“Not these ****** again.” Jason leaned back as far as one could reasonably be expected to lean back in a barstool. In the end, he just looked like he was attempting some form of autoerotica. Terry, next to him, just looked into his drink and sighed.

“Number one: you’re white. Number two: they’re white. Number three: literally everyone else at this bar is white.”

“I don’t see color, Terry. I’m not beholden to your rules and privileges and shit. When I say ‘niggas,’ I’m talking about a state of being.” The ‘niggas’ in question, one Renee (of French Canadian heritage) and Vic (from New Hampshire), sat down at the barstools flanking Jason and Terry.

“How many?” This was Renee, inquiring about Jason’s BAC. Terry held up two fingers and a thumb.

“But they were all Millers, so more like one. One and a half, maybe. You eat yet, Jason?” The tow-headed philosophy/sociology double major replied with a one finger salute and returned to his ‘beer.’

“Yeah, thought so,” Renee chimed. “How do you even put up with him on the other side of the room?”

“The secret,” Terry replied, “is that all of Lemire’s lectures are so fucking inane that anything Jason says sounds like Plato by comparison. You know she actually tried to teach Neuromancer as a piece of feminist literature?” This made Vic angry.

“That makes Vic angry.” Vic was a biochem major on a free ride. He just had a certain fascination with his own name that prompted him to speak in the third person.

“It should make Vic angry. It should even make him angry enough to say ‘me’ once in a while.” Renee punctuated her comment by downing Terry’s entire White Russian while he was looking at a waitress.

“Can we not argue semantics on a Friday? Vic gets too few chances to get good and truly smashed nowadays. He’d hate to have it ruined by your futile demands.” Jason perked up.

“You said ‘he.’ That’s a pronoun.” Vic clapped for him for about three seconds too long before actually replying.

“Very good. But Vic had already established his identity. There was no need to be redundant. Redundancy outside of a laboratory setting makes Vic angry.” Renee was now about halfway through Jason’s ‘drink’ when she cut in.

“I think I should just say at this point that in about five minutes I’m going to black out. So I want to remember that I said this: you’re going to die alone and only Vic will be there to mourn you. Which is really too bad, because he’ll be dead too.”

“Here, here,” said Terry. “Wait, where’s my fucking drink? Goddammit, Renee, this shit ain’t cute.” She replied by taking a shot of the cheap gin the bartender had just poured them.

“I have this hunch that we’re all going to die right at the moment we really start living,” Jason mused. Blank stares from across the board. Only Terry was brave enough to reply.

“That was so fucking stupid that I think it may have actually sobered me up. Well done. I do believe you’re qualified to teach all of my classes.”

“Fuck yeah, I’m qualified,” Jason replied, taking his shot. He then did an admirable job trying to cover up the fact that he had just thrown up in his mouth.

“Vic thinks-”

“No one cares what Vic thinks,” Renee interrupted.

“Shut up, Renee; you’re just mad that him and your roommate kept you up all last night. It’s not his fault he’s a sex tiger.”

“You’re not a fucking sex tiger. You are a Nancy Grace pet project just waiting to happen.”

“Is a sex tiger a sex tiger,” Jason pondered, “because he inflicts wounds reasonably similar to those one would receive from a tiger during coitus? Or because he patrols a vast amount of territory that’s rapidly shrinking due to deforestation? Except that sex is involved.”

“I like the second one better,” Terry quipped. He held his breath and took the shot. “But honestly, that metaphor gets more disturbing the harder I think about it.”

“It’s closer to the first one,” Vic added helpfully. “Vic likes to think that Renee’s roommate feels like she just got mauled by a tiger after he’s through with her.”

“Aaand this conversation is over,” Renee decided. “Points go to Jason. If I were still alive inside, that one about deforestation would have made me laugh.”

The bartender arrived with four variously faggy cocktails and some tortilla chips. Terry went for the latter like an Auschwitz inmate. Jason stared in disgust.

“Why do you never eat until it’s something we’re supposed to share?” Between sickening crunches, Terry gave his answer.

“You don’t understand, Jason. You may never understand. When I was a boy, my father brought home food for him and food for the rest of us. He would take his ‘private stock’ to his bedroom and let the rest of us decide who ate that night and who went hungry. Sometimes, we shared. But we were never left with enough when we did. So, more often than not, we hoarded what we could and ate it right then and there. Sure, we could have hid it. If we did, though, we risked someone else finding it.

