I usually "clocked into" the Gables bar around noon.
Dawn the bartender was always there, nursing a drink and a hangover.
She opened the joint at 9 a.m.
When I rambled up the crickety wooden stairs and threw open the door to blackness, a few old drunks would be perched like vultures at the bar.
My senses were greeted by acrid smells, bell and whirs from the video gambling machine, and claptrap from game show hosts on the tv. Sometimes, the jukebox would be playing old country western songs, or stuff from the 50's that I heard when my old man took me on his bar tours, back in his day.
Nothing much changes, I guess.
At least there was life in our living tombs.
I always started Dawn off with a five-dollar tip, and she reciprocated with three-or-four fingers of scotch in a rock glass. She always poured heavy with a little coaxing, and showed me some tit when she bent over the speed rack in front of me. I learned where to sit, to get the best views. The third drink she poured was always free. This is a Chicago tradition, or at least it was a Chicago tradition, when I was carousing. By the time "Jeopardy" came on in the mid-afternoon, I was three sheets to the wind. This is the time that Buzz, the afternoon bartender always relieved Dawn. She usually grabbed a stool next to mine, and told me tales of woe that I had heard way too many times about her rotten husband and whiney kids. Buzz was a "Jeopardy genius". Somehow, the guy knew all the answers. He had a Master's degree from some fancy university. I often asked him, "What the hell are you doing in a place like this, when you could be our there in a shirt and tie, making some real money?" He said that he liked the freedom of tending bar, and doing concrete work in the summertime. I thought he was full of shit. I knew he was lying, 'cause he was a drunk just like me. The Gables tavern isn't there anymore. It stood proud for of 60 years, until it was razed for some "fern" bar/restaurant. Buzz and Dawn are gone as well. I often wonder what ever happened to them. As for me, I quit drinking.