It began to occur to Wang, that the life of an Extra Terrestrial sent to investigate human behaviour could be a difficult one. Especially so if the mission was based in a regional town in Australia
Wang stood admiring his work. The beer was good enough to use in an advertising campaign. The froth was thick yet sat mostly atop the glass. The condensation had only just begun to form as the amber fluid sparkled in the bar’s lighting.
‘Hand it over son, I’m dying of thirst,’ the old man mumbled. Wang snapped out of his trance of admiration and walked the glass to the end of the bar. The grey-haired figure frowned over his bushy eyebrows as he hungrily snapped up the nectar. Wiping away the froth from his moustache, he gave an approving smile. ‘That’s the good stuff, mother’s milk.’
It appeared he required no reply, so Wang moved to the other end of the bar and awaited the next customer. The air was thick with the smell of stale beer, and the lighting from the windows was sporadic due to the passing cloud. No one seemed to care about these sensory deficiencies, so Wang paid them little attention.
‘G’day mate,’ a middle-aged man of thinner build than was customary emerged from the heat outside and made his way up to the bar. ‘I’ll have a light beer. Whatever you’ve got on tap is fine.’ Wang obliged as the old man looked around. He was evidently not a regular. ‘Thanks mate,’ he handed over a note and left the change where it lay as he drank his beer with cool relief. ‘Not bad. I’m getting used to the light stuff. Doc says I need to cut back. The wife agrees, of course,’ he said without making eye contact. Wang wasn’t sure if he was talking to him directly but offered a mumble of interest just in case. ‘Thing is, I can have two of these and still drive. Before, I had to take the back roads; damned risky if the coppers were on a blitz.’
‘You could have had one only, I suppose,’ Wang said, calculating standard drinks and their impact (by average) on human physiology.
‘Yeah, but who wants to have only one? You only get the taste at the bottom of the glass,’ he took another deep drink.
‘Too right,’ said the older man at the end of the bar, emptying his glass. Wang dispensed another of the same for both men, a mid-strength and a light. His thoughts glossed over the words ‘rational’ versus ‘rationalised’, but he lost the thread.
‘Replay me ticket mate, thanks. Maybe I’m rich this time,’ the light man handed over a keno ticket and a $5 note. ‘Used to do two of those, but I’ve cut back. Wife told me so, and the Doc agreed of course.’
‘Bloody women controlling your life,’ the mid man said. His tone was gruff but taken as sympathetic.
‘Yeah mate, they mean well, but I’ve got make me own path, you know?’
‘Too right, that’s why the wife thinks I’m at the library. Speaking of which,’ the mid man finished his drink, picked up his hat and made his way to the door. ‘She’ll be picking me up there shortly.’
‘Won’t she smell the beer?’
‘Nah, I told her they serve grog there; she’s never been inside a library all her life. Come to think of it, neither have I. Well, hooroo,’ mid man was gone, light man chuckled.
‘Maybe people only believe what they want to believe,’ he said as he finished his second beer and waved his thanks as he headed towards the door.
‘Maybe,’ Wang was inclined to agree.