Drinking with Charles Mudede
I leave the great cave of Pioneer Square Station, walk past the oldest skyscraper in the city and the sunken parking lot on Yesler, make a left onto First (the brick buildings, the old signs, the wet air), reach the glass door of a shop that was once a bookstore but is now devoted, confoundingly, to the work of "skilled artisans, craftsmen, farmers, teachers, healers, and builders," enter the front, pass glass displays that contain many curious things, and there it is: the bar. It's small—it fits only about 15 or so people comfortably around its U-shaped counter—and dark. The shop makes no sense to me; the bar, of course, does.
I order a bottle of sparkling wine, Montmartre Brut. A fluted glass is placed in front of me by a woman who is dressed in black. The bartender pours, re-corks, and, before she can return the bottle to the fridge behind her, realizes that I'm already waiting for the second glass. (The first drink is always in fact the second; the first drink is never there, it's a zero, an empty space; the second drink becomes the first by filling the void left by that thing that never in reality happened.) The wine is properly chilled, balanced, not very bubbly, and dry. Above the bar hangs the head of an animal. Its glassy eyes stare into an air that's filled with music. The tune above my head is "Salvation Song" by the Avett Brothers (Wikipedia: "roots rock," "indie rock," "neo-folk"). "We came for salvation/We came for family/We came for all that's good, that's how we'll walk away," sing the Avett Brothers, who come from Concord, North Carolina.
The furry and thick neck of the animal is bolted to a decorative American flag that looks like the wings of a great bird. Below the neck and the flag are two iron picks that a gold dreamer of old used to crack worthless rocks that concealed the metals that would make him stupid rich and madly happy. The lights of a star hang on the brick wall above the small kitchen. The arm of the young woman sitting next to me is covered by a green and red tattoo. She is eating deviled eggs. Next to her is a man with a large gray beard who is drinking a frothy beer. When done with my bottle of sparkling wine, I settle my bill, stand, pass the main room and a glass counter that glows with a strange blue light, and enter the wet streets of Pioneer Square. Ghosts follow me home.