Authors: Charlotte Sloan
Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Short Stories & Anthologies, #Short Stories, #Romance, #Contemporary, #Multicultural, #Romantic Comedy, #Contemporary Fiction, #Single Authors, #Lgbt, #Bisexual Romance, #Multicultural & Interracial
Copyright 2016 by Charlotte Sloan- All rights reserved.
In no way is it legal to reproduce, duplicate, or transmit any part of this document in either electronic means or in printed format. Recording of this publication is strictly prohibited and any storage of this document is not allowed unless with written permission from the publisher. All rights reserved.
Respective authors own all copyrights not held by the publisher.
Just One Drink
By: Charlotte Sloan
Tables of Contents
Thomas had led a very blessed life. He went to all of the best schools in his city growing up all the way through high school. He got accepted to every college that he applied to and was allowed the chance to decide between a few equally fantastic choices, something he didn’t take for granted. He never even worried about tuition or scholarships because his parents had saved enough money for him to go through school debt free.
Once he had graduated he didn’t have to wait long before getting a job, utilizing the connections that his parents had fostered for him through the years. By calling on old favors and relying on the kindness of people who had known him since he was a child, he never wanted for anything. He easily got promoted through the ranks of the company he worked for and at 28 years old he was incredibly financially sound. Something most of his friends couldn’t understand.
And yet, he was still depressed. Thomas sat in his studio apartment in just his underwear, a warm bottle of beer sat between his legs as re-runs of the “Golden Girls” blared on the TV. His eyes were closed, slowly reaching down every few moments to take a sip from his drink. He would cringe each time and look towards the fridge, contemplating the walk to get a new, colder drink, but always decided against it.
His phone sat on the table in front of him, the vibration caused it to shake across the surface of the coffee table. He stared at it, but did nothing to get it to stop. He could see the name on the screen and he had no desire to talk to his parents at a time like this. He was grieving after all.
After his most recent promotion, his girlfriend of five years had called it quits. He begged and pleaded and found out that she had no interest in trying to make it work. No amount of money or success he made would make her happy she had told him. She had said the love was lost, the chemistry gone, the relationship had gone cold.
Two days later he found out she had been sleeping with his boss, the head of the company he worked for. So clearly, there was an amount of money and success that she enjoyed. It just happened to be that it was the amount of money that was always going to be one step above what he currently had.
His boss had told him that he never intended for it to happen and that if he wanted to quit he would understand and give him a fantastic letter of recommendation. However, Thomas had never needed to apply for another job before and honestly did not know how to handle the whole process. So he stayed in his job, constantly being reminded of his girlfriend’s infidelity.
The phone stopped vibrating and was replaced by a single chime. Thomas chugged the dredges of the beer and shook his head violently to get rid of the taste. He reached down and picked up the phone. He swiped to unlock it and looked at the long list of unread messages. Many were from work colleagues offering their fake, stale condolences, but at the top of the list was a name he hadn’t seen in a few months.
“Bro, its Sean. I heard what happened. Let’s get drunk. I’m down at the old bar with some of my army vet brothers. Get down here.” Thomas stared at the message for a few seconds and began to type a response.
“All my beer is warm. I’ll be there in ten minutes.”
It had been months since Thomas had seen, or even spoken to, Sean. There had been no great fallout and their relationship hadn’t fallen apart, but Thomas was a specific type of lover. When he fell in love, he fell in hard. To the point that he would let other relationships and friendships fall apart to keep his current lady happy.
When he had first gotten to college he had abandoned his high school friends in a misguided attempt to “start fresh” in college which resulted in him getting involved too quickly with a girl. After years of fighting to recreate a core group of friends, he found Sean.
Sean was an interesting character. He was someone that Thomas had normally avoided in his life. He was a bit of a train wreck with a violent temper and tended to be crass, but he told Thomas the truth. Sometimes he even seemed to enjoy telling him the bad news. It was because of this though that Thomas had kept him around. However, after getting wrapped up in his last romantic whirlpool, he had not kept up the best repertoire with Sean.
So that was why Thomas sat on his couch, staring at his response. He considered quickly responding back that something had come up, but he was interrupted by a call from his father. The picture of his father’s gruff, old money face stared at him as the phone vibrated in his hand. Thomas could see his reflection slightly in the phone with his unshaven face and disheveled hair. He tapped accept and closed his eyes, holding the phone a few inches away from his ear, expecting his father to open up by yelling.
“Thomas? Your mother and I are worried.” Thomas opened his eyes slowly and put the phone to his ear.
“What?” Thomas didn’t know what else to say, this had not been what he was expecting at all.
“We heard what happened and we’re disgusted. Peter has basically been a father to you his whole life. And Sarah, well,” his father paused for a second to choose his words carefully. “She’s always been a bitch.” Thomas could hear his mother in the background gasp.
“Dad, I appreciate that, but you don’t need to worry. I’m fine, really.”
“Are you sure? You’re not just sitting in your apartment drinking and watching old sitcoms are you?” Thomas didn’t respond right away, but instead looked around his room, shocked by how he hit the nail on the head. “I’m your father, Thomas. I know you. I want you to-” Thomas interjected.
“I’m not though, I’m actually getting ready to go out with an old friend of mine. You have nothing to worry about.” His dad let out a surprised chuckle and spoke to Thomas’s mom, but Thomas could hear clearly.
“He’s going out with a friend, I told you he would bounce back.” His father turned the attention back to Thomas. “We won’t keep you any longer. We love you, son.” Thomas returned the affection and hung up the phone. He tossed it onto the couch beside himself and sighed deeply.
“Here we go, then.”
