The past few weeks have been worse than I imagined they’d be.. I haven’t told anyone about what had happened, yet.. I was embarrassed, scared, and unsure if anyone would even believe me. Jody’s been trying to get together again, but I’ve been ignoring her, and when I couldn’t ignore her, I’d tell her I was sick, or just unable to do anything.. I meant it when I came to the conclusion that I wanted nothing to do with her anymore, but I can say that she felt the exact opposite and it was beginning to get a little suffocating.
We didn’t have class today on account of it being Thanksgiving, and I didn’t want anything to do with his Holiday, either. A few weeks ago, Kat and I had a huge fight and even despite me telling her that I would never sit down at a dinner table with my Uncle ever again, she still insisted that I be here. I wasn’t on speaking terms with her, I’ve barely said a word to her since our argument, but she’s still been as bossy as ever, just minus her sweet, protective side towards me. She could care less right now, but that might just be because she’s trying to remain strong and not give in to apologizing to me, yet, I was doing the exact same thing. Just like everyone else in our family, her and I truly were stubborn people.
I stood in James’ room, looking out one of his windows as I spaced out and I jumped suddenly when I felt his hand on my shoulder. “Whoa! Jeez.. You’ve been really jumpy ever since you and Kat got into it.. I know I keep asking you, but are you okay?” He asked, looking to him and I calmed down a little, soon nodding and turning my attention back out the window. “Are you just on edge a lot now since Kat’s Dad is coming?” He continued and I stared out the window. I didn’t reply to him, my mind was too focused and I kept my eyes on the street below, hoping that I wouldn’t see my Uncle and Camilla pulling up anytime soon. Even though I was still a little mad at Kat, she wasn’t the one that my mind has been unable to block out and forget.”..Oliver?”
“What?” I asked abruptly, looking back at him and his expression was a little worrisome.
“Sorry.. I know it’s not any of my business, but.. I know the whole situation.. Don’t be mad at Kat for telling me, but, she just didn’t want me left in the dark and she told me to kind of be ready for confrontation..”
“And that’s exactly why I won’t be here, so none of that happens,” I replied, turning my attention back to the window.
“Are you sure that leaving is the best option? Maybe we can just have a nice dinner and then he’ll leave and that’ll be it, you know? Can’t you just ignore the guy for a few hours? I mean, Camilla’s coming home for a few days only and it’s been a long time, shouldn’t you be here for her?” He asked and I was getting sick of his questions, but I tried hard not to snap at him.
“She’ll be here after today, so why can’t I spend time with her tomorrow? Or the next day?” I rebutted.
“You know what I mean.. It’s a ‘family’ day..”
“Yeah, then why are you here?” I asked, but the moment those words came out of my mouth, I regretted them instantly.
I turned around, facing James and my expression was apologetic, “Look, I’m sorry.. I didn’t mean that, you are family to me..” I replied and I watched as he accepted my apology with a nod, “It’s just.. I don’t consider him my family anymore and I haven’t for a long time. He’s nothing to me,” I continued, looking to James standing in front of a mirror and he adjusted his formal attire for the occasion.
“Then why are you so worried about it? Leave what’s in the past in the past, huh?” He offered, “I know you’re mad at Kat, but do it for her, and do it for Camilla.. Plus, we already have Kat and Camilla to watch and make sure they don’t get at each other’s throats,” he added with a soft chuckle and I sighed heavily. I didn’t want to, I didn’t want any part of this, but I hated to admit that James was right..
“I’m not guaranteeing anything, all that I’m going to say is that if I can’t take it anymore and I leave, I suggest you do that same..” I warned.
“What? Why..?” He asked, looking at me through the mirror.
“Are you serious? This is the first time you’re meeting my Uncle.. You’re a male roommate who lives with both of his daughters. Who the hell do you think he’ll vent his anger to next if I leave?” I asked sarcastically and I watched as James’ expression went more nervous than it was before.
“Well.. I might just take you up on that, then..” He replied and I chuckled, facing the window again.
When James was ready, we went downstairs to the dining room and Kat was rushing around in the kitchen, trying to get everything ready and I pitied her for how frantic and rushed she felt she needed to be to impress someone as simple and uncaring as my Uncle. James had offered to help her a few times, but she said she had it under control, so he didn’t bother her anymore.. From where I stood, I could still keep a good watch out the windows and I’d know when they would arrive, but James disrupted my staring when he stepped up to me. “Want a beer or anything to calm down a little?” He offered and I shook my head.
“No.. If anything’s going to happen I need my mind to be clear..” I replied and I heard him scoff lightly.
“Man, if I didn’t know any better, I’d say that you’re asking for a fight tonight with that attitude,” he answered and I looked to him, then back to the window.
