I take a mouth full of beer and decide against doing that again, it tastes like what I always imagined battery acid tastes like. And from the feeling in my stomach it was having a similar effect. As my eyes scan the room I think, ‘This is it, I always knew I would reach rock bottom some day and that day has finally arrived’. I was sitting in the worst shit hole bar in the worst part of town waiting for a guy I barely knew to give me a job. It wasn’t just my life that was falling apart, things were getting worse by the day for everyone. Paranoia was at an all time high, suicide and murder were everyday occurrences. Very little surprised anyone any more and it doesn’t look like getting better any time soon.
When I walked into the bar earlier, a body was being carried out.
‘Trouble?’ I asked the bar man who was cleaning a pint glass.
“Guy offered Jonny a peanut, Jonny freaked out, Jonny knifed the guy.” Said the bar man without even looking at me.
“Harsh” I said, “I know some people are allergic but that’s going a bit far aint it?”
“Huh!” grunted the bar man “Jonny hates peanuts cos elephants like peanuts. Jonny hates elephants cos that damn machine told Jonny his death would be cause by elephants. Now Jonny is going to the electric chair cos Jonny stabbed a guy who had peanuts which Jonny thought would attract Elephants.” The barman paused to pick up another glass. “Jonny was an idiot everyone knows that the only was to beat the machine is to surround yourself with what ever it says. Take me for instance 10 years ago I got a slip of paper that said ‘alcohol’. I walked straight out and bought this bar, haven’t been sick a day since. Machine don’t know how to handle it if you do that. Once Jonny saw elephant on that bit of paper he should have moved into a zoo. Sure one day a rabid elephant might maul him but I doubt it.”
“Ah…. Ya, makes sense I guess,” I said a little confused by the logic or lack there of, “So how’s the beer?” I asked in an effort to change the subject.
The bar man looked at me for the first time, smiled and said, “Best in Town.”
Back in the present I still couldn’t get over how many times the bar man had said ‘Jonny’. Man that was annoying, still not as annoying as that damn machine. It was about 20 year ago when it first appeared. For the super rich back then but soon the cheaper models started to appear everywhere. ‘Find out the answer to the only question you’ll ever need to ask,’ they said. What was that even supposed to mean, ‘Your born, life sucks and then you die’ that’s my motto. It’s simple, but people being people can’t leave well enough alone. No one is happy with A to B to C. No they have to meddle, You’re born, life sucks, you get a vague prediction of how you’ll die, you spend years being manically paranoid and depressed and then you die horribly. Ha, so this is where thousands of years of human evolution have got us. I think we would have been happier running away from some prehistoric monster at least then we would have something real to fear. Now we have only our minds to fear. Not me though, no machine was going to mess my life up. I was doing a good enough job of that on my own.
At that moment the door opens and my contact walks in. A skinny man with pale skin and dark eyes. He had the look of a tortured soul about him, he kept giving darting looks over his shoulders and had a twitch under his left eye.
“How’s the beer?” he asked.
“Best in town.” I say with a smile.