One of the last times I was in a dive, in the harbor district, it was pouring. Sharp steely arrows gushed all over an agonizing lead sea, which massive chest barely encouraged. I remember it well, because out of my standardism of everyday life, that evening, in a moment of reflection, I was hoping to get killed. I got a Scotch meltdown instead.
It was dark inside, and until I took a long sip I wasn’t aware of the panorama of cloudy eyes the counter featured, no-ones with dog-gazes nursing their disappointment with life. The seedy slang and its scent, musty and damp, as if it were haunted by ghosts, had the reassuring feel of a place where everyone is just passing through, and which therefore has none of the close-knit atmosphere which could cast a humiliating light on one’s own alienation.
Behind the bar were the boss; a black woman with melons, well, like watermelons, thick lips, black eyes, and a hairstyle with many tresses as skeletons of vipers. In a corner, a drunk was imparting geography lessons to a drunken fat Caribbean, while she was lamenting having allowed her “Oreo of her soul” to flee to New York. Next to them two Bacchae mid-age Latinas were chattering softly, as crackers who fear being heard by the microphone of history. Closer to me a sexagenarian-wine-taster was humming a soulless song, with an empty gaze, and the wrinkled fingers of his hands, wrapped in a worn epidermis broken into small red dots, clenched with inert consistency in a Spanish guitar. At the other end, a drunk Cuban, black as history, sitting as a deposed monarch on a pine stool, spoke, spluttering, with the black boss, about the strengths and weaknesses of one politics or another, keeping aside his true opinion, as he hadn’t clear who could speak here about the order and disorder of the times. I -because for myself, to be thinking, I need no name-, sot as a homeless going to spend the night in the open, I was trying to bring sense to my brains, which safely intruded in conversations and muttered monologues of the night owl characters taken by the booze. Finally, behind all of us, a mahogany hair and eagled indigene, with some minor bite marks that past had given her, was sweeping the floor, quietly, like a sleepwalker, beyond this world.
Then a brown Moroccan, with a vendor’s mustache, staggered in to stand next to me, ordered a beer three times and had it served, he shouted with all his might, “Allah is great!” in his tongue. All eyes turned toward the lean Moroccan. “Alleluia!” was for me the meaning of the copious silence that followed. “Viva la revolucion!” shouted then the red-wine-old-guitar-man. “Viva la Virgen de la Macarena!” added, risqué and choir, with Sevillian accent, both Latinas, not without some irony. “Long live the head of the house!” cried the Cuban, with popping calf eyes, seeming like a statement. “Long live luv!” said, with ghetto accent, the one whose boyfriend fled to New York. I, who wasn’t able to shout a slogan, took refuge in tradition: “Holly fucking shit!” I absently muttered. It was then the big black cheese, tiding up with a slap the braids behind her, asked the eagled woman, who had stopped brooming, to cast the bolt of the door. Her next act was, turning around, to switch off some more lights in the room, leaving us in shadows. I don’t know how it happened, but we all took a good sip of our glasses. The boss got two beers from the drawer and told the mahogany hair specimen to leave the broom aside because “We expect a long night…”
The advantage of a bad memory is that one enjoys several times the same good things for the first time. So … the rest of the night I’d assign to oblivion.
Scotch meltdown – Dugutigui’s version of Carlos Sardinero’s “Una noche muy larga”