It was just after 10 p.m. on a Tuesday night in Statesville when Brian Curtin took a quick peek at his cards. Then he quickly folded his hand.
“Queen-six, off-suit,” he said when asked why he dumped them so hastily.
Curtin was among about two dozen people playing Texas Hold 'Em in an event called World Tavern Poker, held Tuesday nights at D'Laney's Sports Bar and Grill.
They are part of a crowd that is awake and active long after most city residents have called it a day.
D'Laney's is one of the few businesses that has its lights on after it gets dark in Statesville. Almost every parking spot in use in the city's entire downtown area after, say 10 p.m., is occupied by a patron of the bar.
“I guess you could say that it's kind of like ‘Cheers,'” Laney said. “It's a real friendly crowd and I almost never have had to deal with anyone who was being rowdy.”
Nicole Bement, Jessica Briceno and Lizzie Warlick aren't old enough to belly up to a bar. Nor would they necessarily want to if they could.
The three 18-year-olds are recent graduates of Statesville High School.
They were sitting around an outside table at Starbucks on East Broad Street about 10:45p.m. texting other friends and talking about the city's grim entertainment prospects.
“We were sitting inside but they just kicked us out,” Briceno said. “That's the first time I've ever been kicked out of a Starbucks. Now I guess the only place left to get kicked out of is Wal-Mart.”
The young women seemed resigned to the notion that if they wanted some night life, they would have to look elsewhere.
Todd Young is 30. He said the city doesn't have much for people in his age group, either.
He stood in the parking lot shared by Good Times and Tuckers, which are part of the same strip mall on Signal Hill Drive, trying to decide where to go.
“I'm a night owl,” Young said.
He said that, in Statesville, that takes a little shoe leather.
“You bounce between bar and bar looking for the right place to fit,” he said.