How did it come to pass that Liberty Avenue in Little Italy has become to be so important to the Old Soldier? Well, even though I live in (North) Oakland, Liberty Avenue is only a short walk from my apartment building. And I’m too old to hang out in the college bars around the University of Pittsburgh (my alma mater, MFA 2006) like I use to.
Then there’s Armand’s bar on Liberty Avenue, home of the biggest first sandwich in Pittsburgh. Plus, a sixteen ounce glass of Pabst beer is only $2.00. Sweet.
Then Armand’s opens around 10:00 a.m. Mondays through Saturdays and around 11:00 a.m. on Sundays. Often times, I’ve already published my first column for the magazine by the time Armand’s opens and I’m ready for a leisurely walk and for my favorite high stool at the bar near the front widow so that I can watch Liberty Avenue and think about life and writing. The only other customers in the bar in the mornings are a few people who work at night or other retirees like me. The morning bartenders are baby boomers so I’m among my peers.
Armand’s is located right in the heart of the commercial district on Liberty Avenue. Across the street a couple of doors to the left is the East End Book Exchange which carries paperback copies of my book, Compressionism: The Pittsburgh Stories. I sit on my stool and wonder if the book is selling. Sometimes I work up the nerve to pass out my business card to people in Armand’s that I think might be interested in the book. I know for sure that at least two customers have bought the book.
I always bring my notebook to Armand’s. It’s a good place to work in the morning. If I stay until noon, more customers start to drift in. The kitchen opens at noon. But I don’t like to stay too long at Armand’s. I already spend too much money there. It’s the reason why I won’t be at Nico’s at the intersection of Pearl and Friendship in Little Italy for Saturday night karaoke until the first Saturday in February.
This is the Old Soldier reporting for the Pittsburgh Flash Fiction Gazette, the premiere online magazine of erotica for men and women.