The old green door creaked when it opened. The same way it always did. The same old pitiful, sad sound it had made for years.
Sad because, like the rest of Jimmy's Bar it wouldn't be broken the way it was if someone would only take the time to fix it, in this case to grease the hinges, and then maybe the joint wouldn't be such a dive.
But that was the way it was, and the old green door pretty much summed up the whole place before you had even stepped in.
It was an everyday scene, this dreary November afternoon like any other: the glasses from the night(or nights) before were still stacked up on the far end of the bar, waiting to be washed, or just used again. The regulars, as they were known really didn't care if they were drinking out of a ***** glass or having a shot or a short out of a pint glass or beer or a stout or a bitter or an ale or a cider or even a water or milk(to wash down or soak up the days drinking) out of the same old ***** glass they had been drinking out of all week long.
Anyway, when the door creaked this time, it was old Tom Ashley that made it creak.
He shuffled in like the broken down bindle-stiff he was. Yawning like a lion and rubbing his unwashed hands on his four day beard. His grey hair as bed-headed and dishevelled as ever. He was wearing the same crinkled-up blazer he always wore, tailor made some time in his youth but now in his advancing years was ill-fitting and torn at the shoulder, but still he wore a white flower in the lapel, and it didn't much matter that he had picked it from the side of the road, it helped to mask the smell of his unwashed body and whatever filth he had been stewing in his little down town room above the second hand book store. It wasn't much, but it suited him fine: the rent was cheap, and Chuck, the owner would let him borrow books two at a time, so long as he returned them in week, and he always did. He loved to read, and rumour had it, that a long time ago when he was in his twenties he had written a novel which had sold innumerable copies and made him a very wealthy man. The twist in the tale, went that he had written said novel under a pen name and no soul knew what it was, and when questioned he would neither confirm nor deny ever writing a book at all. It was some great secret, but after time people had ceased asking questions and stopped caring all together on the subject. All that anybody knew for sure was; he did not work and always had money to drink. It was his only great mystery. T.S Eliot and Thomas Hardy were among his favourite writers. He had a great stack of unread books he had been saving in shoe box on his window sill. He called these his 'raining season'.
But for now, the arrangement with Chuck would suit him just fine.
He dragged his drunkards feet across the floor and over to the bar. All dark wood with four green velour upholstered bar stools, that of course, had seen better days too.
He put his hands flat on the bar, leaned back on his heels and ordered
a double Talisker in his most polite manner. He was a drunk, indeed but 'manners cost nothing'' he had said in the past. Grum, the bartender(his name was Graham, but in the long years of him working in the bar and
all the drunks slurring his name it gradually became Grum)smiled false heartedly, turned his back and whilst pouring old Toms whiskey into a brandy glass looked over his shoulder and said, ''so Mr. Ashley, how's
life treatin' ya'?'' Tom was looking at the floor or the window or the at the back of his eyelids and paid no attention to the barkeep. He was always
a little despondent before his first drink of the day. When Grum placed the drink on the bar he asked the same question again, and Tom, fumbling with his glass, simply murmured a monosyllabic reply that couldn't be understood with his mouth full of that first glug of sweet,
sweet whiskey he had been aching for. Then he looked up at tom with
big his shiney/glazed eyes, ''hey grum,
now that it is a fine whiskey, Robert Lewis Stevenson
used to drink this you know?'' Grum did know, Tom had told him this nearly every day for as long as he had been coming in the place, but
he nodded towards Tom and smiled acceptingly all the same. ''The king of drinks, as I conceive it, Talisker, he said'' Grum mouthed the words along with him, caustically and half smiled at him again. Tom drained his glass and ordered another one of the same.
A few more drinks, a few hours and a few more drinks again
passed, Tom put them all on his tab like he always did. Grum,
nor the owner of the bar minded, he always paid his tab before
he stumbled home good and drunk and he didn’t cause too
much trouble apart from the odd argument with other customers
or staff but he never used his fists and he always knew when
he was beat In which case he would become very apologetic
and more often than not veer out of the bar back stepping
like a scared dog with his tail between his tattered trousers.
Drinking can make a cowardly man brave but not a smart
man dumb and Tom was indeed a smart man. Regardless
of what others might say. He was very articulate, well read
with a good head (jauntily perched) on his (crooked) shoulders.
