Oregon Tavern Age: Jaguar

A shiny silver car pulled up in front of an Oregon Tavern Age joint. I was inside the joint writing a letter to an old flame at my usual table at the window.

I looked out the window and beheld a four-door Jaguar, a few years old, mint condition, probably a 40-50k car. Clean as whistle with no road grime.

A bearded man, the driver, exited the Jaguar and headed for the joint.

Wait! It was the same bearded man I had seen often wandering down the road, carrying a guitar without a strap, sometimes with a couple of dogs, occasionally asking me if I had a smoke or would I drive his van out of impound, the same man I saw sleeping on the beach and emerging from the woods for past six months, and the same man who was often accompanied by an OTA woman with no teeth.

Next I took in the woman in the passenger seat who puffed on a cigarette and then got out of the Jaguar.

Wait! It was the OTA woman with no teeth, who before I saw with the bearded guitar man, was seen driving a battered sedan with three of the windows smashed out.

I looked at the Jaguar again. Two dogs were staring straight at me.

The couple moseyed up to the bar in their masks and ordered rum and cokes. They took their drinks to the video poker machines and started playing line games. I watched them laugh and lose money. They kept on playing.

This scenario posed a dilemma for a writer: you want the truth of the Jaguar or do you want to make it up? Journalism or fiction, always a tension for me.

I finished my love letter. I finished my IPA. I got up to leave and took a final look at the couple. They were still at it and now on a second rum and coke.

My mind was made up: I wanted to go journalism on this story, but not this particular moment. Next time.