The Hole
To this day nobody plays pool at the Hole, even though by now the blood stains have faded into the once-green felt like a birthmark. It’s been six years since we last saw Barker, but not a night goes by that we don’t look at that empty table and think of him, the stupid fuck, in his ecstasy and his pain, sprawled out on that felt. Because first she cut him and then she showed him what he was going to miss. Don’t listen to most of this. Most of it’s not relevant. Most of it doesn’t matter. The only true thing you need to know is that the place once had love in it, actual love, of the sort I for one have long since stopped praying for. Alice Loomis had it, for a time, had it. And if she knew I was telling this in public, she’d smash my teeth in.

Alice Loomis was––still is––a big blond woman with a moonish face and that funny, braying laugh. But anybody who has been in the Hole even once knows there’s something weary about her. Probably from listening to us yatter on all these years. She cleans glasses, watches you from behind the bar. Sometimes she’ll smile at you, but it’s a smile that doesn’t come off easy. You know what I mean? It takes effort. She’s trying, in her way, to coax you. Because it’s not her story she wants to tell––it’s yours she wants to hear. Maybe this is the greatness of the Hole or any other decent north-woods bar, and while the bartenders on TV always seem to have the time and the inclination to listen, I’ve found this not to be the case in life. Nobody listens. Everybody talks.
Photo © Amit Chattopadhyay

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