Gin Charade

A flick of the wrist sent lucky Number Seven down the hatch and out of sight. The smoky booze sent prickles down Trent’s throat as it made its way downward to begin the real work. This bartender was good. Young and brash, he had continued to increase Trent’s dosage with every round. He knew a Proper Drunkard when he saw one.
A stiff nod sent the young barkeep swaggering back to the top shelf once again. Anticipation tickled Trent’s taste buds as he imagined Number Eight being nestled in front of him. Trent lifted his gaze from the lackluster emptiness of Number Seven to take in his surroundings. He regretted his change in focus immediately. Tent had hoped to avoid seeing him here tonight. Circumstances were loathsome enough as it was – binge drinking alone on a Friday night – but now he had to share his favorite martini bar with the likes of him. Trent had always felt that there was only ever room enough for one pitiful has-been drunkard for any given place and occasion.
Morose and deplorable, he sat directly across the bar from Trent, staring into his own empty martini as though it were an intimate friend who had suddenly stopped returning his phone calls without warning. To make matters worse, the poor bastard had not aged well since Trent had last seen him. The hair high on his forehead had left for the winter and not returned. Deep lines now covered his face. Lines so deep and premature they looked as though placed around the man’s cheeks and eyes by some tired, rusty old blade. Below the shoulders had swelled to gaudy proportion – leaving the impression that some manner of inner tube had been implanted by stealth late one night as it was in such stark contrast to the old boy’s malnourished face. – But the suit! Trent had to concede. Despite the necessary tailoring to it’s owner’s odd shape, the silk three-piece was impressive. The fabric had to be imported. Probably China. Dark, perfectly stitched, and, despite the owner’s pear shape, the piece was immaculately tailored. Clearly he was doing well – financially anyway. Despite any other misgivings Trent might have had about any man, he could always appreciate a great suit.
Suddenly Trent’s focus was returned to his hands as Number Seven was removed, and Number Eight slid into position. A clever slight of hand executed by a young, but knowing bartender. Trent liked him more every minute. He understood the dangers involved in leaved dead glasses in front of a Proper Drunkard. It has nothing to do with any given bartender’s desire for efficiency and a supply of clean glasses. A veritable graveyard of murdered libations only adds to a Proper Drunkard’s already palpable guilt and self disdain. Leaving these little keepsakes lying around in plain sight only hastens the apex of the evening when said Proper Drunkard can no longer stand his own pitiful company. Once this moment arrives, along with all of it’s self pity and remorse, said Proper Drunkard usually makes a hasty exit homeward. Emphasis on hasty. No real man of self disdain allows himself to be caught crying onto his own chest whilst out in public. All good barkeeps know this. The goal should always be to keep the tab running as long as is humanly possible before this moment strikes. This young man had been here before. Trent would tip him well.
Trent took his moment with the drink. He admired the calm surface of the liquid. He stroked the odd shape of the glass and danced through the comparisons.
From a distance a martini was aesthetic perfection to him. Precariously thin in its middle, the long, thin line gave way to its crystal clear inverted triangle. Trent had always felt they resembled California women. Thin in the middle, abnormally thick on the top, and though you don’t know it at first, they poison and robbed from the inside out. At least this had been the results of Trent’s experiments in life. Though the comparison could not be made official until he had danced the dance. Good martinis are poured up to the very edge of the glass. To mishandle a drink of this nature would result in certain doom. For a Proper Drunkard, spillage equals demise. Trent pinched lightly at the triangle’s apex, ascended with a taught wrist, opened wide, and then with a flick that both Bogart and Bond would stand in awe, he sent Number Eight off to join the rest in the effort.
Trent then slid the sneaky devil olive from it’s skewer, tossed it back into its wasted receptacle, and signaled for Number Nine’s preparation. The dance was done, the thought invoked, the memories would now flood for the comparison had now been completed. Number Eight was exactly like his ex-wife: beautiful and perfect on the outside, dead and hollow on the inside.
Seventeen years and loose change had passed since Trent and Sandra’s wedding night. Prior to Number Eight it had seemed a lifetime in the past. As if Maui was another planet, and he another person altogether. Though the night had seemed like paradise made flesh, it had ultimately marked the high water mark in a union that should never have been. From here Trent found it hard to spy bright points. They had loved each once. Pretty much. At the time Trent had been an attorney on the rise – a man in his prime slaughtering the competition in the malpractice racket. Sandra was born and bred to her father’s whim as most daughters of cutting edge plastic surgeons generally are. From the moment she slipped into legal adulthood Sandra had gone under daddy’s knife many a time in the hope of attaining physical perfection. Who’s hope exactly Trent could never derive, but as far as he had been concerned, Sandra and her father William had come close enough.
What Sandra had wanted had never been called into question. Perhaps that was mistake number one. Just the same, the marriage had made beautiful sense to both Trent and William at the time. William would receive top-rate legal advice on all of the ducks he was unable or unwilling to transform into swans, while Trent would have a perfectly sculpted Barbie Doll wife well into his sixties, along with a sheaf of referral business from William’s laundry list of associates. Not to mention, both men would become furiously rich in the process. What more could two men ever ask for?
