As promised, I waited until after you were gone...
Wednesday evening at the pub is usually quiet. This one was no exception. With a few patrons on the sofas by the fire and one old man at the end of the bar, there wasn't anything else going on. I had time to read through a book, clean and general no bar patron things for most of the evening. It's actually a welcome break from the Friday and Saturday two to three deep at the bar crunch.
After only a couple of pints each, the men and women on the sofas made their exit, leaving me with the old man at the end of the bar. I've seen him in the pub often, never with another person, always has a three to four pints of stout, tips well and leaves as silently as he enters.
"You'll be alright if I leave you by yourself for a moment, Love?" I asked the old man. I needed the loo.
He half smiled and nodded his head and went back to nursing his second pint.
"I won't be but a minute," I said rounding the bar on my way to the ladies'.
It felt good to get my jeans and knickers off my arse, even for a just few moments. After a quick pee and a tidy, I washed my hands and returned to the bar. The old man was in the very same place as I'd left him and not a soul had entered the pub. I walked over to him and, as I got closer, his face looked as though he'd been crying.
"Are you alright, mate?"
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to sour your evening," he said in a gravelly voice.
"No... no, not at all. You just look a bit down. Besides, you know what they say? Your bartender is just a cheap psychiatrist with liquid meds." We both chuckled. "You know," I continued, "You've been coming here for a while and I've never learnt your name..."
He smiled over his pint. "Marvin."
I held out my hand in offer to shake his, "Hello, Marvin. I'm Siobhán."
Marvin gently took my hand, "I know you, Siobhán. I've known you since you started working here four years ago. You've my favourite here. You don't judge and you're always offering a smile. I'm the one you helped get this very chair three years' St Patty's ago, even though the place was fuckin' packed." We both chuckled again. "Sorry for the cursing..." he started.
"Never you fuckin' mind, Marvin. Say what you will... alright?" We both laughed.
"You remind me of my youngest," his smile waning some.
"She's a bartender?"
"No, she's a lesbian." He took a sip of his pint. "She's pretty like you... built similar and her colouring's about the same, but she got her hair cut short."
"Does her being a lesbian bother you?"
"No, it's her life, she should be happy. I can actually see the attraction. I don't have the slightest idea what you women see in us men."
I chuckled. "If it helps any, sometimes we don't either." We shared another laugh, which for Marvin, turned into a slight sob.
"What's that, then?" I asked.
Marvin shook his head and took the last swallow of his pint. Before he could object, his next's first pour was settling.
"You can tell me," I said from the tap, "it's just us two lesbians here."
Marvin half smiled, not quite knowing if I was following through on his statement, or admitting my own Sapphic leanings. He continued to look at me odd as I delivered his pint. "It's not good to keep it bottled up like this, Marvin."
I suddenly felt like I was miles under the sea, no hope of a way out and ready to drown. I thought his sobbing was over a long lost love... his children... man things I don't understand... But not this. "I'm sorry, Marvin." I lightly touched his hand as I delivered his pint.
"I'm not sorry that I'm dying, Little Miss. It happens to all of us, without exception. I'm not afraid of it, either. I'm just sorry I didn't live better.... so many other things I could've done. Instead, I'm a shrivelled old bastard, with nothing to show for my eighty plus years on this God-forsaken rock than three children who despise my existence, a deceased wife... bless her," he says, crossing himself, "whose infernal nagging haunts me daily..."
"Aw, c'mon, Marvin. In eighty years... wow, really? Eighty?" I was a bit shocked. I thought he was much older. "I'm sure in your time, you've done a lot of things that were worth your time. You say your children despise you, but, do they live decent lives?"
"They do what they do, I suppose," he mumbled. "But every time we see each other, there's always a row..."
I chuckled. "If it helps any, Marvin, I love my family dearly... including the in-laws... but it's almost certain there'll be a row if we're all in the same place at once. That's why I'm here and they're in Wexford and Dublin. It's just part of being family, mate. I'm sure you're family's given you many happy times, too."
"What I really and truly want, no one can give me, not even Old Nick hisself... without strings attached..." he took another sip of his pint.
"Well..." I said, more curious than I possibly should've been, "I'm not usually in the wish granting business, and the only Old Nick I might be able to conjure up is a dusty old bottle of barley wine, but I'd listen if you told me."
He looked at me for a moment, squinted, took another sip of his pint. "I'm just a silly old man with silly old fantasies. Not anything that would interest a girl such as yerself."
"I tend bar for a living, Marvin. I've heard all sorts of ideas, plans, schemes, and fantasies. Your's may be unique, but I don't think you'll upset me."
