Short Story: Bottled Bar Stories

Author’s Note:  I had written this story in 2005, and I recently resurrected it and dusted it off. There was a lovely comment made by Zach at the bottom of the last page.  I would like to share it.  You may not feel the same, but that doesn’t bother me.  This is fiction, folks:  unedited and raw version of the story that was a first in college. 

“Really funny, but ironically good.  VERY well done.  I know some of this really happened, so it shows that writing what you know about is the best for good stories.  It needs a tiny bit of fine tuning, but overall immensely enjoyable.”  – Zach Parrish, 2005

Bottled Bar Stories Are More Expensive Than Drafts
            Tonight, I took the bus home for once.  Well, not home, but to my home away from home.  The weather was assuring, yet my Converse All-Stars remained stubborn.  The first seat to my left screamed to be used, a down and up procedure in a 15-minute bus ride.  Why does everything have to be related to sex?  The bus driver rested his head in his hand, propped up perfectly by the Lhis forearm and elbow made upon the steering wheel.  Rough day, ace?  His eyelids slowly closed. Not taking any offense, I really didn’t have to even consider an offense, I took my seat.

            The guy across from me met my glare, and he nodded.  I replied verbally, “How ya doin’?”

            He responded, “Not bad, man. Not bad.”

            “Rough day?”

            “Yeah, just a little bit.”

            “Time for a beer.”
            “I agree,” he said with a snicker. Beer:  the best conversation starter between guys when sports are out of the question—well, we always have the Goddamn Yankees.

            A bunch of girls entered, startling the dozing bus driver.  He wore a red scar on his forehead from where his hand had been; the disdain of poor practices.  I saw the girls’ reflections in the plastic paper holder next to my head.  The closer to the plastic I was, the clearer the image.  Three of them shared two seats and were rambling about how fucked up they were going to get.  It was Friday.  They were allowed, I guess. 

            The bus driver awoke from his second nap and started the bus after a drawn out wait; the four minutes felt like eight. It started with more or less of a kick start, causing the bus to jolt, guiding my body, specifically my face, to kiss the plastic next to me.  The girls continued to laugh at their own idiotic conversation about makeup or some-bullshit-thing.  They were one being laughing at their own “jokes.”  I just don’t understand them.  In the image the plastic displayed for me, I saw them stare at me with a zesty glare.  It came from all of them—a simple glare multiplied by three.  No thanks, ladies.  They had the intent of wanting a quick hook-up or an easy fuck.  Ah, desperate little girls oblivious in a world of pain, striving for a destination towards disappointment.  Dum da-dum da-dum DA!  Crash course of adventure!

            I stopped the bus at the third available corner; the first was pointless, the second would leave me still too far, but the third felt just right.  It always had.  I was suffocating in a world of perfume and estrogen and impetuous testosterone.  I needed an escape from intense immature intentions of getting shit-faced, the curtain for an easy, most likely ugly, lay.  I threw up in my mouth and unfortunately swallowed.

            “Later, man,” I said to the guy across from me.  He nodded a response.  “Thank you,” I told the bus driver. “Have a good one.”
            “Yup, thanks,” he replied.  It was as if his conscience was having its teeth pulled, a tooth that was just fine and not a rotten one.  If the tooth was infected, he’d probably be happier than a pig in shit.  Was it a crime to talk to college students?  Surprised that we can be polite?  I know his job must suck, so the least he could have done is make the best of it.  Instead, I took the initiative.  I paused, looked at him with a tilted head, like a dog responding to a high-pitched noise. I then asked him, “What?”  My response was a shock wave.  The driver’s jaw fell to the floor; my comment shook and unhinged his tendons, corrupting his face.  I smiled, turned around, and exited toward home.

            I entered into a realm of illusions when my foot hit the pavement; a cool world of concrete iced by light spit out from man-made erections.  The leaves frolicked and glided upon the gray-blue sea, often disrupted by intruding vehicles.  Bored with the redundancy of heel-toe heel-toe progress, my feet skipped stones on the way up the street. 

