A Tale From An Unplanned Overnight, Three Bear Inn, Marathon, New York



They’d thought the place would be a gold mine.

These words came (wholly unbidden, not that it mattered to their originator)

Courtesy of the lone regular in this frowzy, nondescript Upstate bar

Attached, more or less, to an equally unhappy motel

Where two or three of us, consigned to stools by a capricious wind

Which had dredged up all the Lake Ontario moisture it could carry

Before dumping it in implacable white bands over this particular bit of interstate,

Seemed fated to call home sweet home for the evening.


The “gold mine” in question, we came to find out,

Was a small country store located in some approximation of a hamlet

Known as Blodgett Mills (we inferred, though it was not said as much,

That it was just down the road a piece, as such places usually are.)

What inspired such confidence in our new-found friend’s parents

Had not been readily apparent at the time,

Nor had the passage of time (and it was difficult to pinpoint

How old our unfortunate speaker may have been,

His visage subjected to weathering and wuthering

By forces that spoke more to the quality of his years than the quantity)

Served to clarify matters–he supposed they thought the forlorn little ski bowl

Up toward Virgil would, through some means of enchantment, become profitable,

Or maybe they’d heard whispers that the truck factory up in Cortland

Was planning to expand to some nearby abandoned farmland.

Hell, he all but spat, they probably got hold of the fool notion

They could make the place a go by hard work and force of will.

It had not worked out that way, of course; the combined encumbrances

Of hundred-hour weeks and skating upon the edge of bankruptcy

Had taken his father before he turned fifty, and his mother,

Rushed closer to the precipice through the addition of grief and guilt,

Soon followed him to the ranks of the choir invisible.

The son had no intent of taking the reins– place was no more

Than a fucking oversize coffin to me–nor could he find anyone

Who appreciated its limitless commercial possibilities,

And the bank did its due diligence shortly afterward.

The store had been vacant for years, perhaps decades at this point.

Place’s still there, our narrator assured us, winders ‘r busted up pretty good,

But the rest of the place hain’t in bad shape, not that it’s good for anything

‘Cept meetin’ a girlfriend or takin’ a piss out of folks’ line of view.


He’d said all he had to say, and so the bar was quiet

(The tiny and occasionally reliable TV showed the unhappy Doppler images

With the sound off) save for snatches of the bartender’s conversation

With a teenage son or daughter who was being advised

That mom wasn’t going to make it home tonight

So the place better goddamn well be just as she left it

And the constant growl of the winds driving the squalls

Which obscured a billboard up on the highway

Touting the impending if indeterminate opening

Of a resort on a man-made lagoon sanguinely named Hope Lake.



3 thoughts on “A Tale From An Unplanned Overnight, Three Bear Inn, Marathon, New York

  1. I agree, this is an incredible story…such a simple few moments of interaction turned into a masterpiece. I really enjoyed this read, and look forward to more of your writings 🙂

  2. skating upon the edge of bankruptcy…I love that phrase (though not the implications of it), that’s one that will stick with me, I think. My mind is beckoning me to say ‘delightful’, but I know that wouldn’t be quite the right response, though I do find the dialect and the details held within the story particularly pleasing. Much enjoyed…

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