The other regular patrons of the Black Grape had long since learned how to avoid Schiffers's attention without causing unpleasantness, an important survival skill in all neighborhood bars. But he could still snag the occasional newcomer, who was usually too polite to escape from his unvarying diatribe on the unfairness of the System before he began to gesticulate or slur.

"They give the real s-story away," he intoned portentously to his increasingly restless audience of one, "with the s-s-seasonal discounts. You notice how everything's twenty percent off when they really want to fill the s-stores up, like at Christmas? Well, if they can make money at those prices then, they could make it that way year round. They're just used to gouging us, and until we rise up and ch-change things, it'll just keep going."

Schiffers could hear his speech losing precision. He pulled himself erect and bore down on his next few words. "They've got it the way they want it, see? You can't expect them to change the System for us. They're on the inside, we're on the outside." He waved his empty beer stein in an attempt at emphasis. "It sticks out everywhere. We s-sow, they reap. We work, they profit. We pay, they play. And it won't change until we s-step in and change it."

The lowering glare Schiffers affected at this point in his declamation was as typeset as the rest of his text. Intended to convey a sense of enveloping menace, it only made him look drunker. He leaned forward to heighten the effect, which caused him to slip off his barstool and into his startled victim's arms. One of the other regulars helped the poor fellow unload Schiffers into a conventional chair against the wall. The newcomer quickly absented himself for parts unknown.

The regular straightened Schiffers up against the tavern wall and shook him gently. "Rich, things have been going good for you, haven't they? You got your shift differential. I hear you even got a raise a couple of months back. And Marge's getting married soon, so you won't even have to pay alimony any more. Why do you go on like this?"

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