            I almost didn’t make it all the way.  I encountered the Sirens three times.  Feminine pheromones were musky—not flowery—and prominent, singing songs of lust; I knew they were close.  The first instance involved a car full of girls, drunken from immaturity, honking the horn and yelling, “Woos” and “Heys.”  I simply grinned with intent to laugh; I lowered my head and shook it.  I could have gone over to the car, but they would have rolled up the windows, drove away, or thought I was an idiot.  Maybe even a combination of two of those possibilities.  Hell, maybe even all three.  I could have even clapped and yelled, “Yay,” but that would have made me even more of an jackass. 

The second situation dealt with pledges in white.  White would normally be a symbol pertaining to the state of being God-like and/or purity, but in this case…well, let’s not be to obvious.  These Sirens also let out “Woos’ and “Heys.”  The songs, pinpointed. They must have gotten the memo.  My instincts overtook rationality.  I could have smiled and kept on walking, but I didn’t.  As I lifted my arm, I freed the birdie.  I let the cage bird soar and sing.  It flew with such promise and sarcasm.  I’m going to be honest:  I didn’t pay attention to their reaction, and I really didn’t care to.

The third interaction involved a text message that read “Hey.”  How come I didn’t get the memo?  Just stop, I told myself.  So, I stopped.  I flipped up my phone and began to type:  Hey, stop wasting my money.  Please send a text with valuable information next time.  I paused again.  I didn’t send the message, but I returned to the received one, clicked a button, and erased it.  Gone.  A thing of the past.  Amazing, isn’t it? 

I had no choice, but to get a cell phone.

            Making it home minutes later, I found the shower quickly.  The white floor of the box seemed to glow—yes, the shower is always pure.  The water spewed ice cold water.  I jumped back and hit my elbow on the wall.  I slapped the shower head across the face and it cried warm tears.  You bet it did.  My hair turned to slime, the old gel oozed across my hands and I opened my mouth, stuck out my tongue, and I uttered a sound to compliment the perfect “blah face.”  Some of the gel entered my mouth, causing me to gag.  I asked myself, why do people use this junk?  I knew the answer.  Why do people even do that?  You know, asking yourself stupid questions that we instinctively know the answer to?  Why do we do anything to begin with?  What am I even getting at?

            There are natural bad ideas that we say or perform that we really have no choice but doing.  It’s not even Fate, if you believe in that kind of stuff.  Take for example:  you are listening to music while you’re in the shower.  An awesome song comes on and you’re singing or head banging to it (don’t deny it, you have).  Some people may jump:  a spontaneous act which may result in their falling.  I ended up smacking my head into the shower head, justifying its revenge from my previous abuse.  Music yields both pleasure and pain, I learned.  Some call it “emo.”  Let’s look at this mathematically and scientifically:

Music  à singing + dancing + head banging + jumping/moshing à pain + “Shit!”

            So, lesson learned.  I had to hightail it back to the bus stop in order to make it backto campus to pick up some folks for a party—my party—the party that I wasn’t even at to co-host.  These people—females—couldn’t remember where my apartment was.  I thought women supposedly had betterintuition.  After all, it is them who have to ask for directions when their guys are lost; we insist, ladies.  That myth has just been busted.  You walk them hand-in-hand, show them the way for a good time, and all they do for you is help you consume alcohol.  When life hands you lemons, wait until the women aren’t around to make lemonade, because they’ll drink that, too.  

