“Did you enjoy my coconut water last night?” the pale, stubbled bartender asked with the rage and brazenness that a bartender can only possess when he’s at last a civilian, immune to the pressures of having to be civil to his patrons, oblivious to rudeness in their drunken states anyway. Maya, triggered by the bartender’s accusing question, suddenly flashed back to the previous night, when she had been sitting in the corner near the various bottles and accoutrements required to get people to an altered state of existence.
She was doing that thing she tended to do, go inward, to the place inside of herself where she could no longer feel shame–about herself, her station in life, etc. Those she sat with were scheming and dreaming in their own little ways, distracted from her presence long enough to let her become too enamored of a full carton of coconut water that had been set off to the side. And, upon seeing it, it was truly as though a magical beam of light descended upon it, a chorus of angels chanting hallelujah in Maya’s mind. This was the lifeblood she needed to persist through the night, to potentially stay out long enough to finagle a person that would prevent her from going home and spending any extended amount of time alone with herself. But this would be difficult to achieve if she was passed out (at least, more of a challenge if she was planning to land herself a non-rapist). As she continued to stare at the quiddity of her sobriety, she noticed the bartender looking at her out of the corner of his eye. It was with this glance that she surmised, somewhere in the back of her mind, that it must belong to him, that he had possessed the foresight and prudence to make this purchase before going out into the night. Unlike Maya, who fled her apartment unarmed, operating at a deficit with her natural lack of good judgment and self-restraint. If there was pleasure to be had, she would have it. As a matter of fact, she had only recently gotten a tattoo of Kate Moss on her arm with the quote, “Why the fuck can’t I have fun all the time?” Thus far, it had been a rather polarizing design that might be better suited to living in London as opposed to Austin.
In any event, she truly couldn’t resist the temptations that would give her delight and instant gratification. It was accordingly that she slowly reached for the gleaming (to her) coconut water, the blue and green tones of the Vita Coco logo coalescing into the aurora borealis of her imminent potential asceticism. If she could just get that liquid flowing through her, she would regain the sapience that would prevent her from ordering another needless drink. The slow reach became an abrupt grab when no one was looking. She poured the contents into her glass, which was now just melted ice. At first, she was cautious with her pour, only wanting to extract a small enough amount to go unnoticed to the carton’s true owner but a large enough portion to give her the kick she needed to carry on.
Taking a few sips of the life-affirming, life-giving nectar, Maya knew she needed more. So much more of it. The bartender was approaching her friend now though, his accursed attentiveness to her empty highball (yes, it was the kind of sophisticated for Austin establishment that served beverages in highballs) intervening with her next opportunity to make contact with the coconut water.
“I’ll get another vodka soda,” Julianne vocally shrugged. The bartender, who always tended to favor her because of her illustriousness for more adequate tipping than Maya, saw to her refill immediately, looking only cursorily at the latter to assume that the content of her glass was still vodka and not coconut water. Maya relished his oversight in customer service, getting back to eye-fucking the carton and, this time, reaching for it with very little attempt at clandestineness.
The other bartender on duty, whose name Maya actually remembered to be Rhiannon, because, well, you don’t forget names based on Fleetwood Mac songs, saw exactly what she was doing. She smiled at Maya in a way that suggested she was a little creeped out but too busy to do anything other than go along with Maya’s strange caper.
As Julianne ordered her next couple of drinks, Maya had somehow polished off the entire carton by siphoning it off into her glass. She was like the vampire that promises not to kill its victim by sucking too much of its blood–in the end giving in to her most voracious of appetites. And now, she really did feel better, almost sober. Though that might be a hyperbolic word choice to describe her at any given point in time. Julianne finally took stock of Maya’s glass long enough to ask, “What the fuck have you been drinking all this time? I’ve ordered like three more drinks than you.”
“Um, just water from ice residue.”
“No, no, no. You need a real drink,” Julianne said, and ordered her a new one.
That was the thing about going out with other people–they always wanted you to engage in the relay race of drinking with them, rather than against them. And against meant teetotaling in any capacity.
Fortunately, it was at this moment that the person she had been waiting for to help her evade going home materialized. His name was, if she was recalling correctly, Sawyer. Or had she made that up simply because he looked like a bitch boy? Sawyer could possibly become her stock name for all men she encountered. The thin, blondish ones who looked bristled by just about anything a person did or said. When he came up to Maya to say, “Hey,” she practically bit his head off Venus flytrap style with her kiss. She had to get out of here before the bartender started asking questions about the coconut water and before being beholden to drinking yet another beverage. Sawyer went along with it, too meek not to, and soon, they were in a car on the way to his apartment near Home Slice, which she cursed for never being open past 11, when she needed pizza the most.
“I said, did you enjoy my coconut water?”
And just like that, Maya was shaken from her trance, no longer feeling guilty after recalling just how much it had saved her that hour of the night when she might have succumbed to a fate far worse without it. Unabashed, she nodded. “Yeah. I really needed it.”