Out the Back Door (782 words)
Sometimes it seems that the particles in the air just take on a different charge. You can’t see anything out of place or know that anything is out of the ordinary, but you know that something is different. Something has changed. Something is wrong.
Past experience goes a long way toward fashioning these feelings. The first time I walked into this bar I didn’t feel anything out of place. Now I’ll get here and sit down. Have a drink or twelve and somewhere in there I can feel whatever it is that shifts in my own corner of the universe shifting. I suddenly know that something is amiss. It’s not that somebody new walked in or they ran out of my brand or the baseball game on TV is being postponed due to rain. It just is.
It first happened a while ago. I’d just moved to the area and RNS Bar was within walking distance. I was looking for a drink so I walked down to the corner of Front and Broadway and stepped inside. The place isn’t nothing special. It’s just like a hundred other corner bars I’ve been in in my life. But when I walked back out I wasn’t in New Philadelphia anymore. I was in Stanwood at the home of my old babysitter. I stepped through a door and wound up 30 miles away from where I was on the other side. I don’t know why it happened. When I tried to step back the door wasn’t there. I was stuck on that front lawn that I hadn’t set foot on since I was a little boy and I had to call my wife to come pick me up. Boy was she angry. And how was I supposed to explain what had happened? There was no way she was going to believe that the corner bar was a magic teleportation station. If I told her that she’d probably make me start going to those godawful meetings again.
So I kept my mouth shut and always made sure I had money for a cab ride. For a long cab ride. And over the years I visited places that I’d been earlier in my life and some that I’d never seen before. It was always the same. I’d walk in, get drunk and walk out to some different place. The front door seemed to be the only portal in the place. I’ve gone through the door to the men’s room countless times. I’ve gone into the ladies room a few times too. Hell, once I even pissed in the broom closet. I’ve been to the kitchen and the game room (although there’s not really a door separating them from the rest of the place) and I’ve been in the apartments upstairs. But the only time the portal in the place seems to be the front door.
It’s taken me places I never wanted to return to: my grandmother’s funeral, to my fathers drunken rages, to Iraq. It’s also taken me to memories I’ve had a strong desire to relive: birthday parties, graduations, meeting my wife. It’s like my whole life has passed before my eyes through the walking in and out of that door.
It’s weird how the truth finally hits us. When we finally figure something out. You don’t know how you know when something is a lie and when something is true. Sure, you can watch a persons pupils and heartbeat and all that, but deep down inside the best proof that someones telling the truth is in your gut. Intuition is more effective than any machine. So that’s why I know I’ve got to tell this tale.
I’m not supposed to use the front door. I’m supposed to use the back.
This bar is something of a way station. A pit stop on our way to the next life. I’m not sure how long I’ve been dead or even how I died. I’m sure if I keep going out the front door I’ll eventually figure it out. I’ll see myself growing old. I’ll wind up in doctor’s offices and jail cells and hospitals. I’ve finally figured out why I transport. And I’m finally done with it.
So after I finish this beer I’m going to stand up, walk to the men’s room and relieve myself, pay my tab and walk out the back door. I would have done it a long time ago if I knew the deal but there ain’t no handbook for this type of thing.
It’s one of those things that you just know.