“I just want to be ready..” I replied, seeing him leave my side out of the corner of my eye and he went back to the kitchen with Kat. Maybe if I decided to leave, then is when I would need a beer or two, maybe even something with a little more kick..
The wait was about half an hour, but I finally saw them pull up in my Uncle’s car, driving passed our place and he went around the corner to park. My heart started racing and I tried to take a few deep, collected breaths, but it was hard to focus when I knew they were here, and I knew who was going to be walking through that door any second. I looked to the kitchen, seeing both Kat and James distracted and I went through the dining room and upstairs, avoiding being the one to answer the door and I went to the living area, turning the television on and acting as if I had been here the whole time. I sat there in anticipation, not paying attention to anything on the screen and I waited, and I listened..
A few minutes after sitting within the living area, I heard the door being opened downstairs from Camilla getting the door herself and I listened as James was the first to greet her, knowing Kat didn’t give any kind of care that Camilla was here, she was just waiting for her father to come in before she showed any sign of acknowledgment that they had arrived. “Hey! Long time no see! How was France?” I could hear James asking Camilla and she responded with an excited tone, but I couldn’t make out her words because she had such a quiet and soft spoken voice. When I heard the door shut, I knew that my Uncle was right behind Camilla, though he made no effort into alerting anyone that he was there, but I knew because Kat finally came out of the kitchen..
“Dad! I’m so glad you could make it!” She called out and I’m sure she greeted him with a large hug that he didn’t even want. I heard another soft voice, assuming it was Camilla and Kat answered, “I don’t know.. He’s probably still upstairs..” She replied, knowing that Camilla was wondering where I was. I knew Kat wouldn’t greet Camilla with such excitement as she did for her father, brushing her off like she was nothing and I then heard her paying attention to her Dad, but footsteps on the stairs kept me from hearing their exact words.. If I were to guess, I’d say she was introducing James to her Dad.
Just the thought of knowing he was here, just a staircase away, made my stomach turn into knots.. “Ollie?” I heard the sweet, soft voice of my sister and I looked up, seeing her standing in the doorway of the living room and the smile on her face almost made me completely forget that my Uncle was here.
“Camilla,” I said with a smile of my own, standing from the couch and we met each other half way with a large, warm hug.
“Oh my god, I’ve missed you so, so much..” She began and I pulled her in tighter.
“I missed you more, sis,” I replied, finally letting go of one another.
“Wow..” She began, giggling softly as she looked at me, “You’re hair has gotten so long since I last saw you!” She said with a wide smile and I nodded.
“So has yours,” I replied, “You look a lot more mature with longer hair.. Are you sure you’re only eighteen?” I joked and she laughed more, pulling me into another much needed hug and we remained like that for a few more seconds, but eventually pulled away again. “Come here, tell me about your first year abroad,” I said with a smile and she nodded, following my gesture for her to join me in the living room and she sat with me on the couch.
“Spill it..” I began, seeing her cheeks flush a little and she laughed off my words.
“Oh, come on.. Don’t tell me that in the most romantic place in the world, you haven’t found a guy there yet that sweeps you off your feet,” I continued and she kept her large smile she couldn’t hide.
“Fine, you got me.. His name’s Leon.. I met him in Geneva when I was on my way to Switzerland,” she replied with a bashful tone and I kept the smile I held.
“Yeah, I knew it..” I confirmed, “But, how was the first year out there? Was it good?”
“Yeah, definitely.. I’m learning so much.. I think I actually want to be a teacher, or a translator of sorts.. I actually invited Leon to come back with me to meet my family, but he couldn’t make it,” she replied and I nodded.
“Well, that’s too bad.. But, I’m glad you’re enjoying it.. You deserve to be somewhere you love to be, especially with someone you like,” I answered and she continued her smile as she nodded in thanks.
“What about you? How have you been?” She asked next and I couldn’t help but shrug.
“Nothing new to report.. Still same old me..” I replied, though I don’t think I sounded as convincing as I would’ve liked to.
“Well.. How are classes going? Still straight A’s, I hope?” She implied and I nodded.
“Yeah, nothing to worry about there,” I confirmed, sending another smirk her way and she seemed convinced enough to stop prying.
“What about a girl? Have you met anyone since we last talked on the phone?” She asked and my smirk slowly faded, unsure of how to answer her, though I thought it would be best if I just acted as if nothing at all had happened since I had last spoken with her.. As far as I was concerned, I was determined to not let Jody force herself into my life, and the first thing to do to achieve that was not even acknowledge that we were dating anymore, if you could even call that short amount of time ‘dating’..
“Nope.. Just me, still..” I replied with a pathetic grin, seeing her face turn a little less happy than it was, but before she could continue to ask questions about it, we both heard another set of footsteps coming up the stairs and my heart began to race.
