The bar is very narrow. There are stools to the left alongside the bar as you walk in and one long line of tables with chairs on the right. At the end a bathroom and a door that leads outside.
Randall sits by the back door. It’s quiet there, a good place to write. He writes poems, stories, sometimes just notes. Copious notes.
The sound of silence
The moon in the sky
Spiders working on their webs
Randall prefers anonymity. He is a loner. That’s why he comes to this bar. The bartender knows what Randall drinks and that he always pays with cash. He knows Randall wants to be a poet and maybe an author.
The Barula Ching conjures an ancient Mongolian tribe or an Indian recipe. No Indian food is served at the bar. The only food is boiled eggs, popcorn, and piroshki. No Mongolian artifacts or art on display. Saint Barulas was tortured and beheaded by Emperor Galerius but that’s Barulas, not Barula and there is nothing saintly about this bar.
A man sits two tables away from Randall and reads the newspaper. A woman comes through the light of the front door. She sways her hips. She has a smile that kills. She stops by the man and kisses him. The man rises. They embrace. The man follows the woman out the back door.
Randall picks up his pen.
The Lion walks out the door
Enticed by the smell of fresh meat
The brothel whore
Prepares the substance of her treat.
Green eyes smiling
Lion claws the lock
Answering the knock.
She rips the mane from his throat.
Tears at his skin.
Sucks the dark blood
Through nostrils thin
When she drags him by his leg
Toward her lair
To be consumed at her leisure
The thought occurs to the Lion
That he is once again
Randall stares at the ceiling. In one efficient movement he crumples what he wrote and throws it on the floor. His glass is empty. The bartender is on a cellphone. Randall steps up to the bar. He coughs to get the bartender’s attention.
Still on the phone, the bartender points at Randall’s glass.
Randall nods and puts some bills on the bar top. He sips from the glass when it arrives.
Cha-ching goes the register.
Randall picks up the abandoned newspaper on his way back to his table. You never know when a newspaper might come in handy. Frankly, he finds lots of ideas in newspapers, especially in the obituaries.
The couple re-enters through the back door. Randall offers the man the newspaper but the man waves it off. The man is sweaty and his hair is messed. The two sit at the bar and order drinks.
Randall gets a better look at them because of the bright light shining from above the bar. He realizes the woman, though light-skinned, is of Indian descent.
Cha-ching goes the register when they pay.
Randall returns to his writing.
“It always seemed to me that our fellow citizens had two passions: ideas and fornication…. A single sentence will suffice for modern man: he fornicated and read the paper.” Clamence in The Fall by Camus
The day slips by. The next time Randall looks at the bar, the man is gone but the woman is still there. Two other couples have arrived.
Randall tears up a story he just finished. The life of a writer is a hard life. No one thinks it except a writer.
He’s worked long enough. He rises to leave. He pauses over the one poem he kept. He reads it again then folds it into a square and drops it on the bar as he leaves.
The bartender reads the poem greedily. He laughs aloud. He looks at the two couples at the bar. “That man is no poet,” says the bartender.
I am very old
Like the mole on the neck of an ancient Hamitic lady
Bits of wisdom cling to me
Like fragments of uneaten food
Stuck in the beard of a fat European.
Though I am not fat or European,
Though I have no beard,
I must reconcile this
Age brings indifference
Yet I would attempt to explain this project
Were it not that
On some moldy vest
marked with the lines of a thousand watch fobs
I left the insignia
On which I depend for my character.
I am nothing.
It is useless to ponder such questions
When the proof
You will require to establish my credentials
Lies buried in some trunk in a house I left
Randall exits the bar. He runs into his friend Jullian.
“Spend all day at Jack’s again?”
“Wrote one story but threw it away. Wasn’t any good.”
“You’re throwing your life away my friend.”
“Yea, I know. The Barula Ching.”
“What the hell does that mean? The place has been called Jack’s for years. Where does that crazy name come from?”
Cha-Ching goes the register as Jullian walks in.
The Indian woman turns and smiles at Jullian. Her teeth flash white.
The great Khan turns in the unmarked grave.
Randall saunters home to his dinner and his bed.