Whiskey. Leave the bottle.

Hang on, lemme stop you right there. You don’t know what I’ve seen in the last twenty-four hours—because if you did, you sure as hell wouldn’t be pestering me with all these questions about brand, quality, or whether I mean whiskey with an “e” or the Scottish stuff. Just give me the damn whiskey and leave the damn bottle.

Surely you can tell by the creases under my eyes and the lingering scent of nitroglycerin that I’ve had a rough one. Maybe you’re even smelling the remorse of an imperfect man forced into decisions he never thought he’d have to make. Well, as someone who’s definitely been to bars before, I’m familiar with the industry practice of allowing men on the brink of a psychotic breakdown to self-medicate with unfettered access to your inventory.

No, I wasn’t aware of the laws regulating the amount of alcohol a single patron may consume at once. Or that you would be held personally liable if I were to polish off, say, 750 milliliters of 80-proof liquor, as I’ve just stated was my intention. But can’t you see I’ve got other things on my mind?

Like the girl.

Or the job.

Or the best-friend-slash-rival who, earlier tonight, perished in an incident for which I may or may not bear some culpability. When a man’s been through what I’ve been through, he’s got no choice but to belly up at the nearest house of spirits and imbibe shot after shot of brown liquor he’s poured himself from the bottle conveniently stationed beside his elbow.

And no, before you ask, I’m not in the mood to talk about it. I’ve been told that stoic reticence is my second-best personality trait, behind latent vulnerability. Sure, I could’ve just purchased the booze at any of the dozen stores between the cemetery where wife is buried beneath a perpetual veil of misting rain and my home—but why do that when I can pay a 1,000% mark up on the exact same bottle? I came here, to this public establishment whose entire conceit is the furnishing of alcohol to promote conversation among strangers, precisely because I wanted to stare into the bottom of this dirty glass without saying a word.

I get it. You’ve got questions. Is that my blood? Am I connected to the high-speed chase downtown that destroyed half the outdoor market? Will I at least hand over a credit card if I’d like to keep a tab open while consuming upwards of eight drinks in one sitting? I’ll answer your question with one of my own. What’s the hold-up with that bottle, Chief?

Listen, there are two things in this world I know about: the pain of watching a loved one die during the building-jump portion of an elaborate bank heist, and bars. I definitely understand what they do, the social conventions of patronizing such watering holes, and how one orders the goods and services one desires.

For example, when I leave here (suddenly, following the appearance of a beautiful woman wearing soot-streaked lab gear and an expression of lustful rage), I’ll settle my tab with a hastily extracted wad of bills. It won’t matter that I haven’t consulted your cocktail menu, inquired about the price of the bottle, or given myself adequate time to calculate an appropriate tip.

I’m sure the math works out. After all, who knows more about the purchase of whiskey from a bar than a man like me?

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