How cliché could you get?
I wondered that, sitting in front of him, two glasses and a bottle of the local moonshine between us on the table. The radio behind the bar playing Robert Johnson on his guitar, a couple of old geezers playing their game of cards in the back, laughing and talking about the latest gossip, the late afternoon humid weather coming through the open doors with the slightest of breezes, even the two mutts playing and running down the road. It was just how he liked it.
He squinted his dark eyes for a moment, bared his croocked teeth in a grin, grabbed the bottle, filled the glasses, put it down again, pushed one glass towards me and picked up his.
I picked up mine without taking my eyes off of him, we saluted, poured the burning liquid down our throats, put down our glasses at the same time.
He smiled at me while filling up the glasses again. I could feel exactly where my esophagus and stomach were in my body. In a way it explained to me why he only had grey hair and stubbles left despite having perfect black hair when he left.
The lady owning the bar came out from the kitchen, telling one of the geezers to take a bundle of carrots home with him for his wife when he’d leave, and went back into the kitchen again.
Even his voice sounded grey. I stared at the liquid. ‘Patience, tenacity.’
A Ford truck drove past, two men inside, a young boy and a couple of goats in the back.
‘Why did you leave?’ I asked, still watching the road.
He tapped his glass with his finger, emptied it, tapped it gently on the table. ‘Had to.’
It figured, there were more who couldn’t handle it anymore.
‘You could have quit.’
The chair and table creaked as he leaned forward. ‘You know what happens when you quit.’
I looked at his eyes again. It was obvious he wouldn’t accept that end. Couldn’t exactly blame him.
He leaned back again.
‘How far are we?’
I had to think carefully to keep track of the right history.
‘On the right track. The Tesla project worked out well as you can see. The Kennedy project is greenlit. There is some debate on Jobs, Torvalds and Musk. They doubt if that’s enough.’
We stared outside, the geezers called out the lady for another round of drinks, she shouted back she’d be on her way, Robert sang about the devil at the cross road.
‘All in the name of ignorance..’ he said to no-one in particular.
The lady passed by our table, bottle in hand. The geezers cheered as she filled their glasses. I noticed she checked how much was left in our bottle as she passed by again. The scent of cooking lingered for a while.
I watched him nod slowly as he gestured at his ear. I smiled.
‘You remembered how I once said I liked the sound of crickets on a hot afternoon.’
I shaved off another month of my theoretical life, put down the empty glass, motioned him to fill it up.
‘I remembered when I heard this old blues playing at your home. All that was left was searching for keywords and images.’
He looked at me.
‘In a few years your photo will be taken with some of these folks. I think you had a little too much to drink and forgot to stay low.’
I nodded once slightly in agreement.
He finished pouring the drinks, pushed my glass back to me, held up his own.
‘Job well done.’
We drank and he filled up again.
A couple of kids ran out one of the houses on the other side of the road. They laughed and disappeared down another street.
‘Not going to do anything about it.’ I said. ‘Nobody knows.’
I could sense him feeling a little relieved. He rounded his glass with his finger.
‘I just took a slight detour after checking the effect of burning down Tesla’s lab and having his tower torn down.’
We kept watching the road for a while, then I finished my drink and stood up. ‘Time for me to go, so to speak.’
He looked up at me. ‘Thanks.’
‘I’d almost ask about my end, but I prefer ignorance now after knowing when the world will end.’
I gave his shoulder a pat, left the bar and walked down to Robert’s cross road where I’d get my ride home.
I also hoped we would slow down the advance of technology enough for mankind to stay ignorant about the inevitable end of the world.
Mirror, mirror on the wall..
What have you done for me lately?
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