Allene Nichols “Town II”
By Steven Ray Smith
Our old place Still at the corner of Frontier and Plymouth, it reopened last week after a long hiatus for repairs to its broken… well, everything was broken in there so it could have been anything. In any event, the lapse was enough that a new crowd thought it was a new place and came in and started spending a lot of money on drinks Ernie had never heard of. Their conversations were fast. They’d all laugh suddenly as if everyone understood the punchline before it was delivered. That’s how fast they were. We tried to talk to them about the history, before the repairs, but they had this rare ability to appear to be listening while still naming cocktails Ernie had never heard of. We felt like visitors to our own history, as if the downtime beyond our control turned our simplistic spirit and soda highballs into anachronisms. But the next night, we found a corner table with dapples of watermarks, not bad enough for the renovation, and Ernie came from behind the bar with two handfuls of glasses ascending with small bubbles. And we spread our elbows and enjoyed the space of our own old place while the newcomers did also. Closed store Our old store finally closed. Its glass doors that once opened wide into the narrow sidewalk were outmoded in their garrulous rapport. Work-a-day loafers and oxfords no longer clipped by, and so dandelions cracked the cement without a shush. The new tenants on the block, windows foiled over, survive on the elicit — smoking pipes on one side, lingerie with secret flaps on the other. So sad it was to shoe-polish the old store’s windows, “final clearance” and have no one bother, so most of it simply went into the roll-off before the theretofore unknown landlord came and chained the door. Everyone cried. I also cried, but not for the finality but for the liberation that closure transferred all future solvency to the landlord.