swivel stools, their bodies mimic the bottles that mimic a city street of bungalows with barely a gap to ensure privacy. I don’t mean to listen, but it’s hard not hear the exploits of bellowing strangers. I’m sure their stories will play tricks on my dreams tonight. Maybe I have a new narrator for tomorrow’s flash fiction project.
I’ve never met the bartender; I only know the baristas. My initial impression is that he reminds me of a young Peter Himmelmann. I don’t know what a young Peter Himmelmann looks like, mind you, but for some reason or another—maybe it’s the eyes—I imagine a gentle soul with depth and heart. We get to talking about New Orleans, music, and a possible relocation to Portland. I can’t relate, but I can appreciate. It’s become my life’s motto. Maybe I need a drink after all.
I’ve been here for hours. Some people might view it as a waste of time because I never wrote that blog post, and I only tweaked an old poem, never wrote anything new. I could have been at the grocery store, could have caught up on phone calls or done the bills or figured out a plan for dinner. All that stuff would have been productive, more productive than sitting at a local bar, typing away at a keyboard where a Budweiser neon sign reflects off the screen. Maybe. Maybe not.