The old man had somewhere along the line established squatter's rights for that stool at the end of the mahogany bar. Although the twelve stools appeared all the same, green leather swivel seats sitting on top of well-turned legs of dark stained oak, the regulars swore that each stool had its own feel. And the old man's stool must have felt just right for him for he owned that place in the universe.
Come six-thirty, six days a week, in would walk this Silent Sam who went by the name of Mr. Wakefield. He was all that keen on making conversation, but when spoken to he'd be polite enough to give you an answer. For the most part, he'd spend three hours sipping on his Rum and Coke, and the rum had to be Bacardi. He'd been ordering that same drink for years, but each night he'd make sure that Big Billy knew that it had to be Bacardi or nothing.
Mr. Wakefield looked kindly enough, five foot ten, raw boned build, weathered face, salt-and-pepper hair, had the look of a turn of the century ranch hand that somehow got himself lost in the big city. Steel blue eyes that bordered gray, bright eyes, full of life yet somehow always on the verge of watering up as if he were carrying something mighty painful in his soul. He always wore a plain white shirt, starched stiff, black pants and a blood red tie, every night, the same darn thing. Yet, always cleaned and pressed.
He'd drink his drinks, say a few words to Billy, give a nod or two to folks coming and going, then come eight o'clock sharp, pay his tab and leave for wherever he went to. After he left, a couple of the old-timers might refer to him as Mr. Ropes. The newcomers guessed that he was a sailor or something like that. But eventually you learned that this nickname came from what Mr. Wakefield had done for living for thirty-eight years. Mr. Wakefield kept the books for the jail and every now and then, he did the hanging for the state.
Yep, that's right. At the end of the bar sat the hangman and he drank Rum and Coke and wore white shirt and tie, every night of his life except Sunday. On Sunday, he'd visit his mother at the County Home and go to Church to pray.
Folks used to ask Mr. Wakefield about his sometimes profession. He'd always answer the same. "Somebody's got to do it, don't they?" And when he would give that answer, they would always give him an agreeing look and then leave him alone.