Jimmy's Bar was a place they'd been to often, but rarely for long. They'd come in before, picked up a few beers, and gone home to drink with Jack and Kate most of the time, so actually staying and spending several hours or more was something totally new.
At this time of night, the early birds had indeed caught the worm, and on the dance floor you could see the guys with beverages in one hand and another on the waists of some girl. They had been drinking since the bar opened, Michael surmised, because a few were wobbly and looked as if they were a single sip from toppling over. Jealous of the fun they were obviously having, Michael and Hunter nodded to one another and approached the bar, eager to get started.
Hunter went with his old favorite, a German lager known for kicking like a race horse, and he sat listening to the music while his friend glanced over the bar and ordered a rum on the rocks. The bartender was a gaunt man, but he had dexterity where others had strength, and he simultaneously accepted tips, mixed tequilas, rums, and whiskeys and talked to the patrons. Everyone was laughing and having a good old time. The alcohol was already starting to hit Hunter and he wanted very badly to get on the dance floor and try his luck.
There were indeed some very attractive females out there right now.
This place was more like a club in reality, with the bar being fairly simple. Its name was more a moniker from the past owners, and 'Jimmy' himself was no longer the propriator. It had a massive dance floor, lights swinging across it and making patterns that allowed the too far gone to enjoy the visual splendor. Outside people stood around talking, making new friends and chatting up the girls one last time before they went home alone for the night, or trying to steal them away from there soon to be lovers for the night. It was all so beautiful, Hunter thought, as he finished his first beer and ordered another. To his right was Michael, and they listened in to some guys on their left who were clearly distressed at something.
“I just can't believe it, John” said the first.
“Well, we can't get into it now. Just drink. We'll *hic* talk to him in the mornin'” followed the second man.
“John, he's out there right now. We've gotta talk to him before he goes off on another of his stupid rambles.”
“You're just...jealous.” His eyes were wide at that statement. “Why don't you try it? I hear it's one hell of a” He stopped, lost in thought.
“Yur one hell of a mate, but ya gotta give the man some credit. He's got himself a woman, an escape from all this bullshit, and, well, he seems to be having more fun then any a' us.”
“He's a fruckin' smoker! That's gotta be worth somethin', Johnny boy.”
“All it's worth is a smack to the face and a talkin' to. The boy's got himself an addiction, a bad one at that, and we gotta stop 'im 'fore it gets worse.” John was resolved.
“Fine, i'll talk to him. Christ.”
And with that, the first man stood up from the stool, placed a 5 on the counter which was quickly grabbed by the bartender, and walked out the front doors. His friend John fell off the stool, causing a few people nearby to laugh.
“Fock you ya goddamn hippy.” John stood up and shambled out of the bar. He was clearly one of the early birds.
While such conversations were common at Jimmy's and bars elsewhere, it was rare for full grown men to take a stand when it came to their friends. At their age it was just an unspoken rule that you let your buds do what they want. This struck Hunter as something to remember.
Michael asked “What do you think that was all about?”
“Who knows man. Maybe he was a pothead or some shit. Only qyestion I got is why they'd be so caught up about it.” Hunter's brow furrowed a little, and he turned to Michael waiting for his reply.
“Meh, maybe they just didn't like smokers. Like a rule in their circle. Seems like that, at least.”
“Yeah. Hey, speaking of which,” Hunter had another sip of his lager, “you heard from Jack or Kate? I know you were sleeping but still.”
“Not a word. Could I get another?” he said to the bartender, who refilled his small glass with brown liquid.
“Wonder what they're up to...” Michael looked at Hunter and shook his head.
“Just drop it. If they wanted us to know they would've told us.” With that, he downed the last of his rum, and slammed it on the table. “Let's play a game.”
“Like what?” Hunter looked skeptical.
“A betting game. I take a girl home, I don't pay rent next month. Same rule applies to you.”
“And if we both win?” Hunter was smiling; nobody liked paying rent.
“Then we're both badasses and get some pussy. If we lose we share in the loneliness. Deal?”
“Fuckin' deal. You're on Mikey.” Hunter chugged the entire beer, stood from the stool and loudly exclaimed to the entire bar “Ladies!” He got a few interested looks. “Let's dance!”
He jumped down from the bar area to the dance floor and immediately started trying to imitate a good dancer. Before long, there was a women at his side, infected by his energy.
“You cocky bastard,” Michael said under his breath, and laughed. He walked down to the dance floor calmly, took note of a cute girl who was already dancing with a fairly gruff man, extended his hand, and asked politely “May I have this dance?” Her smile was all the confirmation he needed, and he took her hand and pulled her away from the large man, spinning her around and letting her feel like a top on a precipice. She was light and airy in his hands. Close up Michael saw she was wearing dark eye shadow, and her leggings and boots were a definite boon to her attractiveness. She'd come tonight, obviously, to get some action herself.
Michael was happy to oblige.