After working a long shift, I decided that I needed to regroup my mind and get away from the day’s labor.
To let the job be what it is to me, a source of income, no more, no less.
Allowing a job to consume your mind can never be good for a person’s well-being.
I try to avoid that lifestyle. Unfortunately, the job always has something to say about it.
I skipped on eating any food, for I was not hungry, so that eliminated most of my options. I remembered a place in town where they served alcohol, though, so I figured that would be the choice for my rest.
I hadn’t been there since my college days, which is when it was popular, but from what I hear of the bar from neighbors and family, no one really goes there anymore.
Did the owners not keep up with the changing of the times, so the customers skipped to the bar down the road?
Did the scene change to no fault of its own?
Could it be that the bar was never really that popular, to begin with, and we are all remembering a false memory of a better bar from our youthful days? After all, no one wants to say that they hung out at the dive during their college years.
I never took the time to research any of the problems of the bar.
When someone spoke of it in passing, I’d casually mention that I used to go there and then move along, never intending on learning of the downfall of the place.
I am happy to say that I stuck to my plan of non-action here. I never googled the bar. I never drove by it. I never even asked further questions from a person who brought it up.
I treated the bar like it didn’t exist, as if I was a figment of my imagination.
I won’t bore you with the details of why I am overwhelmed at my job, for numerous reasons.
First off, I am not that interested in them, so even if I were to tell them to you, they’d be nothing more than a half-hearted attempt to amuse you.
Secondly, and to a matter that more concerns you, I don’t think you care.
You have your own personal problems with your own job. You didn’t stop what you are doing in order to hear of a stranger’s workplace problems. If you wanted to think of that, then you could just think of your own job.
When I entered the bar, it was the same run-down place that I remembered. I mean, I never thought the place was aesthetically pleasing. The walls are cracked, the stools are creaky, and at least two picture frames on the wall are broken. The lights were dimmer than anyone would like them to be.
The only good thing about the bar was that it had a jukebox and a pool table for the college kids to hang out, a TV to watch the game (whichever sport that maybe), and alcohol. That last point goes without saying, but if the place served only water and cream soda, no one would go. I have nothing against either, but I never heard of establishments based on such beverages.
An older bartender approached me as I sat at a stool. Her wrinkly face suggested that she was half upset that I was even there in the bare bar and half happy to have someone else there for some minor chit chat. “What can I get you, hun?”
“What do you have on tap?”
“Yeah. That works.”
She brought over a mug with my beer as I tried to keep my head above the counter. I was more tired than I thought, and perhaps grabbing a drink was not the best idea. When I finished my 14-hour shift, I honestly didn’t feel that tired. On my way over, I felt I had enough energy to sit down. Then again, I lost track of how many Red Bulls I had to get through the last few days at work. Yes, this 14-hour shift is not a solo experience, but an event that has occurred more often at work than I’d like to see.
I am grabbing a drink by myself in an empty bar. If that doesn’t define what nothingness is, then I don’t know what does.
I’m sure that guys like Emerson would disagree with me, but the nothingness of an empty bar can’t be compared to.
The only other person in the bar was an old man who sat on the corner stool, staring at me. I didn’t feel comfortable around him, but I also didn’t fear him, for I figured if anything serious were to happen, my youth and strength could take him.
“You know the story of true evil?” He spoke up.
"Eh? Do you, son?
I’m gonna tell you that evil is out there.
It preys on us all.
Guns to kill our own brothers,
Chems to drug up our innocent bodies,
Lies to deceive our feeble brains,
All so, we all go a little crazy.
Evil exists, and don’t you not believe it.”
I continued to drink my beer, realizing that I preferred the nothingness.
“Let me tell you.”
“What are you annoying this customer with? Gerry, leave the young man alone.” The older bartender with tired eyes said to the guy in the corner.
“You weren’t there, doll. I saw it myself. I’m lucky to get out alive.
He was a man, I tell you. Looked like you and me.
Had a face to smile, a mouth to eat, arms, legs.”
“He knows what a person is, Gerry.”
“But he was no man.”
He put back another drink.
He muttered to himself. “No man was he.
He did magic tricks for me and some friends in a bar like this one.
Somehow he convinced us to go back to his place.
And when he took us back to his home,
Do you know what he did?”
“More magic?” The bartender interrupted, rolling her eyes.