I could hear the footsteps approaching the living area and just based on the sound of their pace, I could tell it was my Uncle.. His slight limp was always a dead giveaway. He soon came into our sights and Camilla rose from the couch, going to him in a slightly panicked manner, “Dad, you shouldn’t use the stairs without your cane, you could’ve gotten hurt,” she said softly, taking her luggage that he had brought up with him as a nice gesture and he brushed off her worry.
“I got my knee replaced, not my hips..” He replied sarcastically, “I’m still able use stairs.”
“Well, okay.. But at least let me take this to my room, I don’t want you to go up two more flights, alright?” She replied and he nodded.
“Thanks, doll,” he answered and she smiled as he put his hand to the back of her head and pulled her in so his lips met her forehead. My stomach turned even more knowing that he probably didn’t mean his kind words and gestures towards her, putting up a front, but I knew who he really was.. I saw passed his bullshit and I’ll never let myself be fooled like that again. His questionably loving gesture towards her even made me a little angry and I felt bad for Kat.. Never have I ever seen him show her as much love as he does for Camilla. Was it because she came from my mother and not Aunt Nina? Either way, I still didn’t like how he treated both of them.. I was always bothered, too, by how Camilla could accept my Uncle as her father.. Even though he was her real father, I didn’t like how she completely ignored the fact that my dad was the one that took care of her from the moment she was born until she was almost four, but it’s as if she completely forgot about him or blocked him out of her life after he had left, and she accepted her real father to call ‘dad’, even when he was never there for her like my father was.. I wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt, about how she might not even remember enough of my father to label him her Dad, but whatever the reason, I still hated how quickly she warmed up to him after our mom and my dad were gone..
After Camilla had begun walking up the stairs, my Uncle looked towards the living area and his brown eyes met my blues, watching as the side of his mouth lifted into a slight smirk and I didn’t like the look on his face.. Then again, I never really did..
He stepped into the living area slowly and he stopped just before the couch, “Are you going to stand and greet me like a man, or are you going to sit there and pout?” He began, still holding his disputably innocent smirk and I sighed heavily, making sure he knew that I didn’t want to before I stood to my feet and I stepped up to him.
He stuck out his hand and I reluctantly shook it with my own, “It’s been a few years.. It’s good to see you,” he continued, though I knew that that was a lie.
“I wish I could say the same,” I replied and quickly removed my hand from his, hearing him chuckle and he was amused by my behavior.
I watched his hand then reach up towards my hair, “Look at this mop on your head..” He continued, but I pushed his hand away abruptly before he could touch me and he chuckled again, “Your father would be disappointed to see you looking so.. Well, unkempt.. You should consider a haircut,” he insisted and I kept my stern expression.
“I could say the same for you.. And if you haven’t noticed, he hasn’t exactly been around much lately, so how would you even know?” I asked sarcastically and I didn’t enjoy how long he kept up that annoying grin of his. It was obvious that he enjoyed messing with me, but I was far from enthused.
My Uncle stepped over towards the couch and sat down slowly, minding his knee and he then gestured towards the seat next to him, “Sit down and talk to me for a little bit, it’s not often I get to see my nephew,” he insisted, my eyes looking to the couch and I sighed heavily like I did before, slowly going to the couch and I sat the furthest that I could away from him. I kept my eyes on the television, wanting to go downstairs where James and Kat were, but I couldn’t exactly ignore my Uncle, no matter how much I wanted to. “So, how’s college?” He began.
“Fine..” I replied blandly.
“Wow, hold back that enthusiasm of yours a little more, will you?” He asked sarcastically and I didn’t say anything, “Are you ever going to grow up and get passed all of this, or are you going to hold a grudge forever?” He asked next and my eyes went around the room aimlessly instead of at the television. I didn’t want to talk about this now, and especially not with him.
“Not today,” I replied.
“But it’s perfect for such a momentous occasion, finding peace with one another so there’s no more hard feelings,” he offered, though I knew he was bluffing and I wondered what he was trying to accomplish instead.
“A momentous occasion would imply that it would have great or lasting importance.. And it would’ve been, had you just dropped off Camilla and left,” I answered and I heard him hum a soft laugh.
“Charming, as always.. Reciting definitions as if you were getting ready for a spelling bee,” he slightly mocked, “Still just a child..”
“You were just like this at my age, still a child.. I think I’m doing a little better, though, seeing as I’m in college doing something with my life and my ‘total number of lives ruined’ is still sitting at zero.. What’s your number up to? Because I can think of a few right now..” I spat back, finally having the guts to look over at him and still, he held that damn smirk that I hated so much.
“Such a smart mouth.. You remind me a lot of your old man, always have, actually.. Maybe that’s why we just can’t get along,” he suggested as an answer and I scoffed.
“Or maybe it’s because you stuck your nose where it didn’t belong,” I rebutted.
