Click here for part one.
A lot of the states had put their numbers in by the time the second old man came in. The restaurant had spilled over and there were more people sitting at the bar now. Some were watching the results intently. Others were just checking in and out between lulls in conversation, like it was a tennis match or something. I had stuff to do and couldn’t quite get away with just watching TV anymore, but I was doing that between lulls in work and conversation with the cocktail waitress, make no mistake.
I saw the old man sit down, easing himself onto the stool like an old man. He was more well to do than the alcoholic looking one at the other end. He was wearing a suit. But he had an edge rougher than time. He took his old hat off and sat it on the bar. He raised his finger in the air to me. I walked down.
“Could I have a double Southern Comfort, neat please?” he asked, with a voice like oiled boat rope.
“Certainly” I said, pulling the bottle and subtly looking for a state name. Louisiana. I looked to the screen on the FOX TV. There were numbers streaming across the bottom. Names of candidates I’d never heard of, states I only thought about every four years, and percentage predictions that presumably meant something. I saw the map on the bottom and noticed that the state I believed to be Louisiana was red.
“Hey!” shouted someone from behind me. I didn’t need to turn around to know that it wasn’t either of the young Asian couple. “Where’s that whiskey from?”
The old well to do man looked down at the old raggedy man. He raised an eyebrow but said nothing.
“It’s from Louisiana sir.”
“Republican!” shouted the old boy, pointing his old finger on his bandaged hand.
The old well to do man smiled and gently shook his head. He watched me pour the whiskey into the little glass. He took hold of it with his old creased hand, and turned to the old raggedy guy.
“And you’ll be a Democrat then?” he asked, throwing the whiskey down his tough throat, and bringing his eyes back to the old raggedy boy’s.
“Yes I am! And fuckin’ proud of it!”
I saw some people jump a little and look around for the person that dropped the big ‘F Bomb’. I took a step back. It had nothing to do with me. But I promised myself that anytime I was called upon I would offer them a whiskey that would antagonize the situation. It was already more interesting that the tedious shit on the TVs.
“I thought so,” he said under his breath, looking up to the screen.
“What was that?” shouted the shaggy old boy.
“I said I thought so,” said the old well to do boy as he turned to me, pointing to the empty glass and signaling for me to hit him again with a nod, “I knew it as soon as I came in. I could smell you. Goddamn hippy throwback. How’re you paying for those drinks eh? I’ll tell you how, out of my taxes is how you’re paying for them. So I’ll have another, on me!”
I poured him another whiskey, put the cap on and stood back again. I could feel the tension in the air. People at the bar had stopped watching the TVs. The conversations had dropped to whispers. Everyone was waiting for the old Democrat guy to say something. He just stared at CNN, watching the information pass him by. I reached for the Laphroig.
“You wouldn’t know the first thing about it!” shouted the old shaggy boy, holding his glass as I poured in the whiskey.
“Oh is that right?” shouted the other.
“Yeah it is!” he said, slamming that old wrapped up fist on the bar and throwing the drink back. “You’re too busy fuckin’ polishin’ your house of pearls and your fuckin’ caviar speedboat and your tiny little golden children to know about the real world! This America that you all talk about is a shit bag of lies! You want to stamp on everyone that isn’t white and rich! You’re fascist bastards!”
I felt myself going all wide-eyed. The people at the bar had all but stopped paying attention to the scores on the TV and were all watching the old men arguing. Looking round I could roughly tell who was siding with who. There was a nice little mix of Republicans and Democrats in the bar. I found myself wishing that they’d held one of the debates like this.
“Fascist?!” said the old well to do boy, snapping his fingers at me and the bottle of Southern Comfort. He took the bottle and poured his own. “Oh, I like that. Coming from a communist, drunk, in a bar. The staggering, slurring epitome of the last four years. Fascist he calls me? Listen, when you start contributing something to society other than a picture of failure, then we’ll talk politics. Why don’t you leave us to enjoy a Republican victory in peace huh?”
The people started muttering. I sensed that he’d suddenly divided opinion at the bar. They both had empty glasses and I didn’t know which to fill first. I picked up the bottles and made sure I was holding the Laphroig in the left and the SoCo in the right. The old men were staring at one another down the bar, with everyone in between leaning back. I collected each of their glasses and sat them in front of me. I poured them together. I slid them back along the bartop to the old men.
“And another thing-“
“I’ve heard enough out of-“
“You shut up sickle boy!”
“How about I come over there you elitist-“
The old men had both lifted themselves out of their chairs and had started to walk towards each other. They’d puffed their chests out and squared up, yelling at one another behind the impartial observers to all of this. I put the bottles down. I thought I might have to break up an old man fight.
Suddenly, just as the raggedy old man reached for the other old boy’s tie, the young Asian couple that had since moved to the dining area started clapping and cheering. The noise at the bar quickly disappeared as the restaurant started to cheer and groan. Everyone stopped watching the old guys and became fixated on the TV network of their choice. But by then it didn’t matter.