Around the turn of the 20th Century, absinthe was associated with bohemian culture in France and became quite popular. Many conservatives called for the drink to be banned, for it was thought to contain a psychotropic drug that made consumers hallucinate, although we now know that the chemical compound thujone contained within is in such trace amounts that it does not affect drinkers. Stories of absinthe ruining the lives of drinkers were common, although we can probably attribute their hallucinations to raging alcoholism rather than the drink itself. In any case, absinthe is also known as ‘The Green Fairy’ due to its natural green colour from ingredients such as wormwood, anise, sweet fennel, and other herbs.
This poor soul has been possessed by vice; coffee, cigarettes, and absinthe are the green demons that are forcing him to hallucinate. He is terrified by the specter of a woman’s head floating in the cigarette smoke – perhaps this is his sweetheart, threatening to leave him if he doesn’t give up the addictions.