Imagine the worst day of your life, now quadruple it. That’s me right now, and no, it’s not my fault.
I thought I stumbled on a way of going back to a happy memory in my life, but it turns out that all I keep doing is fucking those memories up.
This bar that I found offers unique flavored beers, and they appear to do more than just get you drunk. I didn’t know what the were; I thought it was just a unique selling technique.
Now it’s too late, I’ve consumed four of them, and I have to drink all seven in the hope that my soul can survive. Fuck trying to decipher what’s going on; only God knows the number of times I’m going to fuck up.
I thought that I might be being tested by some higher power, now I think a fucking madman is having the time of his life watching me fuck up mine.
Three times I have gone back to that bar, three times I’ve drunk a different beer and gone back to a different time in my life. Ones I thought were happy times. Three times I have failed to preserve those memories as I remembered them. Now things have changed completely; It’s not about consequences anymore, I need to correct this.
I’ve linked my three previous fuck ups at the top so you can fully understand what has happened. For the ones who are following me, here’s my next part.
I slept the whole day, and when I finally woke, I had a thousand messages to go through. Work had been trying to call, and another number I didn’t know has phoned fifteen times.
After a shower and hearty breakfast, I spoke to work and took a few days off sick. The boss wasn’t happy, but I put it down to stress; which isn’t far from the truth. Debbie was a little concerned, and when I told her I have to go out again, she wasn’t happy. My two girls weren’t pleased either, as I haven’t seen them over the weekend and now that they were both back to school, I planned on going out again.
I missed them; and Debbie, so I promised to make it up to them after I’ve sorted out this mess. It’s my greatest fear that I somehow lose them by changing something in my past. I’ve got to be extra vigilance; I can’t lose them.
Long story short, I made it back to the bar and pushed those blue flaking door wide open. The same barman was there as before, all shiny bald head and smirking face. However, someone else was there too, sitting on a stool at the bar, an empty receptacle in front of him. The man’s face grimaced as unknown nightmares reeled in his mind. One of his colleague – another man with thick brown hair – scratched at a notepad as the man mumbled. On the back read OT and I wondered if there were his initials.
The barman has already poured me a drink, and it was waiting for me as I sat on a stool watching the drunk man with caution. The shot of liquid was a vivid green, like Kermit, the frog had fucked a lime, and the result sloshed in a glass. An etching of a snake curled around its surface, it’s open jaws looked like it would devour its tail if it could move.
“Where will you go this time Daniel?”
I couldn’t keep the contempt out of my voice as I eyed the barman.
“To clean up your fucking mess.”
I grabbed the shot and slammed it into my mouth. It tasted ugly, I couldn’t tell what it was, but it tasted like Brussel sprouts and broccoli. I shuddered as the taste left my tongue, and the bar started to dissolve.
“Your mess Daniel, we just want to help you…come to terms with it.”
The disorientation didn’t last long this time, perhaps the fact that I knew what would come, or maybe it was that I was getting accustomed to the drink. Either way, I found myself beside a freshly turned grave with barely any dizziness.
The cold hit me all at once, and I pulled my jacket around me. People on the other side of the grave did likewise. The thunder clouds overhead threatened to burst, but by the look of the ground around me, they hadn’t done so yet.
I returned my gaze from the gloomy skies to the gravestone seeking the newly habited deceased.
Jason Martin Swain, 1976 – 2006, God rest a wonderful son, father, and husband. The Lord took you too soon, but we understand that he needs his angel back in heaven.
I snorted at the writing, and some people looked at me in disgusted. I didn’t care, he wasn’t an angel, far from it. As if pigs could fly…well. I recognized many of the faces surrounded me but still much more I didn’t. The one face I was looking for was opposite me, arm in arm with another man, one I once considered my best work friend.
Frank wrapped an arm around Debbie’s neck and pulled her into his chest as she wept. I saw the flash of his Rolex as her silken tears rolled off her cheek to his shirt. Tears that should have stained my shirt. When he saw me looking over, he pressed his lips together with a brief nod. I knew the look because I remembered giving him the same look once over a female colleague at work.
The point that she was in his arms and not mine deluded me to the aspect that I hadn’t been here before. This wasn’t a memory of mine. Jason was still alive when I first entered the bar, and Debbie was still my wife when I came into the bar this afternoon.
What had changed from the point of me having the drink, to me being here now?
There was only one thing I could do, and that was putting my timeline back together. I stewed on what best to do as the ceremony finished and people started to drift off.
“Are you coming, Dan?”