“Oh, I’ve stuck myself plenty of places where I didn’t belong,” he implied and I could feel myself getting angered, “I don’t regret anything, though.. I don’t regret what I did to get Camilla..”
“They would’ve had her regardless, you just wouldn’t have been her father,” I answered, watching him then lean forward and a little closer towards me and I hated to admit that I got nervous from it.
“Have I ever told you the story of The Woman Who Never Said No? There’s one person in particular that could play that part like a champion, can you guess who?” He rubbed in and my anger had returned ten-fold, knowing he meant my mother and I bit the inside of my cheek as I tried to keep my cool, “It’s a lovely story, would you like to hear it?” He continued to push my buttons and I couldn’t answer him.
“Well.. Once upon a time, there was this woman, very beautiful.. A gorgeous frame, long, dark hair, piercing blue eyes, kind of like yours..” He mocked and I could feel my hands beginning to shake in anger, though I brought my hand towards my head to hide the fact, “She lived with a troll that pretty much treated her like a prisoner, making her raise his troll child, making her do all of the troll’s chores while he was away, doing what pleased him.. Ignoring the beauty for years, and even despite her sadness, when asked if she wanted to stay, she never said ‘no’, even though you could tell that she wanted to and she remained in the prison-like conditions,” he continued the story and I could barely hold my own as he then leaned in a little more and continued, “But then, one day.. A brave man came along and whisked her away, asking her to be his in secret just so she could be happy on occasion and you know what? She never said ‘no’, even when her child slept in the room next to the one that they would-”
“Stop..” I cut him off and he tilted his head in curiosity.
“Now? I was just about to get to the good parts..” He taunted and I grit my teeth together.
“..Why are you telling me this?” I asked, struggling to keep my anger under control.
“To show you that even though the man that took her away from her miserable life, she never said no, even though she had every chance to,” he replied and I let out a heavy sigh, shutting my eyes and I hung my head, “..It’s not all on me, Oliver.. And it never was.. Does three years mean anything to you? She was just as willing, if not more so..” He continued and I didn’t know whether to believe him or not, “I would never speak ill of her, I saw everything unfold right before my eyes, but, you must know that putting all of this on me is completely ridiculous, don’t you..? Just because they’re your parents and you hold them in much higher regards than me, doesn’t mean they’re any less to blame in this, too.. They weren’t around to give you any side of their story, but I am.. I stayed with you, raised you, got you to where you are now.. Doesn’t that count for anything?” He asked, his voice sounding sincere and just as I was beginning to believe his words, the tone of his voice was all wrong.. This wasn’t my Uncle.. My Uncle was a cruel, conniving man, and him telling me all of this in the manner he did was just another way to brainwash me like he had Kat and Camilla..
I stood from the couch, turning to face him and I bent down to his level, “I’ll never believe your word.. I know my Dad is still out there and eventually I’ll get the truth to all of this. Your words still mean nothing to me, you mean nothing to me, and I’m doing just fine by keeping it that way. So, excuse me if I’m a little too harsh when I say this, on such a momentous occasion, but..” I mocked him back, hesitating a moment and I smirked just slightly before my next words, “Fuck you, Uncle Gareth..” I finished, feeling a sense of accomplishment flowing through me and I was actually a little proud of myself for finally sticking up to him.
..However, to my surprise, my Uncle’s smirk turned into an amused smile and he quickly reached back behind my head, gripping my long hair tightly and even despite using his hand that my father had shot, he could still get a great grip of my locks. I let out a soft groan of a struggle, my hand quickly going to the back of my head and I tried to free myself, but it was no use, feeling him then pulling me down and I was forced to take a knee in front of him, looking up at him. “Now you listen to me, boy. If you ever look down your nose at me again like that, I’ll show you what I do for a living first hand..” He threatened with a deep, serious tone, his smile now completely gone and I breathed harshly through my nose as I looked into his eyes, “Do I make myself clear, you little shit?” He asked and I hesitated, his threat weighing down hard on me and I was scared, not wanting to know what he did for a living even despite my curiosity over the many years.
“You don’t want me to repeat myself,” he advised and I finally gave in.
“Yes..” I said quietly.
“Yes, what?” He demanded.
“Yes, I understand..” I repeated, admitting defeat.
“Good,” he completely changed, his smile coming back and he threw me to the floor as he let go of my hair. I stumbled just slightly, catching myself with my hands and I sat on the floor for a few long seconds, trying to gather whatever self respect I had left for myself. “You always were a stubborn fuckin’ brat.. I can’t believe that I even attempted to make amends, what the fuck is wrong with me?” He asked sarcastically, chuckling at himself and he needed help standing to his feet, putting his hand to my shoulder and he used me to push himself up, obviously taking the dominant roll and making it a point to show me that he still shouldn’t be trifled with.
