I take another moment to taste it. Swish. I run my tongue through the fermented juice and recognize it as incredibly old wine, that kind that took a large and wealthy group of people to make. Stuff that can’t be made anymore, because how can you when the rich folks turned into the dead folks?
The shamble we call a bar has a layer of dust about an inch thick, coating the stools with a cushion of sorts. The wooden room, barely a room without a proper ceiling, is full of holes that let the daylight through in beams. With the dust in the air, it creates a really odd effect. The shit you’d see in an old movie to make something look bigger than it was.
I spit the crap in my mouth out on the floor. Not that it makes a difference.
“When did you say this shit was made?”
The tender looks at the bottle, squinting. His eyes aren’t so good, and he struggles with the finer print. “‘Bout thahteen yahs ahgo, son.” He polishes the label again. “O-ah fifteen. Naht ent-ah-rely shu-ah.”
I push the glass away, gagging lightly. “This ‘aint what it used to be. You’ll kill someone with this.”
I toss a couple of rusty coins his way, because at least the thought matters if the currency doesn’t. The way they click and thud on the counter just points out how unbelievably empty everything seems, because anyone else within at least a good 20 meters would have heard it; what’s sad is that just me and the tender heard it. No one else hears things these days, at least since the end of the world as we knew it, about fifteen years ago if the wine bottle is to be believed.
I walk quickly over to my beat up bike. Not exactly glamorous, but it certainly lasted longer than the cars with a lot less oil. Covers a decent distance. The wheels are full of patched tar and barely held together sawdust to keep the tire full of something, if not air then hope. Maybe.
I fix my gaze on the building at the end of the road, about 50 meters away. That’s where I’ll stay tonight, I think. Not that anyone would have words with me about it anyway: what’s the point when the rich man’s gone?