Patrick roamed the streets of New York City for some hours after that meeting. He knew he should go home but he was too restless to even sit down. How could the committee pull his funding? His project had been brilliant! Maybe even too brilliant. Clearly the world wasn't ready for the break through his work would have caused, he thought petulantly. He wandered with no regard for where he was going, turning corner after corner until he realized he was on unfamiliar streets. However, it was almost impossible for someone who lived in the city to actually get lost due to the abundant subways and grid work streets.
He turned around, looking for a street sign in order to get his bearings, and found himself staring at a neon green bar sign instead. Mike's Famous Corner Pub it advertised loudly. Upon sight, any desire to find the way home dissipated and and he found himself crossing the street as if drawn by a magnetic force.
The inside of the pub was dark and dank with a profound sense of decay to it. There were only a few customers, all drinking alone and looking rather dirty and depressed. I guess I fit right in, Patrick thought drily. He went over to the bar and sat on a stool as far from the others as possible.
"What'll you have?" asked the bartender, an old shriveled man with a shrunken face and eyes as black and hopeless as an endless pit.
"Give me some of your strongest stuff, I need it." Patrick replied. The bartender raised his graying eyebrows but said nothing. He returned a moment later with a shot of something Patrick would never know the name of.
"Can I ask you something?" Patrick asked before the bartender could scurry away. "Are you Mike?"
"No," he said, his voice as sad and tired as one might think it would be, "Mike died several years ago. I'm Joe."
"Oh. Well, was Mike really famous?"
"I don't think so."
"Was the bar famous when he was alive?" Patrick asked hopefully.
"Not really. I don't think it was ever famous." The bartender was very nervous at this point and was fidgeting slowly away from Patrick, back to the other customers.
"Then why is it called 'Mike's Famous Corner Pub?'"
"There no significance to it. It's just a name." With this the bartender swiftly departed, not caring if he was being rude anymore.
"That's the problem with life," Patrick mused, though there was no one listening to him. It was hollow, with no meaning. Or, at least, that's how his life felt at the moment.
He tasted the shot. It burned on the way down but he refused to choke on it. It was a good burn, he told himself. He ordered another and another until he was proclaiming to the entire bar that life wasn't fair and that he was, in fact, a brilliant scientist. No one believed him, or even cared enough to look up from their drinks.
"The problem with the world," he declared, "Is that we don't take an interest in one another. We don't care. You sir," he pointed to a mammoth of a man sitting at the bar, "What's your problem? What brought you here?"
The man glared at him, then threw a quick glance at the bartender. With a swift nod, it was all settled. The huge man stood, picked up Patrick by the back of his neck and threw him out into the cold street. Clearly, Patrick didn't drink very often.
The cold fall air cut straight through his jacket and had both a chilling and sobering affect on him. He slowly picked himself up and staggered off down the street to harass the people in the subway station about the importance of caring for others. It was 3 am on a Tuesday and everything was about to change.