“You’re lucky you’re my brother’s son,” he threatened last, hearing his footsteps walk out of the living area and he made his way downstairs and he left me here, left me to stew in my thoughts and think about what I had done. He still treated me like a child.. He made it a point to show me that he could still do whatever he pleased and there was no defending myself when it came to him, no matter how right I felt about my beliefs.. He always managed to bring me back down to the lowest points left that I could go.
After all that’s transpired, after trying to put up with him the best I could, I wasn’t able to do it anymore.. I rose slowly from the floor, reaching back and I rubbed my scalp tenderly where his grip was pulling at my hair and the back of my head was a little sore, but I could manage.. I can do fine with physical pain, I’ve grown numb to it, used to it as I grew up, but it was the emotional and mental pain that I struggled so hard with, and right now I couldn’t even look at my Uncle again at the dining table for dinner without having the urge to shove a fork in his eye. I needed to get out of here..
I walked towards the stairs to go down to the first floor, rushing down them and I went straight for the front door, keeping my head and eyes down and I left in a hurry, but sadly, I didn’t make it very far before I heard James coming out after me, “Oliver!” He called out, and I walked out the gate in front of our townhouse, but he grabbed my arm before I could reach the road, “Ollie, wait a second! What are you doing?” He wondered and I stopped, pulling my arm out of his grip abruptly and I looked over my shoulder towards him.
“I’m leaving, what is look like I’m doing?” I asked sarcastically.
“Yeah, I can see that,” he answered defensively, “But, where are you going? Kat’s going to be furious if you leave.. You think she’s mad at you now for the fight you had? She’ll never forgive you if you ditch today..”
“..Then tell her I’m sorry, and that I hope she understands..” I replied and I turned to leave again, but he grabbed my arm once more and stopped me.
“Would you just wait a second and talk to me? You should really stay.. She invited Jody over, too, not that long ago.. Don’t you want to see her? It’ll take your mind off of your Uncle, right?” He mentioned, as if it would make me feel better and get me to stay. I remembered during Kat and I’s fight that she wanted to fix me up with Jody so I had someone to distract me from my Uncle being there, but at this point, she was just as bad as he was, and no one knew that but me.
“Even more reason for me to leave..” I replied as I pulled my arm from his grip, continuing towards the road with a quick pace and I hailed a cab that was coming towards us.
“Wait.. What? Why..? Ollie!” He tried to get my attention again and I ignored him, getting in the cab and it pulled away.
“Where you headed?” The driver wondered and I hung my head with my eyes closed, glad that I had made it out of the house successfully.
“Any place away from here that I can get a drink..” I replied quietly.
“You got it,” they replied, continuing to drive and I sat there in silence, letting out a relieved sigh and I was happy that I had gotten out of there without too many issues.. If anyone else but James had chased me out the door, I wouldn’t have been able to get away from that whole situation and I don’t know what I would do if I would’ve been forced to face my Uncle again after what he had ‘discussed’, not to mention Jody, as well.. “So, rough Thanksgiving already, huh?” The driver wondered and I didn’t even bother to look their way, keeping my head down like I had been.
“Yeah.. You could say that..” I replied, taking my phone out of my pocket and I looked at it, knowing that Kat or anyone else at the house would probably try to call me to get me to come back, but that wasn’t going to happen.. And to make sure of it, I shut my phone off, watching the screen turn black and I placed it back within my pocket, feeling the relief already beginning to lessen the weight on my shoulders.
I was driven to the other side of town to a lounge that I’ve only heard of but have never been to and it had recently just opened. It was a little too high-class for my taste, but at this point, I wasn’t picky and I just needed a drink.. I know I wasn’t one for drinking, especially to the point where I’d get incoherent, but right now I needed it, I needed to numb myself of this and I didn’t want to go back while he was there.. I won’t go back until morning, maybe, when I know that he’s gone.. I’ll walk to the motel down the street that I had passed and get a room for the night if I have to in order to avoid going back..
I got out of the cab and thanked the driver, handing him the fare that was due and I walked into the lounge, noticing it was empty and that didn’t surprise me.. It was Thanksgiving, everyone was with their families or friends, while I’m alone, spending my night with a bartender and a glass of liquor.
“My apologies, sir, but we’re closing in about ten minutes and final call was twenty minutes ago,” the bartender began, but when I looked up, he stared at me for a moment, then choosing to correct himself, “I suppose I can make an exception for a face like yours, though,” he continued and my words caught in my throat as I stepped up to the counter.
“..Uhm, I’m sorry..?” I asked and he chuckled.
“You look like you’ve had a rough day,” he explained and I scoffed.
“Yeah.. Really rough,” I answered, “I’m sorry.. I can go somewhere else, I didn’t mean to come when you were about to close up.. I was just glad that you were open on a holiday,” I explained and he waved me forward.
