4pm. At the bar three regulars sat and sipped drinks. They sit apart. Three or more bar stools between each of them. The leather padding on select bar stools were cracked, exposing yellow foam underneath. Another customer entered and moved methodically to one such worn seat. The maroon padding sighs deeply under familiar weight.
I inclined my head toward the bartender. Neither of us speak. I let my eyelids fall, listening. Three cubes drop into a short glass. Trickling nectar. The slightest crackling. I inhale, a faint burn. Scotch. Finally, soda fizzes and the glass slides across slick mahogany to rest against my forearm. My lids flicker and I thirstily sip. Satisfied, gulps.
As I drank, I listened with one good ear. A cue ball strikes another sphere. I reveled in the sharp, audible sound. I enjoyed it because it permeates and resounds inside my skull. Many sounds do not. In loudness - bustling, mingling noise - sounds don’t reach me. I hear them but they are nonsense, a scrambled blur of meaningless racket. I enjoy this bar for its softness of sound. Most nights the cracking of billiard balls being the dominant utterance.
And I enjoy the regularity of my visits, how I needn’t to verbalize. Needn’t strain my puny voice to gain what I desired. The bar was one of the few public places I don’t avoid. Most others are loud. Busy.
I removed my pen from my laptop satchel and scribbled onto a soiled napkin: He sat alone in an unfamiliar bar listening to the static of the night. A grim smile hidden behind his shallow features. He held a glass of vodka to his lips and hesitated. His small penetrating eyes watch the room. He liked the bar. He liked the vodka. He liked the sound. He hated the people. He hated the smell. He hated the loneliness. His head was a maze. He could no longer separate his fantasies from reality. He tried, in vain, to find an anchor, yet none stood fast. He withdrew. His faults maximized, and his skills began to minimize. His observant, determined, independent behavior began to diminish, as a sad, cold, foreign sense of emptiness overtook him. His sense of being was no more. He felt empty, cold, lost. Gone.
I finished my vodka and waved to the bar tender for another.