And we're desperados waiting for a train
Like desperados waiting for a train...

Guy Clark

It wasn't planned but they didn't know that. I'd first heard the song on a trip to Nashville, TN some years earlier at a free Summer in the Park concert where Guy Clark played it to promote his new album. It had become one of my favorites and, more importantly, a favorite of some of the folks at the State Line Tavern. I would play guitar and sing and the bartender would keep the free beers coming. I had added a flourish at the end of the song. I would pick up the tempo and volume, like a train picking up speed. They really liked that. Outside the front door of the bar was the highway and the railroad tracks ran right on the other side of the highway; two ribbons, stretching the length of the valley together with Rich Mountain and Blackfork Mountain towering over them on either side. The two mountain ridges trapped the sound of a train like a tunnel. One night, just when I really got rolling with the final chorus of that song, a train blasted through, completely drowning out my sound.

My first reaction was one of annoyance. Then the tipsy audience started saying things like, "How did you do that?!" and so this tipsy performer just let them think the whole thing was planned. The serendipitous moment probably earned me an extra beer credit or two

The name of the place came from the building itself being positioned so that the Arkansas/Oklahoma State Line cut right through it. The county on the Arkansas side was a dry county so, for many, it was the closest place to buy a brew. Not a "real" brew though. Due to the archaic "blue law" in Oklahoma that forbids selling six percent beer by the drink, the breweries supplied a watered down version that contained not more than 3.2 percent alcohol. So we had to drink (and piss) at least twice as much to meet the same objective.

Sheri and I would go to the place after I got off of work. It was just seven miles from our house. For a while, when the twins were toddlers, we even took them along if Grandma couldn't watch them. In retrospect it probably wasn't the best environment for kids but there you go. They survived it.

One night a girl named Jen came into the tavern in shock, sobbing. Jen had just come by the scene of an accident that was that bad. She was the first one on the scene. We later learned that the driver had died in the wreck. A passenger, a young man named Ronnie, was blinded by the accident. I would later become good friends with Ronnie. He could recognize me by the sound of my car alone. Ronnie had been fitted with a glass eye to replace one lost in the accident. He had enough vision in the other eye to distinguish light from dark but no more.

One of my closest neighbors, Leroy, took over the tavern for several years. His wife, Elaine, worked as a cook in the same restaurant that I cooked at in the State Park atop Rich Mountain. They were good people, transplants from California, and Elaine was a mentor of mine. She taught me a lot about culinary arts and recovering from hangovers. Leroy had a progressive disease that required that he be fitted with a prosthetic nose. One night, at the State Line Tavern, Leroy and Ronnie were screwing around at the bar, and Leroy handed Ronnie his nose. Ronnie popped his eye out and gave it to Leroy. So they replaced eye with nose and vice versa, just to freak people out. You had to be there.

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