“No, no.. Don’t worry about it. Looks like you need a drink and I’m still here, so, please.. Sit..” He insisted and I nodded in thanks.
I stepped up to the bar, sitting on one of the stools and I put my face into my hands, rubbing my eyes in frustration, “What’ll you have?” He wondered.
“Straight, clean, on the rocks, dirty?” He asked and I just picked one randomly.
“Uh.. On the rocks, I guess..”
“Of course.. But, before I do, you know the drill, I’m sure..” He implied and I removed my hands from my face, taking my wallet out and I showed him my identification to prove I was old enough, “Thanks, Oliver..” He continued and I smirked briefly, putting my ID back into my wallet and within my pocket.
He came back with a glass that held a few ice cubes, pouring me three fingers worth and I grabbed it, not hesitating as I poured it all down my throat quickly and put the glass back down. My eyes shut tight and I let out a hard breath after the large amount, “Another, please..” I requested and he chuckled softly.
“You know.. You’re supposed to pace yourself with that type of style,” he put in his two cents.
“Another..” I insisted.
“Suit yourself,” he replied and he poured me another like I had asked and I downed that one as well, letting out another harsh breath after I swallowed the strong liquid and my eyes winced shut.
I pointed to the glass once more, signaling for him to pour me a third and he hesitated a moment, but he then gave in when I insisted and he poured me the drink. I grabbed the glass and picked it up, but he put his hand down over it and made me put it back on the counter, “Whoa, whoa.. Pace yourself, kid, I can tell just by the first one you don’t do this often. You don’t want to leave here in two minutes stupid, do you?” He pointed out and I looked to him.
“I’d rather leave here stupid than leave the way I came in,” I replied and he stared at me for a moment, then slowly removed his hand from my glass and I watched as he walked away.
I lifted the glass, but before it met my lips, I looked down at the ice swimming in the liquor and I stopped, putting it back down on the counter and I brought my other hand to the front of my face, shutting my eyes and taking a deep breath. I sat there in silence for a few minutes, listening to the bartender cleaning glasses and he eventually spoke up again, “You’re lucky no one else is here, it’s a requirement to wear a jacket or tie to get in and I’d be forced to kick you out,” he said softly and I looked to him, seeing him holding a slight smirk.
“Then why’d you let me in?” I wondered and he chuckled.
“Already said.. You looked like you could really use a drink, so what’s your story? What made you storm out of the house on Thanksgiving?” He asked and I kept silent, “Mom? Dad? Sibling?” He continued and I took a sip of my drink before answering.
“Ahh, the Uncle.. One of your parents feuding with him, or just with you?” He wondered as he continued to clean glasses and I turned my attention away from him.
“My mom’s dead, and I haven’t seen my dad in fourteen years,” I replied softly and I could see from the corner of my eye that he stopped cleaning.
“My apologies.. And condolences,” he replied genuinely and I finished the rest of my drink.
He stepped back over and took out another glass, scooping a few ice cubes into it and he poured me another drink as well as himself, putting the bottle back down and he held up his glass. I looked up to him and he held a smile, “To being alone on Thanksgiving.. For the better or for the worse, let the liquor decide if it’s a blessing or a curse,” he said with a forced chuckle and I smirked, picking up my glass as well and we cheered one another before both taking a sip and he barely flinched as my eyes winced a little from the strong taste.
“..What’s your name?” I asked, watching him lean against the counter holding his glass.
“Isaiah. It’s nice to meet you, Oliver,” he replied and I nodded in agreement, watching him take another sip and setting the glass down by mine. “It’s always hard losing parents. The last time I saw mine, they were signing divorce papers. My mom then went back to Japan and my dad is the manager of some bullshit, un-popular company that no one even knows or probably cares about. Work seems to be the only thing that drives them. It’s been a few years since I’ve spoken to either of them, and even those were only about five-minute phone calls,” he confessed and my expression went slightly remorseful, “So, I know how it feels, but.. That’s nothing compared to what you’ve probably been through, huh?” He continued and I didn’t reply, looking down at my glass. “I’m sorry, I’m overstepping my bounds,” he added and I shook my head.
“No.. It’s fine.. I’m just not used to talking about it with someone that isn’t my cousin or sister,” I replied, taking another sip of my drink and I looked up to him.
“Well, don’t feel obligated to tell me anything, though bartenders tend to hear some pretty crazy stories every now and then, I’m pretty immune to mostly everything now,” he answered with a chuckle and I smirked.
“How long have you been a bartender?” I asked, watching him calculate the amount of time in his head and he picked up his glass as he thought.
“Twelve years,” he replied and I made a slightly impressed expression.
“Really? Is this a good career to be in? Well.. It must be, seeing as you’ve been doing it for so long,” I wondered.
