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55 Amber Road

By , West Hempstead, NY
I enter the bar and take a seat on one of the rotating bar stools, my t-shirt and worn out jeans clashing amid the short tube dresses and untucked collared shirts of the other mid-twenty year old customers.
"Scotch," I tell the bartender.
He returns with my shot and I down it in a matter of three seconds. I order two more.
Ten minutes and three shots later I'm rubbing my eyes and desperately trying to convince myself to order no more, when the bartender places another cup in front of me.
"Compliments of that fine lady," he informs me, pointing to a brunette in a black leather jacket four seats down. She wore navy jeans tucked into a pair of tall brown boots. Her hair was a perfect mess of beach waves that came just bellow her breast, and bangs that came right up to her eyebrows that she had swept to the right side of her face. Random streaks of caramel color highlighted her hair. Faded pink eyeshadow accented her olive green eyes, just barely made noticeable by the dim lighting of the bar.
I down the shot and scrunch up my face as I recognize what liquid just trickled down my throat.
"Mmm," I fake-moan loud enough for the woman to hear, my sarcasm evident, "Bourbon. Looks like pisswater, tastes like it, too."
"But guess what," the woman begins speaking but still looks straight ahead, "it's not a breakfast cereal."
"Bourbon, hell no. Scotch, I'd beg to differ." I reply, mimicking her by not turning my head to face her.
Now she turns around. "What have you got against bourbon?"
"Just told you. Looks like pisswater, and tastes like it, too."
"I could say the same about Scotch."
"But you haven't."
"Let's not bring the French into this."
"But they have such lovely taste."
"Says you."
"Says I."
There was a pregnant pause, until the nameless lady spoke once more. I suddenly noticed a tiny scribble of ink on the skin just below her palm. Carpe diem, it read.
"What's your story?" she asked as non-chalantly as asking about the weather.
"Pardon?" I didn't know exactly what she meant by story. Life story? The story that lead me here?
"Story. You're not a regular. What brings you here?"
I gave her the extremely abridged version. "I choose one night a year to get wasted. This is my night."
"And every other night you're a sober bean?"
"As sober as an AA club member for sixteen years. Not that I am one."
"So I suppose the twenty second of December has some kind of significance."
"Sure does."
"Must be something terribly extravagant to be worthy of four shots of Scotch."
"Five, to be precise," I said, holding up two fingers and waving it in a semi-circle to signal one more round.
"Now you ask me," she said.
"Must it be the same question?"
She thought for a second. "I suppose not."
"Okay. The tattoo. Why place it there?"
"The one on my wrist?"
"Are there any others?"
"Maybe. That's a second interaction kind of thing."
"Okay. Then just that one." I pointed to the area of skin under my own palm on my left arm.
"I play guitar. Since that arm is the one whose forearm is constantly turned over to hold the strings on the guitar neck, I see it every time I look down. And I'm reminded. Carpe diem."
"Carpe diem..." I repeated. "Any significance?"
"I said one question."
"You never specified the amount allotted."
"I just did."
She slowly slid off the bar stool and flicked a ten dollar bill on the table. As she was turning to go, she turned her head to face me, while her body faced the door, and began once more, "I'm not much of a pisswater fan myself, either."
I paid and got up to leave, too, when I noticed a small white piece of paper on the bar counter. I picked it up and stared at it through blurry eyes:
55 Amber Road
7 pm

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