The emptiness here is malevolent

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Daniel Traub @ Guernica

Colin Asher travels to Youngstown searching for the realities of economic collapse @ Swink.
It’s a Friday afternoon when I walk into Iffy’s Place, a dank bar in Albany, NY, filled with withered figures drinking watered-down liquor in the weak afternoon light. The room smells like spilled beer and spent adrenaline. A hand written sign reads “Drink, Fight, Fuck.”I’ve begun to slide my coat off, and my hands are still caught in the sleeves of my jacket when a sallow face appears, looming just above and to my right.“Who are you?” it asks, with a slurred emphasis on the question mark. “You a skinhead?”My heart races as the last word registers. I hear every sound in the room, the clink of ice, scratchy whispers. Without moving my head I glance at the forearm to my right. It’s emblazoned with a swastika, rendered by a safety pin and fading. Shaking lightly now, I glance to the other side, looking for help. The craggy man on my left looks to be drinking his retirement check in $3 increments; he ignores me studiously. I weight my options: answer honestly, or torch my self respect and lie about my racial sympathies. Lying is the smart move but I don’t have it in me. I dim my eyes, loose the muscles in my face, and turn toward my more