Vignette:Bottoms Up

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Bottoms Up

L'OISEAU, Cammur, Republic of Chezzetcook
October 2nd, 2020
F

riday night is always a busy night for the bar; office workers stumble in frequently, their dishevelled uniforms a common sight after a long day of gruelling deskwork. A naval officer and his subordinates have shown up tonight to blow off some steam from basic training; their combat boots and distinctive ultramarine jackets make them easy to spot as they wind down with a slow but steady game of billiards.

Deep in the corner, a development team celebrates the launch of a new product to drunken cheering and a mishmash of clinking glasses and big slaps on the back. In another dingy corner, a double date between two couples is going along swimmingly as the four share glasses of Akitei sake, bacon vitters, and fantastic fables.

By the window, Colette sits solemnly in front of an empty seat and an equally empty glass. The view outside is of the bright La Heve skyline, sprinkled with shimmering skyscrapers and silhouettes of ships. In that spectacular view, she was expecting to see Luc give her the most self-satisfied middle finger from miles away, accompanied by an equally smug bare-teeth grin. Instead, she found him a destitute wreck climbing the steps of the bar and falling into the seat in front of her.

“What are you doing here?” She looked at him up and down. His black tie was loose around his upturned collar and his jacket was slumped over his slouching shoulder. “You’re miles from home. Are you here to laugh at me?”

He spoke to the ground. “I really didn’t understand why you make a mess of me.”

She was surprised he stated the obvious. “I think you’re a self-righteous prick, you know. Every interaction we’ve had has led to a shouting match because you always think you’re right.”

“Thanks for the honesty.” He reeked of exhaustion, and he was going to smell like alcohol soon.

“You’re in dire need of it.” She found it odd that Luc wasn’t fighting back with his own retorts. Before she can grab the bottle of gin to refill her glass, it’s swept away by a surprisingly fast hand. In a flash, it’s into a glass and down his throat.

Under cover of rambling banter, it isn’t long until he’s downed enough glasses to make him numb. The bright red flush on his cheeks and the intermittent chuckle on his face says it all: he’s very, very drunk. Luckily for both of them, the bottle is empty when he goes for one more shot.

“That’s enough, Luc. Are you planning on drinking yourself to death?” She wrestles the empty bottle out of his hands with ease.

“I’m getting ready to be honest here.” A sigh escapes his facade of a smile.

The anticipation is getting on her nerves. Is he going to apologize? Is he going to gloat? Has he been demoted? Her leg jitters up and down erratically as worry takes over her body. “Just tell me, damnit.”

After a deep breath, he blurts it out. “Hurry up and break my heart already, okay?”

The hustle and bustle of the bar seem to stop as she tries to comprehend his inebriated attempt at a confession. When she finally manages to wrap it around her head, she snaps out of her trance only to find Luc stumbling out of the bar and the seat in front of her empty once more.

She’s going to have a lot to think about tonight.

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