*Nainika’s Note* This story is dedicated to my awesome friend, Luke, aka Litlover, who has honestly given me so much awesome feedback since I’ve joined Reedsy!!! Please like his stories and follow him for inspiration and a good laugh!!!! (and now, onto the story…..enjoy!!)
“You’re drunk, Beatrix. Beyond drunk. Almost passed out. Again.” I can barely hear the voice of my best friend, Luke, through the haze the alcohol has left me in. I put down the glass in my hand onto the bar counter although I may have dropped it, I wasn’t sure. The bartender looked at me reproachfully, but I paid him no heed. I turned to face Luke, giggling as Luke swayed in front of me. Or was I swaying? I didn’t care. My body felt delightfully light. His hand shot out to steady me, eyes full of concern, and…sorrow?
“Why are you sad, Luuuuuuuuke?” I slurred, trying to put my hand on his shoulder, although due to my horrible hand-eye coordination on top of me being drunk and all, I almost socked him. Luckily, he’d had plenty of experience with Drunk Beatrix and didn’t have any problems dodging my swipe. He sighed as I giggled again and tried to turn around. Unfortunately, I miscalculated and almost face-planted into the floor. Luke caught me, again, and put a steadying hand around my shoulder. He slapped a bill on the counter, murmuring something to the bartender, before leading me outside of the bar I’d occupied by myself for the last three hours.
“How long have you been here, Bea?” He asked me as we stepped outside, the cool air of Denver, Colorado, slightly sobering me up. I held up my hands.
“Three hours. No four. No five. Wait why do I have ten fingers. I was here for seven hours and that’s more than ten.” I studied my hands confused, and turned to Luke, who was looking at me with that expression again. The concern/sorrow look. I called it his Luke Look, as I’d often been on the receiving end of that many, many times. Tonight was not, by any means, the first time he’s had to come to pick me up from a bar in the middle of the night. Er, morning. I giggled at the confusion of it all.
“What happened today, Bea?” He asked softly, leading me to his car. It was the only other car in the lot, the other one was mine, and the one at the far end of the lot was probably belonging to the bartender I’d made stay up with me. I turned the question over in my alcohol-induced brain, muddling through the words. The words brought back a memory of earlier today-or yesterday, seeing as Luke’s watch read 2:14 am. I stiffened, the memory bringing a sudden clarity and sobriety to my body. I began dimly aware of a dull pounding in the back of my head and knew that when I woke up tomorr-no, later today, I’d be cursing myself. “Bea?” Luke prompted again, and I turned to him, a defeated expression on my face. He took me in silently, then opened his arms. The floodwaters broke through the dam. Sobbing, I fell in his arms, my tears soaking into his sweatshirt.
“I got fired. I-” I couldn’t get anything else out, just stood there bawling into my best friend’s arms, as I muttered incoherently.
“Oh, Bea,” Luke murmured, patting my back soothingly. He knew my job was my life. Literally. I had worked in the newspaper industry for over ten years, having interned at The Denver Post when I was in high school and college, and finally ending up working there when I graduated. I loved creative writing with a passion and always went to work with a big smile on my face. Today, I’d gone to work, happy as always, but turned up to find the office closed. Frantically I’d emailed my boss, and he’d responded saying that the newspaper had been laying off people due to wage shortages, and I was one of them. In shock, I’d gotten into my car, and sat there behind the wheel for over an hour, sobbing into my steering wheel. Finally, I’d started driving but didn’t care where I’d end up. It was as if I was watching my body from outside of it. When I subconsciously turned off the car, I’d not been surprised to find myself outside my favorite bar. And there was where I’d spend the next six or seven hours, drinking myself into oblivion.
Finally, once I’d dried up all my tears, I leaned back, sniffling. Luke gestured to his car.
“But what about mine?” I said thickly. Damn it, my nose was blocked. And on top of the head-splitting headache that the crying had given me. Although, that was nothing compared to when I wake up later today. Ugh.
“I’ll get it for you tomorrow. Right now, you need coffee and cake.” I smiled wryly. That man knew me better than I knew myself. I swung myself into his ginormous pickup truck, nearly catapulting me into the driver’s seat.
“Whoops.” I giggled, still mostly drunk. Luke shook his head at me, smiling exasperatedly, then handed me his water bottle.
“Drink all of it. Now.” He added as I didn’t move to drink it. Rolling my eyes, I gulped the cold refreshing water down greedily, then gave him back his water bottle. “Good job.” He started the car, and we turned down the mountain road that led up to my house. I leaned against the window, admiring the millions of stars above us. That was why I hadn’t moved when I had graduated from high school. I loved the Rockies too much, and I loved the stars even more. I gasped as I saw a shooting star streak across the sky, momentarily lighting up the sky behind the mountains, silhouetting the majestic peaks against the inky black sky.
“Luke!!! A shooting star!!” I didn’t move my gaze from the sky, reaching my hand behind me and slapping his shoulder frantically.
“Well? Make a wish?” He replied, “And stop whacking me. I need to drive.” I pulled my hand away quickly and closed my eyes. I wish that I could get another job. I opened my eyes, catching the tail of the shooting star as it disappeared behind the peaks of the Rockies.
“It’s gone,” I said mournfully, leaning back in my seat.
“Did you expect it to wait for you?” He asked, amused, “Did you at least make your wish in time?” I nodded.
“Yeah.” I felt an overwhelming wave of fatigue pass over me. Yawning widely, I turned to Luke. “Instead of coffee and cake now, can you just take me home?” He nodded.