Plus, I returned to campus, because I’m a “nice guy.”  I have tendencies to do those acts of kindness.  Granted, we made it back to the apartment; theycame, they saw, they drank, they distracted during pong, and then they left.  Maybe I’m being irrational or insensitive.  But seriously, look at it:
Girls = useless à  guys + going out of their way + not getting any  à Nice Guy Syndrome (NGS)
            Let me digress:  one of those girls blew my mind.  She’s so chill and personable that you can have an actual conversation with her.  She’s the type of girl a guy wantsto listen to.  I stared into her crystal blue eyes and became drunk with satisfaction.  I was drunk from amazement.  I could not look away; I was so transfixed with the comforting blue eyes—oh, those blue eyes!—and relaxing voice.  I caught myself not listening to her—I wanted to—but the moment was so compelling.  I corrected my composure and responded naturally as if I was unconsciously listening.  I will never understand the feminine race; no guy ever will.  That’s the beauty of it.

            We sat on the couch, drank, and talked for a couple hours.  The more the vodka and tonics were consumed, the more conversation erupted and the more comfortable the two of us became.  Soon, we were cozy with each other, my arm around her.  I remembered her mentioning she was feeling a bit ill that night, so she wanted to catch the next bus for home.  Her leaving was inevitable, and I walked her and her friends to the bus stop.  We waited and she kept close to me, huddled and hugging, creating a shield from the cold.  She looked up at me with wide, glazed eyes and said, “Mike’s coming tomorrow.”

Mike was her “boyfriend,” the guy she was seeing from her hometown, but they were nowhere serious.  I thought I heard an, “I’m sorry,” but did not know if it was her words or it was of the gust of cold wind—sympathy within the bitterness.  I am betting it was definitely the wind, but I have been wrong before.  After those three words, there was a brief moment of silence, which was ended by a period—the stamp of her head upon my shoulder.

            The bus came a few seconds later.  The sliding door opened and the party filed in.  Our hands came together, but resisted separation like magnets as she started to walk away.  I kissed the top of her hand, told her a goodnight and wished her a safe ride back.  The bus drove away, leaving me in an exhaled breath of exhaust.  I threw up a little bit in my mouth and swallowed, unfortunately.

          

Girls = not so useless + adorable à  guys + going out of their way + not getting any + respecting the girl in question à Nice Guy Syndrome (NGS)
I shrugged my shoulders, checked the time and saw it was still early:  more drinking has to be done.  I—

        

[Okay, okay.  Let’s pause.  I understand that I was making fun of the dumb girls on the bus who were venturing out to get drunk.  I know I am doing the same thing, but it’s different.  I was once in their shoes:  going out three, or maybe even four, nights a week, because they think it’s cool, because they think they are cool, and because they are in college.  I’m still finding myself doing the same now.  It’s pathetic.  It’s like there is some unspoken code of conduct saying it’s okay to get drunk all the time in college.  However, I am now a weekend kind of guy.  I don’t get shit-faced during the week, but maybe once in a while.  I am mature; well, on the path to maturity.  This girl is giving me issues, and I need an escape.  So, maybe I’m not mature right now.  Everyone else is not either.  I’m going to continue now.]
—went back to the house, lined up three shots of Goldschlager, scotch, and Jack Daniels.  A few calls were made and I was off to the bars.  What else was I going to do on a Friday night?  Study?  In the words of Mark Twain, I came across this on some quotation page on the internet:  I neverlet my schooling interfere with my education.”  Alcohol consumption was going to teach me a thing or two…or three.

            Before I go any farther, let me explain to you what the effects of alcohol are.  Alcohol will:  impair your judgment, impair your rationality to sudden situations, impair your driving skills, make you angry, make you laugh, make you cry, make you sing off key—more off key than you already do—will give you the sudden urge to continue with karaoke, make you think you can lift heavy objects, talk to pedestrian walking signs, cause you to pretend as if you are blowing in the wind as you hold onto street posts, will cause you flip over railings, to army crawl, to put your hands through walls, and ultimately cause you to puke on yourself and the people you live with. 

        

Different combinations create different emotions:

          

            (1)  “Liquor before beer, you’re in the clear.”

            (2)  “Beer before liquor will make you sicker.”

