A website by Jeffrey Veen   more →

Two in the morning, Montréal

08 Mar 2005

Outside the pub it’s -11 degrees and the snow is piling up. I turn to take a sip of my whiskey and pause. Across the rim of my glass, over the shoulder of the person I am with, and across the bar, a man has a pool cue above his head and is swinging it like an ax. I hear a crack from the wood and then see a barstool arc over a table at him. Now twenty people are on each other and the bartender is dialing the phone and I’m reaching for my jacket.

“We should go.”

But the brawl has spread to between us and the door. A man near me is bleeding – really bleeding – like special-effects bleeding and I see a trail of fat round drops on the floor. There is so much swearing in French and everyone holding each other back. Things seem like they’re in slow motion but I’m pretty sure that has to do more with whiskey than perception.

And like that there are cops and the bar is empty. It’s really really quiet and it’s just us and the woman behind the bar and the poor guy with the mop. She fills our drinks and pours one for herself and we do this a few more times. There’s no tab when we leave.

The next day I wonder if this sort of thing happens all the time, or if this is just what I should expect at conferences for librarians. ​