He still hasn’t seen Forest Gump. Am I surprised? Actually, yeah, I am. Damn movie is a national treasure, or at least it better be before the shit hits the fan. I’ve referenced the movie with my jokes; even took the time to explain Lieutenant Dan and how similar their lives compared. Not literally, mind you. But close enough.
“I just don’t like Tom Hanks,” said Ghoul. “Splash killed it for me.”
We sat at the middle of Doherty’s bar under that pre-ball-drop atmosphere. The crowd behind us spurred on their merriment as the timer ticked down to ten minutes and counting on the flat screens over the bar. Ghoul kept it light on the drinks and I indulged.
“You’re such a bastard, you know that? Saying you don’t like Tom Hanks is like saying you voted for that idiot with the hair… what’s his name?” I asked.
“Oh god, I’m not that awful,” he said.
“Then tell me why Splash killed it for you, huh?”
His decayed lips had multiple, unnatural clefts that conformed with morbid ease around the festive twisty-straw protruding from his gin and tonic; T and T with a flair, as he called it. The slurps reminded me of someone gorging on Ramen Noodles after near starvation. He stopped, folded a cocktail napkin, and padded his mouth with elegance.
“Alright. The storyline was ridiculous, Darryl Hanna still looks like a sentient being, and Tom Hanks isn’t that good—sorry.”
I may have been drunk, but I knew I heard something that resembled a minor threat within the joyous throng of revelers to our rear. The patron to Ghoul’s right cast a disgusted glance before he disappeared into the crowd and the bartender leaned in close.
“I’d be careful with that kinda talk around here,” she said with a fright. “You wouldn’t want the boss to hear.”
Her portly face was engulfed by a pale cascade of fear when Ghoul grins.
“I’ll take what he is having,” he pointed to my double rum and coke. “Get him another, too.”
“You’re still a bastard, but thank you.”
“You’ll say that now,” he said. “Maybe later, too. Who knows?”
I really didn’t listen to that obvious foreshadow of how our night may end. I mean, I heard the catch in his putrefied throat click and squish his words that wafted on an invisible, post-death stench-breath straight into my face. I just never took it as I should have. The bartender’s hands shook as she placed our drinks on the bar. Ghoul thanked her, ditched the straw of his T and T with flair and gulped the remnants.
“Cheers,” he said, and raised the double rum and coke to me. “Through thick and thin in this year and the next.”
“Sure thing, buddy.”
Five minutes and counting at times square and Ghoul addressed the crowd at Doherty’s.
“Excuse me, everyone,” Ghoul yelled, “I would like to make my resolution to you all.”
The crowd cheered and encouraged him to continue. I remembered I stood next to him and went along with it. I felt that he was genuine, as his intentions still eluded my then inebriated disposition.
“First I want to say that I have had an amazing year. I hope you have as well,” he paused and the crowd responded with a roar. “I want to start the new year off on the right foot. My resolution is to never waste my time with the horrible acting skills and false persona that Tom Hanks has. He is an overrated phony who is probably a communist behind closed doors. He’s a dick, and I vow to boycott him and his movies from here on out. Now whose with me?”
I had never been in a bar fight before. I thought there would have been more to the one-sided beating Ghoul and I received as the ball dropped. Clancy Doherty, all five-foot two inches of him, personally threw us out with an uncontested might summoned by his deep Gaelic powers; that’s what Ghoul referenced it as, anyways. I still didn’t understand what he yelled to us with that thick, ancient language as we landed face first into the dirty slush-bank of plowed road outside the front door of Doherty’s.
“Help me up,” Ghoul requested.
His prosthesis offered no support on the slick sidewalk. Everything had been dizzy. I took a dozen hard shots to parts of my body that I didn’t know existed and my head swam. Pain was mild, nausea at a maximum.
“Give me a second… think I might hurl.”
“Keep it together man. Through thick and thin, remember?”
I kept it together and hoisted him up.
“I don’t think I will ever forget,” I said.
“Good. Now let’s go home.”
“Wait,” I tugged at his arm. “Can I get a ride?”
“Yeah man, hop on.”
And I did just that. His back held our weight as he pushed off on the icy roads with his blades and we skated down the hill, and into the New Year.
© Copyright John Potts Jr 2016 – 2017