I watched – with fear slowly forming into my eyes – as Ezra sent me a hard, mean look, one of the meanest expressions he’d ever shown to me. His mouth cast into a scowl, and from the twitching in his jaw, I could tell that it was taking every ounce of him not to yell at me right in my face, or rip it off for that matter, like a chimpanzee or something.
“What do you mean you need a drink?” He practically growled at me. I could imagine red lasers shooting out of his eyes as he stared at me. “You just took three morphine pills— you’re not going anywhere.”
“And just who’s going to stop me?” I asked sarcastically, raising my left eyebrow up. “You’re not going to do anything.”
I was baiting him, and he knew it. I watched the conflict cross over his face as he thought about the consequences of forcefully convincing me to stay home. A smile spread over my face while shock crossed over his when he realized if he stopped me now, I probably wouldn’t help with Alisandra, as much of a total bitch move that was.
“Well then, fine,” Ezra said simply, throwing up his hands in a “oh, what the hell” gesture.
That time, both of my eyes shot up in shock. “Wait, really?”
“Yeah, of course,” He said, staring me dead in the eyes as he walked up to me. “As long as you let me come with you.”
“WHAT?!” I gasped, instantly horrified at the idea. Ezra, coming to the bar? With all my friends. No—
“—fucking way in hell,” I said, finishing my thoughts. “Are you crazy? They’ll think you’re probably my-my boyfriend or something,” I stuttered, unable to keep myself from blushing.
“If I’m not going, then you’re not staying,” He said, crossing his arms across his chest. “And that’s final.”
‘And that’s final?’ I repeated dubiously in my head.
“What are you? The responsible father that I never had?” I spat at him sarcastically, pushing him by the chest and walking away from him.
“Where are you going now?” He called after me as I walked into the kitchen, but I didn’t answer. I was satisfied as I heard his boots scratching against the carpet and then clomping across the linoleum floor as he entered the kitchen.
Without saying a word, I took out the biggest butcher knife from the knife block set and drew a long, thin, sharp all the way from my wrist to forearm, not even flinching as much as a centimeter, since I was so used to self-inflicted pain.
Blood instantly arose from the wound, and before Ezra could say or do anything besides make his eyes widen in shock, I wiped up a droplet of blood onto my index finger, propped it in front of my mouth, and like magic, actually blew the droplet of blood onto Ezra.
Instantly turning him into stone.
I bent down into the lower counters and took out the rubbing alcohol along with Band-Aids and quietly cleaned the wound matter-of-factly, feeling self-accomplished for handling the situation so fluently.
Once I had cleaned it up with the rubbing alcohol and slapped on a Band-Aid carelessly, I shrugged back on my jacket and purse hanging off my shoulder.
“Later, dude.” I said sarcastically over my shoulder, before walking out the door and locking it behind me.
“Emerson!” A mixed chorus of males and females greeted me as soon as I walked through the double wooden doors of the bar.
“Everybody else!” I yelled jokingly. I ran over around the bar, while a few of the alcoholic regulars gave me a side glance, and embraced one of my best friends since I’d moved here— Benji.
As we hugged, everyone else joined in, all of the bar employees that were my friends, since I had walked there for about two years before focusing on school and everything: Benji, Steven, Rei, Ami, and Adrian. We all hugged for a solid 30 seconds, and then, we all broke up while I took a seat at the bar counter.
“It’s a little bit too early to be drinking, Emerson,” Benji said, giving me a side glance and lifting one of his pierced eyebrows gingerly at me as he dried a shot glass.
I narrowed my eyes at him. “Do you want to make next month’s rent, or criticize my drinking habits?” I said bitterly.
He rolled his eyes at me dramatically and slammed the glass on the counter. “Vodka tonic?”
I nodded, and turned around to look at the T.V., which was set on Cartoon Network; a special request from me when I worked here. Plus, by the time everyone was streaming in, Adult Swim was on anyway, and they could all get drunk off their asses and watch Archer or Robot Chicken or somethin’.
“Sooner or later, you’re going to have to face reality,” I heard him whisper in my ear quickly before running off to the back.
I bit my bottom lip nervously. What Benji said made sense, and after all— he was my best friend, he was just trying to protect me. He knew that I went through some dark times and being an alcoholic at the age of 19 isn’t a really good way to jump-start your future.
As expected, I looked to the see the opening doors slightly swing open, and then the 40 year old or so ghost-guy walked in, still in his suit and tie like he had just gotten off from work and that same tired-looking grin on his face. He gave me a nod as he sat down at one of the table against the walls, and I saluted him.
Benji came back out the back, this time in his regular clothes without an apron like the bar dress code ordered, and smacked a big kiss on my cheek while I laughed at the gesture. He sat down on the stool next to me and held my hand on his thigh, winking at me and laughing.
About a few weeks ago – when DJ— er, ‘Darren’, now – had broken up with me, I was back to feeling all numb and depressed, so of course, to feel even more numb so I wouldn’t have to face the pain, I got really drunk after taking a trip to the bar. Drunk enough to the point where I almost had alcohol poisoning.
