(Page 1 of 6)
Ah! The smell of cigars! thought Anton, greeting the stranger with a hearty pat on the back and an affectionate squeeze of the shoulder.
"I'll have what he's having," he called to the girl, who stood at the other end of the bar, flicking through a magazine.
How lucky, thought Anton, these two were, to be in his presence! What a story they would have to tell when he had perfected his design, when it all came out, when they recognised him on television in a few months time. Fancy he, a genius, talking to these simple people, who would live and die unimportantly, when he could have been out there mingling with the scientific elite, celebrated, adored by the cleverest people in the world for generations to come. They would turn to their friends and say; he came into my pub once, you know, and he was a wonderful man. He was humble, intelligent, generous.
"And one for him, too," he added, winking at the old man, who now smiled at him with a mouth full of gums.
The girl brought them over two glasses of whisky. Ah! Whisky, thought Anton, how I have always wanted to be a whisky drinker.
Anton hadn't touched a drop of alcohol for some time. His wife wouldn't keep any in the house, and he had spent the last four years in the garage, working. Today was the first time he had been out since he'd had his idea. And now that idea had come to fruition, he was hopping with excitement. He gulped the whisky and immediately ordered two more. The old man scraped his coins back into his pockets, silently thanking God for this fortuitous turn of events in a life governed by a need of whisky, and the money with which to purchase it. He garbled his gratitude to Anton, who received it graciously.
"Two more! Let's make a day of it, my friend. What's your name?"
The man blinked at him. "Gruhlem..."
"Gruhlem? Gruhlem it shall be. Hey, bring my friend Gruhlem a box of cigars would you? On me."
The whisky was doing nothing to calm Anton down. He looked at the old man, this garbling drunk, and he thought, well what harm could it do, to tell someone like this? This man wouldn't understand it, and if he did, he wouldn't remember it and certainly wouldn't be able to relate it to anyone else. You may ask yourselves, why, then, tell him at all? But Anton's purpose wasn't to impart knowledge. It was to purge himself of an incredible and extraordinary secret. To speak it aloud, to set the words out, into the air would be to make it real, wonderfully, self-glorifyingly real. That was one part of Anton. The other part knew what a mistake it would be to let his secret out, before he had tested it thoroughly, verified it a thousand times, and made sure it was absolutely safe.