“I figured you’d say that.” He cut across the road and turned down another road, and we began climbing up the mountain. I closed my eyes tiredly and almost immediately was dragged down into the sweet oblivion that swirled around me.
I open my heavy eyelids, although the bright light of the sun in my room instantly made me shut them tight. That was a mistake. I groaned, the aching in my skull ebbing and flowing like a cold tide, yet the pain is always there. I remember why they call it a hangover because it feels as if the blackest of clouds are over my head with no intention of clearing until next year. It’s been a while since my last hangover, but it feels like my first. Horrible.
Wincing at the pain in my head that feels like dwarves are running around my cave of a brain and hacking at everything that moves, I gently ease the covers off me, my eyes adjusting to the light streaming in from my windows. Huh. I was home. The last thing I remember was making that wish. I peeled my body off my bed, taking in the clothes that I’m pretty sure smelled worse than…well I’d never smelt anything as bad as that before. I pad slowly into my bathroom and lean on the sink, taking deep breaths.
My hangover feels like a balloon under my cranium, slowly being inflated, pressure mounting. I splash cold water on my face, just to feel something refreshing, and instantly wish I could wash my brain free of the toxins too. The mirror shows my eyes, a lattice of pink over the white. Ugh. I peel off my disgusting clothes and turn on the shower. Stepping inside, I sigh in relief as the hot water hits my skin, a soothing balm to my raging hangover.
After a good long shower, my hangover felt significantly less, and I put some better-smelling clothes on with a small smile on my face. I walked down the stairs to my kitchen, not at all surprised to find Luke rummaging around in my cupboards. He turned to me with a huge smile on my face.
“Good evening sleeping Beatrix!” I whirled around to my kitchen clock, sure I’d misheard him. But sure enough, it was almost seven pm. The brilliant light I’d woken up to was just the sunset’s last rays.
“Ugh,” I said to him in return, “when did you get in?” For situations like these, I’d given Luke a set of spare keys to everything. My car, my garage, and my front door. He pulled out a box of cereal, and my stomach grumbled eagerly. “You’re a lifesaver,” I said, as he turned to grab a bowl and my mug of coffee. Sipping the delightful drink, I pulled a pile of mail over to me, going through junk mail and what I needed.
After my breakfast/dinner, Luke turned to me with a funny expression on his face. “Do you wanna grab Andy’s?” I gasped. Andy’s Frozen Custard® was our favorite frozen custard place, and we hadn’t been there in so long. The last time we had been was over two years ago.
“Sounds like a plan.” I hopped off my chair and headed upstairs to get my purse and a jacket. We walked out of my house to his car, and I was delighted to note that he had driven my car up. I gave him a huge hug, squeezing him hard. “Thank you for being the best friend I don’t deserve,” I mumbled into his shirt. He waved off the compliment, although his ears were red at the tips.
We drove down the mountain, talking and laughing, the last rays of the sun making the mountains seem as if they were glowing. I cranked up the radio and rolled down the windows, the remnants of my hangover flying out the open window into the cold, crisp, clean, and fresh mountain air.
Pulling into the parking lot of Andy’s we got out of the car and walked up to the counter. The store was laid out in such a way that they don’t have indoor seating, but rather open glass windows showing the kitchen and where they make their custard fresh every day. You just walk up to the counter or go through their drive-through and order what you want. It’s honestly the best place to eat frozen-custard in Colorado. I ordered my standard, their two-scoop vanilla cone, while Luke got a root-beer float, his favorite, and was about to turn around with my treat when he tugged me back toward the cashier.
“So, I saw that you guys were hiring?” I blinked. What was he going on about?
“Yeah, we’re short on staff and looking to hire some more people.” She replied, “Why, do you want to apply?” Luke turned to me with a grin. I slowly backed away, not even noticing the drips of melting frozen custard dropping onto my shirt.
“Luke,” I said slowly, “That’s not a good idea.” He ignored me, turning back to her.
“Yeah, I do. Well, my friend here wants to apply.” She turned around, and I watched her go to the back of the store and grab a piece of paper. I whacked Luke with my hand, sending a few more drops of melting vanilla frozen custard flying.
“What was that for?” I hissed, glaring at him, “I don’t wanna work here.” He smiled.
“Trust me on this. You do want to work here.” I sighed. When Luke got like this, there was no telling him ‘no’. I walked up to the counter and took the application form and the pen from the cashier with a smile. I must say, I'd never in my future thought that I'd apply to work at Andy's. It was almost hilarious to think about. We walked back to the car, my poor frozen custard dripping down the soggy lump of the cone. I slurped up as much as I could, then crunched up the cone, the vanilla that had infused into it making it taste pretty damn good.
*** two months later ***
Well as it turns out, Luke was a bloody fortune teller, because the day after I’d submitted my application form (under his watchful eye) I was hired. They didn’t even do an interview, my application form was so good. But instead of actually making the frozen custard, I was hired for their marketing campaign, and boy, the amount of fun I had should be criminal. I never knew marketing and creative writing could work together, and even though I missed working in the newspaper industry, I still loved my job. The free frozen custard every so often wasn’t a bad bonus either!!
And of course, to celebrate my new job and my best friend, I took Luke to the bar, the very same one I’d gotten bat-shit drunk at after being fired. We spent a good two hours, even after most of the bar had cleared out. But this time, instead of Luke hauling me back home, I’d had to drag him home, he was so plastered. I didn’t mind so much. My best friend didn’t know how grateful I was to him for suggesting that we’d go to Andy’s that night….or did he? Eh, either way, I was still grateful.
Let me know if you guys have an Andy’s Frozen Custard® in your area!!! It’s one of my favorite ‘ice-cream’ places!!!