But anyways, when I was legitimately drunk off my ass, apparently, I had kissed Benji and he was drunk enough that he kissed me back, and apparently, we made out at the bar in front of all our friends, and they were grossed out, because that’s just something you don’t do— kissing your best friend? Nope. That never works.
Ever since then, we’ve been acting really close and intertwining ourselves like it’s natural just to freak out our other friends, but I have to put restrictions on myself sometimes just so that I don’t actually fall for Benji or anything.
I mean, it’s not like Benji’s ass ugly, he’s quite the opposite. He has dark, almost ink black hair, and the perfect olive skin tone, and he has these cute freckles dotting around his mouth and nose. Not to mention his dark chocolate “bedroom eyes” as he calls them.
So yeah, in a sense, Benji’s one hot piece of meat.
But can I have him? Nope. I’m supposed to still be hung up on my douchebag of an ex-boyfriend and not on my best friend.
This is why my life sucks.
I caught the glass sliding down the bar from Ami’s hands into mine and flashed her a smile before turning back over to Benji.
“How you feelin’, babe?” He asked, rubbing the small of my back with his hand.
I tried not to focus on his touch and cough up my drink as I replied, “Babe? Since when have you ever called me babe?” I cried, laughing at the same time.
He laughed back with me, smiling at me with those bedroom eyes of his. “I don’t know, I just felt like you calling you that. Like, you know, if I smoked cigarettes and had a deep scratchy voice, I would have to act like this is the 40s and call you ‘doll face’ all the time.” He said.
I raised both of my unpierced eyebrows at him. “You’re so weird.”
“Tell me ‘bout it,” He replied, still smiling before he suddenly turned all serious and solemn on me. “But seriously, Emerson, how have you been since the break-up?” He asked.
With his question, I rolled my eyes for the second time that night and chugged the rest of my shot; the alcohol burning my throat, but I was so used to the sensation that it just felt like a zing going down my throat. I held up two fingers to Ami, a sign that I wanted another. It was also a sign whether I was drunk off my ass or not.
If I could still be coherent and hold up the right number of fingers, they allowed me to have another drink. If I couldn’t, and somehow threw up some sort of gang symbol or something – which is something you have to sometimes worry about with the sorts of people that come in out of the bar – then they’d order Benji to take me home or something like that. Just a system they made up.
I turned to Benji, getting tired of procrastinating and answering his annoying question. “I’m fine, Benji, alright? I’m not all depressed and like…cutting anymore. There’s nothing to worry about.”
He still had a concerned look on his face as he sent me a worried glance. He suddenly elongated his reassuring back strokes; going from almost to the top to the small of it.
“I’m just worried about you,” He whispered, laying his cheek on my shoulder. “I don’t want you to get hurt again.” He punctuated his sentence by pressing a small kiss on my neck.
I shivered, not only from the wind from the incoming shot glass flying from Ami’s hand to mine, but also because of Benji’s lips against my neck. What in the hell was this guy doing? I moved my hand in front of my face, to see if it looked blurred and maybe I was already drunk, but nope, everything moved in real time.
“Are you drunk?” I asked, tilting and craning my head to look at him, since he was still resting his head against my shoulder.
“No,” He answered immediately, this time putting even more weight on me and slipping an arm around my waist. “Why do you ask?”
“B-because,” I stuttered, feeling my cheeks flush to my chagrin as his grip tightened around me, squeezing me— giving me a simple half-hug. “You just kissed me…” I trailed off.
Rei walked by us, attending to someone else and mouthed, “What the fuck?” as she walked by, and I merely shrugged my shoulders, still a little constricted from Benji’s grasp.
“Yeah, well, I’m making up for lost time,” He said, giving me another kiss on the neck. “You know, it took you long enough to notice me, Emerson, that is, until last week.”
“Last week?” I repeated. I thought to myself and then gasped aloud, “Last week!”
As in, last week where we had made out in front of all our friends, giving them disturbing mental images that they couldn’t get out of their heads.
“Benji, do you have a crush on me, or something?” I said, trying my hardest not to stutter from embarrassment.
“Isn’t that obvious?” He said, in normal tone instead of his dreamy, almost-out-of-it tone. He lifted his head up from my shoulder and stared right into my eyes. “Didn’t you notice? You know, how I basically sprinted from the room every time Darren was brought up?”
I briefly thought about it. Whenever I brought Darren to the bar, Benji had always made some lame excuse like making sure the ice hadn’t melted in the freezer, or always volunteered to take out the garbage to the dumpster. I hadn’t really even noticed until now; I just thought he was being nice and doing his job like he was supposed to, or whatever.
“But, that’s weird…” I trailed off. “You, liking me? Since when did this happen?”
“Well, I’ve always thought you were pretty,” He said, stroking the side of my face adoringly. “And smart. And a great artist. But I was too chicken to tell you, you know? Remember how insecure I used to be? And we would have those long talks at my apartment so that you would make me feel better again?”
