1969

He stood staring at the wall dirty with all the forgotten numbers and names written around the phone. He walked back to the bar. Lou and Charlie, nose to mustache had switched to Kierkegaard and infinite resignation. Mitch thought how appropriate, and picked up his drink moving away to a table.

"What's the matter? Bad news?" It was Stanley taking the chairs off the tables. Mitch looked at Stanley's wrecked face and was flooded with an overwhelming love for this worn man who had been serving drinks and kind words to lonely people for years.

"No, I'm fine all I need is a drink."

"Well, we can handle that."

Mitch lay his hand down on the table scarred from years of men pounding their glasses, sweating and weeping out their stories "I can't go see my son. It's too late", Mitch whispered to himself feeling the familiar stab of regret and pity. He drank all day finally passing out in the back at 10 o'clock that night. Stanley kept a cot in the back room for these kinds of emergencies.

I'm in a long tunnel. I shoot out into the night and the highway rises to a bluff over the sea, and then dips down to a little settlement called Makawmo.

Mitch woke up fairly early. He washed his face in the men's room at a small sink with a large crucifix hanging on the wall opposite the toilet. He came out and sat down at the end of the bar. Lou on his usual seat Stanley was where he belonged, as if no time had passed. Sitting next to Lou was Mike Cherry who rented a room upstairs and tended bar on weekends.

"Here he is The Iceman Cometh,'" said Lou.

"What would we do without O'Neill?"

"Want a drink, I suppose?" Stanley said. "That was quite a show you put on last night.", then turning to Lou, "About 10 o'clock yesterday morning I asked our actor if he was okay and he said he was fine."

"He was fine all right, did all of Hamlet, most of it with song," said Lou.

After several glasses of ale Mitch ventured to a small glass of whiskey and felt much better. Somewhere in him he knew that yesterday's attack was a run for the hills, but he told himself that today would be peaceful and calm. It was important now to pay attention, and be careful with the drinks, to space them at artistic intervals to maintain the proper meditative state.

Several others joined them and were worked into the select group. The talk moved from topic to topic as if these men were giant intellectuals researching the mysteries of profound truth. There would be long silences and slow unhurried dissertations. Mitch joined in from time to time but mostly he was quiet.

Mitch thought of Tim and put it away with the practical thought; there's plenty of time when he's older and we'll play basketball and I'll teach him how to act. At about two or three o'clock someone brought up food and was shouted down but several left. Mitch decided it might be time to leave when the door swung open. A woman stood framed in the door. She would have turned heads anywhere, but in this dive she glowed like a vision. She was all in white, with a form fitting top and a long flowing skirt. She had an open Slavic face and honey hair. A full-length mink coat draped over her shoulders. She walked up to the bar between Lou and Mitch. As she put her mink coat around Mitch's shoulders she said, "I'm looking for Stanley."

"That's me," he stammered from behind the bar.

"You're very well thought of uptown, highly recommended by a friend and co-worker of mine," she glanced at Mitch, "so I thought I'd come down and see for myself, can you make a martini?" she said.

"What's in it?

"Vermouth and Gin or Vodka."

"Got no vermouth."

"I'm Sarah, and I brought my own," she said as she pulled a bottle out of her black silk purse.

"What do you do uptown, Sarah?" Mitch asked. He knew what she did uptown and he wondered what this actress had in mind coming all the way down to Stanley's bar.

She turned to Mitch, "What do you do, Mitch?" She smelled like cream.

"Can I keep this coat?" He decided to play her game. He was somewhat flattered by this visit, but also annoyed she would intrude on his bar life at his hideout. They had been in O'Neill's play "Moon For The Misbegotten" for several months.