Frank pulled at my cheap suit sleeve; he must have miss-interpreted my deep thoughtfulness with sadness as he pulled me into a rough hug. The smell of Armani assaulted my nose as I looked at the shambled mess I was reflected in his glasses.
“It’s ok man, Jason’s in a better place.”
I shoved Frank away and caught a glimpse over his shoulder of Debbie’s concerned face standing beside an expensive looking car. Franks car.
“Easy mate, I know your hurting. Look we are all going to the bar for a few drinks. Give Jason a proper send off. You coming?”
I didn’t want to go, I was angry and hurting for a much different reason.
Had Frank suddenly won the lottery? Had he come into a fortune?
Here I was wondering how best to get my wife back when she was in the arms of a richer man. My task had become exponentially harder, and my envy turned to hate.
I glanced at Debbie again, and she locked eyes with mine. She gave me a small pleading gesture with her hands, and suddenly I had the solution to my problem and a way of getting things back on track.
As I didn’t have any memory of this time I thought it best to play it out as it happened, all I had to this time around was make Debbie fall in love with me again. With a plan in hand, I got into Franks cars.
The familiar scent of Debbie had penetrated the upholstery of the Merc. Even the roof lining smelled of her. I couldn’t help but wonder how much this car cost, so I ask Frank.
“More than you make in a year mate.”
He laughed, and Debbie smiled nervously, I, on the other hand, wanted to punch Frank in his smug face.
Soon we were at a bar very much like the one I knew I still sat in.
The bar had sectioned off a corner for us with a table laid with a black cloth and finger food. I ordered water from the bar as Frank made fun of my choice. I couldn’t afford to get drunk, not with Debbie on the line. I couldn’t think of losing her; the pain already flared every time she touched Frank.
It’s a true saying that you don’t know how much you love someone until you lose them. I spiraled into a hole of self-pity watching her interact with him. The expensive suit, watch, car, and god know what else. How could I compete with that?
I had to talk to her and make her look at me the way she looked at Frank, maybe something inside would ignite, and she would remember.
I made my move when Frank went to the toilet by bumping her arm.
“Hey Debbie, how are you?”
She looked at me for the first time since the car ride, and I fell into her big brown eyes.
“Hey, Dan. How are you? I’m sorry I about earlier. Frank can be a bit..you know.”
I brush her arm with a garish flamboyance.
“That’s ok; He’s only joking.”
“So. The promotion, how’s it going? I’ve just realized I haven’t seen you since the New Years party.”
I realized all at once the time frame I was in and subsequently the outcome of the murder I committed. Did I inherent Jason’s job or did I get the promotion I was going for? I had to bluff as I had no idea which it was I had gotten but wanted to keep her engaged in conversation. Frank returned ruining that, and I became the third wheel.
After an awkward exchange, I departed to the bathroom for a pep talk and bashing.
The night wore on, and I couldn’t make headway with Debbie. It seems every time Frank left us alone I would make her smile in the way I remembered, and I even thought that something inside her too knew that we were meant to be together.
When they left the bar in a taxi, I couldn’t leave it at that, so I jumped into one myself and told the driver to follow them. I needed to know what and how far their relationship was along, all the while I sat eating myself up inside.
They drove to the nicer side of town as the high rises faded in the rearview and luxury townhouse started to grace the sidewalks.
The cab pulled over, and I breathed a sigh of relief when Debbie exited the cab as it looked like Frank was going on, but it was short-lived as he jumped to the curb and followed her up a brief flight of stairs leading to a three-story townhouse.
The house was well out of my pay league, and it made me wonder how Frank had managed to buy this house when he technically had the same job role as me.
I told the cab to pull over a little way down the road and jumped out myself. As I slowly walked back on the opposite side of the road, I saw the lights flicker on one by one.
I stopped in the shadows cast by the street lamps and settled down on a nearby wall. My mind was a mess of jealousy, envy, and hate. Envious that a man of my stature had so much more to give Debbie, jealous that she was with him instead of me and hate, that I could do nothing to stop it. Or could I?
Another plan formed in my head.
The problem wasn’t the fact that Debbie didn’t love me; because she would given time. If she had room to move. She had loved me once and could love me again. The problem was that all the while Frank was around she couldn’t explore her feeling for me. I had to get rid of Frank.
I worked all the possible scenario in my head until I had one I thought would work. Frank was a fit guy, and it came apparent as the door opened and he came out in jogging gear. I knew it wasn’t going to be as easy as Jason. Frank had no fatal allergy’s to exploit, no, there wasn’t a chance of making this look like an accident. But maybe I could make it look like a suicide.
