It started in a bar. Almost nothing good ever starts at places like this. Stale smoke and cheap perfume and old beer, pretty much defined the place. He lit a cigarette and stared ahead at the neat line of dusty, untouched top-shelf hooch.
Wild Turkey tasted like fire and sugar and cheap. Terry kept smashing the used butts far harder than necessary into the cracked glass ashtray. He drank and smoked with his right hand and held his chin with his left. His dark eyebrows were knit nearly as tight as his shoulders.
He tried hard not feel anything and found nothing but quiet rage. The whiskey usually helped, and the nicotine was just necessary at this point. He drew little joy from either.
He knew better now, but he didn’t feel any better. When you’re told everything you feel is evil by people you love, it’s tough to shake it. He still felt evil when he searched google images and guilty when he finished up.
Terry kept himself secluded from everyone and said little to anyone beyond, “Wild Turkey, neat.” and “Number 4, cheese.” He worked in silence, drank in silence, and did little else.
Suddenly, some dumb drunk crashed into his back and spilt some sticky cocktail down his collar. Terry slammed down his drink and spun about, ready to erupt. A shocked looking, college pretty boy stood before him, mouth agape.
“Oh my goodness,” the green-eyed youth spat out breathlessly as he touched Terry’s arm. “I am so sorry.”
Terry hadn’t been touched by another soul in months. The young man’s simple gesture shot through Terry like an electric shock.
Terry smiled nervously and said, “It’s. It’s alright.”
“At least let me buy you a drink,” offered the young man.
“Uh, sure. I’m Terry.”
“John,” he replied with a grin.
Terry found himself beaming for the first time in years. John’s hand was still on his arm.