Home of the Poor and Unknown

I spent the last few days banging out an essay for a particular literary magazine. I'd like some more time with it--I'd like to hang it up on the hanger-rod in my office with the story I completed recently and see how it develops--but the magazine has a deadline, so I went ahead and sent it off. It's in ten parts, and below you'll find part number one.

It’s three o’clock on a Friday afternoon, and the Cubs are up 3-1 in the bottom of the sixth at home against the Padres. David Wells is still on the mound, facing Alfonso Soriano. I don’t know the count because I just ordered a Coors Light, and instead of the game, while the bartender goes for my beer, I’m looking at the Old Crow statue on top of the cooler behind the bar. The crow is two feet tall, bedecked in a tuxedo and top hat. Over the brass tuxedo, he wears a Cubs vest and bowtie. It’s obvious someone sewed them specifically for this statue, and, most likely, so that the outfit could be displayed at this bar.

Next to the TV, there’s a neon Miller Lite sign declaring this place Wrigleyville. We’re in west central Illinois, a three-hour train ride from Chicago, but Duffy’s is as close to Wrigley as you can be in Galesburg. Besides the crow and neon, throughout the dark bar—it’s tunnel-shaped and barely lit—there are Cubs helmets, bobbleheads, and pennants. There’s a framed Michael Barrett jersey, four or five representations of Wrigley Field.

While the bartender makes change for my beer, Soriano whacks a down-and-in curveball from Wells off the fence behind the bleachers in left field. At Duffy’s, this should mean the next round is free. And up and down the bar—thirteen of its nineteen stools are occupied—men, half drunk, cheer and repeat what the TV announcers have just said. “That one got out of here in a hurry,” they say. “The left fielder didn’t have a chance.”

A man, maybe sixty years old, deeply tanned and wearing overalls, says, “Oh—there’s another home run for the Cubs,” when the TV replays the shot. It seems he’s only half attempting to trick the bartender, and it seems, too, like it’s a joke the two have shared a million times or two.

The bartender hands me my change, and I wait to see if he matches my beer—brings me the free one. I wait for five or ten seconds, pocketing my change slowly, placing a dollar bill on the bar for a tip, but no free beer comes. I figure he’ll get me on the next round, and I take a seat at one of the tables behind the barstools and watch yet another replay of the Soriano homer. The guy in overalls raises a finger in the air in the direction of the TV, says again, “Oh—that’s another one.”

1 comment:

Lisa said...

I enjoyed reading this. Where's part 2?!