His laughter pierced across the room, above the noise of the television, clinking glasses and loud chatter in the bar room. Some of the occupants simply threw a quick glance in his direction and immediately went back to their business. Others got quite curious at the lone stranger’s mien. This wasn’t a regular face in this bar.
The middle-aged man, whose vocal chords had just commanded attention, had a newspaper in his hands and was clearly unaware of the twenty something pairs of eyes that looked in his direction. He emptied his glass in one last big gulp that burned its way down his throat and into his stomach and slammed the glass back hard on the table.
The laughter suddenly disappeared and he became pensive. .
A few minutes passed and I walked up to him. It did not seem that he was aware of my presence so I tapped the table lightly, at the time saying, “hello buddy.”
From his startled response, it was obvious that I had snapped him out of some memory lane he had plunged deep into. The ruffled hair, undone tie hanging loosely around his neck, eyes that looked like they needed a year-long sleep…., my eyes took all of him in.
“Hello,” I said again, hoping he’d at least return my greeting. Silence. Something was obviously stuck in his throat I cynically decided and was about to make towards my chair, when my eyes caught something – a tear. He had been crying! Silently!
That drew me back. As I tried to reach out to him, he withdrew, at the same time standing up to his feet. I stood up too, to be in equal measure. Perhaps he saw the question in my eyes, for he inched closer to me, his forefinger poking my chest in rhythm to his parting words. He said, “Not when you love her buddy. NOT-WHEN-YOU-FREAKING-LOVE-HER!”
Was he drunk? I didn’t think so. Was he reciting a poem? That could hardly be explained by the tear sliding freely down his cheeks, nor by the reddened eyes.
He turned towards the door and walked out of it into the cold dark street. I decided to take a look at whatever it was that he had been reading, and there it was – the answer to my question.
Slightly above where his tear had fallen on the ‘Quotable Quotes’ column of the newspaper, I saw the marked out words that I was seeking.
It read, “When a man steals your wife, there is no better revenge than to let him keep her.”
Now, you tell me, is it really the best revenge?