The tavern was full to the brim. Fighting men, tradesmen, working men - all soon to be drunken men. The sun had not yet set, but it sat low on the horizon so that only a red gold sliver seeped in through the filthy windows on the front of the building. A man sat at the bar, mug in hand. He had been there for quite some time, but would not stay late. Of late, the man came every day to the last tavern in town he would ever want to be caught dead in. Of course, if he was found, dead was all he would soon be. His face was six days unshaven and his hair was greasy with the sweat of the past week. His face hung over his cup, looking in at its thick liquid, thoughts nowhere but on his troubles. At the other end of the bar men guffawed at some lewd joke, slapping their hands on the countertop and yelping with joy. Rings rippled in his cup. He wasn't a drinker. Or he didn't used to be. He prided himself on his generally neat and well-kept person, in looks and character alike. Yet here he was, drowning himself in his cups. He held on desperately to the fact that he always managed to make it home to his own bed, free of any whores or bruises. Not that he had the coin for whores anyway. Deep blue eyes had grown watery with stress; they cast the obligatory and occasional paranoid look around the room now. He sipped his beer slowly, attempting to ward off the inevitable. A skinny man hopped up to the stool next to his. The bar was otherwise almost empty and he didn't appreciate the closeness. "Mista Holly! Haven't ever seen you in here afore," the smaller man had a nasty laugh. His words were mocking, that much was clear. "I haven't seen yer place open, neither, but I guess that ain't so bad, what with Gaffney's round the corner now." August Holly sat quietly in his seat, never turning to look at the other as he baited him. "He's got a nice set-up, too." Maybe not everyone knew why, but everyone had noticed the strange closing of the long-time staples store on the biggest corner in the small city. It was clean, fairly priced and always well stocked. The Holly's purchased the business and building two generations ago. August grit his teeth. "Y'know, Brickham's been asking around about you." The other stared at him for awhile, thinking up more clever things with which to bait the grizzled man at the bar. "Glad at least ya climbed down off your horse to have a drink." His father had been a notorious drunk near the end of his days. August had always been ashamed, but at least Old Man Holly never bet his business and lost it. August finished his cup and dropped it hard on the counter so the bartend would hear. He took his newly filled cup to a darker corner of the establishment to escape the bully. It was shortly after that that he stopped poring into his own thoughts and started paying attention to the conversations around him.