He strolled down the lonely road filled with emptiness and darkness except for the occasional suns on the sidewalk by the street lights above. Life hadn’t turned out exactly the way he had imagined it would. The love for numbers had slowly faded away, they drove him crazy in his office now; the woman who waited for him back home did not seem very attractive anymore; the children merely seemed a duty; stood for the love that they had once shared. How monotonous was life, how unattractive; empty. He found himself in need of something different; something that would relieve him of this monotony, and offer him something interesting for a change.
When he got clear of his thoughts, he found himself in a bar. The wooden colored counter on the right stretched to the very end. The broken jukebox occupied some space and the dart board stood so gallantly occupying the wall. On the other side of the bar were lain a few tables which provided for groups that were crude, both in nature and in looks. He made his way to one of the stools at the counter and felt insecure turning around and finding himself being pointed out by a group and being called a drunkard and laughed at.
“That’d be me mate.” He turned his face to see a middle aged man with a glass in his hand and a bottle in his front. He looked at him and said again, “Perhaps they are referring to me.”
“And you say nothing?” he asked in a tone which proved him to be not one of the calm ones in the world.
He smiled and turned to the bartender instead of replying to his question, “A pint for my friend here.”
He did not look like a man of a bad reputation. He was dressed decently enough to sit among the finest of the city and his voice had a tone of command that would overpower anyone; and yet he sat there drinking, all by himself.
“I would be a liar if I say they’re wrong you know.”, he said finally breaking the silence between them.
“So you drink a lot?”
He looked at his face with a surprise in his eyes. No one had ever asked him that before. They had called him a drunkard, advised him not to drink, even maybe avoided him at times. But no one had ever asked him this before. His red eyes came back to their own shape and he turned his face back to his glass.
“Why did you start?”, he asked again, “When did you start?”
“Almost a year. I lost my wife and my two sons to a car accident…”
“And so you drink in their grief?”
“I drink mate,” he replied with his hand on his shoulder, “because that is my thrill.”
“Your thrill?”, he asked not completely understanding his point, half thinking to himself to be the whiskey talking and not the man himself.
“You see mate. Everyone of us has a thrill, a passion that they so profoundly love that it drives them crazy. You will do anything for it. You see the man seated in a brown jacket behind you”, he said pointing at someone, “he is an editor. His thrill, on the other hand, is to observe people. To deduce the lives of strangers. The diary on his table that you see, is his life long work, filled with assumptions of every stranger he has ever met.”, he paused and then asked, “Don’t you have a thrill too mate?”
He thought a little and then replied, “I don’t think I do.”
He smiled at him said, “Everyone does mate. Some of us just don’t know what is yet. Have you never loved something that you would do anything for it? Have you never loved someone that profoundly?”
“I have. But…”, he stopped realizing that he was only talking to a stranger and then started again, “So that’s your thrill you say? Losing your senses and being called the drunkard by others?” he asked rather sarcastically and enjoyed it, covering his smile by taking a sip of the whiskey in his hand.
“You get me wrong mate. It is not the unconsciousness that I long for. It is certainly not the reason why I drink.”
“You drink in grief, don’t you? Of your wife? Of your son?”
“I have their memories, yes. Pictures of the beautiful times in my mind that do not give me even the momentary reliefs. But you get used to it over the time. You see mate, it is not a healer; the time. It is rather a harsh reality that you have to face and time gives you that exposure. It makes you face your fears, your wounds, things that had hurt you so much once that you thought you would never be able to go through them again. It gets you used to that pain, to that harsh reality.”
“So you do not miss them now?”
“I do. It makes you numb, the time that you spend with all that pain within you. It makes you indifferent to the world around you; make it seem like nothing else matters to you. It kills you. It makes you accept the pain. But I couldn’t allow myself to betray the ones I loved the most. What kind of a father would I be if I let myself out of the pain of their absence?! What kind of a husband would I be mate?!” He stared him right in the eyes which bore the pain of parting from the ones he loved so dearly. “You see mate, this keeps me alive. The thrill of being in the darkness of their memories. The liquor tries to take away the consciousness and with it, the memories. I, on the other hand, strive. I strive so hard and cling to them; to my sons, to my wife, to my consciousness, and to the pain, as a token of my love to them. I fight the intoxication mate. I do not give in. The world spins with all its might and people talk things that I do not understand anymore and my eyes betray me as well. The body fails to struggle with my spirit. It becomes heavy, and shaky. The spirit never fails me though; my heart, never fails them; my beloveds. Love, you see, isn’t about showing it off. It’s about the battle that you fight for them, for the people you love. It’s about the fight.”
And he rose up from his stool and turned around with a glass in his hand that he held higher than his head. “Mates” he shouted, “To the fight!”
“To the fight Mr. Mayor”, came a reply from the people in a loud support. He turned around after placing a bill in the counter, smiled at him and said “It was nice talking to you mate.” And then he turned and started to the door while he sat there going through the words of the man in his mind when he was disturbed by a beautiful face. “Are you alone here?”
He thought to himself of the wonderful opportunity that brought a smile to his face. His eyes fell on the ring on his own finger and then came to his mind the thought of his love that waited for him back home. He stared at his wedding ring.
“Hey mate.” came a voice to which he turned to realize it was the man that sat beside him earlier, “It’s always about the fight.” he winked and turned away.