Nearly every face in the DAM BAR turns to face yours as you step through the door. The place would’ve gone completely silent if it weren’t for the DIGITAL JUKEBOX in the corner blasting “SMOOTH” by SANTANA featuring ROB THOMAS of MATCHBOX TWENTY. The entire place is lit by low-hanging light fixtures, their shades further diffuse the dim light and promote long-defunct beer brands. The wall to the right is exposed brick, and the wall to the left is some sort of shiny, bumpy, white plastic similar to what you imagine might cover the walls of a walk-in cooler. 

Doing your best to pretend like you belong, you sidle up to the BAR, which is, curiously, empty; all of the bar’s patrons are at tables or by the DART BOARDS. On every table and atop the BAR are metal mixing bowls filled with SNACK MIX. The patrons resume their conversation as you squeak onto vinyl-cushioned bar stool. 

You find yourself face-to-face with a blank-faced, middle-aged woman with curly brown hair and a t-shirt that reads “HOWARD-WINNESHIEK CADET TABLE TENNIS - THE ONLY PADDLES ALLOWED IN SCHOOL ANYMORE”

“What can I get ya?” she asks.

“I’m sorry, but I don’t have any money,” you stutter. “I just–”

“As if I haven’t heard that one before. Hamm’s?” replies the bartender flatly.

“I think I could just use a glass of water,” you manage.

“What’s the difference?” quips the bartender, who, reaching for her soda gun, has already filled a pint glass with ice. As she turns to fill the glass, you can see that the back of her shirt reads “COACH.”

Hamm’s isn’t THAT watery, you think to yourself as COACH sets the glass of water on a cocktail napkin in front of you. You take a sip. The water tastes faintly of both coca-cola and sprite. You worry that you’ve annoyed the bartender, but when you look back up, you can see that she’s grinning.

“Well, what the hell brings you here?” she asks.

What do you say?

“I’m trying to find my way home.”
“Could I use your phone?”
“I’ve heard great things about the SNACK MIX!”