Suzanne knocked back the tequila and gasped, squeezing her eyes until the burning sensation ebbed.
“Another,” she said, slamming the shot glass down on the sticky bar counter.
“Are you sure?” the bartender asked. A hefty woman of middling years known as Big Pam. She tilted her head to one side, thick hands working a grubby bar towel along the counter, “You don’t look like you’re enjoying it.”
Suzanne frowned. As much as this festering swill hole repulsed her, she wanted to get wasted without anyone she knew interrupting. I was dumped AND fired today; it literally couldn’t be any worse.
“Another,” she said firmly.
Big Pam shrugged, “Alright.”
Suzanne flung it back as soon as it was served, grimacing at the sick warmth in her belly. She shifted on her bar stool as a man sidled up next to her.
“Uh, hello,” a cursory glance told her he wasn’t dangerous but disabled in some way. Half his face hung as if melted like some Halloween mask, the left eyelid sagged and wept.
“Teq-tequila!” he grinned, the movement twisted his face even more and his head spasmed with every syllable. Big Pam served him a beer with a sad smile,
“Here you go, Fred. That’s the last one tonight, ok?”
“Ye-ye-yes! Th-Thank y-you,” Fred said, his head jerking as he shuffled away to a small table in the corner. He sat there alone and proceeded to talk animatedly to himself. Suzanne tried not to stare.
Big Pam sighed, “He comes in most nights.”
“Did something happen to him?”
“Motorbike accident after too many drinks. His helmet saved his life but… well, he’s never been the same since.” She nodded at Suzanne’s empty glass, “Another?”
Suzanne licked her lips, “Um, no thanks.” Maybe my day could be worse.
© Rachel Smith