            (3)  Drinking beer all night = happiness

            (4)  Drinking liquor all night = sadness

            (5)  Mixing beer and liquor = angry-ness

          
            Now that you know the ropes, let’s continue.

            “Hey, you dumb son of a bitch!”

            That was the greeting my good friend Jimmy gave me as I walked into the bar.  Good ol’ Jimmy Gold, one of the craziest guys around.  The bar was packed and I heard him over both the music and the crowd.  Everyone else heard him, too, and they all looked in my direction.  It was like I was the guy who wet himself, and everyone was getting an upfront look and some taking pictures.  Dum da-dum da-dum DA!  Pee-your-pants Guy! 

Jim came over to me with a pint, probably of Yuengling.  “Glad you made it out.  We were wondering where you were.”  Evan was still at the bar; he tipped his gin and tonic to me, spilling some out of the cup.  I looked over to Jimmy, who then smiled and gave me a kiss on the forehead—his trademark for his closest friends, not just a drunken moment.  The two of us had been friends since high school, since the ninth grade, and we have been causing trouble throughout college.  He wanted to leave college with a bang.  I had no idea of his true intentions.  I don’t think he even did.  His arm whipped around my back and he guided me to the bar, showing me the way, moving toward the lights. 

            Jim motioned to the bartender, “Get this guy a—Tom, what do ya want?”

            “I’ll have a gin and ton—”

            “TONIC! A gin and tonic!”  Jimmy did the whole Mr. Personality routine a little too well, especially when it came to women.  He was a Class A bullshit artist.  His blue eyes and blond hair glowed with the bar lights.  His smile  sealed the deals.  Jimmy was good, but never meant any true harm.  He was full of it (shit) and he had little true charm, just enough to get him what he wanted.  Jim was the Vince Vaughn of Swingers; he was money and he knew it.

            Evan was the quiet one.  His wire rims crowned him as an intellectual, which he was to an extent.  He smoked a little bit too much, and we’re not talking cigarettes:  bong resin on the brain.  His eyelids were held together by bungee cords; he never really opened his eyes.  He looked up at me and asked, “So, buddy, what’s going on?  What’s the good word?  I haven’t seen you in forever.”

            “Dude, we ate lunch at noon.  Nothin’ at all,” I replied shaking my head.  I took a healthy swig of my drink and looked over at Jimmy wearing a stern look on his face.  “What? What’s wrong?”
            “I’m worried about you,” he said with a straight face.

            “Why?”
            “You’re uptight.  Is that Connie bitch bringing you down again?  What kind of a name is Connie anyway?”  Jimmy was great at making two independent thoughts seem coherent.  “Here, have another shot.”  He handed out tequila shots to Evan and I.

            “No, no, man.  I just got here.”  Okay, let’s be honest here.  I had no idea what I was saying.  The shots from before were hitting me harder than I wanted them to.  I probably should have eaten more than mac-n-cheese for dinner I hated it when he brought ex-girlfriends into the picture.  I was already regretting my venture to the bars.  I knew he would have gotten like this, but I just wished it was later in the night.  The women situations seem more understandable when you’re sauced.  “Can we please not talk about her?”

            “Yeah, sorry.  It won’t come up again.”  Jimmy slapped his hand on my shoulder. As soon as I felt the smack, a wave of shouting girls entered the bar.  They were decked out in beads and fake tiaras.  The disrupted normal party scene sounded with a scratch of a needle sliding off a vinyl record, just like in the movies.  These girls were ridiculously obnoxious.  They gave the Sirens a bad rep.  This group was the Transformer version, of the combination of the three groups previously mentioned.  The three of us just stared at their antics, listening to the mindless jargon drooling out of drunken mouths.

            “Oh my God, I am sooooooo wasted right now!”

            “I need a shot. Pleeeease!”

            “Heeeeeey!  It’s her birthday!”

            “Yeaaaaaaah!  It’s my birthday!”

            “Jamie, fix your shirt, you can see your boobs! Hee, hee!”

