Creative Nonfiction: Self-Driving Cars Permeate the Closing Soon Saloon
By Edgar Rider
If you walked down the street from Old Town, there would be an old strip mall with some decrepit businesses all lined next to each other. In between a Mexican restaurant and a laundromat, is where I began to frequent a dive bar called Closing Soon Saloon. I would start going there during long nights because I did not want to be at the chaotic apartment for too long. The bar had its own strange regular barfly’s. Me and my friend Muller joked that it was aptly named because we felt the bar would be shut down for good any day now.
When you first sit down, on the bar shines a sign in front of the television that says ‘It Is What it Is’. That summed up this situation I was in or more clearly ‘It Was what It Was’.
The 12-seat bar was shaped like a backward L. Everyone had to sit at the bar even though there were other seats surrounding it. There was a group of regulars that I would see there nightly, and at times I could see them there just walking past on my way home.
On the other side in front of the bar, there were three round tables: and four chairs each surrounded the small tables.
Smokers are not allowed to smoke in the bar; this was an inside State law. So, they sat out back on milk crates, it was past the bathroom doors and was sectioned off so no one could escape out the back.
There were many signs in the bar that probably encouraged regular patrons.
Some of the obvious one included a sign that said, “Happy hour all day.”
Other signs trying to show their sense of humor, “Free beer tomorrow” sign. Guess that would be a promise of beer the next day every day.
This hole in the wall had Been here 31 years 1985. It had even been voted best dive bar.
The bar had lots of attitude as well, some of the stuff I read on the signs that said, ‘Service may vary according to my mood and your attitude!’
Of course there was always the “No whining sign!” looming at the front of the bar.
My favorite was the PBR special 2.25. Because my budget is about all I could afford.
Other things you could order Popcorn, White Castle burgers, pretzels and crackers.
It was harder and harder to hang out there with the same people every time playing pool. It was a depressing atmosphere. Every time I came in the same people would show up and it didn't matter if it was Thursday or Tuesday or in the early afternoon of a Sunday. The same lady who was somewhat attractive except for her voice which sounded like cigarettes. There were slim pickens for either sex or preferences most of the other dudes were older one wore a cowboy hat and asked the token only bar lady at least most of the time to play Willie Nelson. An obnoxious group kept singing Wooly Booly for up to what seemed like 14 times.
I wanted out of the bar even more, I called my best friend Muller and said,”I got to hang out man where you at?”
We hung out until early in the morning and noticed something peculiar.
We noticed a strange car in the neighborhood driving around randomly at 5 am. It had huge antennas spinning at the top friend Muller and I had not seen a car like this. I thought it was a government spy car or a land surveillance car. It stopped in front of us took off and then stopped suddenly down the street.
I Googled the type of car but could not come up with any answers. Was it A Google car, Surveillance vehicle or a map car.
I asked on social media group if anyone had seen this type of car. I joined a local area group called the Paiute Community to see if anybody could help. I joined also because I went to grade school at the elementary school now turned into a community center.
Somebody got back to me and said it is a self-driving car.
FUTURE DESTINATION UNKNOWN (THE ENTIRE POINT)
Over the next few weeks, I saw more self-driving cars on different corners of both sides of the street.
Those futuristic cars driving around the neighborhood that had become more and more prevalent. I wondered how safe they were watching some videos on the internet of cars that had crashed in chandler.
I watched as people came out of the Closing Soon Saloon right down the street from the self-driving cars walking down the street as recklessly in some cases as the cars driving themselves with a driver in the vehicle supposedly just hanging out.
We began ignoring them. “Who knows where the future will take us.” Muller said and put his shades back on. He nodded his head as we got in our own car that barely started.
On this journey, it was painfully obvious just like these cars we could not let ourselves go completely full throttle. We had to bring in the reins so to speak in certain ways.
Although, we had been bold in our consecutive jumps, we still needed safety of jobs The escape at the Closing Soon Saloon was our momentarily refuge not just lounging in a depressing atmosphere. What was thought of as just a liquor haze of street cars had become the reality of our situation. It was then that we found out the Closing Soon Saloon closed for good.
Who knew where the future would take us. The cars were frightening and alluring at the same time. We wondered in ten years would everybody be driving one. How would they work? Would you need a license if you were 95? And could you get in your car without one if the car was driving itself.
It was a metaphor for mine and Muller’s experience navigating through someone else’s world trying to control aspects of it but not being in complete control; strapping ourselves to a chair on a couch in a living room, a roller coaster ride where autopilot completely takes over.
Edgar Rider has been published in Copperfield Review, Birmingham Arts Journal, Existere, and Scarlet Leaf Review. He has written and published three books 5990, Go Bare Maximum and Transcending in the Fictional Burnot.
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