A scruffy and jaded looking man asked for another shot of whiskey.
"You sure you want more of those, Jim?" asked the barman with an intonation of a man who has grown accustomed to repeating this phrase over and over again.
Jim just motioned with his hand towards the empty glass in front of him with an equally trained gesture. It was more of a reflex, really.
If you woke him up in the middle of the night he could still order a shot of whiskey flawlessly.
"You haven't told me why you came back," said the barman. It was a late Thursday afternoon and the crowd was sparse. Lack of better options convinced the barman to pick up the conversation again.
"What?" asked Jim. He almost looked up from his glass. He was in his fourties and he was tired. His neck was muscular from looking up from his glass and asking for another shot of whiskey.
"You've told me you left this place 20 years ago. You said you traveled a lot. But you came back here. Why?"
"I don't know. Who the fuck cares?" Jim asked as he played with his glass of whiskey. If he was a glass he'd be filled with bitterness.
Jim wasn't a wordsmith. He wasn't even a wordsmith's apprentice. Not anymore, anyway.
He emptied the glass and asked for another. The barman complied.
"Besides," Jim continued, "Like I said, I don't know. I guess maybe I wanted to see what changed here over the years."
"And what do you think? 20 years is a lot of time."
"No shit," Jim replied as he was adjusting himself on the bar stool. "Barely recognize this old shithole. Coffee shops and whatnot everywhere. Who the fuck drinks so much coffee?"
"Young people and hipsters. And young hipsters," said the barman as he was drying up glasses with a towel.
"What the fuck is a hipster? There's more coffee shops than bars or food stores."
Jim had no time for the youth. He knew exactly how much of a twat he was in his day.
"Those young pricks never change. They stay the same, just go different ways about their twatishness," he said, "World around them changes. Circumstances change. But at their core they're always tedious little prats until they grow up and see shit in different light. Get some perspective, you know. That doesn't happen till they walk out of that coffee shops and stop wearing stupid clothes and sitting with their faces stuck in a fucking phone and whatever that fucking silver plank is. It's got an apple logo on it."
Jim now hated coffee, stupid clothes, technology and apples. He had a great capacity for hating things. You couldn't beat him at a game of hate. Disdain and contempt were his forté.
"Pour me another round," he said to the barman. "Probably my last one for tonight. Life's tiring when you have to deal with so much shit around you. I think I came back here 'cause I remembered it to be a quiet place. You could fucking think here. And now? Strange noises and commotion and those," he clenched his fist slightly, "fucking coffee shops on every damn corner. This town has got like everywhere else. Looks like them, is like them. Fuck originality, huh?"
He received his whiskey and downed it instantly. He put down his final empty glass for tonight with an expertise of a seasoned drinker. He threw a bill on the counter and left without saying a word.
He'll probably be back tomorrow. If not in this bar, then another one. If not in this town, then somewhere else. It's all the same now, anyway.