The writer sits, trapped in a box of his own making. The locked room mystery will remain a mystery until he can figure out how the puzzle will work. The pint of beer at hand is not making the puzzle design easier, but it is cheerfully joining several pints consumed earlier.
He thinks the puzzle’s solution has something to do with a stick, but is having trouble remembering just how big a stick is needed to pry up a manhole. If the stick is strong enough, and long enough. And doesn’t just snap, dropping the cover on his hero. So maybe it should be a crowbar, and not a pool cue. But then, why is there a crowbar just lying around in the back room of a pool hall?
Another beer will help.
The hero will have to use the manhole for escape, and it will count as a locked room if he opened it with something improbable, that is either taken along with him, or returned to its normal position unscathed. A pool cue is not sounding likely to survive this experiment. But it is found where beer can be had.
So the writer sits, musing about his locked room, trying not to count the empty bottles lined up, and especially trying to not compare the number of pages written to the number of bottles. Otherwise, he’ll have to start lying to himself again about his progress.
Maybe one more beer.