#TheMartiniEffect (#HashtagNovella for #NYCBars Edition: Chapter 13)

The Martini Effect – Chapter 13 (Shangri-La Pas plus)

Chapter 13.1

Episode 13 (NCL Awning 1)

“Closer,” Marylou says as we turn down St. Mark’s Place.

And I continue to follow her.

“Closer,” she says again. “Closer.”

Marylou stops and stares silently at the Holiday Cocktail Lounge awning.

She enters quietly.

And I continue to follow her.

Chapter 13.2

Episode 13 (HCL Corner)

She takes a seat in the corner of the bar.

“This is it,” she says. Her eyes scan the interior of the bar. Her eyes widen and then narrow. Cold, cold eyes. “But it’s not the same.”

Chapter 13.3

Episode 13 (HCL Menu and Napkin 1)

The bar looks scrubbed clean and refitted since our last visit.
A more comfortable outfit, certainly.
The table of twenty-somethings next to us are heatedly debating the merits of the latest Star Wars movie. And the latest edition of some Manga comic. We don’t catch the title. The walls look redone and the furniture appears new, replacing the dog-eared sofas held together by duct tape I recall from previous outings we made here.

Chapter 13.4

Episode 13 (HCL Menu and Napkin 2)

The bar is newer. Fresher. Cleaner.
It now has its own menu. Its own napkin.

But it’s not the same.

Gone is the old fella who would serve cocktails without a soda gun. Who would always smell vaguely of urine. Who seemed more annoyed than overjoyed when traffic through the bar was busy.
The light in the place always felt dark and dusky. Like walking into an outtake from MIDNIGHT COWBOY.
It was like a final remnant of a New York that was slowly dying.
No more needles in the bathroom. No more cigarette ash settled in the crevices of our seats.
Before we quit smoking and starting eating tofu.
Before we started hitting the gym and cutting back on street meat from halal carts.

Chapter 13.5

Episode 13 (HCL Gypsy)

“No more Shangri-La,” Marylou says, her face wide from shock. “Shangri-La pas plus.”

And then her head falls in disappointment.

Because New York is ever-changing. Ever evolving. Always breaking one thing down and building one new thing in its place.
Because, sometimes, New York is more about spirit than landmark.

“Eating its own tail,” Marylou says.

I feel us grieving our reckless youth as much as grieving a dive bar that has now transformed into a respectable college hangout.
A place you could actually take a first or second date and not terrify them away.

But that was the former charm of this place.

It was never for the faint of heart.

We each get a vodka tonic.

They cost us midtown prices.

“Eating its own tail,” I say as we clink glasses and drink our overpriced cocktails.

And have a moment of silence for our honored dead.

It’s a lovely bar.

But it’s not the dive bar we came all this way for.

It’s not Marylou’s private Shangri-La anymore.

Chapter 13.6

Episode 13 (NCL Awning 2)

We finish our cocktails and step back onto the street.

“Where to now, Marylou?”

Marylou looks up and down the street.

“Someplace new, my friend. Someplace new.”

(Tune in next week for the next installment…)

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