The Book and Candle Pub

Of all the paths in all the cities of this entire planet,
hers had to cross mine.  I felt as if a Louisville slugger had
connected with the back of my skull.  I couldn’t let her just
walk out of my life.  Five foot two, eyes of blue, and a body
that just wouldn’t quit…she was a vision in denim.

I spun on my heel and watched her recede into the distance,
then made my decision.  I had to catch up to her, talk to her.
Oh, I knew it was a long shot.  What would a dame like her see in
a lug like me?  But I had to give it a try.  I made tracks, fast,
in the same direction as my dreamgirl.

She was quite a distance in front of me, so I picked up my
pace and started to close.  She was less than a block in front of
me, and I saw the brass ring.  Just as I prepared to grab for it,
she disappeared!

Oh, she didn’t just vanish into thin air.  She turned to her
right and entered the building there.  I didn’t know what it was,
but the neighborhood suggested that it might be a trendy little
shop or restaurant, or perhaps an entryway to a flat overlooking
the boulevard.  I hurried ahead, and reached the portal.  A
shingle hung over it, into which was carved THE BOOK AND CANDLE
PUB, in flowing calligraphy.  I thought I knew every dive on this
strip, but I had never been in this one before.  I admired the
ornate design of the stained glass, then pushed open the heavy
oak door.

The place smelled like pipe tobacco and hops and barley.  I
scanned the interior, but I didn’t see her.  So I went in,
looking over the homey interior.  A lot of oak trees had given
their lives to make this place.  The polished wood of the long
bar glistened and I looked into the mirrored background behind
the bar.  A slightly disheveled character peered back at me from
between the fifths of Old Granddad and Yukon Jack.

I looked away, and scanned the room again.  A couple of the
denizens of this Pub looked at me, vaguely interested, but most
remained engrossed in their conversations or in the books and
magazines they read.  The tables were spread at a comfortable
interval around the room, and booths lined the wall opposite the
bar, each appearing as a dark haven from life itself.  About half
were occupied, but nowhere did I see the girl of my dreams.

“Get you something?”  I spun around to face the guy who
addressed me.  It was the bartender, a jovial guy who looked to
be about 40 or so.  “Sorry, I was in the back room.  Some intense
discussions going on there,” he said by way of apology and
explanation.  I waved it off.

“Bourbon on the rocks.  Straight up.”  He nodded, bowed, and
went to work.  I laid some bills on the counter.  He pushed them
back to me.

“First time here, right?”  I nodded, and he continued.
“First drink is always on the house.  Enjoy.”  I was going to
like this place, I thought.

“Hey, you see a beautiful dame come in dressed in jeans and
a denim jacket?” I asked him.  He hesitated, obviously thinking
about the description.

“No, can’t say that I have, at least not in the last few
minutes.  Course, there are a lot of beautiful women who frequent
this establishment,” he said.  “Feel free to look around,

I nodded and slipped him a couple singles, which he
gracefully accepted, and placed in a large brandy snifter near
the register.  I turned away, sipping my bourbon, and looked at
the patrons.  I was surprised by the number of people sitting
there reading.

Now, I read as much as the next guy.  In my case, though,
the next guy doesn’t read too much.  There just doesn’t seem to
be enough time to get to most of the stuff I want to read, so
like a lot of folks, I just don’t do it.  But the idea of a place
like this fascinated me.  It reminded me of a coffee house, only
it was a tavern.

Near the back of the bar, in one corner, there was a small
stage.  A stool sat in the center of it, and a microphone perched
on a stand just to the right of the stool.  Directly in front of
it, two gentlemen were engaged in a rather animated discussion
with an attractive woman.  Near the doorway, a couple other women
sat across from each other; one pointed at the book she held, and
the other nodded.  At the bar, a young fellow sipped a beer and
perused a newspaper.  A bicycle was propped near the front door,
looking a bit lonely, abandoned for the moment by its rider.

None of them was my dream girl.  I headed toward the back
room, figuring that she must be in there.  The sign, in block
letters, said PUB,TOO.

But she wasn’t in there.  I sauntered into the room, not
really joining in with the crowd, but getting close enough to
listen to the discussions.  I heard one young lady discussing a
high profile trial of a celebrity.  I gathered that the most
heated discussion of the afternoon, though, centered on sports.
Several folks participated in that discussion.

A guy, who I at first swore was Kenny Rogers, looked up, and
motioned over to me, inviting me to join in.  I was tempted, but
I was still on a mission, so I waved back, and told him I’d be
back in a minute.  I walked back into the main room, and made my
way to the bar, where I pulled up a stool.  The bartender was
there almost immediately.

“Still looking, hmm?” he asked.  I nodded.

“I think I’ll just sit here and relax for a few minutes, if
that’s okay with you.”

“Okay?  We love newbies!”  I smiled, wondering what he meant
by newbie.

He leaned over conspiratorially.  “Have you heard the one
about the farmer who had the meteor fall on his property?”  I
leaned forward, not having heard this one.  He told me the joke,
and I almost fell off my stool, laughing.

As I gained control of myself, I felt a tap on my shoulder.
Turning around, that Louisville Slugger connected again.  It was

“You’re new here, aren’t you?” she said in a voice as sweet
as her appearance.  “Care to join me at a booth?  It’s always
nice to find someone new to talk with.”

I tried to wipe the stupid grin off my face, while accepting
the invitation.  Rising from my stool, I followed her toward one
of the dark booths.  I looked back over my shoulder at the
barkeep, and gave him a thumbs up.

“Welcome to the Book and Candle Pub,” he said, and smiled.
I was home!