The Mirror

“Give me another, Frank.”

The bartender nodded and poured a shot of whiskey into my glass. The pub was nearly empty. There was a couple whispering to each other at the corner table, and a group of twenty-something guys drinking to get drunk and hitting on the waitress. No one else sat with me at the bar.

I took a drag off my cigarette and caught my reflection in the mirror behind the rows of bottles. The silver hair on my head said it all. Old before my time. The mirror never lied. I raised my glass in a toast; my reflection followed suit.

The bell on the door announced a newcomer. I ignored it, as usual, until he came and sat next to me. He was a young kid by my standards. Short dark hair and clean shaven, dressed in a suit he’d probably worn a few too many times. He ordered a beer and sat sipping it for a few minutes.

When his glass was half empty, he turned to me. “You’re not supposed to be smoking in here.”

I tapped the end of my cigarette off into the ashtray on the bar and smiled. Gesturing to the bartender, I replied, “Frank and I have an understanding. I smoke. He lets me.”

“But it’s illegal.”

“Do you want one?”

He didn’t reply, so I handed him the pack and slid him my lighter. He took a cigarette, lit it, and handed the pack and lighter back.

“You’re welcome. I’d buy you a round, but this is already on my tab.” I raised my glass and finished it.

“Thanks. I needed… What the hell?!”

He had seen the two sitting across from us. Both had silver hair. His counterpart also had glasses and a scruffy, white beard. I just motioned Frank over with my glass.

“Why do we both have silver hair? Why do I have a beard and glasses? What is this? Some sort of fun house mirror?”

I took a sip before answering. “Nope. That’s just what you look like inside. What we look like inside.”

“That’s… This is crazy.” He practically ran out of the bar, leaving his beer unfinished and unpaid for.

I picked it up, looked at it for a moment, and drank it down in one gulp. “Might as well add this to my tab after all, Frank.”

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