"Red, how are you?"
"Tired. The brakes went out on the Ford. I lost a whole day."
"That is the absolute shits."
They drank, the two men. They stared, and outside the tavern, heat still hit the day hard. Red spoke again.
"Are you about finished with the job on the west side?"
"Got about a week left. Danny's helping out."
"He's good help."
"Yeah, as long as you tell him what you want, he'll do it."
"Getting sick is expensive."
"I hear that. That's why I don't get sick."
They laughed. The beer had made both men give in to how tired they were. Life hadn't prevailed yet, but both men sensed the game had turned nonetheless. Not for want of energy and hope would they lose, but they would lose. It was a slowly emerging certainty in their minds, losing. It wasn't tragedy. Tragedy, in their minds, was for someone rich or heroic or at least well known. Losing was for everybody else.
But you had to keep working, thought Red. He stared straight ahead into the mirror behind the bar of the tavern He looked at the image of himself and the other man. You had to keep working. He looked at his watch, drained the glass (foam slid slowly down the inside of the glass), and said, "I have to get going. I'll see you."
"See you, Red."