The Master
J. B. Mulligan

He was an old man, with a large, long face so wrinkled that he looked like a fingerprint with features drawn on it. He sat at the back of the bar each evening, and old women and young girls would enter and creep back to him, and whisper in his ear. He would whisper back, and the following evening they would return and thank him softly and profusely, speaking with the wings of a hundred butterflies. He would smile and nod. The bartender, an old man himself, swears that when he was young, this old man was already here, and already old. None of us believe it, but we don't exactly disbelieve it either. We are nervous when we see our wives and daughters going to him; they refuse to tell us anything. But they are always happy, which sometimes makes us even more nervous. We do not speak to each other of this, and our fathers refuse to discuss it. It's like an open secret, sitting in a booth at the back, which nobody will discuss, although we all know what we are not saying.

Every night he leaves at ten o'clock.

First published: August 2005
comments to the writer: Knob'