Countdown

I write silly things when I'm drunk and sad.

Something vibrates in his pocket, taking him out of his drunken stupor for a moment. He withdraws the cellphone from his jacket and clicks the button. Her name flashes across the screen. I miss you. She wrote him. Tonight of all nights. He’s back at the counter where his friends are waiting. A man guards them.

“What can I get you?”

His eyes dart to a bottle much larger than the others.

“Just whiskey.”

“What do you want it mixed with?”

“Just the whiskey.”

The guard seems hesitant. He grabs the bottle and pours it himself.

“You want some ice with that?"

He eyes the man over the edge of the glass, harsh liquid already warming his throat. He returns to the center of the gathering. People have started counting down. A woman stands in a corner. Attractive, flattering dress, red lips. She’s tugging and nudging at a man a foot away from her, preoccupied with another conversation.

“5!”

He finishes the drink, discarding the glass.

“4!”

She pulls at the man’s shoulder roughly, it doesn’t even register.

“3!”

He makes his way toward her, crossing past newly formed pairs.

“2!”

She sees him approach, and her eyes dart up to meet his.

“1!”

He reaches a hand to her cheek, the other to the small of her back. She pulls him towards her.

“Happy new year!”

They kiss. She melts into it, surrendering something she’d desperately wanted to give away. The cheers around the room are drowned out, barely reaching his ears. He doesn’t break away. Neither does she. A hand grasps his jacket and spins him around. A man is angry at him.

“The fuck are you doing to my wife asshole?!”

A husband. His money had been on “boyfriend”.

“Doing what you should have been doing, if you hadn’t been all up in baldy’s grill.”

Another man behind the husband puffs out his chest, clearly insulted. The husband’s mouth gapes.

“Did the two of you kiss? You can tell me, I’m fairly open-minded.”

“No, we didn’t kiss!”

“Well that’s a shame because your beautiful wife here was almost left with no one to bring in the new year with. But don’t worry, I have you covered.”

He pats the husband’s chest. The husband swings. He ducks, and the blow narrowly misses. He shoves the husband in the gut, who stumbles into the bald man. People start gasping.

“Oh don’t worry, enjoy the festivities!”

He turns to the gorgeous wife, just in time to see her run up to him. She slaps him.

“Asshole!”

“I didn’t think I was that bad.”

Groaning from behind him brings to mind a more immediate problem, as the husband begins to rise.

That’s my cue.

He darts, a hand swipes at his ankle and makes him trip, but he recovers faster than the husband. Back on his feet, he bursts through the door.

---

He sits in his car, pursuers nowhere in sight. Snowflakes slowly twirl down to meet the windshield, accumulating into an ugly lump. He looks to his phone. She didn’t write anything more. He exhales, turns the key and prepares for the long drive home.