Tag Archives: friday flash

Cheap Irish Whiskey

“Why’d you fill my sorrow with the words you borrowed?” mourned the Irish singer as Eric stepped in from the cold city street.  The singer sang with his eyes closed in a revery to misery on the small stage at the end of the long, polished wooden bar–a meticulous and lavish tribute to Irish pub culture.

For a moment, he felt as though he were intruding on a sacred event.  The singer’s passionate outpouring of music and love and sorrow kept his audience rapt.   But thunderous applause and raucous thumping and cheering broke the spell as the song came to a close, ending their set.

“Tank you! Tank you! We’ll be comin’ back after a piss and smoke, so don’t you be going anywhere!”  he said into the mic, and the packed bar settled into a steady rumble of chatter, some streaming out onto the street for a smoke as well.

Eric scanned the bar for a seat, and saw a woman putting on her coat and slinging her purse over her shoulder.  He pushed through the crowd to claim her stool before anyone else spotted it, brushing against warm bodies, through a scented haze of beer and fish and chips.

Got it! But the triumph provided only a glimmer of joy.  He had come searching for a missing piece of himself, hoping to find it in a connection or lose it in a bottle of whiskey.  Seeing nothing but doting couples, armchair basketball coaches, and lonely bastards like him , he started with the whiskey.

The bartenders wore white dress shirts — a white as Jesus fucking Christ’s robes after the goddam transfiguration — with green and black striped school ties, and long aprons.  They tossed bottles and slammed drinks and chatted customers while he perused the whiskey shelf for the perfect drink to start his evening.

A bartender stopped by and raised wiry, grey eyebrows at him.

“I’ll have a double Laphroaig 10 neat. And can you pour it in a single-malt glass?”

He grabbed a small brandy snifter and held it up for Eric to see.

“Closest we got, pal!”  said the old bartender, his voice like the grit on a damp side-street.

Eric glanced down at all the other patrons.  Pilsners, Rocks glasses, tumblers, wine glasses, high-balls, old fashions.

Not wanting to be the dandy with the snifter, he shouted back, “Just pour it in an old fashion.”

The bartender smiled and nodded and reached up for the green bottle with the simple white label and poured out to the brim.

As he set it in front of Eric he raised his eyebrows and said, “Single malt drinker huh? You know they used to sell this Laphroaig stuff as medicine back in the prohibition days,  right?”

Laughing, Eric replied, “Yeah! No one could believe anyone would drink the shit for pleasure…smells like iodine and burnt tar.”

Despite the Friday night rush, the old bartender grabbed a shot glass and poured himself a dram of the same.  Raising it he said, “Cheers!” and the two clinked glasses. The bartender tossed his back and Eric swigged a large gulp of his double.

“I see what they mean,” he said, grimacing. ” I’ll stick with my Chivas, pal!” and he was off.

For a moment, Eric was lost in a reverie of swishing, sniffing and tasting the scotch, dwelling on it’s finer points, then he remembered why he was alone.   Who am I kidding?  Who’s gonna want to be with me.  She sure didn’t. The last place he wanted to be was in an empty apartment.

“Hey, so what’s the deal with that stuff, huh?” came a woman’s voice to his left — surprisingly close.  She nodded at his drink.

“Did you witness that bit of foppery?  Hehe…ummm…yeah.  Sorry about that.  I should just order drinks like a normal guy.  That’s fuckin’ embarrassing.  I just like to pretend that I’m not going to end the evening drunk off my ass on cheap Irish whiskey crying and singing along with O Danny Boy.”

She laughed hard and grinned broadly at him, and he half-smiled back at the petite young lady with punky red hair, mischievous eyes, and soft features.

Her smile and laughter lifted him out of his brooding enough to say, “What are you drinking then, darlin?”

“Cheap Irish whiskey.  No kidding!  The cheapest they got!”

With that, Eric broke into laughter with her, their legs brushing up against each other, his rough edges softening.  He placed one hand on her bare shoulder and motioned to bartender. Still laughing, he held up two fingers and pointed to her glass.   Then he raised his glass of expensive single malt to her glass of sweet Jameson on the rocks and straightened his back for a solid toast.  She followed suit, and they locked eyes.

“To cheap Irish whiskey!  Without which it would cost me a goddamn fortune to get you drunk enough to sing along with me!”

Her smile warmed and her eyes grew soulful in his bold gaze as she clinked her glass to his.

Leaning in to his ear, she said, “I’m Kyra.”

“Eric,” he said, taking in her perfume.

She extended her hand and he took for a moment–so warm and soft, the first feminine warmth he’d felt in a long time. His ex had become so cold–at least to him–in the end.

“So, Kyra, are you here by yourself, too?”

She laughed, the alcohol taking effect, “Uhhhh…interesting story.”

“Oh yeah?”

“Not really.  I got stood up, but I liked the band, so I just decided to stay — ”

“And drown your sorrows in a few of these?” he said, smiling, and grabbing the freshly poured Jameson.