            “Oh, God!  Really?  Oops!”

“Oh, yoooooou!”

“Heather, stop acting like a slut!”

“I want to, biiiiiiitch!”


 I looked over at the bartender, motioning for another shot.  The bartender even poured a second one for himself.  Evan stared with an amazed look on his face, as if this never happened before; he actually opened his eyes.  Jimmy was the only one who would have said something; he just had to wait for the right moment.  That moment was when the redhead bumped into his shoulder, knocking his arm just enough for his hand to release his pint, falling in slow motion to a shattered display upon the ground.  Just to remind you:  like I said, Jimmy lacked charm.

            The redhead acted surprised, because it was clearly an accident.  Jimmy turned toward her and said smoothly, “Heeeeey, that’s alcohol abuse.”

            That’s what he could have said.  He could have also said, “Bitch, buy me another beer.”  It would have been socially inappropriate, but it technically would have been valid for this situation.

Yet, his mind sends this memo to his larynx and the marionette tongue:  “Slut, what the fuck is wrong with you?”

            My eyes widened and Evan backed off the stool.  The redhead’s eyes burned with fire, matching the color of her hair.  She cocked back her leg and snapped it foreword into Jimmy’s groin, causing him to fall to his knees.  The girl arched her arm in preparation for a drunken right hook.  The arm soared through the air, missing Jim’s head and connecting with mine instead.  Jim was in the fetal position on the ground by now, covered in my spilled gin and tonic.  The redhead backed away in shock.  I was holding my eye and I turned toward her.  She looked frightened with glazed eyes and put her hands to her mouth; she knew she had done wrong.  I clenched my teeth from the pain.  Try taking a ring to the eye and let me know how it feels. 

The people standing around us cleared out of the way and the bartender handed out the shots.  From my working eye, I noticed the girl wasn’t in a state of shock, nor covering her mouth in surprise—she was going to be sick.  I slid out of the way and the bartender ducked behind the bar as the projectile vomit showered whatever was in front of her, including Jimmy.  The other girls in redhead’s company saw this and became sick themselves; the dam was broken and putrid flowed across the floor.  The girls tried to move around in panic, but their high heels could not maintain balance in the muck.  I had never seen anything quite like this before in my life, except the time I puked on both my roommates (yes, that was a true story), which is a totally different story. 

            I didn’t stay for the after party, because I didn’t want to know what was in store; I bolted for the door in an attempt to make it out without being questioned.  The puke on the bottom of my sneakers caused me to slide out the door.  I straightened myself, removing my hands from my knees.  Drinking is exhausting!  The world was playing tricks on me now, the trees bent and buildings shifted with any slight turn of my head.  On my way home, I stumbled and I fell, but only to pick myself up again only to stumble and fall some more.  Needless to say, I made it home.  My roommates were pleasantly waiting up for me, because I unintentionally never picked up my phone. 
            Steve asked me, “Did ya have fun tonight?  Oh, wow, what happened to your eye?”

I managed to exhale, “Girls puke.”  I took my arm to demonstrate the redhead’s swing and I fell to the floor.

“Time to get you up to bed,” John said, grabbing one of my arms and Steve taking the other.
            I uttered, “God dammit, letmego.” I said it quickly and incoherently.  They dropped me and I pushed myself up, crawling up the stairs.  I slithered my way into the bathroom and rested my head upon the porcelain throne.  “I’m ready to beseech you.”
            In the hallway, the guys stared, entertained.  “You feelin’ alright?  Need anything?” John began to walk into the bathroom.

“God dammit, no!  Leave me alone!  I hate you!  I hate you!” 
           

I hadn’t remembered that part, the whole bathroom scene.  The guys told me about it the next morning.  I also didn’t remember the part where they drew and wrote all over my body with permanent marker.  With a pounding head, I sat up and said, “I am never drinking again.”
I found myself in the same position the following morning.

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