Unbeknownst to me, a park nestles at the bottom of the road. As I followed Frank down, I saw him turn into the park and disappear down the path. I guessed that the park was circular and jogged until I found a dense part of the trees lining the path. All I had to do now was hunker down in the shadows and wait.
I heard the slapping of his feet on the stone path before I heard his labored breathing. Quickly after, he came into sight. I barrelled out of my hiding place and slammed into Frank. I grappled onto his back and pulled his shirt up to his neck.
Frank kicked the ground and tried to release the tension in his throat. Amateur; didn’t he know that you go for the hands, not the thing chocking you.
I locked my legs around his waist as he bucked and trashed. I felt all the envy and jealousy ripping its way out of my soul, how dare someone like him take something so precious from me with materialistic possessions. Only I could love Debbie the way she deserved. Not him.
The anger leant me strength, and I pulled until Frank’s hand went limp and he stopped struggling.
My breath pumped out in thick foggy clouds as I lay sprawled on my back with Frank dead between my thighs. The moon was unusually big as the clouds drifted across them and I wondered at the shapes as I slowly recovered from the ordeal. The smell of shit suddenly wafted in the wind, and I cursed that I must have fallen in dog shit.
It was time to stage my masterplan. Using the shirt that I chocked frank with I ripped into three pieces and joined them together with a few knots. Next, finding that his iPhone was unlocked in a pouch on his arm, I pulled it out.
I dragged Frank over to a low tree and selecting a branch, wrapped the makeshift rope around it. I hung frank from the neck as his bulbous eyes leaked blood, his accusing stare wandered off into the trees. It was then that I noticed the shit creeping out of his leg.
Unperturbed I reconnected his earphones from the fight and googled porn on his phone, after a moment’s hesitation I re-googled gay porn and selected a video. Fuck him; if he wanted to take my wife, I would discredit him too.
Lastly, I pulled down his pants and briefs and was happy to see a member smaller than mine. Is it wrong to feel a bit of pride over someone in that way?
With my fingers crossed that my actions would lead Debbie back into my life when I came back from this “dream – memory,” I turned away and walked out of the park.
As I draw close to Franks house, I saw Debbie sat on the bed by the window reading a book. I admired the way her hair fell in gold cascades down her back as my vision blurred and warped back to the bar.
I opened my eyes and was surprised to be looking into the eyes of the other man. His face didn’t change to the fact that I awoke, nor did his eyes seem to register that anyone was home. The tasted of rotten vegetables coated my mouth and smacked my lips as I lifted my head from the counter.
The man was dressed in a white smock, the kind you get in hospitals, not the ones that open at the back, but the one for long-term patients.
The barman was there smirking at me with that grin of his. Also, the two other bartenders had returned. One male and one female. Even though they were all entirely different, something about them tied them together, and it wasn’t alcohol.
The former wrote something on a clipboard he was holding and murmured to the female. She shook her bespectacled head and glanced at me. When she saw me regarding her, she quickly looked away.
“What happened?” My voice was croaky, and my throat felt parched.
“You killed him, didn’t you?” The bald barman poured some white liquid into a glass and placed it in front of me. I shook my head, I didn’t want to go back soo soon, my head was pounding, and I need to reassimilate.
“It’s only water Daniel, to help with the throat.”
The water was cold and fresh, and I felt as if it cleansed my soul. My actions in the memory came back to me, and I nodded.
“It was the only way for Debbie to see me, with Frank in the way she could never love me. Not with all his wealth, how could I compete with that?”
The female had apparently worked up the courage to speak, as she looked over her clipboard.
“So with Frank out of the way you thought that Debbie would love you?”
The bald barman waved the two others to silence as he looked me over.
“You know Daniel, there are three more drinks left, and then I can offer you something that you will value more than anything. Redemption. I can take this whole experience.” – He waved his hands around the bar. – “Away and bring you back to your real world.”
I followed his hand and noticed other details about the bar that I hadn’t seen before. Like the magazine on the table by two armchairs. A small picture of a sunflower on the wall that looked totally out of place.
“What do you say?”
He was grinning again, and I felt that somehow I had already accepted this devils deal, the only thing left to do was fulfill the contract. I knew that something was wrong, I could feel it, it wasn’t Debbie. Even though I didn’t know if she was still my wife.
When my feet wouldn’t leave the stool, I knew what that something was, and realized that I was trapped.
“Sorry Daniel, I’m running out of time, we’re going to send you back.”