. . . Clive, the hunchback dwarf, who stood uneasily behind the bar balancing on his IKEA step ladder.
“Well”, Clive said, “you could start by saying hi to an old buddy.”
“Huh? Jesus, is that you, Clive? You’ve, you’ve grown – you’re full sized!”
Clive merely shook his head wearily. The things he had to put with.
“Ladder, Dude. I’m standing on a ladder.” He pulled out a bottle of St. Pauli Girl Special Dark, capped it and pushed it across the bar top. “If I remember correctly”, he said, winking. He leaned back a moment, almost toppling off the step ladder, but regained his balance with a graceful swipe and grab at a Heineken spigot. Bending over the bar he looked not unsympathetically into Joe’s eyes.
“From the looks of you, my friend, I’d say it’s time to bring out the heavy artillery”. With that he demounted his trusty ladder and began to rummage through his secret cabinet under the bar. “Here it is,” he mumbled to himself. Climbing up again, he slapped a dusty, 16-year-old Lagavulin single malt between them.
“This here? I bet myself that you’d be back. The others said no, he’s gone, but I said you’d be back. And I said to myself - when he comes through that door, we’re gonna do this baby. Like the old days.”
Joe took a long drag on his beer, and then took the filled glass that Clive handed to him. The whiskey sparkled with a wicked amber. He looked over at Violet and then demonstratively upended his glass. Turning to Clive, he said; “The last time I saw you, you were . . .