The Two-Way

The Two-Way was a dive bar. In the hardest sense. Half the patrons were homeless and the other half were hipsters slumming it to feel a taste of the edginess. But it wasn’t edginess that the place had, but a palpable desperation. Sarah loved that bar. The people there were the most real that she’d ever met and she adored every one for the story they had to tell.

There was a guy with a ripshaw bullet scar erupting from his cheek. He’d tried to kill himself but only blew out a couple of his molars. It was the most beautiful day of his life. After that every moment had meaning and importance for him in a way that it never had before. Ask him about it. He will tell you.

There was the time a fight broke out right behind my stool. Literally two feet behind me. A redneck jumped on a black fella and beat him senseless inches from me. I didn’t have time to put my beer down, but just stared not knowing what to do. It finished quickly. It took maybe 30 seconds and the redneck was gone. A puff of dust by the back door. The bartender ran over and raised the black guy’s feet to keep the blood flowing to his head while we all waited for the ambulance. The next night they were both drinking again best buddies. Laughing at a table in the corner. These things got sorted out quickly and life moved on in the bar.

But beyond the fights everyone was homeless. There was a building across the way which had an access door that didn’t lock. People took up residence on each of the landings. It was a point of prestige to be higher up. It was quieter and warmer. Less foot traffic. Sometimes someone would disappear and everyone would ascend a floor. It was a strange social hierarchy, but one that was clearly recognized. Top floor was a lady in her early fifties, but she was a lady. She had perogatives. The bottom was the gutter punks who were often seasonal and would huddle under the staircase. They moved on with the warm weather, but sometimes one would find themselves sticking out the winter. The bar, the crash, the crowd would be too familiar to leave. Even the most uncomfortable of places will grow on you when faced with disruption and unknown. And it got colder by degrees until you were used to it. And then one day your sleeping bag was on one of the landings. And then you started moving up.

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