I recognize this place; I’ve been here several times. The last time was three days ago. I would come more often if people stopped staring at me all the time. This place recognizes me as much as I do. They say I’m a crazy man. But what makes me different from them? Aren’t we in the same place? They stand there, along the marble counter, too noisy and cheerful, while I retreat to the far end, where the voices are muffled, where the light does not shine, lest it reveals too abruptly those who wish to remain in the shadows. That’s where I always sit, physically a few meters away from them, but I feel much further away in my mind.
So what makes me different from them? We are in the same place; we drink the same substance. Yes, that popular liquor that changes people for a while. Of course, there are some variations according to tastes. Like the young redhead woman with the white shirt over there, she prefers to have more cranberry juice than booze in her glass. And the tall man next to her prefers a mixture of soda and liquor. What a waste. And what do I like? I like to not distort the hard stuff and taste it straight, sometimes with an ice cube or two. And no matter the color, I like them all. The warmth of whiskey reminds me of my last love, while the coldness of vodka makes me remember my wildest nights.
But what makes me different from them? People are foolish when they drink. Some of them don’t even need to drink to be fools. But when they do drink, they become animals without the slightest trace of inhibition. And here they are saying that I am a crazy man. Is being foolish better than being crazy? And what makes me crazy anyway? Oh, I can’t even hear myself think anymore, among their laughter… so far away but so loud. I remember now why I don’t come here daily. Even if I choose the quietest corner of the place, their presence suffocates me. I must leave. The bartender sees me get up from my chair and waves me goodbye, knowing that we’ll see each other soon. Well, not too soon; I need to be alone.
I like having this place in the same neighborhood where I live. I can walk there and back home quickly. With a glass of single malt in one hand, I sit down comfortably in my chair. I am relieved that I got away from them. I hear my thoughts better in silence. I wonder what makes me different from them. It’s not like they have asked me anything to assume I am. They just look at me and say I’m crazy. Perhaps my age doesn’t help? I admit that my hollow, bruised old face looks nothing like their bright, hopeful young figure. Is that enough to call me crazy?
I never think as well as I do with a drink in my hand. The more alcohol there is the clearer the thoughts. But I’ve never been able to drink to the point of understanding their point of view. And the more they call me crazy, the more I wonder. And the more I speculate, the crazier I become. Oh, that’s what they want! Maybe they are crazy, and they wish to alienate me in the same way they have been themselves by making me think I am something that I am not. Oh, I’m tired of trying to understand them. The bottle of single malt comes to an end anyway, and so does my rumination. I turn on the television with the hopes of finding something to watch that will help me fall asleep. Is insomnia a sign of craziness?
News of the day. What a great way to go to sleep, but I watch it nevertheless. I recognize this place. An ambulance and two police cars are at the scene. Next to them, a young woman and a man cry desperately, crouching over a large white sheet stained with red, covering what appears to be a body.
“Woman has been violently beaten by a man who fled the scene” was written in bold at the bottom of the screen, while the news anchor confirmed the woman’s death. Police are still looking for the suspect; they say he should not be too far, given the incident’s time.
I remember now why I don’t like to watch much television. These horror stories just keep happening all the time. What a crazy world. And they say I’m crazy. That’s enough thinking for today, and thankfully the booze managed to slowly bring me into the dream world. I put my empty glass on the table, next to the finished bottle. As I get to the lamp switch to turn it off, I notice the glowing crystal reflected by the light. There are curious reddish stains on the outer rim of the glass. Well, I must have poorly washed it. Time to sleep.
©2021 Teodora D.