~The Halo Effect~ 4
It must have been later into the night than you had thought because when you burst into the bar, all of the usual drinkers had left. Allistor looked like he was about to close up, too, because he wasn’t cleaning any of the cups, and the counter looked like it was squeaky-clean.
“____________?” Allistor blinked. “What’re you doing here at this hour? Are you looking for Mathias?”
You slowly shook your head and plopped yourself down at your usual stool.
“Then what’re you here for?” he asked. “It’s late. Don’t you have work tomorrow.”
“I want a drink,” you said.
For what seemed like the longest time, there was nothing but silence all throughout the bar.
Finally, Allistor broke the deafening silence. “Did I….? Did I hear you right? I mean, I’ve never seen you drink before, and you look like a mess. Are you feeling alri—?”
“Just give me some damn scotch,” you snapped making Allistor flinch.
“Shit, when did you get so edgy,” he sneered.
“Since…” You stopped yourself. “I don’t want to talk about it.”
“That’s a first,” Allistor smirked. “There’s always something going on when I see you.”
“There is now,” you pointed out. “I’m going to drink.”
“For the first time?”
You hesitated. “Mm, I’ve tasted it before.”
That statement technically wasn’t a lie. You had tasted alcohol on Mathias’ mouth several times when he was buzzed or completely drunk. It always tasted like a cross between consuming liquid aspirin or gnawing on the rough bark of a tree—not that you’d done it before; you just heard it from your co-workers.
A little drink or two couldn’t hurt, you thought. It was helping out Allistor’s business, and what harm could testing it out be? There had to be a reason why Mathias chose to do it, so you would try it first-hand for yourself. Allistor would take care of you if things got out of hand.
“Alright, here you go,” Allistor reluctantly said as he placed a small glass of clear amber-colored liquid in front of you. The ice cubes were glittering like diamonds in the dim light above the bar, and condensation could already be seen forming around the rim of the glass.
“Thanks, Allistor,” you said and took the glass.
It was small—smaller than you had envisioned. How could something so small be so potent and effective on the mental state of mind? It was almost too hard to believe, but then again, so was being able to fall head over heels over someone who you had most likely been drawn to for his looks.
No, you thought. Tonight, I’m going to forget about all of that and drown my woes with Allistor. At least he’ll be a good shoulder to cry on if I need it. He’s tall enough.
And with that, you took your shot glass and downed the entire thing in one gulp.
“Holy fucking shit! Grgh! Ga-hack! Shit!”
“I knew it,” Allistor grimaced as he took the glass away and watched you collapse onto the counter. He cursed. Now he was going to have to clean the counter again. “You’ve never drunk before, have you?”
“No,” you groaned, still coughing.
Your throat just felt like it had downed liquid fire. The drink was cold, but the contents shot up your nose and into your head like one of those mallet-swinging games at the old carnivals with your brain as the bell at the top. Your stomach wasn’t doing too well, either. You hadn’t eaten very much since you had been waiting for Mathias to come back, and it was doing some awful things to your stomach lining. How in the world did men handle this sort of stuff?
“Shit!” you coughed.
“Had enough?” Allistor asked casually nudging your arms out of the way so he could clean off any fingerprints. He was quite diligent.
“No,” you said. “Give me another.”
“____________, are you sure something’s not up?”
“I said give me another!” you snapped. “I’m a customer, and if I say I can hold my liquor, then I can hold my liquor!”
“But, __________, this is the first time you’ve ever drunk—”
“Give it!” you snapped only to immediately regret using such a harsh tone on your friend. He didn’t deserve any of this. If anything, he would have just watched his customers drink themselves to death—even Mathias—but not you. He was genuinely concerned about you. Unfortunately, that wouldn’t matter now because you were completely bent on forgetting about the pain your boyfriend had caused you.
While you planned on washing away the pain, the hate would stay. You told yourself that you would bottle it up and lock it away in a little black box deep within your memories for safe keeping. When the time would come to unleash it, you would be ready. It would all be a matter of careful planning, but for now, all you wanted to do was hang around with your old friend like old times—plus the addition of your drinking spree. You wondered how many glasses you would be able to handle before Allistor stepped in.
This was a grand mess. Try as he might, Allistor hadn’t been able to get anything significant out of ______________ despite her drunken stupor. She had mentioned something about being unhappy, but that reason could have been anything from her workplace to his own friend. Allistor did not want to go there if possible.
In a strange way, he, too, felt connected with Mathias. Mathias was like a slippery fish, impossible to catch on the wrong current. Somehow, Allistor had gone down the right stream and landed himself in a position where Mathias could trust him as both a friend and a surprisingly honest bartender. While none of them particularly touched upon these topics very often, Mathias and Allistor shared quite a lot in common with one another.
____________ was still unfamiliar with how Allistor’s and Mathias’ relationship worked, but underneath the surface, the two friends were like the same sides of the same coin rather than two separate sides altogether. More often than not, Mathias reflected the side of Allistor that could have been had he chosen the wild-haired enthusiast’s way of thinking, and Mathias could very well have turned out to be like Allistor had he decided to take to a solitary lifestyle of sarcasm and a sharp tongue.
To know that Mathias’ character filled in the holes that Allistor had dug for himself made him feel drawn towards him—not in the same way that __________ had, but as the closest thing he could have called a friend. Now, thanks to _____________ and Mathias having a more-than-obvious falling out, it was only a matter of time before one of them crossed the line and his relationship with the two of them broke up completely.
No questions needed to be asked. Allistor had a feeling ___________ was realizing the truth all on her own—if only she hadn’t decided to celebrate the realization on such a late night and on the night before returning to work.
“What am I going to do with you?” he softly asked her as she lay passed out on the counter. By policy, he couldn’t leave until she did, but from the looks of things, it didn’t seem like she wanted to go back to her own home tonight.
Fuck, Allistor cursed to himself. She’s out like a light, too. What should I—
Just then, _____________ threw up all over her jacket and the counter. Problem solved.
“Shit, did you have to go on the counter, too?” he groaned and rubbed his tired eyes. This was going to be one hell of a cleanup night.