The world looks distorted through the bottom of this Scotch-filled glass, as I raise it to my lips. Words can’t be made out, shapes can’t be defined and colours become blurred and sullied. Perhaps that’s the way it’s meant to be – a different perspective spoon-fed to us by society on a daily basis. That bittersweet taste of the glass’ contents an accurate analogy of what it’s really all about. The next day’s hangover the real representation.
John thought too much, especially after Scotch.
It was safe to say he was a rather cynical person these days. Rapidly approaching the wrong side of thirty, not much to show for it but a string of failed jobs, failed relationships and failed attempts at drumming up some sort of optimism for the coming years. Spending his evenings staring at a computer screen hoping for some sort of literary inspiration, or at the local pub (as he was now) drowning his sorrows and eyeing up anyone with company in quiet jealousy.
That’s not to say he was entirely unhappy with his lot in life. Like most, it came in fits and starts. Sure, he had his especially-cynical days, and days of loathing, but generally he was happy right now. Nothing much to complicate things day-to-day, enabling him to focus on what he called his ‘rehabilitation’ – learning to accept himself and function like a proper human without the dark thoughts that once clouded his overactive mind. Yeah, he was doing alright.
He took another sip of his Scotch and looked up at a flatscreen TV that was bolted to the wall and which was showing some football match. It piqued his interest, but then he recognised it as Spanish league football and immediately lost interest again. He glanced around the bar, subtly. Apart from himself and the disinterested-looking staff, there were only four other patrons – typical for a Sunday night in a tiny mountain town. Incidentally, all four were female – he certainly wasn’t going to complain about that, especially when two of them caught his eye in different ways.
The first was somewhat younger than him; a striking, slender brunette. Pretty much everything he’d normally go for, but for some reason he was rather wary of her. Sure, she was gorgeous – way too much for him – but there seemed to be some kind of sign above her head saying attitude problem. It seemed harsh, but he couldn’t shake that feeling. Still, he was never going to talk to her anyway. He was too much of a coward for approaching women these days.
The second was definitely older; blonde and middle-aged. If he had to guess, he’d say late-thirties, but he was never a good judge of age in a person. She looked like she’d be married with kids, but there was a distinct lack of a wedding band on that finger. He had no idea why she appealed to him. He figured it was some kind of mid-life crisis (which was ridiculous at twenty-nine) creeping in, or a subconscious desire to finally settle down. He could imagine himself curling up with her by an open fire after the kids had gone to bed. It scared him shitless. One thing he did notice though was that she seemed to have a constitution of steel. She was polishing off rum, or something similar; straight, her eyes not even slightly glazed. He watched her intently for a while, coming to really admire her sense of free-spirit. His kind of girl. He wanted to ask her to be his muse.
He continued knocking back the Scotch, wanting to be more inspired, prove his own constitution and have some confidence instilled all at once. It had been a while since he’d felt completely comfortable in a public setting, and he rather enjoyed it. It wasn’t as if he had anything to get up for the next day, either. He really was astounded, however, by the blonde’s sheer capacity for drinking – he’d known even ‘proper’, manly men back in his hometown who wouldn’t be able to keep up with her. Even when it was matchday at the local football club and they invariably imbibed way more than a usual skinful. His head was buzzing just thinking about having matched her drink-for-drink in the last hour-and-a-half, but he was having a great time of it and that was all that mattered.
A few more drinks later, on one of his routine glances around the bar, he noticed the blonde making eyes at him. At first he didn’t acknowledge it, until a few minutes later when she caught his eye again. This time it was more than clear – her friend had gone to the ladies’ and the two younger girls had already left - not before the slender brunette made eyes at him also. There was nobody else she could have been looking at, and she was definitely staring into his eyes. Once he clocked onto it, he looked away nervously – his default response these days – before returning her gaze. She held it for a long time, seemed like eternity; in reality it was just a lingering second or two. The connection had definitely been made though. Her friend returned to her table, and John returned to his Scotch, football and daydreaming.
* * * * *
He woke up with a hell of a headache and no knowledge of where he was. He’d consumed somewhere in excess of a litre of Scotch on his own, that much he did remember. He groaned, a little too loudly; the bright light of what he thought was morning stinging his eyes. He raised a hand delicately to shield them; in doing so he disturbed someone lying next to him. He tried to focus his eyes, but his head protested profusely. He made out the shape of a woman, naked, with her arm across his chest. It felt nice, but he was puzzled. He tried to lift the arm delicately, escape from her grasp, but she woke up with a groan also. He could tell right away, as she turned over, that it was the older blonde, yet the details of just what had happened the previous night were incredibly hazy. She opened her eyes fully, and upon recognising him smiled broadly. She leant over and kissed him, running a hand down over his chest and under the blanket. John was paralysed in drunken confusion, but didn’t do a thing to stop it. He had a feeling she knew what she had wanted all along, and wasn’t the type of woman to not get it. She must have seen this on his face, because she smiled again.
“Coffee?” she asked.