The Back Bar

The Back Bar

Patrick Carpenter

A few imbibing souls were shrouded beneath the sepia darkness of the back bar. The drinkers were huddled close together, afraid of the onslaught of spring cascading through the frosted glass out the front bar. On the street, daytime wandered by enjoying the first flush of warm spring light. Walkers, hurried business people and assorted others on the street were embracing the first signs of spring. In the backbar, the mood of winter was closer to the drinker’s downbeat contract with the world.

The backbar pilgrims saluted each other with repeated accounts of a time, now past in their lives, when they themselves were central characters in the sensuality of springs new hope.

Memories from past times were compared in low husky tones. On a barstool, a woman, perhaps only in her early forties, but looking older than her years, reflected to her companions on what was obviously a lifestyle now lived only in her memory.In the fading black and white photographs of her mind she lamented the passing of her beauty. Her companion, a younger man, sat uneasy. His body language told that he wanted to leave, but he knew he would stay because his perseverance would yield the reward he hoped for later in the evening. The reward of the barfly, faded drunken love, perhaps on dirty sheets or up against a wall in the dark laneway at the rear of the bar.

Two young office workers walked in to the backbar. They looked around and quickly shuffled back to the happy end of the pub, out front, where all was not misery and gloom. The woman on the barstool, seeing the office workers beat a hasty retreat to the front of the bar, remembered a time when she too preferred the front of the bar to the back.With that thought foremoast on her mind, she ordered herself and her companion another drink. She asked the barman to make them doubles.