There was a guy not unlike myself, but it was not me. He worked in Seattle as an architect by day and horse carriage worker by night. This particular night, he was taking a couple on a romantic stroll past Westlake; the Christmas lights lighting the city more than the moon could ever pray to. Suddenly, the Space Needle exploded and lava came barreling towards him at tremendous speeds. The city was being buried in lava. As he saw the impending doom, he tried to ride away as fast as he could, pulling the carriage. The weight from the carriage and the couple it contained was too great for the horse to pull fast enough, and the lava began to take hold of the couple. The man did not even need to look back to know what was happening; he just continued to push ahead. He shoved thoughts of the city being buried by lava out of his thoughts and fought to go faster. His thoughts drifted and his vision went dark until he saw a light, not so much at the end of a tunnel, but maybe at the bottom of a staircase. Maybe a basement light left on, deep enough in the basement to light the stairs but not enough to identify the contents of the room otherwise.

At this point, I paused for lack of remembrance of what had happened next. Before I realized I had even paused, Earl picked up right where I had left off. I looked up, and there were all the guys, drinks in hands, Elmo handing me a bourbon, clean. Earlís tale brought back memories of my own dream. It was the same dream, but filtered through Earl. Like a rock thrown into a pond disturbing a perfect reflection, Earl sent ripples through my vision. Earl finished and Gus picked up; then Elmo. It was like story time around the campfire, building off the story the person to your left handed you. Gus finished and I began again, knowing this is where my tale fit in again. I donít know if I was making it up as I was going, or if my dream was still speaking through me. I didnít know where I was heading, but I knew when I was done, and I looked up with a smile on my face, waiting for Earl to continue like last time. I think the silence hit me before my eyes told me no one was there, but it could have been the other way around. Irregardless, I gulped down the rest of my drink. There was quite a bit left as I had been so into the story I had not thought to take a drink before, and the last bit burned just a little as I squeezed every drip I could through the ice cubes with my mouth.

Elmo had left the alcohol there, and I reached for the bottle to pour myself another drink. Before I got very far, the door of The Bar, the electrical box, swung open slowly and a light shone out from the inside. I gulped down a second drink quicker than the first and looked inside. The light revealed a staircase that seemed much too large to fit inside such a relatively small box. It appeared to open up into a room of staircases, stuck to every wall and even the ceiling. Each presumably led somewhere; other boxes perhaps. I still had my drink glass in one hand and the bottle in the other and I glanced a 360 around me. When I saw no one there, I shrugged my shoulders to no one or nothing in particular. Again, more for myself than anything. I hunched over, started walking down the stairs into the box, and the door quietly closed behind me.

photo by Chad Cochran