May 20, 2005
[The story begins here.]
I walked down the steps and out into the storm, rain coursing off my hat brim. The driver remembered me and didn't move to fetch the bag he knew I didn't have. They don't like the kind of men who travel without luggage. He didn't love me for it one bit and he stared me down with hard stupid narrow little eyes under his pointed hat. I flipped him a dime and said "Thanks for the personal attention, Jack. Bread upon the waters, Jack. A hundredfold." He didn't like that any better but by then I was walking away, making for the one lighted doorway on the street. "Ernie's Grill", the sign said. Not too much light inside. My kind of place.
I walked into the dim little taproom with water-stained walls and one old man behind the bar, and one sad old girl on the other side of it in a too-tight dress, waiting for her luck to change. I didn't care to change it, myself, but she thought different. She stumbled down from her end of the bar and collapsed half-leaning on me on the stool next to mine.
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