Kyle sat by himself in the bar. Just him and his drink. He came to this bar to try to forget his troubles, and it actually worked for a little while. He would always feel like shit in the morning, but at least he'd have a few hours of peace to help him sleep. He took another sip only to find his bottle was empty.
“Great. Empty already.” He grumbled. He looked up to see if the bartender was busy only to realize the bartender had gone. Disgruntled, he looked around and to his surprised, the bar was empty except for one man with a suitcase sitting at the opposite end of the bar. Kyle looked around once more just to make sure the man was the only other person in the room. He shrugged, stood up, and walked over to the man.
As he approached the man, he noticed the man was wearing a suit, and the suitcase was actually a violin case. Despite Kyle standing less than 6 feet away from him and clearly being the only other person in the bar, the man paid no attention to him. Kyle hesitated for a moment, but realized the man wasn't going to speak first.
“When did everyone else leave?” Asked Kyle. “I could have sworn this place was packed a few minutes ago. The man ignored Kyle and checked his watch. Kyle furrowed his brow. “Excuse me, I asked you a question.”
“Indeed you did.” Said the man, without making eye contact. Kyle took a step back, startled by the man's voice. The man's voice was calm but stern, but what caught Kyle off-guard was the fact that the man looked to be in his late 20's but the voice made him sound much older.
“Um, well,” Kyle stuttered. “Could you at least answer it?”
“Perhaps. But what would I get out of it?” Said the man, looking at Kyle. Kyle took another step back when he noticed the man's eyes. The man's eyes were a shade of red that Kyle never knew could be an eye color. It was almost as if fire burned behind those eyes. Kyle was beginning to become anxious around this man. Something about him didn't seem right.
“Well, uh, you'd—um. You'd...” Kyle fumbled for the right words.
“I'd get nothing, is that what you're saying?” Said the man.
“You guess? Fascinating.” The man took a sip of his drink that Kyle only just noticed was there.
“Look man, I've been through a lot of shit lately and I just wanted another drink before I left to go home. Can you please just give me a break?” Said Kyle, getting tired of the man.
“What kind of shit?” Asked the man. It was then that Kyle realized the man hadn't changed his expression since Kyle approached him.
“If I explain, will you answer my question?” Asked Kyle.
“I suppose that would be a fine exchange. Please, sit down.” The man gestured to the other seat at the table. Kyle sighed and sat down. He began to explain what he'd gone through the past week.
Last week, Kyle had realized his girlfriend wasn't the same person he had originally fallen for months ago. She had become lazy, selfish, and downright mean. He had noticed these changes prior to this revelation, but he had only then decided that he had had enough of her. Kyle explained this to his therapist and his therapist agreed that it was time to end things with his girlfriend.
“What had she done to you?” Interrupted the man.
“She stole money from me, insulted my friends and family, refused to clean up around the house, made fun of my job, and basically made my life a living hell.” Said Kyle.
“Ah, I see. Please continue.”
The next night, Kyle talked to his girlfriend about what he had spoken to his therapist about, and she became furious. She screamed at him and made up all these claims about things that he had done to her that were blatant lies, and began threatening to tell his friends and family what horrible things she claimed he did to her. Kyle tried to calm her down but she ignored him and stormed out of the house. He didn't sleep well that night.
“Did she tell your friends and family?” Asked the man.
“She did, and then some.” Replied Kyle.
She did, in fact, tell his friends and family what he had supposedly done to her, and while his closest friends knew she was lying, his family and the rest of his friends totally believed her and began belittling him for being an awful boyfriend. That wasn't all she did, however. She also called his boss at his job and told all his co-workers the same things she told his friends and family, and when he came into work the next morning he was fired. When he came home, he discovered that most of his personal belongings were missing, including his valuables like his record player and the violin that his father gave him.
He found out later that his girlfriend had sold most of his possessions and burned the rest. Kyle was beyond furious at this and immediately called the police. They arrived at his house only to arrest him for domestic abuse. He tried to tell them his girlfriend was making everything up and that she was the one who was hurting him, but they refused to listen.
“And then what?” Asked the man.
“Well...hold on, I...don't remember.” Said Kyle, scratching his head.
“You don't remember?”
“It's all just a blur for some reason.”
“You were arrested and then ended up in this bar?” Asked the man.
“I guess so.”
“Tell me, what's the name of this bar?”
“Oh that's easy, it's...it's...” Kyle paused. “I...don't know...”
“Are you telling me you don't know the name of the bar that you are currently in?”
“Hold on, it's coming to me...I think...” Kyle covered his face with his hands.
“How did you get here?”
“I don't know...”
“What was the name of the drink you ordered?”
“I don't know...”
“What did the bartender look like?”
“I don't fucking know!”
“Well, then why are you here?”
“I SAID I DON'T FUCKING KNOW!” Sreamed Kyle. He could feel his face burning bright red. He breathed heavily for a few seconds. “I don't know.” He said. He repeated that out loud, covering his face with his hands again.
“Well Kyle, I think I'll answer your question now.” Said the man, unfazed by what Kyle had just done.
“I don't care about...wait...” Kyle uncovered his face and looked at the man. “I never told you my name!” He yelled.
“I promised to answer your question and I intend on keeping that promise. I will explain everything if you would just please calm down.” Kyle stared at the man.
“Nobody is here because this is how you like it here.” Kyle raised his eyebrows.
“You can't remember anything because you don't want to remember it.” The man stood up. “I could give you your memories back, but I don't think you'd want to know what transpired after you were arrested.” He walked over to Kyle and looked down at him. “Do you want to know?” Kyle looked around, and then looked at the man.
“Am I dead?” He asked, tears welling up in his eyes.
“If you have come to that conclusion, I don't think I need to answer that question.” Kyle covered his mouth with his hand, and squinted as tears rolled down his face. The man put his hand on Kyle's shoulder as Kyle wept.
A few minutes later, Kyle stopped crying. He wiped the tears from his face. The man had taken his seat back and folded his hands, looking intently at Kyle.
“How?” Asked Kyle, still wiping tears from his face.
“How did you die?” Asked the man.
“Yes.” Kyle's voice was emotionless.
“You were so furious over what had happened that you fought with the police, and one of them accidentally shot you.” Said the man. Despite the words coming out of his mouth, the man's voice showed no sign of pity or sadness.
“Figures.” Said Kyle. He looked away.
“Kyle, the reason you are here is because I have a proposition for you.” Kyle didn't look back at him. “I can help you in one of two ways, but you have to be the one to choose.” Kyle remained silent.
“I can either bring you back, exactly as you were before you died, but you will still have been arrested by the police and have to deal with the consequences of striking an officer. Or...” The man picked up the violin case and set it on the table, opening it up. “Or I can give you this, and you stay here.” Kyle looked at the violin case. It was the violin his father gave him. He looked at the man.
“What do you choose?” He asked.
As the man walked out of the bar, he stopped for a moment to listen to a beautiful song being played on violin.