“No! It was no magic. It was something out of a movie!
But I was in no movie, you see!
I didn’t see Marlon Brando anywhere.
It was real life.”
He grabbed my arm.
“He had flesh like you and me, boy.
But he had something else on his insides.
Something that I never want to know of again.
He was evil. Pure evil.”
“So, what did he do?” I tried my best to continue the story.
“He…” The old man let go and shook his head.
"The magician took a knife out and cut the skin on his wrist.
All the way around the wrist, he cut, and then he took the skin of his hand off.”
Like it was a prop!” He yelled, alerting me as if I wasn’t listening.
“Like he was not bleeding to death!
Blood spilled on the floor, and he didn’t even move.
If I do that, I die.
If you do that, you die.
If anyone does that, they die.
But not him, not the magician.
It was like it couldn’t kill him.”
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the bartender roll her eyes at the customer.
“Me and my friends were scared for our lives.
I stood there, motionless.”
I quipped, “As he stood there, menacingly.”
He ignored the reference and continued on like I said nothing.
“The magician then said, ‘I got one more trick to show you.’
He then got the knife and started to cut around here. “
The old man motioned around his neck.
“So he cut off his head too?” The bartender asked.
“Well I don’t know! I ran out of there before he finished.”
A few moments went by because I didn’t want to continue the conversation, and the man was done talking. At that point, I wanted to finish my beer and go.
“You sure are a great storyteller, Gerry.
The magician who cut off the skins of his hand and face.
Real scary, Gerry.”
“He’s real, I tell ya!
There is a man out there in this world that can perform such an evil feat as that, that every priest, missionary, and saint should fear him.
He ain’t human. He is something else.
He’s pure and utter evil.
God have mercy on any poor soul, stuck in a room with that monster.”
“What did he do?
Take their souls?
Eat their skin?”
The bartender asked as I focused more on my drink than their exchange.
“Well, I don’t know!
I’m sorry I didn’t stick around to find out.
I was too busy being scared to death by the man who was cutting the skin off of his face.”
I looked at the bartender, not sure what to say of the rambling of a senior. I know that this man must come to this bar every day and night. He is already drunk. He is only talking to me because I am the only one there. I couldn’t tell if his story was real or not. He certainly believes it. I never heard of any such tale before in my life. I left a tip for my beer, got up from the bar, and headed for the exit. “Thank you.” I gestured towards the bartender.
“Evil exists, I tell ya.” The senior hollered as I pushed open the door.
“Have a good night.” The bartender answered.
See you scared him away.” I heard her say.
“I saved his life.”
In a bedroom in an unknown location, a man stood in front of a mirror, admiring his slim frame as a woman sat on the bed playing on her phone.
“What do you say? How do I look?
Black is really my color.”
He stared at the suit he just bought, holding up a gray tie in one hand and a black-tie in another.
“Oh whatever you choose is fine.” She answered, not interested.
“Black it is then.
I must ask you a question before we go.” He put down the tie on the counter and focused on the glove he was wearing.
“Do you believe in evil?
A pure evil, a true evil.
That there is something that is so bad in this world that it can only exist within itself.
One could say that it is not even of this world.
Life is subjective, right?
What is the world to a bat?
Wrong on the left is correct on the right.
To the sun, we are a small ball. To us, the sun is an essential part of our existence.
What is evil, but what is wrong at that time?
All murders, all the cheating, all the lying can be explained, can be justified.
It is not evil that caused any of it.
No. For there is no pure evil in this world.
The murderer claims self-defense.
The cheater blames desperation.
The liar lacks wick.
All that is evil is not evil; it is only a man’s interpretation of this world.
And man has been wrong once and will be wrong again.
There is no God, no higher power, no meaning to this all.
No God means no evil; only the world that we have.
The dust that we become, the air we breathe, the ground we walk.
There is no true evil, nothing so bad that it can be defined as pure evil.
No, that can’t exist, of course.
Such a concept is for those out of date folks who still grasp the model of good vs. evil, right vs. wrong.
They are fools, for there is no pure evil in this world.
No. Not evil in this world at all.” He took another look at his glove.
“Do you believe that?” He looked at the woman in the room.
“What are you talking about?” She asked, not paying attention to him.
He took a knife out of the cabinet and stared at his glove one last time.
“I gotta show you something.”
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