I ordered the blackened catfish as they ripped the neon cactus and Stetson from the wall. Background sounds of crashing glass, chopping wood. A bulldozer’s rumble as my meal arrived, sawdust snowing down. Excellent as ever, I told the hardhatted waiter, one hand a forkful of fish, black beans and rice, the other a dark beer. Too bad you’re closing—where will I go for southwestern dining?
A wrecking ball shattered the wall, swung overhead. I looked around at the memories. The bar, devoid of liquor bottles and stools, where I held court with friends on weekends. One table where I proposed but was denied; another that hosted two first dates—both covered in debris. The front steps, now just broken bricks, where I tripped the first time in.
I ate slowly, savoring this last meal, as the ceiling became a cloudless sky. Brick and wood pieces drizzled down. Finishing the last bites, I asked about dessert. You’ve been a solid patron over the years, the waiter said, but now we must depart.
So I paid and left, as the last pieces rained down, the crew outside looking at me as if I were a funeral mourner. Progress, a man in hardhat said as I walked by. Hardly, I mumbled. The crumbled structure burped a cloud of dust. I watched, the beer and catfish tastes buzzing in my mouth, soon to fade away.