Friday, October 15, 2010
One Last Drink
Juan Little and Troy Young sat in their usual booth like they did every Friday night, gulping down shots of tequila. The two best friends and co-workers enjoyed exchanging anecdotes and they loved to criticize just about everything. Both men were plump. Juan had a crew cut and Troy was bald. Juan made a habit of commenting about sports, usually finding fault with its players or coaches. Troy liked pointing out other patrons’ imperfections.
Juan said, “Can you believe the game last night? I would never activate the hit-and-run in that situation.”
Troy grinned, gesturing to a well dressed stranger. “Check him out.” Juan remained silent while the tall man ordered his drink.
“Good evening,” said the clean-cut stranger to the bartender, “I’d like a glass of orange juice.”
Troy and Juan laughed at the same time, making a bit of a ruckus in their booth. The stranger paid for his drink and went straight to the happy pair.
The two men stopped laughing.
The stranger said, “Excuse me, gentlemen. May I join you?”
Juan muttered, “This is a private booth.”
Troy grinned, “No, it’s alright. Have a seat.” He scooted over, allowing the bronzed fellow room next to him. “I’m Troy and this is my best bud, Juan.”
They offered the stranger their hands, but the well-spoken fellow kept one hand on his orange juice and the other to his side. He nodded, “Nice to meet you. I’m Draven.”
Juan scowled, “If you’re too important to shake our hands, why don’t you sit at the bar?”
Draven stared at Juan with cold, grey eyes, “I meant no disrespect. I’m not into touching. I don’t know where your hand has been.”
Juan’s white cheeks blushed. His ears became more crimson than his face.
Troy intervened, “That’s understandable, I guess. But why sit with us if you don’t like physical contact?
Draven signaled the bartender to bring another round of shots for the men. Troy and Juan glanced at each other. Troy broke the silence first, “There now.” He addressed his buddy, “Anyone who buys us drinks can’t be all bad.”
Juan remained tense. His shoulders tightened. His jaw locked. When they were served a new round of shots he mumbled, “What do you want?”
Draven maintained a serious expression. Troy was about to pick up his drink when Draven gestured for him to stop. “I wouldn’t do that if I were you.”
Troy looked at the man quizzically. “Why not?”
“Tonight, something rare is going to happen in this booth. Two long time best friends will reach their limit of drinks and pass the point of no return. I’m here to offer you both a chance at life.”
Troy chuckled, but Juan continued to scowl. Troy uttered, “You’re joking, right?”
Draven sipped his juice as though it were bitter. He sneered at Troy and Juan. “If you take another drink, it’ll be your last.”
Juan lifted the shot-glass, keeping his eye on Draven. “I don’t know what your game is, but I think you’re full of it.”
Draven turned his head and pointed at the glass in front of Troy. “It seems to me the choice is simple. Quit drinking right this minute or savor your last drink before going to the afterlife.”
Juan maintained his glass high as though waiting for his friend to join him in a toast. Troy raised his drink off the table, spilling some of the tequila since he couldn’t stop his hand from shaking.
At last Troy said, “Bottoms up.” He gulped down the shot of tequila, making a face as the smooth drink entered his body. He waited a few seconds and laughed. “You’re right Juan, this guy’s full of it!”
Juan was about to gulp his drink down when Troy gasped, holding his chest. The left side of his body stiffened. He collapsed in the booth, prompting Draven to stand up and step away. Juan screamed for someone to help his friend. The bartender ran to assist Troy.
Juan put the shot-glass down as if the mere feel of it burned his fingers. With hazel eyes piercing at Draven, Juan said, “What are you?”
After a few minutes trying to apply CPR, the bartender announced, “Troy’s dead.”
Juan got out of the booth, spotting someone’s drink unattended on the bar. He glared at Draven, uttering, “That had to be a fluke.”
Draven seemed to glide toward Juan and with saddened eyes, grimaced. “What does friendship mean to you? Are you strong enough to become someone else?”
Juan wrapped his fingers around the drink. “What do you mean?”
Draven spoke a tad louder than a whisper, “For once in your life you have the chance to become your own man. You can choose to lead in a new path, or follow your friend to your doom. Either way, the choice is yours.”
Paramedics arrived and tried to revive Troy. Juan saw the solemn faces in the bar. To think Troy had the power to live a bit longer, yet his skepticism led him to choose death. Juan released the drink and backed away from the bar.
“Good choice,” said Draven. “Stay away from temptation and maybe you’ll grow old.”
Juan watched in awe as the dark stranger who called himself Draven, vanished before he reached the exit. He knew life would be even more of a challenge without his best friend and his liquid crutch, but he had to live on. He understood that his life was worth more than a shot of tequila and that his role in the world had to be important. Juan whispered, “Thanks Draven, I’ll make the most of this chance. You’ll see.”
- 945 words
© Copyright 2010 Nomar Knight. All rights reserved.