Warning: Alcohol and it’s consequences. If the title doesn’t give a fair warning, this does.
It was after I have walked for nearly half an hour that the tears came. First the anger, then the tears. It was really surprising, in retrospect, that I didn’t get run over by a car, since I clearly was not paying any attention to my surroundings.
When I came to my senses, more or less, I realized that I was in a neighborhood that I haven’t been in for a long time. And next to a seedy-looking bar. How convenient—weren’t bars exactly where people went when they needed to drain their sorrows? In any case, I didn’t want to go home right now. My parents and Gerald will be there now and the remains of my ego would shatter if they saw me in this state.
The place was called Rusty Old Bottle. It looked like someplace where beat up detectives in noir movies went to sulk and drink away the fact that they were responsible for everyone keeping their distance from them. Somehow, this place was calling to me.
There weren’t many patrons inside, and the ones that were there were mostly too immersed in whatever they were doing to pay much attention to a solitary overdressed woman. This was a relief. I couldn’t have dealt with a crowd right now. Not when I was fighting back more tears.
Taking a seat at the bar, I forced myself to focus on the menus and the decorations. Cheap neon ads cluttered the walls under fluorescent light. The gloominess of the bar seemed fit for my current mood. If the bartender noticed my haggard expression, she didn’t say anything. But of course, she must have been used to people coming here with heartbreak on their mind.
“Would you like anything to drink?” she asked.
“Yes.” What did I want to drink? I never had anything stronger than a glass of champagne during a family celebration. I had no idea what to order from here. The words left my mouth before I thought them through. “What’s the strongest thing you guys have?”
The bartender looked me over, as if trying to figure out if I was allowed to have their strongest drink, and clearly deciding that I passed the test, suggested “You want a martini? It’s pretty strong and we make them pretty good here.”
“Yes, please.” I have never had a martini before, but then, I’ve never caught my boyfriend cheating on me before either. Today was the day for new things, it seemed.
In five minutes, I was looking at a cocktail glass with an olive in it. Without much ado, I tried it: the taste was unusual, at least in comparison to anything I’ve drank before, but it wasn’t bad. Well, until the alcohol burned my mouth and throat. I had to pace myself with this one.
In a few more minutes, I was done with the drink and feeling sad that there wasn’t any more left. “Would you like another one?” the bartender asked.
“Yes, please,” I gave more money to the drink-maker.
“Try this one,” she slid a greenish-looking drink towards me.
This one was an apple variation of the drink, much sweeter, but just as strong. I could feel myself getting comfortably warm, and feeling like life wasn’t so bad after all.
I mean, I was worried that something was going to change when Micah went on tour wasn’t I? Well, now I wouldn’t have to! Because that relationship was done! The irony of the situation hit me then: I was scared he’ll cheat with some groupie, but he did it right inside the band! I broke out into a fit of giggles that escalated into an unhealthy laughter that ended up attracting the attention of several patrons who were previously busy with their own drinks. Not for long, though. And I still couldn’t stop laughing.
“Are you alright?” and unfamiliar voice asked me from next to me at the bar.
I turned to look at my neighbor and was pleasantly surprised. “Oh, hey, it’s you!”
“Sorry, have we met before?” the young man was surprised.
“Not officially, no. I’m Irene. What’s your name?” I found myself asking, now completely focused on my new conversation companion.
“Nice to meet you, Irene. I’m David. Are you sure you’re alright? You look really red,” the young man queried.
“Of course, I’m alright. One more of these, please,” my drink was empty again. The bartender looked a bit unsure for a moment, “Seriously, I can handle it, it’s not that strong.”
“This is the last one for you tonight,” she slid me another glass with a look that said she wasn’t sure if I was allowed to have any more alcohol. “What can I do for you, gentleman?”
“Whiskey on the rocks, please,” my neighbor ordered, stealing concerned glances at me.
I busied myself with my own drink. If this was the last one, I wanted to stretch it out well. I wondered why I never drank these things before, they were amazing. As was my company tonight.
“So… you’re cute,” I informed David, who looked kind of shy upon hearing that. Why though? Haven’t other girls told him that? I was sure they had.
“Thank you,” he muttered quietly. “You’re very cute too. But please be careful, you’re drinking too much and I can imagine you’ll have a killer hangover tomorrow.”
