In the bar, it was cool, semi-dark, a bit damp and quiet enough to hear each other without screaming. The photos of old-time Hollywood filmmakers covered the walls. There were few people and most of the tables were free. Robert, that was the name of Wilfred's new acquaintance, made a welcome gesture to the barman, and when the barman answered the greeting, he said: "Two beers."
A waiter quickly brought a beer, chips with spicy sauce and salted assorted nuts. Wilfred took a gulp and nodded with satisfaction.
"Not Budweiser, huh?" Robert winked.
“No, thank God. I like this place.”
“Where are you from?” Wilfred wanted to be social.
"Does it really matter?" Robert also took a sip.
“No, I just asked for the sake of decency. Why is it that we talk all about me all the time?”
"Caz you need to vent. Let’s talk about me later. We’ll have the time. So, you said the wife has really got to you.”
Wilfred winced, closing his left eye.
“Not that I’m complaining. But yesterday, for example. She told me that everyone is complaining about me not say hello. And I go…, ‘Is it really me who’s not saying hello?’ and she goes ‘No, it’s me.’ She’s being sarcastic, you see, I say hello, but I say it quietly. And if they can’t hear me – it’s their problem!”
Robert laughed "More beer?"
“Yes thank you.”
Robert waved to the bartender and the waiter brought two more bears. ‘It's weird,’ Wilfred thought, ‘somehow, I feel at ease with him." Unlike his usual stance of barely saying a word in public, the words flew easily and he felt that along with the next glass of beer, he went into deeper layers of frankness.
"You know ... did you ever feel like you were in a bubble?" As if all other people, onlookers on the street, shoppers, co-workers, and even relatives seem to be as far away from you as if you were watching the news on the TV. They seem to walk, laugh, say something, but it's like they are behind the glass.”
"How is that behind the glass? What if they touch you?”
“When I touch, of course, I feel them, but as if not touching with my hands, but through…” Wilfred wrinkled his forehead and looked up, looking for the right word, “through a rag or something, through the plastic. You know, like it's a secondary touch transmitted through a dense medium.”
"Am I behind the glass, too?"
Wilfred again wrinkled his forehead, thought and swallowed from the mug. “No, you do not seem to.” He smiled. “In general, I'm fine with you.” He held out his hand to Wilfred, clenched into a fist and Wilfred touched his own.
"You're a good man, Robert, although you look weird." “I know.”
“Have you ever felt different from others: misunderstood, underappreciated?” Wilfred went silent. Robert just nailed it. Wilfred always felt like an alien in this world. He had never felt at home. He loved the city in which he was born, as well as many other cities, where he traveled or lived for a while. Yet, there was no city, where he felt himself at home, not alienated. There was no place, where people were happy to see him and greet him as their own? Gathering thoughts into a bundle, Wilfred bitterly stated that there was no such place on the entire planet.
Robert continued, "everything annoys you: books, films, people… Is it not?
"Yes," Wilfred confirmed sullenly.
"Do you want to know why you feel this way?"
"I'll tell you, but not now." - Robert looked at his watch.
“You think I should go home, huh?”
“I'm going to take you there. You look completely wasted.”
“You're right, I don’t know why? With two bears?” Wilfred indeed felt very sleepy. Robert clicked his fingers. The waiter brought the bill. Wilfred began to rummage through his pockets, but Robert raised his hand in a protective manner.
“Well, this makes me feel kind of bad. I, too, ...”
"You’ll pay you next time." Robert calmed him down. He paid the bill and left the tip for the waiter. Then they got up and wandered to the car. Wilfred needed support and not only the moral one.