"a short story about the demise of an executioner's soul"
The Jackson Street Bar was one of those invisible places that line the down and out streets in the sad part of town. Just a dark green door in a bare brick wall, a Miller High Life neon sign buzzing inside the wrought iron bars that shielded a cracked window. Over the door was bolted a relic of the hey day of Coca-Cola, one of those red tin signs that the salesmen would provide if you signed up for a year of deliveries. The red paint had been a long time fading and the rust was catching up, but you could still read the words, Jackson Street Bar, established 1941.
Come five o'clock each day and going to two o'clock past midnight, Billy Vernon, three hundred pound, ex-Marine, ex-wrestler, sometimes mob arm-breaker, would unlock that green enamel door, plug in that neon sign, and let the dead-end streets of life to come in to drink their disappointments away. It was usually the same crowd. Oh, each year a new drunk would stumble in replacing the old drunk who had died the week before, but it was pretty much the same faces. You could call them regulars of one sort or another. For some, the Jackson Street Bar was their home away from home, one step up from the flophouse they had to return to when Billy Vernon turned out the lights. For others, the place was a stop in their routine of making a living. And for most of these sorry souls that making a living had to do with the underside of life. You see this drinking hole was in the midst of Bail Bond Row, serving the esteemed clientele of the city jail just one block down. You would have your off-duty cops who would drop by after their shift was over, even the occasional lawyers who would get the hankering to slum it for a time. You had your retired hookers and your ex-cons and you had the old guy who always sat at the end of the bar, drinking round after round of Rum and Coke.
This is his story. The story of the man who always sits at the end of the bar. And every bar has one.