Last Call

byNigel Debonnaire©

Long past midnight
in the endless SportsCenter reel;
I’ve seen these highlights before,
twice at least.
Wisps of blue cigarette haze
hang near the lights,
clinging for dear life
on the last night
of this bar.

Sam Adams’ stock
seems like a great idea,
as I drain the glass and
put it down
heavily before me.
Pam takes it and smiles,
asks if I want another.
A nod is all I can do,
pleasantly cruising the plateau
of sweet inebriation.

Sure, this place has seen better days:
the counter’s chipped,
scarred by unknown liquids past,
the walls have a dingy look,
lights oozing multi-hued counterpoint
from God knows where,
the ceiling a dim unknown,
but it’s more real than the
fucking Starbucks
that’s going to be here soon,
oozing Mocholates and God knows what else
to caffeinate kids on their way to
jobs they hate,
where they’ll spend every possible moment
texting and playing games
behind their bosses’ backs.

This real neighborhood
that lived life richly from
the days it was farmland
as a cozy cluster
of friends next door
is demolished next week
for a shining new strip mall
just like the ones twenty five miles away
in every geographic dimension:
walmartbestbuybedba
thandbeyondoldnavyof
ficemaxofficedepotfaz
ioshomedepottoysruschi
nakingweddingwarehou
sebordersapplebystar
getsearsbarnresandnoble.

Pam’s thirtysomething:
probably blond hair, blue eyes,
an uneven smile, small nose and long face,
teardrop breasts and lean hips.
Not lovely by many standards,
but my turgid admiration
looks upon her and turns the world
warm and fuzzy and hard.
Always nice, always kind,
always a smile as her chapped hands
place the foamy nectar
in front of me.

My queen sized bed has
too many unread books
and ghosts of lost lovers
to have room for her,
as if she’d want an ordinary
Middle Aged White Guy
with absolutely no original idea
of how to improve her existence.

“Last Call,” comes the husky, tired, sweet song,
and I hold up my hand although
I’ve got a fresh beer in front of me:
I don’t want this reality to end,
want to savor it to the last drop
after the outside lights go out,
watching Pam
swipe the tables and wash the glasses
as she goes through her rite of closing.

My brother in arms at the other end of the bar,
last of the regulars,
lifts his glass and we toast each other:
the survivors,
who’ve spent many a colloquial moment;
Don Quixote and Sancho Panza,
I forget which of us is which.

The last beer comes,
and I grasp Pam’s hand in gratitude,
kiss it gallantly to her giggle and smile,
watch her walk away
and lengthen the pauses between each
reverent sip of ambrosia,
engraving this universal moment on my soul.

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