“If you get a job where you’re drinking whiskey as old as you, in a place like this that charges twenty dollars for a whiskey on the rocks, then you can imagine the tips I have the potential of receiving,” he explained with a grin and my eyes widened a little as I looked down at my glass.
“Wow.. Uhm..” I didn’t really know what to say, but he chuckled and I looked back up to him, “I-I have money, really-”
“Don’t worry about the tab. Here, once the owner drinks with you, it’s on them,” he replied, cheering my glass once more and he took another sip before placing it down. I smiled softly, appreciating him showing me such hospitality and with no lack of generosity, but now realizing he was the owner, I supposed he could do whatever he wanted to here.
“Thank you,” I replied, looking back up to him and he smiled in return.
“Don’t mention it,” he answered, both of our attention then going to the staircase and a woman came downstairs by the bar.
“The kitchen’s clean and the back is locked up, do you-” She began, but stopped when she noticed me, “Should I stay?” She asked and Isaiah shook his head.
“No, I got this. Go home,” he replied politely and she smiled.
“Alright, thank you, sir.. Happy Thanksgiving,” she answered.
“Yeah, you, too,” he replied and she walked through the bar and put her coat on, leaving us alone once again and I looked up to Isaiah.
“I can leave if you want to close, it’s okay, really.. You probably want to get home anyways..” I began to stand and he stopped me.
“No, no.. Don’t worry about it. I don’t have any plans and I’m sure you don’t want to be forced to go home yet.. Am I right?” He asked and I smirked, taking my seat once more and he chuckled, “That’s what I thought,” he continued with a smile and he topped off my drink as well as his own. “So, what do you do for fun, Oliver? What do you like?” He asked, picking up his glass and holding it as he waited for my reply to the casual conversation.
“Well, uh..” I thought for a moment, the liquor already making me a little more talkative than I’d normally be, “I like swimming.. I like sushi a lot, too, I could eat that every day of my life, if I could..” I replied and he chuckled, nodding in agreement to my words, “I also like studying.. I don’t mind school, believe it or not,” I continued and he grew interested.
“Oh, so you attend the college here? I heard that it’s hard to get into.. What are you studying to be?”
“General Surgeon,” I replied and he raised his brows.
“Impressive,” he complimented and I smirked, looking back down at my glass and taking another sip of the liquor, “When do you start Residency?”
“Next August,” I replied and he continued his acknowledgment of a nod, keeping my smirk as I then looked down to my glass.
In the ten minutes that I had been here, I finally begun to feel what I had known to expect from drinking four glasses of whiskey on the rocks, but I wasn’t to the point of dizzy or disorientated yet, just more calm and relaxed, and definitely more talkative than I normally am.. I was surprised when I realized that I haven’t thought about what’s going on in my life for a little while and I enjoyed being able to ignore it, or at least able to tolerate it the more whiskey I consumed. “Feeling okay?” Isaiah wondered and I looked up to him, smirking as I nodded and he seemed glad by my answer, “Good.”
“Thank you..” I began, watching as his expression went curious and I continued, “For staying open for me.. You can still go home whenever you’d like to, I know I’d hate to be at work knowing I could go home but there’s a straggler keeping that from happening..” I said remorsefully but I watched as he brushed it off like it was nothing.
“Nah.. Not when it’s good company.. Besides, like I said, no plans tonight,” he replied and I smiled appreciatively as he took another sip of his drink and set it down, walking back over towards the middle of the bar and he finished cleaning the last of the dirty glasses he had.
“What are you doing after you leave here?” Isaiah wondered as I continued to hold my glass.
“I was just, uh.. Going to get a room at the motel down the street. Catch a cab home in the morning,” I explained and I looked over towards him, “Do you live in town?” I asked.
“Yeah, just moved into town two weeks ago, actually.. Been too busy to explore the town because I’ve been here every day. I live up on Queens Street in the condominiums,” he replied and I was a little surprised.
“Oh, those are nice.. Where’d you move from?”
“A big city. I lived smack dab in the middle of it all,” he replied with a smirk.
“What made you move here?” I wondered next.
“I came here once when I was in my teens, just passed through, though.. I liked it, never really forgot it. Besides, too many crappy memories in the city. I thought it was time for something a little simpler.. Something new,” he answered, “Plus, this location was too good to pass up and it was in the town that I had always wanted to come back to.. Kind of a perfect coincidence, huh?” He said with a chuckle and I smiled.
I finally finished my fifth glass of whiskey and it had become easier to drink, though it was getting a little harder to focus now with how much I had drank in such a short time. I shut my eyes for a quick second, but they opened suddenly when Isaiah got my attention and he was standing in front of me instead of by the glasses he was cleaning, “Seems you’ve had enough, Oliver,” he said with a grin and I was a little embarrassed, hanging my head.
“I didn’t doze off, did I?” I asked and he laughed softly.
