Chapter 1 : Cheers darling
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“Another firewhiskey,” he orders from the lone chair, barely audible above the blurred music in the bar. He doesn’t raise his head. There is no reason for it. “But no more of that cheap stuff, mind?”
She nods from behind, unabashed; he is hardly the only one to come to her shift to dilute his thoughts into the alcohol. Handing him the best of the firewhiskey, he gives her half-a-glance before downing the bitter liquid.
The second glass goes down just as easily, only this time he whispers beforehand, “Cheers, darling.”
He reaches for his pocket and takes out a green ribbon, as green as the green in her eyes, and just the look of it crystallizes his intoxication. If he could he would mould it into the most magnificent music. And he knows that despite his effort she would break the crystal... just so that she could hear the long and free ringing of that shimmering dust of notes.
The glasses too shimmer and ring and clank, but there is no magic here. It is lost in the cigarette smoke, and he remembers that perhaps he too should smoke. He takes out one cigarette and falls down, down into the abyss of memories where once upon a time he smoked with a smile, so full of promising kisses. The filter had a trace of red lipstick then, red like her hair, while spring slowly descended upon the purple night. And they breathed in, as if it was their last breath.
They didn’t think then, because thoughts were for someone else, and they refused to be that someone else. They refused to think, because thinking would be unimaginable. Thinking would be painful. Thinking would bring regret and tears and that damned old theatre of fallen leafs. Thinking would bring autumn, and they weren’t ready for autumn, not when spring was tingling their bodies.
“Cheers darling,” and another firewhiskey.
It reeked in that damned old bar. It reeked of memories and of closing curtains. He had come directly from that masquerade of white. He hated white. How could he love the white, when the black of the night sheltered him from the shame in the morning. He was an actor, and a bloody good one.
His own friend never recognized his act, while he himself was lost between the doors and faces. And the curtains. There were always curtains.
The bartender turns this time with a reproach on her lips. “Don’t you think it is enough? Haven’t you drowned whatever problems or questions already?”
“You’ve forgotten them for tonight, dear,” she says sympathetically. “They’ll come back in the morning, accompanied with a hangover and a headache, but for tonight at least you’ll sleep. So, enough. I am not giving you any more alcohol.”
“I should have kissed her.” It is barely audible.
“Why didn’t you, then?”
“Cheers… darling… here’s to you and your… lover man.”
“Why didn’t you kiss her?”
“I was the best man at the wedding.”
A ball of fools. And a charade. A whisper in the ear. And a cake.