The bar was packed that Saturday afternoon. Five miles on foot was no longer as easy as it once seemed. The bar tools were almost all taken up along the narrow passage toward the toilets and gaming machines. Three bars tools remaining open at the gap where the barmaid had exit. A logical place to sit amidst all the purely male grunting and growling at the sports of the moment broadcast high up on the back wall. The patter about the latest contenders in the cyclical round of sports teams wrangling for another temporal privilege to be denoted the best. Best quickly being supplanted by another form of trivial competition that would for the moment be supreme. The Big guy at the bar stuck out his paw at the newest member. Softer old well worn office flesh grinding against working man callous. The palaver offered in unrecognizable rising stars and the coming season’s end competition that would close out the past year’s interest. The young female playing bartender passing through her gap sensing her salutation by way of asking the newcomer’s preference. The man having made sporadic appearances over the previous year answering by pointing to the full bottle in her grip. “The same!”, he added. The small girl halted in mid step she ceded the bottle and returned to the cooler behind her to wrestled out another glass soldier for the other unnamed party whisking by to serve the substitute bottle. Albeit a few seconds late.
Perhaps this old geyser was an oddity and not quite unfamiliar to her curiosity. Indifferent to the televised squabbles portrayed by mouth and tongue of flat screened past their prime former performers. He seemed more entertained by the ceremonies of male worship of large men going down the path towards impotence and little remaining social regard. Their drinking and the wealth of pocket required to continue it a peacock driven display of their manhood. Not so the unnamed stranger. The resident house brute a stool away asking his name. Pleasantries exchanged the conversation now took up the topic of weather. The bridge being a statistical quip noting the irregularity of the expected season for the showdown between the two best teams at the holy of hollies. The felicity of the old man’s staring in return interrupted after an interval as he simultaneously waved a tenner in the air to attract the barmaid to the fact that this one bottle green would be his one and only of the day. She asked, “Just one?” He replying to the effect that one being useful to take the edge off of so many miles on foot. Several miles more than usual no longer being as easily traversed as had once been the case. Adding that his drinking habits had descended into what was once considered reasonable by society of years past. The response breaking the plastic visage of her standard act leading to a momentary stony repose.
She offered a tiny heresy that she didn’t even like beer. The declaration and the manner that sh had delivered it revealing an insight that this was a job that she did for money not any sort of personal relish. The hairy old swollen animals along the length of the bar to the entrance a stool bound raging sea of wild beasts. This establishment a man cave bound lair for mildly voicing the discontents of the day of lives gone sour in the reflection of young men tasked to offer the best of what men were supposedly meant to. Physicality remaining here no where near the aptitude or requisite strength to even partially approach it. More rounds of beers being quickly ordered after attentive angst to slosh away missteps of their televised avatars. The old guy at the end of the bar staring unimpressed like a weed up the backside. A lighting spark of an electric more timeless connection between him and the young girl’s confession leading to an affirmation. The world the way it should be having no place in the modern world of a society gone mad on the perception of its own technical invulnerability. Something changed as evidenced by a silence. The game was revealed like the harpoon ridden back of the often storied white whale of old coming up momentarily. Yet all too soon to sound its hoary evidence of old pain back into the deep again. The heart and matters pertaining to the same getting no public airing lest it demonstrate the vulnerability of some weakness. Weakness an old man’s province. Another bar stool prone old inmate far off a testament to blunted manhood. The conversation concluding with the customary gift of advise against indulgence posed in inverted logic.
The sterling moment past, the old sage drained the dregs and picked up his stakes. His grizzly companion of the moment pressing the flesh hard once again. A tumbling rock bouncing politely past the gauntlet of beefy growlers venting their mild frustrations. Coming to rest before his doppelgänger enthroned at one of the two small tables at the front window. Both offering a wrinkle graced grin-like grimace. The table before him sporing a paper plate slice of pizza and a small plastic picnic bowl of tiny pretzels. Light fare for this old pensioner. The jovial gaoler on his way offering, “Two squares a day and all the beer you can drink!” “What a life!” The other old insect stuck upon a pin of a bar stool answering with an equally jovial nod of appreciation for being acknowledged. The bar’s interloper now outside under the cool blue of afternoon’s fade into beginning of the year’s ecliptic bound darkness. The world would assuredly tip back towards light in the coming months. A sense of assurance appreciated for that young man struggling mightily within the slow decay of another old man’s frame. Despite all the memories past of lives encountered and discarded by time he was still very much alive.