Its chandeliers are hanging by the roof miserably, tied by thin and delicate knots, strikingly lopsided; yet illuminating the room, keeping things in place, guiding lost ones to the correct path, like an old man of the house. I put a strange amount of trust in it, when I stroll past the goblets; toppled upside down adjacent to the wine cellar, over what seems like tipsy arbors—like everyone else here tonight.
The brewery on the sixth main, where I gulped an enormous amount last night, mimicked a similar décor; wooden counters, beige wallpapers and amber pedestal lights, except it did not have a soul. It did not correct itself from unscrupulous inanities. It let glasses and bottles smash; on the ground, on the table, on the bar counter and on your head.
Humans did it, most would argue, but the vibe I felt, said it all. The place not only wanted all that to happen but also put a scandalous plan behind it. Perhaps it did that every night; snitched on people, left them bruised, robbed their identities. Or perhaps, it did that when a stranger—like me—invaded its territory. It ambushed him like a predator in disguise. I say so, because my freshly stitched forehead tell me to, in retrospect.
But here, where I stand right now, the bar stool, the couches and the chairs, as and when I place-hop and sit myself down for a minute or so, teasing the smiley room, cushion me like they are family. So now I am at ease, ordering drinks on top of drinks, my eyes shutting and opening, my lips conspicuously hydrated, my nose snorting the aura, and my head wobbling in a deep trance.
I am new to this town and I explore a new bar every single day, gathering tales of a chronic debauchee. I don’t segregate places based on who all come there, which area they are located in and how deep a hole they can drill in my pocket. Some places smell just the way they look; sodden, dark and mysterious. While some are so fresh they almost don’t smell of anything, except of fresh paints on their iron doors and rancid vomits of the jaded visitors in their parking lots.
Someone serves me food that I don’t remember ordering. It’s on the house, he says and puts it on my table. I take a bite at first, unsure of the consequences and his intentions, then devour it. It’s delicious, I thank him. Let me know if you need more of these, he says and comes back within a minute or so with drinks that I remember I had ordered and some more. I didncht oredeerrr all of dat, I sputter. I know sir, but these are all on the house too, he smiles, rather impishly.
I thank him, almost get up and hug him, he is uncomfortable and doesn’t hug me back. Enjoy your drinks he says and leaves me alone to myself, like he is supposed to.
I notice the giant art on the fore wall; for an old place like this, it seems like a modern art. It’s slightly abstract, but in the randomness of it, I spot a lion, a clock, a dragon, a ship, a constellation, a marble dog, an animal cracker, a trumpet, a deck of cards, a dice, a bar, like the one I am sitting in and juggling all of them is a man, an old man. His face through the amber haze of the corner lamps, appear coral, like someone flushed him with a compliment, like he is sunburnt, like he is healthy—spiritually.
The music bouncing off the acoustic uneven wall, with zig-zag patterns in them, filter the complaints of the agitated visitors. I look around and everyone is smiling, some almost beaming right at me. My eyes see vignettes of a smiling ocean, made out of people. I drown myself in this ocean and relish all the food and the drinks and the chummy hand fists and hugs, until a bad vibe in the vicinity, catches me off-guard. I see blobs of familiar faces from the last night walk through the door. I rock my head to the other side; they are looking for someone. They are looking for me. I have three bloody stitches on my forehead but one of them has at least nine. The fight isn’t over yet, I assume, almost giving up. I had not started it, I tell myself sagging low in to the couch with a body that barely feels alive, I can’t continue or put an end to it to it either.
My drunk eyes are shutting, hoping the trouble to sort itself out, and soon, despite being in a public place and despite being the self-conscious and self-correcting person that I am, I fall asleep amidst the circle of head bangers.
I wake up to the sound of the hoover and the smell of bacon in the morning. Good morning! An old man greets me, as I squint open my eyes and sit on the couch with my face pressing against my palm and I ask him, what really happened last night.
Exactly what should have happened, he says as he removes his spectacles and wears them back cleaning its dusty rims on his check shirt. Those guys, who were looking for you, were trouble, but I took care of them. You don’t need to worry about them anymore. He says.
Bacon and lime juice?
He has the aura of a godfather, a guardian angel, and I look at his stout arms that are following the hoover wheels effortlessly, like a magicians hand.
On the house? I ask. For this time? Yes it is, he laughs.
I gaze at his face; something about it is undeniably comforting, like the cushion I am sitting on and his laughing lines, the one with the wrinkles, resemble the art work on the wall from the last night. He is the old man, juggling it all, like this bar in itself.