“I’d call it more so ‘getting lost in thought’,” he replied, “But, I don’t blame you, you’ve drank a lot in only about fifteen minutes.. I’m about to close up, though, do you want me to walk you to the motel, or do you think you can manage?” He wondered and I shook my head.
“No, don’t worry about it.. I-I got it..” I stuttered a little.
I stood slowly from the stool, getting to my feet and I caught myself on the chair, losing my balance only a little and I leaned onto it, “You sure? You seem a little wobbly..” He pointed out.
“Y-Yeah, I’m fine, I just got up too fast.. Thanks again for the drinks, I really appreciate it..” I replied, using the chair as leverage and then met the counter. I guess I didn’t realize how much I had drank until I was forced to stand up.. I hate being such a lightweight.
“Alright, hold on.. I’m locking up, anyways, I’ll at least walk with you outside,” he insisted and I brought my hand to my forehead, rubbing it calmly as I waited for Isaiah and I could feel myself beginning to sway a little. I watched as the bar went dark from Isaiah turning the lights off and he walked out from behind the bar.
Isaiah then walked up to me and he placed his hand on my back, leading me to the door and making sure I didn’t fall over, but somehow I managed to walk to the door without too much of his help and I stepped outside after he had opened the door for me. I listened to him lock the bar and I felt his hand on my back again, leading me down the few small steps towards the sidewalk and the road and he stopped, “You know which way you’re going?” He asked.
“If I said no, would you be of any help?” I asked with a chuckle, remembering he was new here in town and he laughed softly.
“I guess not..” He replied, hesitating a moment and I watched as his hand played with something in his pocket.
He then removed his hand from within his pocket and looked at a piece of paper he held, then slowly he offered it towards me, “That could change, though, if you’d be open to maybe showing me around sometime.. Maybe be my own personal tour guide for a day. I’ve done nothing but work since I got here, and the only route I know is from my place to here and back, and you seem like you know your way around,” he said with a humorous smirk and I looked down at the piece of paper, his question forcing me to focus a little harder through my buzzed state and I reached up, taking the paper from him that I knew his phone number was written on.
“Y-Yeah, sure.. I think I could do that,” I replied, placing the folded paper within my jacket pocket and I backed away while trying to hide a grin with my hair from Isaiah’s gesture, unsure what this meant exactly or if he really just did want someone who knew the town to show him around, but, I was thinking way too much into it.. It seemed innocent enough, though.
“It was nice meeting you, Oliver,” he continued and I nodded.
“Likewise,” I replied, soon turning around and I began my slow walk towards the motel not far down the street that I had planned on staying at.
I placed my hands within my pockets as I walked, keeping my eyes to the road covered in a thin layer of snow and I could still feel how buzzed I was, but I was glad I had stopped before I had gotten drunk, or at least, I was glad that Isaiah had cut me off.. The cold helped a lot in an attempt to sober me up and I didn’t mind the short, quiet walk I had all to myself. My fingertips played with the piece of paper within my pocket, trying to think of when Isaiah had written it, but I assumed he must’ve done it when I had closed my eyes for a few minutes.. Why didn’t he just give it to me then, or even before that? I enjoyed talking with him, he never pried into my business and he was never rude. I appreciated that.. But, that’s what all bartenders do, they make you feel welcome and put up with the bullshit you have to say, but it’s usually just to get a good tip and I didn’t even have a tab to pay for thanks to him.. If anything, it was the other way around, and he paid to listen to me. I guess I had at least one thing to be thankful for on his Holiday.
I finally reached the motel just down the block and I checked in, using a credit card to pay for it and I got the key to my room, leaving the small lobby and walking back outside to find my room. I reached my door and went inside the quiet and desolate cube, the door locking behind me when it shut and I looked around, liking that it was a little nicer than most motels thanks to the town I resided in and I knew I at least was going to sleep on clean sheets. I removed my coat as I staggered a little towards the bed, letting it drop to the floor and I fell down, my stomach meeting the mattress and I let out a long, heavy sigh as my arm hung off the side. My head spun a little as I lie there on the pillow and I shut my eyes, but that seemed to only make it worse.
I turned over to my back, my eyelids lifting slowly and I stared at a painting on the wall that seemed to be swirling around, but only a little. I knew I wasn’t drunk, but wow, had it been a long time since I’ve drank this much. What was good was that I barely thought of my Uncle or Jody at the bar thanks to Isaiah keeping my mind off of it, but now that I was alone, everything came rushing back and I felt as if I didn’t even have a second of solace all night, like the whole time I was at the bar didn’t even happen and there was no point to me even going there.. It was stupid of me to think that I could forget everything that’s bothering me with a few shots of liquid courage, but I felt it was also stupid of me not to at least try and forget it so I could maybe find some happiness for once.
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