Detective Darby #13 – The Quench

As the bartender humored me with a refill yet again, I took a moment to ponder that first drink of the morning that started me down this road. To clarify, it is not a path to redemption or anything as uplifting as that but a fork in the road and very much a beaten path when it comes to personal experience. I’ll tell you one thing; the bartender is playing perfectly to my paranoia with his silent treatment. I swear that he hasn’t said a word to me, but it is entirely possible that I have simply been too far gone to notice.

By this time, the bar had been something of a whirlwind. Patrons had come and gone appearing, disappearing, and sometimes reappearing in and out of a hazy hurricane of which I had become the eye. At times, it was quite crowded but, as far as I was concerned, there was only me and the glass sitting on the bar in front of me.

I stared reverently at the bronze tint of the liquor as if it were primed to reveal lost secrets from a time forgotten. Perhaps the shadows covering the dark corner in the room were harboring them, and one need only shed some light on them. But how? To that end, I hoisted the glass once again to my lips and let its majestic contents slither down my throat. I’m not going to lie; it felt fantastic, almost euphoric. After the usual gulp, however, I immediately felt the crushing shame of the act.

The burning wetness slowly crept into my eyes and sinuses. The warmth of the emotion was cruelly cold and the more that I thought about it, the more I perpetuated it. Suddenly, the sight of the glass in my hand was something of a shock, and it jolted me as if it were hot enough to melt. When I set it down, I looked up and caught the reflection of the mirror behind the bar. It reflected back to me an image that was all black and white save the golden color of my drink and the natural color of my eyes. The rest of the scene was like an abstract watercolor painted in an infinite variation of gray shades. It wasn’t as clear as real life, but real life was rarely clear and often without beauty.

The bartender was right on time. As he began to pour, I clutched the bottle, stopping him. He did not say a word and showed no emotion one way or another. We both held onto the bottle, and neither one of us attempted to claim it away from the other. I hesitated to meet my eyes with his, but something convinced me that it needed to happen. I slowly lifted my head to look into his eyes and quickly discovered that his eyes were nothing more than a black void. After mere seconds, he turned loose of the bottle and quietly walked away, the sound of his footsteps disturbingly absent.

I pulled the bottle close to my body, embracing it. It might have been my imagination, but every patron in the bar appeared to have stopped and stared at me. With an audience, I began to pour until the glass overflowed. The voice in my head told me to stop, but I continued to pour until the bottle was empty. A large puddle formed around the glass and quickly spread to the left and right. The act seemed to satisfy the onlookers because none of them appeared to notice the mess that I had made. That or none cared.

I stumbled out of my barstool and to my feet, reached into my pocket, and half-heartedly counted out a few dollars for the barman. After carelessly tossing them on the bar, I realized that they landed in the puddle that I left behind. I didn’t care but had enough presence of mind to know that I probably should have. For a moment,  I watched as the bills soaked up the liquor and began to sink into its depths which were physically shallow but psychologically immeasurable. For some reason, the sight of the alcohol soaked money sickened me with an unjustifiable disgust.

In my haste, I turned towards the door and promptly bumped into a patron. Before I could make an apology, the man turned to dust and scattered to the floor. I raised my hands to eye level in disbelief as the remaining patrons all began to stare at me just as before. One notable exception was the bartender who was preoccupied wiping down the spillage from atop the bar. He paid no attention to me or the pile of ashes at my feet.

By now, I am more than a little spooked and increased the speed of my exit. Upon doing so, I bumped into another patron and two others that seemed to be blocking my path, and all three collapsed to the floor just as the first one had. The rest of the patrons continued to watch me, but none said a word or tried to stop me.

At last, I came to the large, heavy door and leaned face first into it with moderate force. My heart pounded with such a fury that some of the beats blended.

“Why didn’t you stop me?” I beseeched the door. Suddenly, I fell helplessly forward blinded by the purest light and felt the thud of hitting the ground. The force was unmistakable, but the pain must have been absorbed by the impurity of my blood. Then, I felt myself being carried away not unlike the previous time that ended with me in the trunk of a taxi. While my cup runneth over with poison, the people near me crumble to ashes and fate carries me blindly away to uncertainty.

Copyright © 2017 by Adam L. Cobden. All Rights Reserved.

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“I’m not the person that you think I am, and I’m not the person that I thought I was. Let’s see who I will be today.”

–  Adam L. Cobden

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