Monday, October 19, 2015

Hung Far Lo

 On a grimy street in Portland's tiny Chinatown
Through a nondescript door and up a flight of stairs 
was a room that looked like the cafeteria in a mental ward
A place that had survived on the strength
of its ridiculous moniker alone.
I never ate there; food seemed to be beside the point.
No, the real destination was the dark, tiny lounge
tucked in the back, large enough for perhaps a dozen people 
if you really crammed them in. A room desinged
for shitfaced groping.
I went there once with the girl from down the hall 
I had a crush on. She'd turned 21 the night before, 
though she said she'd been coming there for years 
using her fake I.D. This place was a miracle of shittiness, 
a dive to end all dives. But behind the bar 
was a bottle of yellow chartreuse,
and something that aspired to be absinthe, and so
We drank ourselves anonymous
She told me about the night she found her boyfriend
after he'd blown most of his head off with a shotgun.
At closing time we walked back to our building
Her face so pale and angular in the moonlight,
Her hair long and black, a gothic witch
I could love this girl, I thought,
About as stupid a notion as any I’d had
Up to this point. I wanted to invite her in 
but just said goodnight and watched her disappear.
I waited a while then couldn't stand it ny linger,
left my place and stood in front of her door
and held my fist up to knock
Held it there a full minute before
going back to my apartment 
and quietly closing the door.

After that I started seeing her slip into the place
of the guy who lived next door to me.
One night, drunk and alone, I heard her moan
and cry through the wall. A week later
the fire alarm went off and everyone in the building 
huddled in the cold waiting for the fire department
to let us back in. I went up to the two of them
to say hello. They both just stared at me without 
saying a word. She whispered something to him
when I turned away. I never spoke to her again,
saw her once across a crowded room at a concert,
writhing and thrashing, her long dark hair
dripping with sweat. 
I also never went back to Hung Far Lo, 
and when the city tried revitalizing Chinatown
their rent was raised and they moved out 
to 82nd with all the other strip mall Asian places.
I recently heard they'd closed their doors for good,
but at this point I don't care,
after all this time, I've shut down as well.

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