Desperate Times

The first time I did it I was in Las Vegas. I lost all my money on the blackjack table and didn’t have enough cash for a drink. I was too proud to ask my friend for a loan until we got back to the room. I saw a bottle of Stella standing on the casino’s bar all alone, completely full. I looked around, grabbed it, and took a sip. It tasted fine, not warm but not cold either. I finished it quickly and placed the empty bottle back on the bar. What a rush! Mostly from the thrill of the crime but also from drinking on another man’s labor.

The following two months were especially rough. I had little money coming in. I wanted to go out but I couldn’t afford it. I remembered what I did in Las Vegas, and reluctantly went with it, perfecting the skill. I stole microbrew pints and brightly colored cocktails. I stole screwdrivers and champagne with lipstick imprinted on the glass. I enjoyed it more than I should have. It was addictive—the plotting and planning, the positioning of my accomplices, the feeling of my heart beat race from the fear of getting caught and pounded upon, and finally the confident grab. It’s all in the grab! Like an eagle swooping down on a defenseless squirrel, gone before you know what happened. The rush of stealing drinks was so great that one of my friends got addicted to it even though he was gainfully employed. Unfortunately he contracted a mysterious virus and had to stop.

I preferred the cocktail drinks with the skinny little straws. Not much backwash. I tossed the straws and drank from the glass. The more colorful the drink, the more it glows in the dark, the faster it went down my throat. Beer bottles are for amateurs. The rim is coated in another person’s mouth, perhaps a girl who just got finished sucking a dick in the bathroom. If it’s not full then forget it. The martinis are the real score. There is no fast getaway like that clear drink, only one-third consumed, its owner turned around trying to get into a beastly girl’s pants. Thick green lime wedge. Another gin & tonic. Not my first choice but I’ll take it. The liquid touches my tongue five feet away from the crime, and what a beautiful surprise—a gimlet! Perfect for the summer. Refreshing. I slam the empty glass on the bar and a satisfying burp erupts from my belly. The guy looks around for his drink.

I wanted to get good. I wanted to steal a drink in front of a man face and he will think it was mine all along. I wanted him to doubt himself, his being. I wanted him to be in disbelief that another man would perform such an act. But I already did it. It’s gone. Replaced by an empty glass. Buy another drink old man, this time not something so sweet. Then I got a job (bartending, ironically). I couldn’t live like that anymore. It was too dangerous, too shameful and pitiful. But sometimes I see a full drink, sitting unguarded, and my heart skips a beat, and I squint my eyes through the darkness, and I notice my friend’s glass is almost empty, and I take a deep breath, and…

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