The first time I pulled into the Hole I thought of that.
This place isn’t half as big as that one, though, and not even close to a main drag. It stands alone on a fork in the road in the middle of nowhere, looking like a brisket that got dropped in the dirt. It’s not anywhere near as busy, either. The only time the Hole is even close to full is PBR night, when you can get hammered on weasel-piss for pocket change. And it sure as shit would never book the likes of Charlie Sexton – not while a certain someone still has breath to karaoke like a cow moose in breech labor, anyway. So in retrospect I guess the Hole isn’t much like that Thelma & Louise bar after all...
But a girl still gets the sense she could get raped in the parking lot, is what I'm saying.
Not this girl. This girl wears a knife and trooper-boots. This girl has a six-pack and a set of guns. This girl scares the hell out of big bald bearded biker boys named Gus. This girl isn’t worried about anyone trying to take her cookies, because they know that if they try, she’ll cut the bag. That’s why I wasn’t afraid to walk in there, and why – despite everything that’s happened since – I stayed.
I actually didn’t think of myself as a regular at the Hole till they announced the closing, even if I was the one who gave them that nickname. I’ve only been going there for eighteen months, and although it’s been more nights than not for most of that time, I still thought of myself as From Away. But when they wrote the closing date on the dry-erase board, they wrote the opening date, too.
The place has been there for three years. Everybody’s known my name for half of that.
Besides: who else is gonna write about it when it's gone?
The thing is, though, the owners are a married couple, and they’ve asked us to be kind about the closing. To keep the negative comments to ourselves so they can enjoy their final days. And I do promise not to say anything that isn’t true – or, at the very least, to put a big fat “Hearsay” label on shit I wasn’t actually there to see. But they knew what kind of snake I was when they picked me up, and no matter what else anybody says I am (oh they’ve said plenty, mark my words), I’m still a writer. And all literature is gossip, as one of my old heroes used to say. You don’t just hand a plot like this to a knife-toting, pool-shooting, six-packing scribe and then ask her to keep it in her pants. So instead I’ll ask the rest of you to please bear with me while I speak a private aside to Mr. & Mrs. Hole:
Dear Don & Kathy:
We have all loved that place like a home, and become a family. Families fight. Homes sometimes burn down. But I was lost when I found your place, and it gave me everything. Not just my Kid (of whom I know you both still disapprove), or my best friend up here (who hasn’t been allowed in there since June), or my pool game (still sorry about that whole moving-the-team thing, although considering the circumstances I guess it’s lucky we abandoned you when we did), or my family of friends (most of us are joining the Eagles, and I’m sure we’ll all be happy to sign you in) – but your place gave me a place to go, a place to be, a place to breathe, and turned Maine into a place for me to live. I wouldn’t still be here if I hadn’t found the Hole when I did. I’d’ve gone to New York City like I planned. And although I know there are plenty out there who wish desperately that was the case, I also know that – for now, at least – my soul is still. Because of you and your grotty little Hole. For that, I am and always will be grateful.
But I will also always say whatever the fuck I want.