“Why do you come here every night?” he whispered low.
The bartender stared down the eyes of the man half drunk as he poured him his fifth whiskey and soda water.
“Why Bobby? Why?”
The deadpan pupils finally flipped and met Emmet’s, who was half surprised to see a shimmer of life. The signal of a philosophical response to his existential question.
“What? What did you say?” Emmet said.
The old man only stared at his drink.
Emmet shook his head. He went back to wiping down the oak bar in the empty pub. Outside the hoots and hollers of youth hustled home where they could keep up the revelry. Soon the crowded water street was quiet and all the establishments were closed, except his. Through the stained glass windows of his pub Emmet could see Shamus across the street closing down for the night .
“Why ar’ ya here Bobby?” Frustrated that he couldn’t be doing the same.
It was a rarity for Emmet to let loose the Irish brogue. It only slipped out when he was frustrated and found himself, like Bobby, slipping into old habits.
“‘Cause I don’t want to be home alone.”
The truth sliced the air as Bobby took the glass between his two fingers and thumb, arched it back, and then slid it down the bar where by sheer reaction was caught in Emmet’s hand.
“Two more fingers, please. Neat,” he requested firmly. Soberly.
Emmet kept eye contact with Bobby. Reached down, pulled out the aged whiskey, poured three fingers deep. Silently he walked it over and placed it gently in front of him.
They were both ashamed.