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There’s this old guy who guards a stool at my local bar. The barman calls him ‘Jack’, ‘Jackie’, ‘JJ’, ‘Jones’ and ‘Jonsey’. He doesn’t say a word to anyone, not anyone, unless you buy him a drink, then he’ll talk to you, and only you mind, for as long as it takes him to nurse that beer.

He knows a lot, this guy. Jack. We thought he was one late check away from being a bum, but it turns out he knows about all kind of shit. Politics. Fashion. Art history. Philosophy. Sports. Somalia. Putin. The NSA and InfoSec.

He’s never there on quiz night.

I’ve never bought him a drink, but Rich, my buddy, did once. A cold beer in a tall glass. Whatever he was drinking at the time. Same again.

Once the beer was set down in front of him, Jack lifted his tired head and looked at Rich hard.

“What you wanna talk about?” He said

“Um,” Rich hadn’t thought that far, “I dunno. What’s going on?”

Jack nearly fell off his stool laughing, “Yeah, let’s talk about that,” he said.

They talked for maybe a quarter hour. I hit the head. Put some money on the pool table. Had a smoke outside.

When I came back in, Jack was staring at that same square inch of polished bar again, occasionally eating one of the nuts from the bowl to his left. Rich had left.

I heard later that he went straight home, to his folks, not his shittip flat. Quit his job the next day. Got his GED. Met a girl. Got married. Drives an ambulance now.

I also heard that one time, some guy bought Jack a meal and a drink….

Nook – Tool using higher primate

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