Coffee Stains and Cigarette Ashes

By Al Goatley All Rights Reserved ©

Romance / Drama

Blurb

“What’s the matter, kid?” The man said with a smirk, “Cheating death isn’t something to frown about.” Alex kept the expression upon his face. “Kid?” “Don’t call me, ‘kid’, got that?” “Well, then what’s your name? K—Ki…” The stranger stammered to a silence, catching himself and chuckled nervously with a pair of beady dark brown eyes that begged for forgiveness. Perhaps it was the man’s hesitation to continue calling him a name denoting the young man’s youth, but Alex left all his previous thoughts of the stranger behind. He seemed to have loosened up. Though whether he knew what that drink even was still a lingering question. However, all was forgiven when he gave that queasy smile below those still ever pleading eyes. “It doesn’t matter,” the young man replied with a subtle smirk like expression. “I see…” Said the stranger with the playful raise of his brow as he returned the favor with a little grin of his own. The kid was growing on him.

The Stranger

Whether it was his occasional façade of a smile at a new customer, or that seemingly consistent indifferent disposition as he listened to a regular complain about their life; there was always something off about Samson.

Samson heard the screech of the front door, so he turned around, revealing his haggard face before squinting at the new arrival with a scowl.

“I thought I told you to get lost, kid.”

Alex gave a twisted smile as he removed something from his back pocket. He placed the item on the counter and slid it towards the bartender, who then examined the object with utmost scrutiny. The man behind the counter stared down at it, that fresh off the press driver’s license then looked back at the young man.

“1995,” Samson growled, “God, how I hated that year.”

Alex frowned with growing impatience. He had little to no interest in what whatever the man could possibly say.

“I guess you want a drink, huh?”

Alex nodded as that smirk of his returned. He then nodded and pointed to a drink on the board behind the counter.

“You sure you want that?” The bartender asked with the raise of brow, “That stuff is awfully strong.”

A tall dark-haired man of a fair complexion decided to chime in on the matter. He flashed a subtle mix of a smirk and a smile to the young man beside him first, and parted his lip second.

“Let the kid find out for himself, Samson.”

And though the way the man said it was less than reassuring—between snickers as he turned to the bartender with yet another subdued expression of amusement upon his pale—but not in the sense of sickly—face. Alex turned to him after he had spoken his two cents. The man seemed to be supporting his cause, but his reason for doing so was still far from meets the eye. Alex continued to examine the stranger. Something about his demeanor was slightly unsettling to him, but other than that the man did leave quite a memorable impression.

“Alright.” The bartended grunted as he eventually forked over the drink to the young man across the counter. Though he had performed the action, it was clear that Samson still had his reservations about what he had done. By the time, he had opened his mouth to say something else, Alex had already taken rather large chug of the beverage before him.

Samson grew pallor.

The stranger gave a noticeable grin.

The glass that contained it was rather small and the beverage had little to no scent. The drink was clear, but still somewhat murky, sort of like water when chilled with ice for quite some time. But this was no glass of ice and water. No, this was something different. And it wouldn’t be until the young man chugged the whole thing down that the fact would be confirmed. The fluid slid down his throat as the last of it tickled his taste buds. He sat there for a moment, wondering why the drink had such a bad reputation. Though he would soon find out.

Alex felt as if his stomach had sudden caught fire and acid had just been poured down this throat. He gasped for air as several people began to give him awkward stares. His lungs began to rattle before he nearly coughed them up. The man beside him gave a glance of slight concern then slapped him on the back. However, the young man continued to cough.

“You alright, kid?”

Alex hacked in response, still struggling for air.

“Kid?”

Alex’s lungs eventually settled down as the subtle blueness faded from his face and returned to a more natural color. The guy beside him gave a soft sigh of relief and sent over a smile. The young man scowled.

“What’s the matter, kid?” The man said with a smirk, “Cheating death isn’t something to frown about.”

Alex kept the expression upon his face.

“Kid?”

“Don’t call me, ‘kid’, got that?”

“Well, then what’s your name? K—Ki…” The stranger stammered to a silence, catching himself and chuckled nervously with a pair of beady dark brown eyes that begged for forgiveness.

Perhaps it was the man’s hesitation to continue calling him a name denoting the young man’s youth, but Alex left all his previous thoughts of the stranger behind. He seemed to have loosened up. Though whether he knew what that drink even was still a lingering question. However, all was forgiven when he gave that queasy smile below those still ever pleading eyes.

“It doesn’t matter,” the young man replied with a subtle smirk like expression.

“I see…” Said the stranger with the playful raise of his brow as he returned the favor with a little grin of his own.

The kid was growing on him.

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