A man walks into a bar

Not just any bar either. It was their place, a dimly-lit haven from the noise, that constant wheeze of taxi tires on wet pavement; a place once enlivened by the sight of the man leading his lady by the arm to the edge of the mahogany bar. The couple always sat beneath the television, their eyes rarely shifting from each other's mouths, as if their words cast shadows. On this night, however, the man chooses a stool at the opposite end and slumps dejectedly. This surprises the bartender, a burly asthmatic, who stops swiping a glass. With a knowing grin the bartender ambles toward the man.

"What'll it be?" the bartender asks despite being fairly certain the answer. The man always drinks 14-year-old scotch NEAT with a sidecar of warm water, alternating sips between the two glasses; whereas his former flame would knock back whatever vodka struck her fancy that evening, be it flavored or rock gut.

"What'll it be?" the man responds incredulously, his eyes glassing over. He glances over the bartender's shoulder to the TV, a cathode-ray relic that beams the snowy image of a football game, as if it mattered. Summoning the words, the man lays both palms flat upon the bar. "I'll tell you what it'll be," the man says. "I want my life back. I want to be under that TV with the person I love. I want the eight years I invested erased from memory. I want to know why she left. I want answers."

Below the bar, the bartender taps the phone tucked in his pocket. He knows everything and nothing.

"What you're looking for ain't here," the bartender replies.