Honky Tonk - by Richard Norway

by Richard Norway

As I opened the door, I was assaulted with a stench of stale beer and the pungency of ancient cigarette smoke whose parents had long since been extinguished. It was so thick I could taste it. My eyes strained to see through the haze and darkness, and as I entered, the flats of a honky-tonk piano could be heard to my left. Why, after all these years of silence, had my brother wanted to meet here? Slowly, my mind registered human bodies in disjointed union moving to and fro to the sounds of the piano and the voice of someone further into the darkness. Making my way forward, I knew, as the human cloud propelled me as I were a steel ball in a pin ball machine, that I didn’t want to be here. Finally I emerged to an opening, and for the first time in 12 years, I saw my brother. His head rose from his deep concentration of the half empty glass of whiskey on the bar in front of him, and as our eyes met, I saw the pain of 12 years of loneliness. We acknowledged each other’s presence in silence. Long before I took the stool next to him, our eyes silently talked of the past, and we both knew that tonight he was coming home.