I thought about it, a few months ago, and I knew exactly what Benji was talking about. He had gotten out of a relationship that he’d been in since the ninth grade, and she broke it off with him because he wasn’t ready to get married about a year ago. I basically had to re-patch him up just so he could function again.
“Um, yeah?” I said hesitantly, finally answering his question.
“I mean, you really helped me through dark times and all that good stuff, but during that time, I developed feelings for you,” He said, getting a little quiet on the word “feelings” like he was suddenly embarrassed to be talking to me.
“And I didn’t want to seem like a total…asscracker after moving on from like, a five-year relationship onto someone you consider your best fucking friend, so I didn’t say anything. But then, you started dating Darren, and I missed my window.” He explained solemnly, meeting my eyes the whole time.
“Oh,” Was the only thing I could say; I was just so weirded out. But the worst thing of all was that I didn’t even remotely…reciprocate his feelings anymore; it felt like my heart was tugging, gravitating towards something— someone else.
Who in the hell did I have feelings for?
I swallowed the lump in my throat that had arisen when I figured that I might lose my best friend. “Listen, Benji, I love you, but…”
“Stop,” He said, sending me a tired look as he removed his arm from waist. “I know what you’re going to say— you don’t want to ruin our friendship. Am I right?”
I silently nodded, feeling just the tiniest bit of tears build up in my eyes.
“Then I’ll wait,” He said with a sort of finality in his voice. “And I’ll be here when you need me. And trust me Emerson, I can be anything you want me to be,” He whispered.
My eyebrows shot up involuntarily at his suddenly seductive voice and I let out a shocked gasp as he leaned in and kissed me smack dab on the lips.
“Alright, I should be going,” He said, after giving me a big wet one like it wasn’t a big deal. “Gotta go feed Coconut.” He said, referring to his Scarlet macaw that he named Coconut, who literally cost about a thousand dollars.
“I…uh…” I said, sounding like I had mush-mouth. I was so shocked and confused that I didn’t even know what to say.
“Be back later for you.” He said with a wink, already up from his stool. He sent me a salute – like I had done to the old man ghost – and then walked out the bar doors.
“Holy shit!” I hear Rei’s voice suddenly cut in. I turn to the left to her coming sprinting over after washing a table with some old rag and her dark auburn hair flying out of its loose ponytail as she ran over to me.
“I just saw…ALL OF THAT!” She yelled right in my face. “What the literal hell was that?! He was all over you; I’ve never seen him like that before!”
“Headache,” I mumbled, pushing her center of her chest to get away from her screaming voice. “But yeah. I was weirded out myself, too. Believe me, I wasn’t expecting it either.”
“I can’t believe it…” She breathed as she sat down in the stool right next to me. “What, did you guys hook up that one night you grossed us all out when you made out in front of everybody?”
“No, no, God, no,” I immediately answered, shaking my head back and forth and ultimately sending my hair whacking me in the face. “That will…never happen to us.”
“Oh,” Rei said, giving me a little smile. But then it disappeared off her face and she got really serious as she leaned in towards me and said, “It's because you’re still not over Darren, right?”
“What?” I shrieked, causing a few of the regulars to send me menacing looks, “No! Why does everyone keep asking that?”
“Because, you guys were together for like, two years and he just dumps you out of nowhere!” She immediately replied.
“Actually, it was a year and 10 months.” I corrected her, and then felt like an idiot for even still giving a fuck about the duration of my longest but failed relationship.
She raised her eyebrow in an ‘I-told-you-so-look’. “See what I mean? It’s things like that that make it seem like—oh my god.”
“What?” I spun around on the stool, almost throwing myself off in the process and look to the door, expecting Benji to come back in with a gigantic teddy bear or something that would make me feel like dying from embarrassment.
“Um, nothing!” She yelled in my face, literally pulling my jaw away from whatever’s behind me that she’s so fixated on.
“Ouch!” I enunciated, staring right at here pointedly, since she yanked my jaw into place. “Tell me what the fuck you’re looking at.” I demanded.
“Ami? Turn up the T.V., will you?” Rei asked quietly.
I turned to see Ami behind the bar, face pale as a ghost, as she lifted up the remote and hesitantly pushed the volume button up several times.
Darren ‘DJ’ Johnson has gone missing from his Holland, Michigan apartment two weeks ago. Police are now admitting that foul play is being suspected, because Johnson’s apartment was found in drastic substantial circumstances that the police say are impossible to live in. Although we do not know what these circumstances are, most of Johnson’s family is worried about him, considering the fact that he has been missing for two weeks and there still is no sign of him.
“D-DJ?” I breathed aloud, not even caring enough to correct myself to call him ‘Darren’ instead.
I looked towards Rei, who still had a stricken look across her face, and to Ami, who was still pale and looking at me with terror in her eyes.
I think that’s when I blacked out-- when they said DJ was presumed dead.
Word Count: 3,145