You didn't expect you'd finish in one great gulp but you did. Your wrist rests the on bar and the glass rolls from your fingers. This much you remember – it's late. Or rather, you're late. You've f'd off the whole day and now the sun is down and your heart rate is up.
You're on deadline. As usual. And, due to a sudden lack of romantic lead in your life, you decided to heighten the drama by "forgetting" to file your B-section, lifestyle story. Instead, you're at the tavern – the only one that still let's you run a tab.
"Another?" asks the barkeep. She doesn't care if you do or don't but she can tell you do. You're taking too long to answer. "Well, yea or nay?" [[Yes, you'll have another]] or [[pay up]].
You can't even remember what it is you've been drinking so you're curious just what "another" means. You congratulate yourself on your curiosity – it's a good trait in a newspaperman. Cats, not so much. The drink arrives. It's not what you expected. Worse – it's not what you remember.
The glass looks like a fat test tube plugged into a pewter candle stick. The whole deal looks improvised and iffy and the viscous amber fluid inside isn't helping. To your left, you realize, are five more iterations of this improvised stemware. And they're all empty.
"Something wrong?" the barkeep asks. You've been staring at your drink a little too long.
It's clear from the arch in her brow and the crime organization insignia tattooed on her wrist that you'd better have a reply. You can only think of two things to do: [[pay up]] or ask "[[What did you call these again?]]"The barkeep nods and before you can get your blank Portage brand professional reporter's notebook back in your coat pocket, she slaps the bill on the counter.
"I thought I was running a tab," you say.
"You were," she says. "And now it's due."
Everything is due, you think. Should've had that next drink. You fish your blazer for your billfold. It's a pantomime really, since you know you have no cash. You're only option is to play Russian Roulette with your credit card which you know is close to the brim with poor money management choices. The real question is what are you going to do when the barkeep runs it and comes DECLINED? Can't fault them for accuracy – you've been in a state of decline for weeks now. Enough weeks that it might add up to a year or more.
"Listen," you say. "You know I'm good for it."
Her face is a stone.
"Well, the management knows I'm good for it. How 'bout I write an I.O.U.?" You open your notebook in a show of good faith. The barkeep is not impressed. So, do you [[give her the card]] or [[Write]] an I.O.U.?"Forget Me Nots."
"Isn't that a flower?" you ask.
"I don't remember," she says and pivots away from the bar. Then something sparks and she mutters over her shoulder, "They make you forget."
Cute. She's an ironist, you think. But then you realize you're the one ordering the drinks – not her. What are you trying to forget? And why is it so irksome that you have? You're the ironist now.
You bring the drink to your lips but hesitate. You put it down and put your reporter's notebook back on the bar. This is your plan – use your reportorial chops to keep an account as you imbibe. Maybe you'll turn out a few hundred useful words. You can use them – you're on deadline after all.
You click your pen but nothing comes. This happens. More lately it seems. The fix has always been a belt of something. Fortunately, there's a drink in front of you. A sip can't hurt. Nor could a putting a word – any word – down on paper. Either way, it's the start of something... So, do you [[Write]] or [[Drink]]?The barkeep takes the card and uses it to scratch the back of her thin neck as she walks to the register. After a moment her fists drop to her waist and she shakes her head. A pit grows in your stomach, you search her eyes as she walks back over but her poker face tells you nothing. You start cooking up contingencies if the card was declined as you expect. But nothing is as you expect in this shithole.
"Machine's down," she says. "Guess we'll put it on your tab."
To the barkeep, it's a wash -- nothing lost, nothing gained, but to to you, it's a small victory. One worth celebrating especially since your tab is open again.
Another drink couldn't hurt. Nor could a putting a word or two down on paper. Either way – Progress... So, do you [[Write]] or [[Drink]]?You start with the subject at hand – "Forget Me..." Is it "not" or "knot?" The latter sounds too nautical. The former too negative. You're getting "meta" again, you tell yourself. And you know there's only one way to fix that...
But you persevere, start fresh. You turn the page in the notebook and to your bewilderment, in your own hand is written "Forget me..." You turn the page again and sure enough – "Forget me..." The cumalative effect of all your false starts is chilling.
It's either time to finally settle up and save what's left of your mind, or drink enough to finish the job. The mental math reads on your face and you look screwy enough that the barkeep asks, "Something wrong?"
Yes. But you know you shouldn't let on. You figure got two ways to play this. You can forgo an answer by taking a [[Drink]] or you can get her pretty head onto the tally of your night and [[pay up]].