“Yep!” she said, raising her glass again to his.

“What a fucking asshole.”

“What?  Me?” she giggled.

“No! Ha ha!  The guy who stood you up.  I’m lookin’ at you and thinking, this guy either got run over by a truck or he’s fucking crazy.”

Her face turned crimson, she looked down, and asked, “Why is that?”

“Because now that I’ve seen you, I can’t take my eyes off you,  you’re so beautiful.”

Still looking down, she shook her head, “No I’m not.  Don’t say that.”

He couldn’t stand it–a beautiful woman like this who just wasn’t seeing it.  Gently, he touched her face and nudged her chin until she looked him in the eyes again.

“Kyra, listen to me, I don’t lie.  I wouldn’t bullshit you.”

She did not speak.  Shhe steadily returned his piercing gaze and the whole bar around them faded away, and for a moment, Eric found that piece of himself that was missing…in Kyra’s  green eyes.

The band returned and began a new set, a soulful ballad.  “Nothing unusual, nothing strange. Close to nothin at all…” the singer crooned.

Eric grinned and extended his hand to her.  She took it and let him take her in his arms for a dance.

His heart glowed both with the warmth of the whiskey and the warmth of her lovely smile, which never quit–even through the solemn occasion late in the evening when the entire bar joined together in singing “Danny Boy” before the two of them stumbled out onto the cold street together, her on his arm, cheap Irish whiskey on their breath.


Accidental Slit

It truly had been a crappy week for Daniel, but not that bad.  Not bad enough to slit his wrist, just bad enough to joke about slitting his wrist.  He and Ashley had fought about cigarettes.  Daniel, a nearly forty-year-old man, had never tried cigarettes until this week.  She couldn’t believe that he would go this long without cigarettes and then suddenly decided to give them a whirl, as if it were some flavor of ice cream he just had never gotten around to trying.

In addition, he had been randomly selected for a timekeeping audit at work.  Although his audit was perfect, the possibilities had kept him up at night.  All the things he could have said and done wrong!  He could have been fired.  He could have gotten his boss fired.  He could have messed up the contract.  It could have gone very poorly, and this was enough for Daniel.  This was enough for him to have made a few off-handed comments about wanting to go home and kill himself.  He had meant it to be funny, but nobody laughed….just an uncomfortable chuckle or two.

After dinner and a glass of red wine, Daniel and Ashley had managed to lay the cigarette matter to rest.  He assured her that he would not smoke anymore and that he had only done it to look cool.

“Are you being serious here?  You do it why?”

“It just seemed cool.”

“Cool?  What are you?  15?  You did it because all the cool kids are doing it?  Are you SERIOUS?”  Ashley never ceased to be astounded by Daniel’s lack of  maturity in certain facets of his life.  “You want to be cool?  Try finishing the tile bathroom floor!  That will make you COOL in my eyes.”  Her face broke in to a smile and she couldn’t suppress a giggle.

“You silly, silly man.”

He kissed her on the cheek and climbed the stairs to the hall bathroom that lacked just one row of tiles; just eight more tiles, and he would be ready for the grout.  Eight tiles which would need to be cut to fit the last row up against the wall.  He began his methodical process by gathering all of the resources he would need:  trowel, thinset, tilecutter, tile spacers, right angle, and tape measure.  He fastened his knee pads, got down on the floor, and began measuring for the cuts, marking each tile as he went.    After he had cut each tile to the exact measurements he had made, he spread the mortar.  When he was completely satisfied with the evenness of the mortar, he began placing the tiles  into their precise places with spacers.  But as he lifted the last tile, he accidentally dragged the jagged edge of the cut end across his left wrist.

Feeling the pain from the cut, he looked down at his wrist to survey the damage.  He had made a perfect, razor straight, slit in his wrist and he was bleeding very steadily.  For a moment he just stared at it, frozen, not knowing what to do.  Then he looked up.  Ashley was also staring at him, also frozen.

Remembering back to his Boy Scout days, he quickly raised his arm to slow the bleeding while Ashley just continued to stare.

“Ash! Get the medical gauze and tape from the kitchen cabinet.  Oh, and, it was just an accident.  Sharp tile. No worries, but hurry”

“Sure it was.  Was my dinner really that bad?”

“Ha ha…please?  Bleeding here!”

The next day, Daniel showed up with a wrapped left wrist.  The first person to notice was Kimberly, who had heard his suicide comments from the day before.  She immediately grabbed his arm and dragged him into a conference room.

For a moment, she just looked him.  She didn’t say a word.  Then her face broke into a kind of a motherly expression.  She glanced down at his wrist and then back at his face, and then he understood.

“Oh, Daniel, ” she said as she began to reach out to him.

He laughed his stiff, nervous laugh.  “No, no, no!  Ha ha no!”  He held up his wrist.  “No, this was an accident!”

“Shhh shhh shh”  she comforted. “We all make mistakes, Daniel,”  she said as she held him close to her and began patting his back.  “I’m just glad you didn’t go through with it!”