‘A Manhattan, please,’ I said with a raspy voice.

A man sitting to my left at the bar turned slowly and waited a few seconds before delivering a punch line that sounded like he’d been waiting years to deliver.

‘The first one makes you feel like an angel, the second like the devil himself.’

I turned back to the barman. ‘Make it two.’

The monkey I had securely locked up when I left Cape Town was out of its cage, and sitting very happily on my shoulder.

‘Hmm,’ I murmured as I drank the top off the first one, clenching my jaw as the bitter-sweetness flooded through me. I exhaled a shiver. I wiped my mouth with the back of my hand, feeling the stubble on my chin. I wasn't afraid of this new degenerate state. I welcomed it.

It’s good to feel low, where I belong.

I knocked the first one back in a few deep draughts and let the tide rise. It moved swiftly across the flats and I smiled as the waves met the shoreline, rising to my temples and forehead.

I could have combusted there and then. I felt like dousing myself with the second and setting myself alight, but instead opted for the inner burn. I lifted it and took another healthy draught. It was doing its job. Maybe that’s the attraction of bars. In a world of shabby jobs and complex relationships, alcohol provides beautiful simplicity. You get what you ask for; it delivers with no questions asked. You want happy drunk? You get it. You want a fight? It’s just a few rounds away. I took another slug and held the liquid in my mouth. I nodded in resignation. Time would tell where the trail of empty glasses would lead.