‘Evening Phil. I’m on scotch tonight.’ He takes his usual position at the bar and the whisky appears in front of him. He’s been drinking all day, Phil can smell it on his breath. But, he’s still functioning so Phil places the tumbler down in front if him.
‘Rough day, Joe?’ Phil asks, fulfilling the barman’s eternal role as a poor man’s psychiatrist. He just gets a grunt in reply as the ginger head slams back the scotch.
Phil moves away to get another glass. Joe reached up to the scar beneath his left eye. He’d had three separate fractures in the orbit after that night. Along with a broken tibia, fibia and femur. He has another scar that runs the length of his spine from where that bastard had hurled him into the window.
The glass appears in front of him, full of his poison of choice for the day. ‘You wanna talk?’
‘You don’t wanna listen.’ Joe says, sipping his whiskey this time. ‘It’s a rough story.’
Phil gestures to the empty bar. ‘I gotta do something, pal. Otherwise I’ll be cleaning this glass all day.’ He runs the tea towel around the glass he’s holding. ‘Besides, I’ve got some psychology credits from university. So, what’s eating you?’
Joe sighed. ‘My stepfather beat me half to death and my mother stabbed him in front of me. He ripped the baseball bat I found in the wardrobe I’d been hiding in.’
Phil said nothing. This was the most Joe had ever said to him, even though he’d been coming in every day for the last four months. Usually it was just ‘Beer.’ ‘Scotch.’ Occasionally he’d buy a packet of peanuts.
‘It’s the anniversary. 15th June, 1994. I was twelve years old. I can still hear him calling her a bitch. I was watching through a crack in the door…’
The Idiot in Tin Foil