The RC Cola man showed up around noon wearing an RC t-shirt and ball cap. I did a double take. I didn’t even know RC Cola was still around, let alone on the gun in a dive bar in OTA country.
I sat at the bar of a weathered joint situated on one of the most squalid and dangerous streets in Oregon. I drank a craft malt liquor, wrote in my journal, and surveyed the joint, a real choice dive and undoubtedly the residence of hard luck cases.
What exactly is hard luck?
A couple of homemade posters decorated the door to the women’s restroom: 1) One advertised a jewelry-making class for an upcoming Sunday night—in the dive. There was a sign-up sheet and incredibly, it was filled. 2) The other poster advertised a lost dog.
Fox News played televised stories about murder, mislabeled cannabis products and Covid stupidity.
I noticed a stack of board games and classic gumball machines.
The biscuits and gravy special sold for $5. Pudding shots sold for $1.50 each. Pudding shots? That was a first for me in OTA country. I imagined specimens cups full of chocolate pudding doused with Fireball or Frangelico.
Forgive them Lord of All Things Godly Liquor, they know not what they do.
An OTA man to my left was drinking a double screwdriver and eating macaroni salad from a container.
A few OTAs played the slots in silence and without drinks.
I suppose now I should describe the female OTA bartender. I can’t. She was beyond my literary powers. For one thing, I couldn’t find words to fathom her hair style. There was a shaved part, frosted tips, colors of the rainbow and…well…forget it.
Some photographs behind the bar and around the joint caught my eye. I somewhat inspected them and they bore the unmistakable look of dead former patrons who were legendary hellraisers.
Something else in the joint caught my eye. It was a chalkboard listing all the October birthdays and decorated with orange ghosts, spiders and pumpkins drawn by the hand of an obvious artist.
Lost dogs. Jewelry-making classes. All Star dead patrons. A list of birthdays. Board games. Comfort liquor pudding.
It was a dive bar, but it was also home.