"Start me another, will ya please, Siobhán?" he asked, lifting his pint glass and draining the remaining half. In all the times I'd served Marvin his pints, I'd never seen him take as much at once. I started two pints. If he wasn't drinking the second, I would. As Marvin set his emptied glass on the bar, I thought I saw a look of relief on his weathered old face. "I've wanted this for a while, I'd imagine," he said as he handed me the empty. "I can't really remember now when it started, just that it's there, y'know?"
I didn't, actually, but I nodded like I did.
"I'm just so tired of fuckin' being me... this old shell... this tired old man. I want to change me life... what I want is the proverbial three wishes."
"I hate to break it to you, Marvin, but that alone is not all that shocking," I said, delivering his newly settled pint. "And what would you do with these three wishes?"
"Well... first, I'd want the people that I love to be healthy. Healthy physically and financially."
"That's a very nice sounding wish, Marvin," I smiled. "A very nice, very unselfish wish. Is that all, or are there some stipulations?"
Marvin smiled, sipped his pint. "No stipulations. Just that the people that I love are taken care of..." He grinned. "I've harboured this for... fuck... I don't know how long, and I've never ever told another living soul."
I smiled back, more curious than before about where this was leading. "What about your second wish... is it daring? Adventurous? Murderous?"
"You and your pub intrigue!" he laughed. "I'm not that type of a man, Siobhán." he laughed again. "No... as a lad, I fancied meself a pioneer... a Space Age thinker, creator of new civilizations on the Moon and Mars. Civilizations where people lived and worked on the planets in our Solar System for the betterment of us all."
"That was when you were a lad, you say? That would have been... what, Marvin... the thirties or forties, when wild sci-fi was big?"
"Late thirties, early forties... but the cities I came up with! That's my second wish... to have those gleaming cities on the Moon and Mars, free people living there in peace... to have that all as reality..." his voice trailed off as he looked upward.
"That's still a good wish, Marvin. And, I may say, a bit adventurous."
He smiled and took a large drink from his glass. "I don't know... just folly."
"It's a brilliant wish! Besides, the gravity on the Moon is much less than here on Earth. Women with sizable breasts would get some very welcome relief from back problems. There's a positive outcome to start." I smiled, standing just right, pushing my breasts together with my arms so Marvin could see that I could possibly benefit from his wish.
"Put them udders away, girl!" he cackled. "You trying to kill me?"
"Goodness no, Marvin," I winked. "I like your first two wishes. What have we for the third?"
"Naw... just the ramblings of a foolish old man..." He took another large drink from his pint. I moved to the tap to top off the other I had waiting, knowing he'd have the current one finished quickly, the way he was drinking.
"C'mon, now, Marvin! You can't do that to a girl you like!" I teased. "Your first two sounded quite charming."
He finished his pint and I gave him the new one as the empty glass touched the bar. "I'm tired of being me," he said as he looked straight into my eyes. "Better... I'm tired of being this me. I'm tired of being this creaky old bastard."
"That's a bit anti-climactic, my dear," I smiled. "A lot of people would want to be somebody else."
"No, child. I don't want to be sombody else. I want to be me, but in a younger, healthier body. Maybe one like your's."
"You want to be a woman?"
The old man blushed a little. "I've been a man this entire time and I've had the experiences of a man."
"And you now, at eighty plus, think your life would be better as a woman?"
"No, not better... hopefully not worse, either. Just different." he said, matter-of-factly.
"Well, I'll grant you that. It would be different. But what, exactly, are you expecting?"
"I don't know. But that's the mystery of the difference, ain't it? I understand there'd be things to learn and things to unlearn."
"Well, growing up does all that for you," I said.
"No. You see... I don't want to be reborn as an infant female and grow up to be a woman. I want to just fall asleep as I am, as the man that I am, and wake up as a fresh, young, healthy woman. I want all that I know to be with me, so that my conscientiousness, my life-force, my soul, to all wake in this body of a woman, knowing the transition from one to the other."
"Okay," I said. Then, thinking out loud more than asking a direct question, "What would you do first in this new female body?"
"I suppose the first thing would be to masturbate."
"Marvin!" I feigned shock.
"How else am I going to learn about it?"
"Alright. That does play into some kind of logic. There is a vast sexual difference between men and women. Is this also part of the wish? Or have you gotten beyond waking up as a woman and masturbating?"
"I'd do whatever I'd have to do. I know sex would be different, and that's something I'd have to learn, as would the rest of just being a woman. Although, the waking up part is definitely something to look forward to."
"If that's what would make you happy, Marvin, then I'll add a wish for your wishes to come true."
I hadn't seen Marvin in the pub since then. Not too long after, some one told me he'd passed in his sleep. I hope at least one of his wishes may have come true.