Thomas tore through his apartment bedroom searching for any kind of clean clothing to wear out. The only thing that he had in his closet that was clean were his dress shirts and suit. He was fine living in squalor at home, but he wouldn’t give his asshole boss any reason to be able to go home and give Sarah any kind of satisfaction that he was obviously missing her. They had always been competitive, this was just another area of competition.
He looked through all the t-shirts and polos on his floor, attempting to find anything appropriate to wear to a bar that would be full of military vets and the walking tornado of “fun” that was Sean. After finding stains on nearly every shirt he looked at, and a few holes in others that he didn’t know how they got there, he settled on a black dress shirt, work slacks, and a thin tie. But he would roll the sleeves up to really exemplify the “relaxed” look that he was going for.
Tom then strolled through his living room and kitchen searching for his other essentials that he would need to go out. He flipped cushions off his couch and picked up trash that was sitting around his apartment in an attempt to find his keys, which he eventually found still stuck in the door handle to his apartment after a few minutes. While picking up his trash trying to locate the keys though he found his wallet in an old, empty pizza box. He stared at it for a moment trying to remember why he put it there, but had no idea. “Drunk Thomas” made some strange decisions.
Finally, Thomas went back to his room and reached into the side table to grab a condom, just in case. But, after looking at the box, a box that he had bought with Sarah, he tossed it back into the table and slammed the door shut. After all, there would be no way that a girl would talk to him, let alone take him home. On the off chance there’s a girl he liked, he would bring her here.
He took one last look at his apartment as he went to leave. He looked over the cushions that were lying on the floor, the pizza boxes that littered the floor, and the stained clothes that he had tossed over his bedroom. He shrugged, decided that there were a better chance of hell freezing over than anyone seeing his apartment, and turned to leave.
Thomas walked into the bar and immediately saw Sean, seated with a few women in the corner of the main room. Thomas thought for a moment about waving and introducing himself to the girls that Sean was with, but a wave of nerves he hadn’t felt in years, since he was single last, washed over him. Instead, he looked around the room and made his way towards the bar and went to sit down next to a familiar face.
“Doc, how the hell are ya?” A beefy, buzz cut head turned and looked at him. Before Thomas knew it, he was greeted by a monster handshake and hug as Doc jumped from his barstool. The barstool spun for a second and the shocking display of affection caught a lot of attention from around the room.
“Tommy, my man,” the large man belted, “hope you didn’t mind me coming. Sean told me what happened and I asked to be here.” They both sat down and Doc motioned for the bartender. “Real shitty thing she pulled, brother.” He pointed towards a bottle of whiskey and took the bottle from the bartender. Doc reached over the bar and grabbed two glasses, pouring a shot into each. “To the Future,” Thomas raised his glass with Doc.
“To the future,” Thomas mimicked. They both threw the whiskey back and cringed, slamming the glasses back down onto the bar.
“Another,” shouted Doc, pouring out two more shots. Thomas laughed and tried to control the burning in his throat that was moving up towards his nose, it had been a while since he went with straight booze, he had been sticking with beer for a good, constant drunk. “So, how’s work going for you? Making lots of money I hope.” They both tossed back the next shot, slamming them down again. Thomas called for the bartender and ordered a beer for himself and Doc, hoping to slow down the flow of whiskey.
“Work is great, keeping me busy. Plus, it gets me out of bed in the morning and keeps me getting out of the house.” Thomas grabbed the beer as the bartender put it down and took a sip. He glanced at Doc who stared at him concerned, Thomas was thrown off a bit by this. He stammered out a follow-up quickly. “That’s a joke, Doc. I get out of the house for plenty of reasons.” He motioned towards Sean who is whispering into the ear of one of the women, “like for this.” Doc shook his head and looked up at the TV, which was playing an assortment of pre-season football and baseball.
“Women, man. Why do they do this to good guys like you and me?” He turned and grabbed the bottle of whiskey, pouring another shot for himself. Thomas was a bit confused by this. He hadn’t seen Doc in a while, but the last he had heard he was married and had a baby boy.
“Kim is trying to take my son.” He downed the shot and immediately started to pour another. “On my last deployment, I missed his fifth birthday and she said that was the last straw. Sent me the papers that she was leaving.” He downed the next shot. “She took the kid, my dog, my car.” He hung his head and started to shake it. Thomas didn’t know what to say or do, he had been out of the loop for so long he didn’t even know he had been deployed again, let alone was having issues of his own.
Thomas reached out to console Doc, but Sean ran over and clapped them both on their shoulders. He gave them each a quick look, but they both just smiled at him, waiting for him to do something. So, Sean reached between them and over the counter, grabbing another glass from the stack behind the bar. He grabbed the whiskey and poured out three shots, passing them around quickly. He spun their seats around and lifted his glass, motioning them to do the same.
“I have two gorgeous ladies and only one pair of hands, gentlemen. Who is going to step up to the plate and help a brother out?” Doc and Thomas looked at each other and Doc nodded. He tossed back the shot, slammed the glass on the bar, and stood up. He shook his head and grabbed Thomas by the hand, squeezing it comfortingly.
“I’ve got you, man.” He turned back towards Sean and smiled. “All I need is a name.” Doc started to make his way to the table as Sean leaned over and hugged Thomas.
“Let me seal this deal and I’ll be right over to talk, pal.”
The night progressed with almost nothing else happening. Thomas sat at the bar, nursing another warm beer but in a different location and with clothes on this time. Doc and Sean would drunkenly stumble over occasionally to “checkup” on him, but by this point their advice was so slurred and convoluted that it wasn’t doing much good for anyone and the thoughts that actually seemed like they were going somewhere were interrupted with long pauses and questions of “what was I saying?”