“This method took its toll on my mother. She grew weak. Malnourished. Soon, she died. Her remains were not wasted upon the Earth. Her taste haunts me even today, but I am stronger for it. She gave me life twice. Through this macabre act I came to understand my place in the universe. I descend upon these tortilla chips not because I am hungry, but because if any of you receive nourishment from them, you may grow strong enough to contest me. And that I cannot abide.” Dead silence. Then Jason remembered something.

“Didn’t your mom help you move in?” Terry grinned like a jester.

“Did she? Are you sure I didn’t refer to her by her first name? Think about it, Jason. Think.”

“I…I don’t remember.” Vic took a rather sizable gulp of his Cosmo and set it down gently upon the bar.

I don’t believe in God anymore.”

“HA! You fucked up, Vic!” Renee was now on her fourth drink since her arrival (she had pre-gamed with her friends Andre and Bailey) and was now officially out of fucks to give. A few frat boys at the other end of the bar noticed. Then they noticed Terry’s cold, dead eyes staring through them with a hatred that could have erased a good third of the Earth’s biomass were it properly weaponized. The frat boys returned to their Jäger Bombs.

“Fine. Whatever. I’m done. It was getting annoying anyway.”

*          *          *          *

“All I’m saying is that Sandler’s crimes rival those of, say, Berkowitz. The murder of comedy is still murder.” It had been an hour and Renee had reached the point at which she found it necessary to air her personal grievances against the entertainment industry and vastly blow out of proportion the seriousness of is “hideous sins.”

“Not unlike the murder of poor Tom Collins here,” Vic lamented over his drink. The bartender had used a lime garnish instead of the traditional orange slice.

“Poor Tom was forsaken by the ones he wished to save,” Terry added. “And when he died, he died in vain.” This moved Vic to tears and Jason to (against all odds) deep thought.

“There’s a lesson, here. When fate knocks upon our door with an improperly mixed cocktail, do we accept it? Or do we send it back to the metaphysical shaky thing to be once again poured through that other thing? You know. The one with the coils.”

“Strainer, Jay,” Terry said. “It’s a strainer.”

“Why do you expect him to know what he’s talking about? What, are you drunk or something?” Renee was now trying to tie a cherry stem with her tongue but only ended up looking like a toothless man who had managed to get his hands on some bubble gum.

“I don’t expect anyone to know what they’re talking about. They haven’t seen the things I have. They don’t have the credentials. None of them can be held accountable for their actions. Or their words. Or their souls.” He paused. “Fucking spot on, right?”

“If you weren’t a bespectacled ginger, I’d have confused you for Jason,” Vic complimented. “Though why you would want that to happen is anyone’s guess.”

“Hey, man, there will come a day when you’re going to want to be me. And on that day, you won’t be. And then I’ll get laid like the real nigga I am. Laid by a Moroccan chick.” Renee looked to Terry for an explanation.

“He just watched Casablanca for the first time yesterday. He’s convinced that since the movie took place in Morocco, Ingrid Bergman is, in fact, a native of that majestic land.”

“Makes perfect sense to me,” said Vic. “I’ve actually been told I look like Ingrid Bergman.”

“You realize that you were being insulted, right?” Renee’s words meant nothing to Vic.

“It’s impossible not to insult a man without nothing about him not worthy of insulting him.” Terry spent a good fifteen seconds in thought before responding.

“You’ve had enough. We’ve all had enough.”

“We all know what that means,” Renee mused.

“I don’t know what you think it means,” Terry replied, “because to me it means trolling the freshman girl’s dorms until I find one insecure enough to blow me.”

“Charming. I should tell Regina that this is what you’ve been up to since the two of you broke up.” This lit a fire in Terry’s eyes.

“She’ll get hers. You just wait. It’s gonna be gruesome.”

“Can I help? I want to help,” Jason proclaimed. Terry considered this for a moment.

“You can, actually. We’ll pick this up next Saturday, gentlemen. And Renee. Who sort of counts anyway.” Renee did not take kindly to this remark.

“Fuck you, Terry. I’ve explained about that horse three times already. Everyone’s forgotten but you.” Vic interrupted.

“Wait. Why didn’t either of you tell me about this? I deserve to know. You people don’t get to keep things from me.”

“Vic’s about to have an episode,” Renee remarked, “and I dealt with it last time. One of you fucks can handle it tonight. I need to brace myself for tomorrow’s hangover.”



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