By now it was getting late, Tom didn't know what time it was,
or couldn't figure out what time it was by simply looking at
the clock, the bar had one of those backwards clocks, I
don't know if you have ever seen one, the numbers run
anti-clockwise, which may not seem like much of task to
decipher I know, but believe me, if you are as drunk as tom
was by this point you really can not make head nor tails of
them. He knew it was getting late though as it was dark
outside and the lamp posts were glowing their orange glow
through the window and the crack in the door. It was around
ten o’clock now and Tom had moved on to wine, he would
order a glass of Shiraz and say ''hey Grum, you know Hafez
used to drink this stuff, used to let it sit for forty days to achieve
a greater ''clarity of wine'' he called it, forty days!'' ''Mr Ashley''
said Grum looking up from wiping down the grimy bar and
now growing quite tired of the old man’s presence and what seemed
to be constant theories and facts of the various drinks he
was devouring, ''what are you rabbiting on about now, old
man?'' ''Hafez'' said old Tom ''he was a Persian poet from the
1300's as I recall... really quite good'', ''Well, Tom that is
truly fascinating, I must be sure to look in to him next time
I'm looking for fourteenth century poetry!'' said the barkeep,
mockingly. ''Good, good, be sure that you do'' Tom said,
taking a long ****-eyed slurp of his drink and not noticing
the sarcasm from the worn out bartender. He didn't mean
to poke fun at Tom he was anxious to get home to his wife
who he missed and longed to join, all alone in their warm
marital bed in the room upstairs. But Tom did not understand
this concept, he had never been married but had left a long
line of women behind him, loved and left in the tracks of his
vagabond youth, he had once been a good looking man a
''handsome devil'' confident and charming in all his wit and
literary references to poets of old he had memorised passages from ,Thoreau,Tennyson ,Byron, Frost etc. And more times
than not passed these passages of love and beauty off as
his own for the simple purpose of getting various now wooed
and wanting women up to his room. But now after many
years of late nights, cigarettes and empty bottles cast aside
had taken their toll on him he spent his nights alone in his
cold single bed drunk and lonely with his only company being
once in a while a sad eyed dead eyed lady of the night, but
only very rarely would he give in to this temptation and it
always left him feeling hollow and more sober than he had
cared to be in many long years.
The bell rang last orders.
He ordered another drink, a Gin this time and as he took
the first sip, pleasingly, Grum stared at him with great open
eyes and his hand resting on his chin to animate how he
was waiting for the old man to state some worthless fact
about his new drink but the old man just sat there swaying
gently looking very glazed and just when the barkeep was
just about to blurt out his astonishment that Tom had noting
to say, old Tom Ashley, old drunk Tom took a deep breath
with his mouth wide, leaned back on his stool and said...
''hey, you know who used to drink gin? F. Scott Fitzgerald''
''really?'' said the barkeep snidely ''Oh yes'' said Tom
''The funny thing is Hemingway and all those old gents
used to tease Fitzgerald about his low tolerance, a real
light weight! He paused and took a sip ''but err, yes
he did like the odd glass of gin'' he said, mumbling
into the bottom of his glass.
Now, reaching the end of the night, the bartender
yawning, rubbing his eyes and the old man with
close to sixty pounds on his tab, sprawled across the
bar, spinning the last drop of his drink on the glasses
edge and seeming quite mesmerised by it and all its
holy splendour, he stopped and sat up right like a shot,
and looking quite sober now he shouted ''Grum,
Graham, hey, come here!'' the sleepy bartender was
sitting on a chair with his feet up on the bar, half asleep,
''Hey Graham, come here'' ''eh-ugh, what? What do you
want?'' said the barkeep sounding bemused and
in his waking state, ''just come over here will you,
the barkeep rolled off his chair sluggishly and slid
his feet across the floor towards the old man ''what is
it?'' he said scratching his head with his eyes still half
closed. The old man drowned what was left of his
drink and said ''I think I've had an epiphany, well err
well, more of a theory really w-well..'' he was stuttering
. ''oh yeah? And what would that be, Mr Ashley?'' said
the bartender, folding his arms in anticipation. ''pour
me another whiskey and I'll tell you''
''one mor... you must be kidding me, get the hell
out of here you old drunk we're closed!'' the old man
put his hands together as if in prayer and said in his
most sincere voice, '' oh please, Grum, just one more
for the road, I'll tell you my theory and then I'll be on
my way, OK?'' ''FINE, fine'' said Grum ''ONE more and
then you're GONE'' he walked over to the other side
of the bar poured a whiskey and another for himself.
