At one corner of the bar, a man sits alone, staring at the empty glass an inch from his eyes, his wallet empty. He's hoping that any moment now someone will walk into the pub and shout "I got promoted today! One round of drinks for everyone, on me!"
Well, he's allowed to hope, isn't he?
He wears a somewhat loose black t-shirt, apparently hand-embroidered with pink, orange and lavender colored threads. The letters on the back of the T-shirt say K.I.S.A.
The only thing that separates this drinker from the rest of the riff-raff in the pub, is that his t-shirt looks clean. Washed, anyway.
A random drinker approaches the bar for a refill. He looks like a stockbroker who may have lost a few million today. He's not been drinking too long, so unfortunately for himself, he's still relatively sober. Relatively, of course, being the operative word. He notices our K.I.S.A. friend sitting alone in his corner.
"Heeeeeeeey!" he says to the man in the t-shirt, swaying as he speaks.
The man in the t-shirt turns slowly to look at him, as if half asleep. He nods.
Encouraged, the stockbroker sits down on the barstool next to his.
"Mind if I... ssssh-sit here withhhhhh... you?" he asks. In a short while speech will become more difficult - which will allow him to concentrate on his drink. But for now he's feeling chatty.
"No," comes the reply.
"Gooooood-d!" says the stockbroker as he sits down, and smiles widely. "My name is... is... Harry!" he shouts, and extends his hand. The shouting wasn't necessary, but it feels good to exercise the vocal chords.
The man in the t-shirt doesn't bother with replying or extending his own hand, and goes back to staring at his glass.
Harry shakes hands with the air, and says "Nic-sh-c-sh-e to meet you!"
The man in the t-shirt doesn't seem to feel the same.
Harry looks at the letters on the t-shirt and says "Naai... Niiiice embra... em-bra... embryo... em-bar-dery... colours!"
At this, the man in the t-shirt turns to him and says "Thank you. I did it myself."
"Gooooood!" says Harry, and smiles even wider. His smile is the kind that reminds one of the story of the man who smiled so much, that the top of his head fell off.
"What doesh... K-K-Kaaaay... Aaaaiii... Esssssshhh-ssh-sss... Aaaay... What'shit shtand forrr?"
"Knight In Shining Armour."
"Kniiight?" asks Harry.
"Yes," says the knight.
"Then where ish... your... your... horshe?"
"I hired him out to a man in Manhattan. He gives people joyrides around Central Park."
"Annnd the sh-sh-shiningggg arrrmour?"
"Gave it to a guy who needed a costume for a party."
"That too. But it's okay. I nailed the hilt to the scabbard."
"Because I'm out of a job and it was the only way I could think of getting my hands on some money."
"Nope. None at all."
"Thaaat shucksh!" says Harry, and pats the knight on the shoulder. "Get ano... ano... another onne!"
The knight looks Harry in the eye and says "Do you know how hard it is for a knight to get a decent job these days?"
"No," says Harry simply.
"Well, the last dragons died in 1572."
"No. The knights of that time had no understanding of the delicately balanced nature of the ecology. They killed them all!"
"No drrraggonsss... Go to Chinatown!" says Harry happily.
The knight decides to ignore him. "And you should see the women these days! They don't even need us anymore!"
"They don't?" asks Harry. The thought of women not needing men sobers him up a little.
"Of course not. They want to be independent now! They have jobs!"
"Mmmm," says Harry as he runs his tongue over his teeth. "Must be the chicken," he thinks.
"I nearly had a heart attack when I found out that they're actually learning self-defense!"
Harry nods vigorously. He wishes someone had told him a little earlier, though.
"I mean, women and self-defense? What do they think knights are for? Playing chess?"
"Hmmmm," says Harry. He wonders why playing chess at night is not a good idea.
"I was walking down a street the other day," continues the knight. Without my mask on, looking for a job as usual, when the most wonderful sight caught my eye. There was this drunk-looking man shouting at a woman who was passing by."
"'Ah!' I had thought. 'Finally a something to do!' I'd planned to rescue the woman from the drunk. Maybe she'd fall in love with me. Maybe she'd offer to make me dinner. If nothing else, maybe she'd offer me some money!"
"Ah," said Harry wisely.
"So, I stepped into a shop to put my mask on. I have my secret identity to protect, after all. But by the time I stepped back out, what did I see?"
"Whhhaaat?" asks Harry, in suspense.
"The drunk was lying on the ground on his stomach, the woman had her knee pressed against his back, and was twisting his arm behind him!"
"Ah," says Harry. He makes a mental note to stay away from any women after he leaves the bar.
"It's as if there is no purpose to my life anymore!"
"Ah," says Harry.
"Stop it with the 'Ah's already. And what are you staring at?"