Forever After - By David Jester

Part One


In the darkest corner of the dimmest bar in the dankest town, a man sat in silent rage; his only company a half-filled tumbler of whiskey and a lifetime of regrets.

He mumbled under his breath, pure hatred spilled out of his lips and seethed into hollow grey. He spat and he cursed and he grunted. He stomped his tattered trainers on the sticky floor. He shook his head in bitter insolence. He slammed his fist onto the table.

On the other side of the musty room, beyond a fetid assortment of stools, chairs and odours, an apprehensive bartender watched the actions of this deluded man out of the corner of an ever vigilant eye. He could see the man was hurting, he could see he had a story that he probably needed, and certainly wanted, to impart, but he didn’t want to hear any of it. He wanted the angry man to drink up and piss off so he could shut up shop without any confrontation, putting pay to a long day.

The drunk staggered to his feet; the bartender sighed inwardly. He stumbled forward like a man who has only just learned to walk, his gait unstable, his feet kicking through treacle. He crashed into the bar and used it for support, flopping his pliant torso over a surface that the bartender had been polishing for an hour.

“You married?” the drunken man chewed up his words and spat them out over the bar. Fresh spots of spittle glistened on the polished wood.

The bartender offered him a brief glance and an uncommitted shake of his weary head.

“Best way to be,” the drunk slurred, flopping an arm onto the bar. “Wish I was never married,” he said reflectively.

He tried to rest his head on his hand and after a few slips and a close call with the hardwood surface, he finally found flesh. He stared longingly over the bar. The bartender focused his concentration on cleaning a glass in his hand.

“Name’s Neil,” the drunk propped up his other arm and offered his hand to the bartender, it wasn’t taken. He retracted the gesture but retained his stare: “Want to hear a story?”

The bartender didn’t acknowledge the inebriate presently drooling droplets of whiskey soaked saliva onto the sticky varnish.

“Not the talking type huh?”

The bartender replied without making eye contact, “It's been a long day mate and you’re very drunk, why don’t you finish up and head home?”

Neil retreated. He threw his hands forcefully onto the bar, bruising his palms.

“My money not good enough for you?” he yelled. A deluge of alcoholic odour ejected from his mouth.

The bartender didn’t respond. He didn’t even wipe away the stray spittle on his cheek. His eyes remained fixed on the pint glass in his hand, a glass that was in danger of turning back into sand if he cleaned it any further.

Neil looked ready for action; the anger had boiled up inside of him. He glared at the unresponsive bartender and thrust his finger angrily over the bar, threatening an abusive lecture. Then he paused, halted and instantly cooled down.

“Fuck this!” he spat in exasperation, deciding there was no fun in arguing with a human wall. “I’m going for a piss.”

He took his glass of whiskey with him as he mumbled and stumbled his way to an ammonia drenched bathroom.

At the urinal, still cursing under his breath, he used his right hand to drink whilst his left aided with the task of urination. Dipping his nose into the glass he savoured the smell of the alcohol and eliminated the stench of stale piss and shit that was fermenting in the room beyond the calm amber liquid.

With his attention fully on his drink and his mind on other things, Neil’s heart nearly jumped out of his chest when, from his periphery, he saw a young hooded man standing next to him. He felt his body jump inwardly as his organs tried to leave his skin.

He turned to face the newcomer with an erratic fluttering in his chest. “Where the fuck did you come from?” he blurted.

The man in the next urinal answered in a mechanical voice without lifting his head. “I’m sorry if I scared you.”

Neil felt his heart settle down. His tensed muscles relaxed.

“You didn’t,” he assured, not wanting to expose his previous panic.

“Can you stop pissing on my shoes then?”

“Shit,” Neil snapped, steering the offending arc of urine away from the young man’s trainers and aiming it back towards the urinal. “Fucking...shit,” he said, laughing slightly “you