The Wormhole Bar And Grill

“We’re so sorry for your loss.”

“She was so young. She had her whole life ahead of her.”

“If there is anything we can do…”

Morris heard the platitudes too many times. He sensed what people were going to say before they opened their mouths. It’s not that he didn’t appreciate the sentiment, he desired time alone. Time to grieve in his own way. Alone with his thoughts, alone with his misery.

Morris hasn’t been alone since… ever. He moved out of his parents’ house and lived with and then married Belinda almost twenty-two years ago. They had their good times and bad times, just like everyone. The rough times began with her cancer diagnosis. Morris and Belinda went through the typical stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. That period seemed to pass by so slowly. But also so fast, he couldn’t believe that time could pass like that. Morris was beginning his acceptance phase when Belinda lost her battle. The digression back to depression was quick and merciless.

Morris had never planned a funeral before. He’s attended a few and had relayed the meaningful condolences towards the recipients. Now he was on the receiving end of them. His mom, dad, and Belinda’s mother helped with the arrangements for which he was grateful.

Selecting the casket, floral spread, picture for the funeral, newspaper announcement and on and on… All the obligations blurred together as one long assembly line of duties to perform. The funeral director took much of the burden off Morris. A few hours after watching his wife take her final breath, Morris would have to accept his new life as a widower.

Widower? Is that term even used anymore?

The morning began with a chilly wind from the south. Then came the clouds obscuring the sunlight. The climate seemed appropriate for Morris. A warm sunny day to bury his wife would be a grim contrast to his mood. The services went as planned. The singers sang, the mourners mourned, the preacher preached. Morris wanted this day to be over. A drive to the cemetery completed the services. And then her interment. This was it. Reality set in, seeing the casket lowered into the ground. Morris’s spirit sank deeper and deeper, along with his wife’s body.

Who’s going to plan my funeral?

Well-wishers from their church had lunch ready at his home. Morris wondered how a funeral could warrant such an appetite. The guests were pleasant and offered their condolences. Morris’s mom and dad stayed with him as the last church-caterer cleaned the remnants of the meal. His parents left after a bit of cajoling on his part. Today was to become the longest day of Morris’s life. Also, the first day without his wife. He could maintain a strong face in front of everyone, hiding his pain and depression. Afterward, he could let loose his emotions unabated.

Later that evening, Morris drove around for a while. He drove by a restaurant he and Belinda frequented often and pulled into the parking area. He remained there for several minutes, staring at the front door. They were there a couple of months ago. The memory was too fresh. He suspected there were acquaintances there, and he couldn’t take anymore well-meaning condolences. He left the parking lot and drove west along the major thoroughfare. The sunset was a blend of yellow, orange and maroon. He turned left, right and left again, not knowing where he was going. Not that it mattered. Soon he was in an unfamiliar part of town. He came upon what he thought was an alley. A dead-end at first glance. He saw a faint green light at the end. A sign of some sort. A building appeared at the end, a ‘hole-in-the-wall’, a dive bar. These can be the most interesting places. Interesting and dangerous, especially in an unknown neighborhood.

A sign with neon green script with the words “Open, come on in” hung above a dingy white door. Two dirt-stained windows on either side, with a car and a motorcycle parked near the door.

“Well, I doubt I will find anybody I know inside.”

The lighting was poor as he pulled in between the blue Chevy Malibu and the red Indian Scout. Stepping out of his car, he could hear music from inside playing “Hotel California,” arriving just in time for the guitar solo. He approached the door and said, “Well, here goes nothing.”

Morris exited the building and walked to his car and never noticed the Chevy and Scout were both gone. He entered his car and backed up when he noticed the yellow hue on the horizon. It took him a few moments to realize he was facing a new sunrise.

“How long was I in that place?”

Morris then realized he didn’t remember being inside the bar. He didn’t feel drunk, but definitely confused, and sat there for several minutes, trying to recreate the events from the previous evening. He arrived sometime between 9 and 10 PM. He confirms the current time is 7:18AM.

“What have I been doing for eight, nine, TEN hours? Seriously?”

He couldn’t remember being inside the bar. Not the décor, people or a band (if there was any band). He only remembers entering and exiting for what seemed like a single second. Morris's body clock was set for 10PM, not 7AM. Morris was ready to go home and sleep-off,… ‘Whatever this is.’

On his way home, he stopped at a red light when he noticed a female crossing in front of him. She was a spitting image of his wife.

“For Christ’s sake! Am I seeing ghosts now?”

The sight of her stunned him. He knew that was not his wife, but the resemblance was uncanny.

He didn’t notice the light turned green, nor the impatient honk from behind him. Once the light turned red, the honk became a long, angry reflection of its owner’s temperament. Once the light changed, he proceeded to the delight of the long line of cars behind him, one being a police car which followed him for a couple of blocks before pulling him over.

The officer asked for Morris’s identification and other documents, which he gladly provided to the officer. He asked if Morris had been drinking. Morris couldn’t remember if he had anything to drink. He didn’t want to deny he had anything to drink for fear if he did, then he’d test positive, then he’s in trouble. And if he admits to drinking, then he’s still in trouble. The officer waited for his answer. A response of ‘I don’t know,’ which was the truth, would appear suspicious. Morris was in a no-win situation.

Morris tells the officer, “Look, I haven’t had a drink since,” he paused, “I don’t know when. If you’re concerned about back there at the light, I just lost my wife. I buried her yesterday and I may have been a bit distracted. I promise, I’m sober as a cucumber. I’ll take any sobriety test you want, and I know I will pass. I just want to get home. It’s been a difficult few days, hm, weeks for me.”

The officer noticed Morris’s breathing was deep and controlled, as if he was withholding an emotional response. He saw a tear drop swell and a quivering lip, to which he acquiesced, offering Morris his sincerest condolences.

The officer followed Morris for a few blocks. Morris turned left towards his home while the officer proceeded forward to a productive day.

It was almost 8:30AM when Morris arrived home. The sun shone bright and warm and welcomed a new day. Morris’s life appeared to be on the mend.

He entered his house and sat down on the sofa. Morris felt as if he was melting into the cushions. He closed his eyes and rested his head on the back of the sofa. He took a deep breath and then realized, “Oh man, I can still smell her perfume.”

A voice called out, “Who’s there? If you don’t leave now, I’ll call the police!”

Morris sits up and answered, “What? Who are you?”

A figure peered around the corner. Morris stood up, “Belinda?”

Belinda looked confused and frightened. “What are you doing here?”

“What are you doing here?” Morris replied.

“I buried you yesterday.” They both said.

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