Last Chance Saloon

Entry by: Godai41

27th November 2015
Last Chance Saloon:

Pub Lick-and-Drink

The allure of the slew of restaurants-brew houses, dubbed branches by their human fanciers-predators, did not willingly or easily reveal itself. Many who savored them did so mindlessly, nearly tonguelessly, intrigued or, perhaps more accurately, as ritualized customers. Following each repast they fervently waxed on and on about the hearty, sturdy steaks— of course incorporated in some of the restaurants’ names themselves, and the flavorful breads and rolls in which, now and then, chefs ensconced the meat. They declared how they treasured the accompanying herbs, spices, onion, mushrooms and more that accompanied the main orchestrated meat. A few spoke tastily, even delicately, of the condimented minority salad served in those hunter-gatherer times allowed to join the main meaty players.

Amidst, betwixt, and between life’s constant births and shutterings the combo restaurant-brew house served as a locus, often a last opening, for those drawn by its allure to practice and achieve catharsis.

* * * *

Early that afternoon Nayoras awoke, dressed, snacked a little, and then found his way to the cross-town bus with which he would make his way toward the hospital where his dad had resided during his, to date, four weeks care. Two-thirty ish of the cold, icy but somehow still replete-with-sun day, Nayoras stepped off the crowded bus to slug on to transfer to the uptown M something bus that would take him toward his destination. In the four weeks, filled with work, day by day he had plugged on to see, hear, smell, and touch his still alert dad some morsel of each day or night.

He entered the swiveling doors of the hospital, showed his pass, and trudged toward the lift. He had memorized the floor, the room number, even the names of the three other patients who shared the space with his dad. (The first night he brought his dad to the site no space had existed for his dad; he left him there to sleep amidst a slew of countless curs facing the same.) Day by day, week after week, now almost into month #2, he had seen the docs, the specialists, the treatments, the predictions and diagnoses, difficult to distinguish, to process. Today he awaited more of the same.

Strangely queasy, he sauntered down the corridor toward the room where his father now resided. Two or three nurses clustered around his father’s bed; he saw an empty bed. So centered on the space where his father had lived the past month and a bit, he hadn’t thought to verify his dad’s presence or non-presence in other spaces of the room. Far to his left from the corner of one eye he captured his father’s image. Fully conscious, seemingly totally alert, eyes focused at the space ahead, sat his father in a strangely spacious hospital wheelchair. The room stayed silent.

A nurse advanced in Nayoras’ direction. “He’s had a heart attack. He’s waiting to be taken to the operating room,” the nurse reported.

A notorious silence returned to the room. No one uttered a word. Everyone waited. Silent.

Nayoras stared at his father, looked into father’s eyes, planted his eyes on his father’s eyes and didn’t move them or swerve.

His father, firmly seated, perfectly postured, returned a gaze, an unyielding but empty, uncomprehending, seemingly non-existent, galaxies apart facial reply.

Some minutes passed. A team of two came to claim the patient. Off they wheeled him. He and his father exchanged a few infinitely vague gazes before the team removed his still conscious father.

He peeked out. The sky had darkened. His sibling, late, perhaps due to traffic, would arrive soon. Nayoras panned the empty bed, looked at his father’s former roommates, waited.

Sibling arrives and understands what has occurred. They consult; concur; find their way to the site where the doctors will operate on their father’s heart. Nayoras tries to explain how his father had looked—or not looked.

The minutes pass. How many? Ten? Then twenty? More than thirty? Perhaps forty-five? An hour certainly! The two siblings stand motionless.

After a time a doctor emerges, reports, briefly, concisely, directly, the end of their father from the heart attack.

To the bed area where their father had lived for a bit more than a month they returned. Quickly, quietly, efficiently they pick out the few remnants of the father’s former environs they intuit deserve scrutiny and gathering.

Catching a glimpse of a nearby window, they understand daylight has fled. Darkness has plunged into the room.

Into a paper bag filled with items to share with her father that Nayoras’ sibling had brought they inject the valuables selected from his room and quickly and forever leave that space.

By the time they reach the darkened street, emptied of people and of vehicles, they declare some of the lumped items in the paper bag unnecessary and dump them into a nearby garbage receptacle.

* * * *

After a quick call or two to report the day’s undoings and set funeral arrangements in motion Nayoras and sibling moved on to the familiar steak restaurant/brew house they had a few days earlier selected there to meet up, drink, and dine with a pithy combo of family and friends.

At the brew house the now pale, glaze-eyed, pierced silent attendants loudly chewed, bit away at the meat laid on their flat nearly colorless plates. They neither looked, stared at, gazed, made eye contact, even shunned direct meeting of each other’s eyes. The orbs moved mindlessly from spot to spot to spot. Betwixt some bites they stared at the empty corridor streets spied through the a few thin windowpanes. Sans ups, downs, asides between one swallow and the next their teeth chomping paced evenly on. Here and there they lifted, sieved, poured down their gullets wine, beer, ale, and sundry other drinks. Sighs, tears, anxious breaths, all remained ensconced and locked within arteries, veins, nerves, heart, digits, organs et al. At last unable or unwilling to seize the moment to reveal the day’s, the life’s, loss, they said farewell, stood up, and left.

No one released even one word about the man wrapped in an oxygen tent the last hours of his existence or even a morsel or drop of his talent for cooking up seemingly infinite unique humorous tidbits and even full repasts for his fellow mortals to take in.

All the pub lick-and-drink’s puny morsels and brews presented for the friend-family piths to chomp and gulp paled before the last chance that rapidly darkening afternoon for Nayoras to share with his now disappeared dad the one last day, last few silent, staring hours of life.

He dismissed any stake he had previously deemed precious in any meaty cut or joint, any draught of any vintage from any or even all pubs.

All the meaty concoctions and intricate elixirs at the pub-lick-and-drink pointed no highway, thruway, parkway, city, state, federal, human-built concrete route to serve to his fellow drinkers and diners the moments of that afternoon’s brief, last chance eye-to-eye conversing with his own special patriarch. Speaking to himself and only himself he resolved to retain the afternoon’s treasures for himself both the next day when he would line up with others during the then-current intense fuel crisis for hours at the gas station in order to reach the cemetery and for the many years waiting ahead.

During the chomping, chewing, swallowing, gulping interlude at the pub lick-and-drink saloon Nayoras had found no path, no entrance, no chance, his last chance that evening, either to ponder, share, and disperse to others the succulence of his dad’s full life nor even the taste of his dad’s departure just hours before.