False start

dewy fluff

He was shouting at every one, “that’s false, false! Start something, I dare you.”

No one knew what the trouble was, or who he was for that matter. We were sitting at a small, high-top near the bar, but out traffic so we could talk and not have to yell at each other.

Running up to different tables, fists raised in an old-school boxer’s stance, his necktie wound around his dome like a headband, the man danced around on tiptoe, occasionally thumbing his nose. No one was taking him seriously, most were simply ignoring him.

Out-of-the-way like we were, we had a clear vista of the entire bar to watch the unfolding drama, making aside comments like a Shakespearean chorus.

We took turns inventing backstories about him.

He escaped from a top military installation after having volunteered for some Yankee White security experiment that went tragically awry. Better yet, he escaped from an alien spaceship after being subjected to some sort of hideous human genome examination.

Whatever his story was, the situation was quickly devolving into complete mayhem. The bartender was doing his best to defuse the ranting, but even he wasn’t much more than an interloper trailing behind the main character, cleaning up spilt drinks and apologizing to the other patrons.

The scene had become stale, so I excused myself and made my way, unpaired, to the ladies’ room.

Upon my return, the lounge was absent the floor show. Looking around, I inquired of my companions what happened to the raving pugilist. Their side eyes, and stifled snickers, stemmed any further questioning from me. A surreptitious survey of the room, came up lacking any evidence of the alien-slash-black ops escapee.

To cover for my peculiar query, I made the excuse that I needed another, more potent potable. Edging up to the bar, I caught the drink-meister’s attention, and gave him my order.

Tucked into his waist apron, was the raver’s ascot. Raising my eyes to meet the bartender’s gaze, I saw the glint of recognition in his face. He knew I knew. Pulling a bottle of red liqueur from under the bar, he dropped a shot glass in front of me, filling it to the brim.

Stroking the silk tie at his belt, the bartender’s intent was clear. I was expected to drink. If not, perhaps I would be wearing the tie around my neck, knotted just so. Looking around, I noticed each table was dotted with similar glasses, the residual sediment of red liquid visible in the ambient light.

The alien narrative was becoming more plausible by the second. Steeling myself to chug the shot, I took a deep breath and threw back the drink. Fire rose in my throat, and my brain fizzled into cotton fluff. Leaning heavily against one of the tall stools lining the bar, I don’t know what I expected. What I got was a headache, but my memories intact.

Putting the empty glass on the counter, I walked unsteadily to my friends, then excused myself to leave. Once outside, the cool air helped rouse me from my brain fog, but I was reeling from what happened inside the bar.

All I wanted was to put a great distance between the bar and me. Walking towards my apartment, hoping nothing would happen on a busy city street, I was unprepared for the blinding light from above, or the feeling of levitating. If my assumptions were correct, I would soon learn firsthand what the babbling bar patron was claiming to be false.

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Inspiration: False Start

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