There was only this small pub still opened nearby. I went in, ordered a scotch, looked around. The drink was good, 18 year old Chivas kept in the freezer for half an hour, no ice. It’s something I can’t understand, the whole scotch on the rocks thing, it chills the drink but it also melts and messes up with the taste, cuts away some of that pleasant, unique burn down the throat.
There were few people around, a young couple, probably junkies, sipping mineral water and smiling at the bubbles. At the other side of the bar, an old man, more drunk than me. The bartender was a short fellow, probably the same age as me, with sleepy eyes and a hair issue, his wig was poor solution to it. He didn’t seem to be in the mood for a conversation. The old guy would probably bore me with stories from a past world war, the junkies didn’t seem capable of speaking at the time. But at least there were people around me and I could look at their faces instead of staring at a TV screen. Words, expressions, smiles, eyes, all way better than television. Better than the news. The news had been bad recently.
I emptied the glass, ordered another. It’s a strange thing about alcohol, how it messes up with your perception. Yes, there’s the blurred vision, the slurred speech, that amazing sensation that you are the king of the world, you can fuck all the girls and beat up all the guys, or vice versa, depending on your personal tastes, but there is actually one very short moment of perfect clarity. It usually comes between drink number two and drink number three, this special moment when you notice things you normally wouldn’t.
I enjoyed it.
All art, all literature speaks of fateful meetings, of star crossed lovers, of soul mates, of meetings that have to occur for the universe to continue functioning properly. Maybe this is real, not just the trademark of romanticism, but something that happens in real life. I was about to get back to my old life. My routine of sleepless drunken nights and bad breath, bloodshot eyes, headaches and late arrivals at work. Yet here I was in this pub when she came in.
She stood next to me, a thin silhouette wrapped and chocked in a blue dress, an elegant fur coat covering her shoulders. Amber eyes, thin lips curved in an arrogant smile. She ordered her tequila and her voice was like a low whisper. There was nothing pleasant about her. The kind of arrogant bitch who acts high class while getting shit faced in a cheap pub. I knew her type. I dated them.
‘Come here often?’
I turned to her. It was unexpected. I’m not handsome. I’m not sociable.
‘First time. I needed a hit’
‘I know the feeling’
These are probably the most pleasant moments, the beginning, the seconds of awkward silence when you try to find some new question, casual yet sufficient for a conversation to start.
‘So what are you here to heal?’
‘I lost somebody’
‘I guess that makes two of us. I’ve just found out that a…friend died in a car accident two days ago’
‘And I’m guessing you weren’t such close friends if you found out just now’
Yep, that was something her type would say. But you have to appreciate the honesty.
‘And you? Close friend?’
‘More like a former lover’
‘A long story but the answer would be yes. You want to hear it? Buy me a round!’
That was the point, right? To meet people. So I bought her a tequila. And it was as if I was listening to a recount of my own failed relationship. Yes, the bastard drank too much and couldn’t stop. Yes, he cheated on her with some ugly bitch he met at a party. And he did it while being drunk, then confessed, thinking alcohol was a good excuse. While she talked about it I emptied more and more glasses. It was painful. Like hearing your thoughts turned into a story. Like your mind was being stripped in front of a laughing crowd. A confessional with hidden microphones, loud speakers and a cheerful audience, hungry to hear more. Your own sins turned into reality television. I hated television. I hated her. I hated him and myself because we might as well have been the same person.
‘You want to get him? I can beat him up for you. Kick the shit out of him?’
‘I don’t know where he is right now’
‘Don’t matter! Hey, buddy!’
The bartender turned around, staring at us. He was doing some real efforts not to fall asleep.
‘You got a baseball bat or something back there with you?’
‘Buddy, you’re drunk and I don’t want any problems’
‘Let’s stick to my problem, then we solve yours. Got anything? I need to kick some ass. Whatever you have, I take it’
He looked me in the eyes and there was a hint of a smile on his face.
‘You know what? I really don’t care. All I want is for the two of you to get the hell out of my joint and let me go home. I don’t have a baseball bat but I have a shovel. You take it and then get the fuck out of here but I swear to God, if you break anything inside my pub, I will kill you. And if the cops get you, I don’t know who you are? Get it?’