“Can’t you see I’m blind?” a woman says to me as I’m sitting at Mars Bar…shards of spit hitting my face and the rap tap rap of her cane on the back of my chair. I lean in a little closer to the bar so she can pass by…wedging herself between me and the jukebox on her way to the restroom. Nearly ten minutes into this place and I’m already about to get my head taken off…as if I needed another excuse for a drink anyway. ”A Budweiser please” I say and the smell of smoke from a man taking puffs inside the doorway hits my lips while another man at the end with slicked back hair and a scar on his temple gargles Frank Sinatra tunes to an overweight woman with bleached blonde hair. A small fan does a gentle whir hum on one of the top shelves…barely cooling the bottles of vodka it sits next to and I roll up my sleeves and unbutton my collar to lighten the load of the thick fog of stale heat permeating throughout the tiny area. Science I guess doesn’t lie and it surely is hotter here on Mars and on Earth we have soil and on the Moon we’ve found a soft grey powder covering but here on Mars there seems to be a greasy film covering damn near everything.
I go out for a cigarette and get handed a joint…taking drags on my Parliament and staring down Houston Street shouting “Houston, you have the problem!” before doing a quick knee jerk shuffle back into the bar to land on my seat once again.
I’m pretty sure I’m wearing the kind of spacesuit you can’t pee into, though I don’t know about that guy over there, so I head to the bathroom…stopping for a moment to put a few dollars in the music module and strike up some Tom Waits tunes. The first few chords of Tom Traubert’s Blues chime in as I open the door and it looks like someone’s been doing more than waltzing Matilda in here…the seat of the toilet completely ripped off and the smell of urine peeling the walls littered with grafitti. I hold myself up while business ensues and blurrily read the scrollings on the wall. NECK FACE and SWOON are nowhere to be found and I’m left thinking “What kind of a tag name is ‘shut your fucking face you fucking cow’ anyway?”
I gear up with more rocket fuel for some time and I can here a scuffle outside and so I wait to have my next cigarette and scan my eyes around at the bits of artwork adorning the walls only to somehow manage to linger too long on the leather jacketed scoundrel on the corner of the bar…him staring at me and sneering while clenching a piece of a stick in between his teeth. ”I’m trying to quit smoking” he tells me though this is 1 hour later and he’s sitting next to me and I’m ordering him a beer. Tales of lost loves and rehab are shared and the blind woman has gained her sight back after a quick nap in the corner table and she uses her cane to hoist herself up even as gravity tries to pull her down on her exit out. I down a shot and I’m pretty sure this guy has shot someone but tonight he’s a friend as is everyone here…all of us slurrily singing the lines we know to songs we’ve heard hundreds of times before.
Liftoff finally comes at around 4:15am and the cargo I’m carrying seems heavier now but I make it back to Earth and grab a yellow ship to take me home….tracing the buildings into the condensation on the windows and staring at my fellow humans walking in between the cars stopped at red lights. I wonder if any of them missed me while I was away…galavanting with the creatures at Mars Bar….the soft, friendly humorous creatures who are truly from another planet.