Even the finest engineers can’t always account for shoddy building materials. There is something about mis-made people living the made life that always ends in perfect disaster. As fate would have it, Trent’s dream collapsed after only ten months. Despite owning every possession that man is known to desire, Sandra just sort of died. That was the most effectively Trent could describe what had happened to her. She just, sort of died. Trent quickly found himself in a legal lock step with a brutal drunk. Ten months after Eden on Earth, “I love you” had been replaced with “I hate you”, “Take me to bed” swapped with “Take care of it!” and “Come home early” twisted into, “He’s just a friend!” Each word blasted brutally through a mouth bolstered by steady Botox treatments while a cocktail of choice swayed menacingly in her hand. Trent had never tried to stop it from happening. He simply witnessed the aftermath and counted his toys.
With a sigh, Trent slid Number Nine away – empty. Then, while prizing another devil olive from its perch, Trent chanced an update on the sorry excuse for a Proper Drunkard across from him, perhaps he was fairing a bit better. Entirely to the contrary. The scene was ugly. The poor bastard was slumped over another empty glass, apparently he had been keeping pace with Trent quite well. Trent flicked his eyes upward in gratitude. Whatever the state of his own affairs, at least he could hold himself upright. Well, mostly. Aha! Number Ten.
Trent bowed his head in thanks as the young chemist placed what would be the final cocktail of the evening at his fingertips. He did this with abject pride in his chest, as if to say, “This is the best one yet. Enjoy.” Much earlier in the evening, Trent had made the decision no to push the bounds to Number Eleven. Not tonight. Martini Number Eleven always brought about Trent’s harshest bout of chemical retrospection. His childhood. This was an issue that weighed heavily on Trent with or without Dr. Gin’s aide, and as flawlessly as his intoxication had been handled this evening Trent himself having held together quite well so far, coupled with the bartender’s flawless employment of time-tested techniques well, Trent could find no reason destroy such a tragically pretty picture. Besides, Friday is no night for those sort of recollections.
Trent had always believed that every Proper Drunkard employs a wholly unique method of madness. Each to his own, as they say. He, Trent that is, found formula his far superior to others concerned. Both logical and mathematical. The method resulted in maximum damage to the brain cell count, and left him with a minimal risk of public humiliation. No tricks or gimmicks, just plain old fashioned science at work. Drinks One through Three served to dull the considerable edge left on him by double digit hours spent working in the high octane malpractice litigation game. Martini’s Four, Five, Six, and Seven allowed Trent to revel in the love and pride he held for his children. Four ounces of Ginny magnificence for each of them. Cocktails Eight and Nine were devoted to the seventeen miserable years spent with Sandra, while Mr. Tanqueray, up, dry, with an olive was consumed in cheerful celebration of Trent’s one loyal and undying love. Work.
Work did not become obsessed with booze and money. Work did not cheat on him with the pool boy. Work did not grow taller and wiser than he, move from his house, marry an environmentalist, then forget all about him the instant the tuition bills had been paid.
No.
Work most certainly did not.
Work, most importantly, was the one thing Trent was truly good at besides drinking. At work he won, he always won. Work was what made the dreams and desires of his youth realities. Work was where he was important above all things. At work people liked, even admired him. At work he was never questioned, never denied. It was the ten hours spent outside of his silk suits where Trent felt wasted and tired and bored. At least he could take solace in the fact that, along with Restaurants, and Car Dealerships, people would always have need for cut-throat legal representation.
Ahh, Number Ten. It always caused Trent’s chest to swell with such pride. So much so that the young barkeep, eager to concoct Number Eleven, had made straight for the top shelf once again. Instead, Trent shook his head and made for his inside pocket. It was time to go. The younger crowd would along soon, and the last thing Trent desired was to have his peaceful depression marred by ”Like, you know… Like!” firing into his ear as Vodka Red-Bull poured down his back, effectively ruining a four thousand dollar suit.
For a moment Trent was quite sure he had broken the poor boy’s heart. Couldn’t blame him though, ten tasty beverages at fifteen per amounted to a healthy tab, and with Trent dressed as he was, the young man had no reason to expect anything less than a generous donation to his own drinking fund. Trent would not disappoint. He slid two hundred across the bar top and saluted the youthful booze slinger on a job well done. There were no words exchanged, but Trent found something magical about the whole thing. The boy had never said a word. He simply went about the business at hand as if he too had spent many an evening alone hunched over martinis while mourning miserable days long past. Trent knew better, though. This one was far too young for that.
Yet.
Straightening himself for the ride home, Trent cast a cautious glance across the bar. If he’s got any sense whatsoever, the old bastard will already be gone. Again, not so fortunate. His cautious glance turned into a sorrowful stare as he watched him obsessing over his wrinkled suit and bulging midsection. Trent know knew he had indeed timed his exit perfectly for he had never before wanted to break down and sob so desperately. Perhaps one day, he might find a good martini bar without a mirror.

Gin Charade

Campion Windisch

Hollywood, United States

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