He was dressed fairly well for a man sitting in a dumpy dive
His drink turning a lighter shade of cola as the ice melted
"Once, a long, long time ago," he started
"I was successful, had a chain of small print shops."
He took a long look at his drink after he said that
"Then small office printers got cheap, and business died."
A quick sip of his drink and he continued
"Yeah, I had it made for awhile, a good long while."
Pause (for recollection or ?)
"Yep...a good run, for a good long time"
Again, a pause
"After I closed up the last of the shops
I thought I could retire."
Pause, with a listless stare into the distance
"I had money put away, had made a few investments
I thought were solid."
Another sip of the diluted, now ice-less drink
"But then my wife, my now ex-wife, demanded a divorce... ...after 18 years, almost 19."
Pause, bites upper lip, drums his fingers on the bar
"Had to liquidate everything - she got half, lawyers cost a fortune...hell, I got...nothing."
Pause, and a full minute of listless staring into the distance
"Now I'm practically destitute. Had to take a job
as a mid-level manager."
Drains the last of his drink from the warm tumbler
"Live in a lower middle class neighborhood in an old
3 bedroom fixer upper"
Motions for the barkeep to come over
"Sure, I drive what people call a luxury SUV but it's
9 years old and worn out"
Barkeep brings another tumbler of scotch on the rocks
"Have to buy all my clothes off the rack, had to learn how
to iron 'em myself."
A swig off the fresh drink, a deep breath, then another swig
Stays silent for a long while, then inhales the last of the drink
Gets up off the barstool, pulls a twenty out of his wallet
Slaps it on the bar and says, "Hey, thanks for listening to me
Just had to let loose."
As he walks out of the bar it occurs to me
That everything he listed that marks him as "practically destitute"
Is everything I've worked my whole life to achieve