In love's landscape we abuse liquor, chase our shadows, and listen to whispers
The next night was the twenty-third.
'I'm the main man in a 9-piece all drag Creole swing-band', she said somewhat incongruously to the fat bartender; and it got kind of quiet for a moment. I didn't believe it could have been entirely true. Or choose not to. The tired stoop of her neck and shoulders made me want to lift a weight for her. But she seemed sort of self-proficient. And I felt way too small to be lifting weights in the wake of one such as she. I could only stare and make believe that she could talk to me. The sneering pot-bellied drunkard to my left put his glistening lips around another glass of whiskey and sneered something no-one caught; which might have been a shame if he hadn't been cynically deranged.
This joint was a dive.
There was a whole lot of hustling going on.
The looming, over-confidence of the hookers and the pushers, 'Hey Big Man, how can I do you?'
The constant brawls over money out back in the pool hall.
The stink of the toilets evident on the dance floor.
The skittish fits of the skint beggar; 'Can I ask you a question? It's not about drugs'
The screech of tram wheels outside, ploughing furrows in the hordes of tourist onlookers.
The vision of the maid of New Orleans slumped in a corner; wondering if she could be responsible for any of this madness.
'Oh yeah, sure' I told the beggar, who by now was in my eye-line. The pushers pushed off when I shrugged my shoulders and the hookers didn't even walk over for less than a ten.
'It's very cold and I'm -'
'You want some money?'
'Take 5. I think that's good'
'It is good'
But by then she had slipped off. Can't blame her. It was a dive-joint.
So the beggar got his coins. The pusher pushed his drugs to some teenage fuck-up pool-playing thugs. The hookers took a couple of slaps. The drinker took a slug. I pushed myself off.
Outside I had to fend off the prying…