Just the 'Fax, man

Thirty miles of developments, drunks and dreams -- the ultimate road trip.

Highways sped up the way west, moving development in that direction, too. But progress -- if that's what you want to call it -- is finally headed over here, too. So Stu Mosko, who has the 21481 East Colfax listing for Fuller & Company, bills the $2.5 million parcel as a "future development site," not a fixer-upper. "I'm still having trouble getting this particular property sold," he admits. "We haven't had a lot of interest because it's a commercial/industrial, highway-related development. Everyone's expectations of the engine that would be DIA were overstated, and it's taken longer than some people thought."

Still, prosperity is on the horizon. Just last week, the Arapahoe County commissioners just approved a proposal to put 4,000 homes on the prairie east of here. -- Patricia Calhoun

7:32 a.m.: The Monroe Tavern,
3602 East Colfax

A real eye-opener: Bob Brown's Monroe Tavern starts 
pouring at 7 a.m.
Anthony Camera
A real eye-opener: Bob Brown's Monroe Tavern starts pouring at 7 a.m.
The end of the line: In the foothills, Colfax takes a turn 
into the Lafarge quarry.
Anthony Camera
The end of the line: In the foothills, Colfax takes a turn into the Lafarge quarry.

Only so many ways you can fold a dollar bill, hoping it will multiply. Only so many times you can rub George Washington's head with your thumb for good luck. Then it's gone. Gone. Thirst, or the deeper thing that makes thirst, gets the best of ritual. The man on the barstool lifts his chin at Tiny, and Tiny, with his bull neck and his Virginia-ham forearms and his bulging Illinois Law Enforcement T-shirt, rolls down to him in the dark. Tiny has twenty solid years of these mornings behind him. Been here. Done this. He silently refills the man's beer mug and, with unexpected delicacy, plucks the dollar bill from his fingers. Call the man Lou. Call the dollar bill Lou's last dollar bill. Folded and creased and, until this moment, his. Then Lou gets a look. Tiny looks straight at him for a second with his knowing blue eyes. Then Lou sees Tiny's broad, fleshy back moving away.

"I'm just tryin' to stay out of trouble," guy on the right says. He's talking to no one in particular. "I already been in trouble," he says. Lou pays no attention. Instead, he looks up at the TV again. This morning's movie, which everyone's watching in almost total silence, is about this very weird small town -- you know, crazy -- where every June 27, the people who live there get together in the town square and put their names on slips of paper in this big cardboard box. Then they draw names out of the box, and the loser, a woman, has to stand in the middle of the crowd. Then the crowd stones her to death. Of course, it's not always the same woman. Not every June 27. "Sometimes they stone a man to death," Lou says.

"Keep killin' people," Tiny says from the far end of the bar, "ain't gonna be anybody left in that town."

No one laughs. Ten guys crammed against a little half-moon bar in a cloud of cigarette smoke, and not one laughs. Lou doesn't laugh, either. It was his last dollar. Folded. "I crashed and burned pretty good last night," he tells the guy on his left. That one rubs a scraggle of beard with the back of his hand. "I hear ya," he says. He gives Lou a Newport and a look. So Lou puts a dime and a nickel down next to scraggle-beard's little wad of singles. Just like always. A dime and a nickel. But the dollar is still gone.

Up on the TV screen, the hero is telling the state police how these strange people in a small town drew lots, then stoned a woman to death in the town square. The state police obviously don't believe him. Especially when they all go to the town and nobody there knows what the hero's talking about. They don't know. Or they're not saying.

"That's one fucked-up town," guy on the right says. "Anyway, the woman got stoned is still RIP. Or DOA. Something."

"Let's get stoned," Tiny says. "The other way."

About 8:30, two security guards walk in the back door, still in their uniforms. They order beers. Just off work. The smell of work is still on them. Tired guys. Happy to be off. They have dollars. Little stacks of dollars, Lou sees. But when Tiny goes to draw their beers, the tap coughs and sputters. Empty keg. Lou doesn't hesitate.

"I'll change that out -- for a beer," he says.

Tiny crosses his big arms and gives Lou his blue-eyed look. "Yer beggin' now, ain'tcha?" he says.

"Yeah," Lou answers. "Badly."

On TV, the hero is in jail. A guy wearing a dark suit, guy with a neat beard, is just coming in to see him. "Hello, Mr. Smith," he says as the cell door clanks behind him. "I'm Dr. Carroll. Feeling any better this morning?"

"Nah," Lou says into the air. "He's not feeling any better. I already seen this movie." -- Gallo

9:14 a.m.: Lakewood Lanes,
8025 West Colfax

Standing at the worn counter, Debbie Moss smiles as she types on her laptop. An unlit Budweiser sign looms above her; two grandchildren play near the dormant fryer. "A lot of nice people come here," she says. "Some of the people who come here used to set pins by hand when they were kids."

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