They started to arrive an hour after midnight. These party-goers who spent New Year’s Eve with their families and after their parents and grandparents had gone to sleep, they drove into the darkness of the new year looking for the company of friends and more alcohol.
Hank and the staff of The Diabolical was ready for these party-hardy-people. The bar was well stocked and he knew they’ll be staying open `til the sun rose.
As expected, there were some people there who came into the bar, hoping to find courage to face the new year with a bottle of their favorite drink.
Sandy arrived first and had already downed several shots of tequila before her best friend Jackie arrived.
Sandy smiled at Hank and ordered two more shots. As Hank poured their drink, Sandy said out loud, “Oh, how I wish some handsome bartender will give us a bottle of tequila! As a New Year’s gift!”
Hank smiled back and said, “Be careful what you wish for.” He handed the bottle over.
Sandy squealed. She grabbed the bottle, leaned over the bar and kissed Hank on the nose.
She took a swig from the bottle and dragged Jackie to a table by the window.
Sandy raised her shot glass and said, “To … the…. Ummm…. the future!”
Jackie clinked her glass against Sandy’s. “To the New Year!”
They knocked back their drinks and slammed their shot glasses on the table.
Sandy filled their glasses again.
“To the future with out these things called MEN!”
Jackie held her glass back. “We can’t get rid of all men. Just the bad ones”
“Ok! Ok! To a future without these CHEATERS called MEN!”
“Those lying, cheating, bastard MALE creatures!”
“I already miss them!”
And they burst out laughing.
“A toast to all the good men! WHEREVER THEY MAYBE!”
“To all the good, clean, honest men”
“Who will listen to all our problems without feeling the need to solve them.”
“Who will gladly go with us when we shop and give us their honest opinion if we look good or not in this dress”
“And hopefully, they’re not gay.”
More tequila spilled on the table.
Sandy poured the last drops of the tequila. She held the glass up and stared into the golden liquid, stared past it, into the distance.
Jackie waited for Sandy’s toast.
“To…” Sandy’s brow knit, trying to think of the right words. “To… the future… where I never have see his fucking face every time I close my fucking eyes!”
And she felt this lump in her throat, which made her drop the shot glass, which slammed on the table, rolled and fell on the floor. She ran to the comfort room. Jackie right behind her.
Third stall from the door. Sandy knelt down on the cold floor. Gripped the sides of the toilet bowl. Heaved. And watched at the water turned orange-yellow from her vomit. Jackie held her hair and gently rubbed her backed.
When Sandy finally stopped vomiting, that’s when she started crying.
They sat there for a while. Jackie just hugged her friend and tried to swipe away that tears that just didn’t stop from flowing.
Much later, Sandy stood in front of the wash basin and was splashing water on her face. Jackie held her by the waist, worried that Sandy might fall down.
A woman, dressed all in black, came in with a tall glass of water. She held it in front of Sandy and calmly said, “Hank said you might need this.”
At first, Sandy and Jackie didn’t know what to do. The woman didn’t look like she was part of the staff. She looked like she was about to attend someone’s funeral instead of going out to celebrate the New Year.
“Thanks, “ said Sandy and she took a sip. The water seemed to make the sour taste in her mouth go away.
“When you’re ready, Hank will serve you coffee.” The lady turned around and walked away. Just as she was about to go out the door, she turned and said, “You’ll be fine.”
It was already 2:57am. There were just a couple of people left inside The Diabolical. As Sandy and Jackie walked back to their table, they saw Hank stand on a stool and reach for an old coffee maker perched on one of the high shelves of the bar. They’ve always seen that coffee maker and thought it was just there for display.
While waiting for the coffee to brew, Sandy held her head in her hands, hoping it would somehow stop her head from aching.
“I hate this,” Sandy sobbed. “I hate feeling like this. I just wish it would all go away.”
