Red Carter was sitting at the end of the bar on his usual barstool. In front of him stood half a glass of a Kasteelbier, a dark one, and an empty ashtray right next to a new and unopened pack of cigarettes. De Blauwe Kater was a jazz bar just off the Oude Markt on the Naamsestraat. It wasn’t directly on the street. A small cobblestone alley lead to the bar and in summer they’d put tables out in the alley as well. The inside of the bar wasn’t very spacious and when jazz-bands would come there to play, it got really cramped. At this time the five small tables were all free except for the one in the back corner behind Red. Two long haired students were sitting there and were probably discussing world politics and the impact of globalization, or some bullshit topic young ideologists that age discuss. Red had a strong dislike for those kind of students but was just too jaded right then to care. He’d been coming there for the better part of ten years and knew very well that this was exactly the kind of place that attracted those kind of people.
In a distant past he used to care and he used to get into heated debates that would quite often end in small bar-fights. Fucking hippies. Things were very different then. Being a student, it didn’t matter if you’d wake up with a black eye and a couple broken ribs. These days, showing up to work with a black eye wouldn’t exactly be appreciated. Every morning Red went to Brussels for his job at a big law firm. When he first started there he’d been sure that this was the job for him. For a very long time he had dreamed of working there but it took only a couple months for him to figure out that he had had no idea what the job really entailed. The long hours, the boring people he worked with and the trivial cases he was given to handle were slowly sapping the motivation out of him. He missed the days of old. Now when he arrived back home he had a quick dinner and had time for one or two beers in De Blauwe Kater. He lived for the weekend. Every passing day he started considering changing his life around but then he’d have to… “Can I bum a fag,” a young woman interrupted his thoughts.