“I can drink all I want. I’ve had a bad day.” What? I did. I deserved something nice tonight.
“I’m sure you did. But tomorrow will be much worse if you finish what’s in this glass. It probably already will be,” he tried to reason with me.
In answer, I downed the rest of my cocktail. He just shook his head.
“Oh, loosen up. Come dance with me, David.” There was music playing, why wasn’t anyone busting out killer moves? Why?
“Can you even stand on your own? You should go home, really.”
“Of course, I can stand on my own! Look!” I got up and walked around the chair without falling or even swaying. “And it’s not like you can judge, you’re drinking too.”
“Yeah, but I’m only having this one drink.”
“Fine, if you won’t dance with me, I’ll find someone else who will. Hey you, what’s your name?” I headed toward one of the other patrons.
David took another sip from his glass and walked over to me “Leave the patrons alone, Irene. Seriously, you should head home before you do something you regret.”
“Like this?” I pulled him into a kiss.
David was a surprisingly good kisser, for someone who clearly had a stick really high up…
“Irene, this is what I’m talking about!” David pulled away before I wanted him to. “You’ve just met me and you’re kissing me because you’re drunk. Tomorrow you’ll be regretting this!”
“No I won’t,” I tried to pull him back into a kiss, but he anticipated it and managed to pull me into a type of hug that kept me from moving from his side.
“That’s it. I’m taking you home.” He led me toward a cab that was waiting outside.
“Where to?” asked the driver.
“To the dance club!” I yelled. “I want to dance, David.”
“Sorry about this, sir. Umm, where do you live?” David tried to pry out of me.
“I’m not telling you. Since you won’t let me go dance or spend time with me.”
“Ok, driver just take us to ….,” David told the driver. “Since you don’t want to go home, you can cool down at my place, alright? Just please, no more alcohol for you tonight.”
The drive didn’t take long. He paid the driver (and tipped him well too!) and half-carried me out of the car. Well, that was no fun; his house was nothing like a dance club.
“Come on, let’s get you something to cool down with, you’re burning up,” David’s voice was so concerned.
“Or you can cool me down,” I suggested, hugging him and pulling him into another kiss. I’ve wanted to do this since that day I saw him at the café!
“Oh man, I shouldn’t have brought her here,” he muttered to himself, but I could still hear.
“Hey, what, are you saying I’m ugly? I’m not good enough for you? I’m a total catch!” I yelled at him.
“No, that’s not what I’m saying at all. But really, I’d be more than happy to spend time with you once you sober up. I promise.” He looked so sincere.
“Ok. Can I get a hug though?”
“Alright, you can get a hug. You look like you need one, to be honest. Whatever happened to put you in this mood anyways?” he asked.
“My boyfriend is an asshole. Well, my ex-boyfriend, to be exact,” I threw out.
“That sucks. My girlfriend broke up with me too. Not today though. It was a few months ago,” he admitted.
“That’s too bad. Her loss, though. You’re hot.”
“Thanks? Now, let’s get you something to eat and fast,” he tried to make me choke down some toast, but it looked kind of gross.
“Nah, I’d rather not.” That’s when the room began to look blurry.
“Oh my god! You’ve nearly fainted!” David caught me before I could hit the ground. I walked around the room, on my own, trying to see what went wrong. “Why don’t you lie down? Seriously, you can take my bed.”
“Come on, I’m not going to sleep in your bed! I’m not that drunk.” Then everything went dark and I felt someone catch me again.
I woke up in an unfamiliar house, in an unfamiliar bed, with a guy I vaguely remembered from last night at the bar. His arms were around me and he still slept soundly.
What the hell happened last night!?
I jumped up, ecstatic to find that my dress and shoes were still on me. I quickly got out of the bed and stood up. Ouch! The room was spinning in me and I had the worst headache splitting my head.
“Morning,” the man woke up and smiled. “How are you feeling?”
I looked at him dumbstruck. Now that I was awake, the memories of me tagging along with him and trying to pull him into sexual activities were becoming clearer, if still blurry in my mind. Oh no! That was so mortifying! But why was he hugging me this morning? We haven’t…?
