Drinking and DespairPosted: July 9, 2016
Richard stumbled into the bar and nearly knocked three chairs over trying to get to his spot.
“What’s up, old man?” the bartender called. “Am I gonna have to cut you off before you get started?”
Richard shook his head to clear it a bit. “No, no, I’m alright now. I just had a close shave in the street outside. Make it a double, eh, Steve?”
Steve eyeballed Richard a moment, then slowly nodded. “Alright.” He poured the drink and set it gently down in front of Richard. “Now tell me what happened out there.”
Richard knocked back the whiskey like an old pro. “Another, please?”
Steve nodded again and poured another, not having set the bottle down in the first place. He’d been bartending far too long to not know when to keep a bottle in his hand. “Start talking.”
Richard spun the glass a bit before taking a deep breath. “I don’t know what’s going on in the world anymore, Steve. They’re burning books out there. Kerouac, Steinbeck, Twain, you name it. Not the normal stuff that they always claim leads to Satan worship or whatever.”
Steve poured a single shot for himself. He loved to read in his off time. “Who’s doing this, old man? Some crazies or some church or who?”
“Kids!” Richard shouted. “Looked to me like college kids, maybe dropouts, I don’t know. I tried to stop them, and they laughed at me, Steve. They laughed. And then they pulled out hot dogs to roast over their book bonfire.” He drank his second drink a little more slowly than the first one, a little less shakily.
“People. This one’s on the house, old man,” Steve said, pouring another into Richard’s glass, shaking his head sadly. “We’ll never learn, will we?”