I was sitting in a bar trying to remember how I’d got there, a smear of salt on my thumb, an empty shot of tequila sitting silently beside my beer. The beer was less than half drained, so I worked on that for a little while as I tried to solve this mystery. The beer was supposed to be the adjuvant for the liquor but it looked like the shot had been and gone without much in the way of a “by your leave” to the beer, and in my belly I felt them rallying to fight it out. Who stepped on whose boozy toes would be settled, probably at my expense. It didn’t bring me any nearer to plotting my coordinates, though.

For all I knew I’d been in this bar since yesterday, and yesterday was, from what I could recall, no unique experience. The day before then, perhaps I’d parked here the day before yesterday. But as dim as yesterday was, anything before that was a black spider spinning a slate web in the basement of a cave.

So I ordered another shot, and another beer, and asked the bartender what my tab was. The bartender said one shot and one beer. And before that? I asked him. The bartender shrugged. How you reckon I can pay my tab unless you keep track of how many dead soldiers I rack up? I asked. The bartender told me to stop posing him imponderables, gave me my shot and my beer, and took the used ones away.

You’d be surprised how many years a man can go on this way.

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