Jackie started to rummage through her bag. “Where is that pen when I need it?” She pulled out a sign pen, grabbed some tissue and layed it out on the only dry corner of the table. She put the pen in Sandy’s hand and said, “Write! Write down what you’ve always wanted to write!”
Sandy smoothed out the white tissue and wrote down: I WILL NEVER THINK ABOUT MARK SOTTO. I WILL FORGET ABOUT HIM. I WILL BE HAPPY WITHOUT HIM. I AM HAPPY WITHOUT HIM.
Hank arrived as Sandy wrote the last couple of words. He placed two cups of coffee on the table and pretended to peek at what Sandy was scribbling. “New Year’s Resolution?” he asked.
Sandy smiled, weakly. “Yeah. A promise I wish to keep.”
“I’ll drink to that,” said Jackie as she raised her cup.
They toasted their cups and drank the freshly brewed coffee.
“Ow!” yelled Sandy. The coffee was still too hot. She burned her tongue. Spilled some of the coffee. Quickly grabbed the tissue on the table and wiped her mouth, leaving a coffee-stained lip mark on the white napkin.
At that precise moment, at 3:00am, a man stumbled into The Diabolical. Hank could quickly see that the man was drunk.
“There you are!” the man pointed at Sandy. “I’ve been looking all over for you! I knew I should’ve come here in the first place!”
He staggered towards the table and tried to hold Sandy’s hand. “We need to talk! You need to listen to me!”
Sandy pushed him away. “I don’t know you! Go away!”
“Stop playing games with me, Sandy! Come with me now!”
The man tried to reach for Sandy again but was suddenly pulled back by some force. He suddenly found himself sandwiched between two tall men, dressed in black business suits. He wasn’t sure if it was because he was drunk, but the two men looked like. Maybe they were twins.
The short-haired one held him by the collar and said, “The lady said, she doesn’t know you.”
The drunk pleaded, “Sandy! It’s me! Mark! Tell these guys you know me! And let’s talk! Please!” He turned to Jackie, “Jackie! Tell them you know me!”
Jackie crossed her arms and said, “If my friend says she doesn’t know you, then she doesn’t know you.”
“You heard the ladies,” said the long-haired one. The twins dragged him out the bar and threw him out into the street.
Sandy and Jackie sat back down and started to drink their coffee. Hank was wiping the table dry with a rag. He picked up the tissue on the corner of the table and showed it to Sandy. “Do you want to keep this?”
The tissue had gotten wet and most of the words were now smudged. The only words that could be reader were: I AM HAPPY and the brown lipmarks on the corner of the tissue.
“Did I write that?” Sandy asked.
Jackie laughed. “Well, it’s your handwriting! Maybe you wrote it when we were drunk.”
“Yeah, I’ll keep it.” Sandy folded it and slipped it inside her bag. “To remember this night. To remember this brande new day with my best, best friend.”
Jackie raised her cup. “To the future! To a new year filled with…”
“Happiness.” Sandy smiled, did a toast with their cups and finished the coffee.
Outside, Mark picked himself up from the rain-soaked street. He found his cellphone in a puddle. He picked it up, dried it with his the corner of his polo and accidentally switched on the Photo Album of the phone.
Strangely enough, it was empty. He could’ve sworn it had pictures of him and … a girl… what was her name again… started with the letter “S”… maybe…
Maybe the fall made the phone revert back to its factory settings.
He looked around and wondered how he ended up all the way in Malate, outside this bar. He saw two girls seated by the window, laughing as they did a toast with coffee cups. He stared at one of the girls who seemed familiar to him.
Mark entered the place, walked towards the bar, and was about to order a beer when the bartended told him, “Looks like you need a cup of coffee, eh, buddy?”
Mark agreed. Looked down into the cup as the bartender poured the hot, black liquid, watched it swirl and settle, until the black liquid reflected his face. He stared at himself and said, “I wish this headache would go away.”
Hank smiled. “You sure that’s all you’re going to wish for?”