Depending on which direction you’re traveling, our street is one block past Sunshine Drive. But the direction of approach is important. One block past Sunshine from the wrong direction and you end up in front of a long line of rent controlled apartment complexes, the check cashing place, the laundromat Señor Burbujas, and the shady liquor store my wife is scared to go into. There is also a dive bar called Catfish Charlie’s. Every time I pass by I must fight the urge to go in.
At first I thought it might be a fish market or a sporting goods store, but when I finally found the courage to enter and explore all I found was a dingy hole in the wall that smelled like a stale bar mat. The two guys sitting at the bar each had an eyepatch. What was the chance of that? I wondered briefly if Catfish Charlie’s was actually a pirate bar, which didn’t seem that unusual at the time.
The inside of Catfish Charlie’s was greasy, smokey, sticky. It felt if someone tried to light a cigarette the entire place might ignite, including the two dirty pirates bellied up to the bar. At least the bartender had two eyes. I slid onto the sticky barstool and ordered a Captain and Coke. I wanted to blend in. When the bartender brought my cocktail I realized that one of his eyes was a glass eye that seemed to be pointed in the wrong direction, like a pirate in disguise. I gave him a wink and he gave me a look like he might poke one of my eyes out and make me walk the plank. I pounded my drink and got the hell out of there.
I’m no pirate.
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