Old Dogs

NIGHTCAP


4:30 am
treading heavily
down a now deserted
and dark 3rd Avenue
in search of
one
more
beer

my habitual haunts closed
but I was still
in hope
of finding
an alcoholic haven
in which to quench
my continual thirst
before dragging my ass
back to Governors Island
and my waiting
uniform

I was aiming
for 7th Street
where usually
a few hookers
prowled the Russian
Orthodox

I wasn't
in the market
for their carnal wares
just wanted a bit
of information
and if anyone knew
where to find a drink
that time of morning
they were probably
the most likely
candidates

a little past
18th or so
I heard the booming
a thundering
bass beat
and stopped
to scan around
but saw no sighs
of clubs
bars
or dance halls

I continued
to walk
and at the next corner
saw a muted light
high off the street
coming from an upper level
of what appeared to be
some sort
of warehouse

I could
make out shadows
moving intermittently across
the thickly filmed windows
indicating inner life
and the possibility
of a drink after all

no entrance
was apparent
at the front
so I circled around
to find an open door
at the building's side
but past the treshold
I saw only
a narrow staircase
seeming ridiculously steep
leading directly above
with no bends
or landings
to what I assumed
to be about the 3rd floor
so I started to climb
up the dimly lit steps
hoping for relief
at their
end

at the top
a short hallway
offered few choices
in the way of openings
and my decision was made
even that much easier
by the obvious presence
of the one gaping doorway
poring light and sound
into the otherwise
dark corridor

yes
an actual NYC
after hours joint
mine
for the taking

inside
I was greeted
by a utilitarian setting
a crudely made plywood bar
twenty feet in length
served as a repository
for a small selection
of liquor and beer
a dozen card tables
were scattered about
each surrounded by
unpadded metal folding chairs
all of which rested
upon a hardwood floor
long ago stripped
of any finish
by the footsteps
of countless
customers

the only visible
semblance of staff
was an inanimate gentleman
standing diffidently
in proximity of the bar
coolly surveying
the twenty odd patrons
who milled listlessly about
the spartan furnishings
a strange
polyclad collection
of tuxedos
spandex
ball gowns
blue jeans
leather jackets
all seeming sedate
their partying complete
or possibly on hold
until another day
could be
resumed

I approached
the plywood repository
and the bored bartender
furtively acknowledge
my request for a beer
and almost inaudibly
asked for two bucks
in payment
I had expected
a steeper price
and gladly gave him
the couple of dollars
for a nice cold
icy can

I found
an empty table
and got as comfortable
as the chair
would allow
and slowly began
to suck
at the cool beverage

the tunes were loud
but only in relative
comparison to calm
of the street below

a few
low key conversations
were presently in progress
but most seemed content
submerged in their seas
of self reflections
none acknowledging
my presence
leaving me alone
in my own personal
dungeon
of drink

it was one
of those times
when I realized
that life in THE city
wasn't all
that different
from anywhere else

looking
lazily around
the less than lavish
drinking decor
I realized
that I could
just as well
be in an American Legion hall
Jake's Bar & Grill
or Uncle Henry's barn
at the end of a
drawn out
wedding reception
wake
or holiday celebration

laconic lingerers
all
nobody anxious to return
to their usual
routines

these people
were the same
as all the rest
regardless
of their lofty
urban position
merely wanting a place
to hide a bit longer
from the freak show
of contrived
civilization

my ambitions
were slightly
more practical

I only wanted
to sit
and sip this beer
an end in itself
my constant reality
no matter the surroundings
or slice of time
it gave me
purpose
and reason
enough
to make
the effort
to breathe
each day