''OK, here’s your drink old man, and I don't wanna
hear another of your ******* facts about writers
or poets or whoever OK?'' Tom snatched the drink of
the bar, ''OK, OK, I promise!'' he said. Tom took a slow
slurp at his drink and relaxed back in his seat and
sat quite, looking calm again.
The bartender sat staring at him, expecting the old
man to say something but he didn’t, he just sat there
on his stool, sipping his whiskey, Grum leaned forward
on the bar and with his nose nearly touching the old
mans, said ''SO? Out with it, what was this ****
theory I just HAD to hear?'' ''AH'' said the old man,
waving his index finger in the air, he looked down
into his breast pocket, pulled out a pack of cigarettes,
calmly took two out, handed one to the barkeep,
struck a match from his ***** finger nail, lit his own
the proceeded to light the barkeeps too.
Taking a long draw and now speaking with the blue
smoke pouring out his mouth said '' let me ask you a question''
... he paused, … ''would agree that everybody
makes mistakes?'' the barkeep looked puzzled as to
where this was going but nodded and grunted a
''uh-hum'' ''well'' said the old man would you also
agree that everybody also learns... and continues
learning from their mistakes?'' again looking puzzled
but this time more intrigued grunted the same ''uh-hum'' noise,
though this time a little more drawn out and
higher pitched and said ''where exactly are you going
with this?'' curiously.
''well..'' let me explain fully said Tom. He took another
pull on his cigarette and a sip on his drink, ''right,
my theory is: everybody keeps making mistakes, as
you agreed, this meaning that the whole world keeps
making mistakes too, and so the world keeps learning
from is mistakes, as you also agreed, with me so far?''
the barkeep nodded ''right'' Tom continued ''the world
keeps makiing and learning from its mistakes, my
theory is that one day, the world will have made so
many mistakes and learned from them all, so many
that there are no more mistakes to make, right? And
thus, with no mistakes left to learn from the word will
be all knowing and thus... PERFECT! Am I right? The
barkeep, now looking quite in awe and staring at his
cigarette smoke in the orange street light coming t
hrough the window, raised his glass and said quite
excitedly ''and when the world is then a perfect place
Jesus will return! Right?'' ''well Graham...'' said the old
man doubtingly ''I am in no way a religious man, but I
guess if that’s your thing then yes I guess you could be
He then drowned the rest of his whiskey in one giant
gulp, stubbed out his cigarette in the empty glass
and said ''now, I really must get going ,it really is getting quite
late'' and begun to walk towards the door. The
bartender hurried around the bar and grabbed Tom
by the arm,
'' you cant just leave now! We need to discuss this!
Please stay, we'll have another drink, on the house!''
''Now, now,Graham'' said the old man, ''we can discuss
this another night, I really must get to bed now'' he
walked over to the door, and just as his hand touched
the handle the barkeep stopped him again and said
quite hurriedly,'' but I need answers, how will I know
everything is going to be alight? You know PERFECT,
just like you said!'' the old man opened the door
slightly, turned around coolly and said ''now, don’t
worry yourself, I’m sure everything will turn out fine
and we’ll talk about it more tomorrow, OK?'' the
barkeep nodded acceptingly and held the door open
old man, ''sure sure, OK'' he said ''tomorrow it is,
Just as Tom was walking out the door he stopped
looked at the barkeep with large grin on his face
and said very fast, as fast as he could ''you-know-an-interesting
-straight-whiskeys......I-think-that's-the-record."!! HAHA '' he
laughed almost uncontrollably. Graham the barkeep looked
at him with a smile of new found admiration and began to
close the door on him.
Just as the door was nearly shut, the old man stopped
more, pulled out a roll of money, looked in to the
eyes and put the money into his shirt pocket, then putting
his left hand on the bartenders shoulder said ''oh and
Grum, one of those great ol' women I let get away, once told ,me:
''if you are looking at the moon then,everything is alight'' and slapped
him lightly on the cheek.
. Then finally, pointing at the barkeeps shirt pocket said ''
for the bar tab'' then went spinning out the door way with
the grace of a ballroom dancer(rather than the old drunk
he had the reputation for being) and standing in the
orange glow of the street and seeing the look of sheer
wonderment on the bartenders face still standing in the
old green door way and shouted ''LOOK UP, THE MOON,
THE MOON!'' The barkeep, shaking his head and laughing,
peered his head out of the door and took a glance at the
moon and grinned widely then closed the old green door
for the night. It made the same old loud creak when he shut it.