Bar One

by Steve Mitchell

An old man, an impossibly old man, an ancient, ancient, old, old man shuffles up to my table.

“Why so pessimistic?” he asks me.  He grabs my beer and lifts it.  “You may say this bottle is half empty.”

“No, I-”

“But now look,” he turns the bottle upside down.  “Is the bottle really half empty?”

“No,” I say.  “It’s all empty.”

“Is it?”

“You poured out my beer.”

“Did I?  It’s perspective.” he says.

“That beer cost me six dollars.”  I say.

“The beer flows free.”  He sets the bottle down.  “Perspective, young man!  And you shall go to sleep wiser than you awoke.”  He nods and turns.

I watch him as he shuffles away, slowly, impossibly slow…still shuffling, little, scuffling steps, slow, slow, slow.  He stops and takes a break, catches his breath.  He’s one table away now.  He pulls his out his phone and sends a text.  He lights a cigarette.  He resumes his shuffle.  I lose interest and pass by him on my way out.

I have beer on my shoes.

I don’t feel any wiser, but the night is young.


© Steve Mitchell 2017