The Roundup Saloon
Bob Lastiri

Double wooden doors swing shut behind Dave, keeping traffic noise and the world outside the musty dusty old bar. The tall darkhaired bartender, in shorts and hiking boots, rings up Dave's Coke on the old fashioned gold colored cash register. He puts the change on the bar where the varnish is worn around a deep groove. Moose heads, a noose, a barely legible newspaper line the knotty pine walls, along with branding irons, ancient pictures and rusty rifles. Roundup Saloon, est. 1935 reads backwards in the front window, red and gold, pre 49'rs. In the back a real brick fireplace rediates heat and burning-wood smells. Outside are white painted shutters against dark wood. Inside are dusty neglected wood floors, worn deep around pool tables.
Dave walks past stapled poster corners, a vacated square on the ceiling, down the narrow hallway stacked with beer cans, to the men's room. Broken, mended, and haphazardly cleaned tiles, worn wood, and "For good head call Diane Bickford 652-9742" share space with Greek fraternity letters.
Loud music over which people talk blasts from the jukebox. It twirls three CD's hypnotically and takes dollar bills. Near the neon Budweiser sign in the shape of an electric guitar Arnold Schwarzenneger stares from a Terminator 2 pinball machine. A Bud Light banner promises live music every Thursday 9:00 pm no cover--it covers an old sign on the wall.
Dave watches an old guy with shorts, hiking boots, black sweater and narrow brim Spanish cowboy hat watch pool players. A slightly plump platinum blonde, fiftyish, with tight tan stretch pants, matching sweater, and gold high heels, sits at the bar. The place is really humming now, vibrating with life. It is nearly tangible. Cigarette smoke, beer smell, dust and must are blown away by three brass ceiling fans with blue lights.
Dave sits by the fire and watches a live guitar player take over. There is a Chamber of Commerce mixer going on with freshly delivered pizza. He inhales the pizza and burning-wood smells as the guitar player announces an "oldie" and plays "Yesterday"--the Beatles in cowboy country!
A familiar stranger says, "Hey Dave, how you doing?"
"Adrianl! I haven't seen you in years."
A couple look through the dingy front window and walk in. Shuffle board pucks click and thud, pool balls clack, people gather in knots and clusters. Lies are told with straight faces, deals are made, broken love affairs mourned, new ones rushed into--"I really want to get to know you better"--bosses cursed, and great decisions made. Another night at the Roundup Saloon.

First published: July 1996