“We haven’t done anything that your sober self wouldn’t approve of,” he hurried to reassure me, noticing my expression. “I was holding you all night because when left in bed alone, you’d get up and start walking around the room, which, considering that you’ve nearly fainted several times was a hazard to you. You’ve nearly bumped your head on that corner there.” He pointed to a sharp wooden dresser corner.
“Oh. Thanks. I know my behavior was inexcusable.” Ha! That was one way to put it. I wanted to fall through the floor and disappear, I felt so ashamed of my antics from last night.
“It’s alright, really. You weren’t in a good state of mind.”
Oh, that’s right. They reason I got so wasted in the first place. Micah. Nope, I wasn’t going to think of him right now. Not until my poor head was better. Ouch!
“There’s cold water in the fridge,” David offered.
“Thanks. For making sure I was ok.” It seemed I really lucked out that the person I encountered at the bar was David and not someone less qualm-less. Just thinking of the kind of situation I could have ended up in made my skin crawl.
“So, do you need to call home or anything? There’s a phone if you need it.”
Oh no! Home! I told my mother I’d be out, but certainly she was expecting some sort of a message or a “hello” by now. I wasn’t planning to be gone for so long. Looks like I’ve done it again.
“I really need to go home. Thanks for everything, again.”
I ran out of the house and hailed the first cab that was passing by. At least the driver wasn’t blasting music. That would’ve made my headache much, much worse.
At home, no one was there, which both surprised and relieved me. I really didn’t want my family to see me in this condition. I wondered why I haven’t thrown up yet, considering how much alcohol I’ve consumed last night. Three martinis! And just thinking about the drinks made all the contents of my body rush up and I barely made it to the bathroom before throwing up.
Still bent over the toilet, I heard Gerald enter the house.
“Sis? Is that you in there? Are you alright?” If I heard that question one more time from someone I was going to…
… yeah, that.
“Irene? Are you sick? Oh, god, you aren’t pregnant, are you?” Gerald came over, with a worried look on his face.
“No,” I got up to wash my face and brush my teeth, “I’m not pregnant. I’m just really hung over.”
“You drank? But you almost never drink!” he voiced. And then he scowled “Did that idiot get you drunk?”
“No, Gerald. That idiot was nowhere near me when I made my drinking choices.”
“You never call him anything bad,” he realized. “Something happened between you two.”
“Way to go genius, yeah, something happened. But you don’t need to go defending my honor, if that’s what you’re planning to do. I’m sure he already has a charming bruise on his face today.” That brought a smile to my face—I really did hit him hard yesterday. “Now, I’m going to go lie down before I puke again, if you don’t mind.”
“Umm, yeah, sure. Do that.”
“And you clearly weren’t home either last night! So, when I’m feeling better, you’re telling me all about it!” With that I dragged myself to my bed and once again passed out, aching all over. It would be a long time indeed, before I will allow alcohol to come near me, that’s for sure.
If my parents realized how hungover I was that day, they didn’t say anything. I’m pretty sure Gerald was partially responsible for that. Sometimes, my brother was a real life-saver.
Going to work on Monday was a different kind of torture. I knew the girls would want to know how my wonderful date night went and the idea of talking about it just made me want to gag.
However, Lana turned out to be more understanding than ever. “Well, you look like crap,” she noted, upon seeing my face in the morning.
“We broke up,” I managed to get out, hoping she won’t pry into why.
“Well, that sucks. But I have to admit, even though I didn’t tell you so before, I always thought you could better than him,” she shrugged. “If you want to go out for drinks later, we’re here for you.”
“Totally,” seconded Tia.
“Thanks. I already did though,” I cringed, “and I don’t think I’m up for a repeat.”
“Well, take it easy now, hon. We’ll have a few days of peace here until the big bad comes in,” warned Tia.
“You mean, the boss?” I perked up.
“Yep. Collier himself. And I guarantee our nerves will be tested to the extremes,” Lana complained.
Well, that sucked. I wasn’t planning for him to ever be here. But, he had no reason to suspect me of anything, did he? When I thought about this, I realized that Lionel Collier’s presence could actually make my goal a bit easier. After all, if I had the ability to keep an eye on him, I could possibly figure out where his criminal evidence was.
And now that I didn’t have the band tour as a distraction, I could actually focus on this more.