He sat in the corner of the bar reading Proust. There was a small gold color lamp beside him. He would pull the chain to make it brighter, or, more dim. It had a red lampshade on top with dangling pieces of black rope. He would touch the cords every so often as he turned the pages of Swann’s Way. He sometimes caught himself touching the lamp shade too fondly. He would place his hand on the bar and whisper, Bad hand.
In front of him was a snifter of Grand Marnier and a short dark stout. He’d drink from the snifter and roll the alcohol around in his mouth; tasting the burnt orange flavor. That was followed by a drink of stout. He preferred Guinness, but, Murphy’s would do. He continued reading.
A young lady seated in the middle of the bar asked the bartender who the man was? The man reading Swann’s Way so intensely. The bar keep chuckled. Told the girl, A regular.
A regular you say, the bartender nodded. Why there’s nothing regular about him, she said. He looks as though he’s violating that lamp, the bartender laughed, caught himself, then quietly chuckled some more.
He’s been reading in that corner for the last ten years.
No. He’s read other books as well. Joyce, Beckett, Camus, a lot. Never without a book that one, he said. Never.
And, he always drinks the same drinks?
Very routine. Yes, very routine. I make sure we always have Grand Marnier and stout. Never been caught without it.
I see. How long does he sit there? Reading.
Leaves at 8 every night to catch the last bus home. He pays his bill, places his book in the satchel, tips his hat and leaves. When he stops the world will end.
What does he do?
He doesn’t. Not that I know of. Knows how to nurse a drink. I’ll tell you that.
Outside it was dark. The man could tell it was getting late. He placed money on the bar and put his book away. He tipped his hat. Then walked out into the night. The young lady looked on from the front window as he continued down the street.
There he goes, the bartender said. The last of his kind, he smiled.
Yes. I suppose so.