Misery on the Rocks


nadira_icon.gif reuben_icon.gif

Scene Title Misery on the Rocks
Synopsis Lost in her own thoughts at a local Irish pub, Nadira finds herself sharing drinks with New York's newest DJ…
Date November 13, 2010

Flannigan's at Avenue X & Cicero

It's a quiet enough night, considering the events of the 8th, and a lot of patrons just aren't up to going out to clubs or bars. This particular night, an old Irish-style pub was having a special discounted 2-for-1 deal to try and lure in more than just the regulars, but there wasn't as many takers as the management clearly would have liked.

One particular non-regular that the offer lured in was Nadira, who had a place settled at the end of the bar to drown her sorrows in rum, which happens to be her drink of choice for the evening. By the looks of it, she's already had a few and doesn't seem to be in the best of spirits.

It isn't long before Nadira isn't the sole newcomer to the local pub. The door opens inward, giving the bar a brief yet chilly blast of mid-November evening air as a man wearing a comfortable-looking coat and wool cap saunters in, looking around. Reuben pushes his tinted glasses up onto the bridge of his nose and heaves a sigh as he takes in the sorry sight. Somebody was sure desperate to sell some fermented goods tonight.

Catching the eye of the stone-faced barkeep, the radio personality nods and takes a seat at the 'middle' of the bar, not far from the exotic-looking drinker. "Hey, guy," he begins cordially as he slips off his coat and hat, bundling them in his lap. "Could I get a dry martini with three measures of 90-proof gin, one measure of vodka and half a measure of Lillet Blanc? Shake over ice until well chilled, then drain into a deep champagne goblet with a slice of lemon peel for garnish?"

The look on the bartender's face is priceless as he stoically raises a bottle of Jim Beam and pours it into a stout glass, sitting it roughly in front of the bespectacled, grinning man. "Anything else, Mr. Bond?" the bartender asks with a scowl. Reuben shakes his head with an even wider grin and takes a sip of the drink.

The drink order gets a bit of a chuckle, especially as the drink passed over doesn't match the description. Nadira raises an eyebrow, looking between the customer and the bartender. "I take it you must be a regular, or that is a code name I have never quite heard before for a drink." She gazes over at 'Mr. Bond' quietly, looking over the rim of her glass as she finishes it up, glancing to the bartender. "Scotch. On the rocks." A change of drinks is in order.

As if on cue, Vince Guaraldi's tuneful tinkling of the baby grand comes over the dismal little bar's loudspeakers. He sips his Jim Beam slowly, looking over at the dark-haired woman. "No, he's just being a smartass," says the bartender as he goes to fulfill Nadira's order. Reuben reaches up and scratches his head as he drains the glass, feeling the liquid fire merrily tear down his gullet with all the gentleness of a train derailing. He didn't drink the strong shit too often. "Ow, okay. To quote Ralph Wiggum - it tastes like burning. Could I have something with a little less booze in it?"

The bartender gazes impassively at the newcomer and takes the glass, then refilling it with Jim Beam. "Here, we serve alcohol. If you want Pink Ponies or Mimosas, go to the fag joint down the block," the man says. Reuben narrows his eyes a bit, taking a sip of the drink and wincing elaborately. "Alright, alright. Do you sell cigarettes here?" Ignoring the smartass, the bartender heads back over to Nadira and nods at her in an 'Okay for now?' type of way.

Nadira offers a polite nod towards the bartender as she swirls the scotch in her glass, scooting a stool over to sit closer. "Can't handle the hard stuff very well? I don't blame you. I usually prefer something a little sweeter, but I think the hard stuff suits the occasion. You can always get a Jack and Coke, you know. Cuts back the bite a bit and most bars have sodas as well as the hard stuff."

"Might be a good idea," Reuben says as he shifts a bit closer as well, sitting just one stool away from the Scotch-drinker as he fires down another belt of Jim Beam. "Still, these days it feels better to get shnockered quick than to wait it out and make the process as long as possible." To this, the bartender nods. Obviously feeling less hostile, he produces a couple of cigarettes and lays them down in front of Reuben. "I don't sell packs here, but I don't feel like making you walk outta here just to get cancer, kid. They're Marlboro Lights."

"Gee, I didn't get you anything," Reuben says with a nod as he picks up one of the cigarettes and slips it behind his ear with one hand while the other hand drops a dollar in the tip jar. Turning to Ms. Scotch, Reuben drains his glass, making a much less elaborate and dramatic wince. "I'm Reuben."

The Egyptian woman sets her glass down on the bar lightly. "I know the feeling. And if you take your time, strange women might want to have a conversation with you and then who knows where that will lead you." She offers a nod in his direction. "I'm Nadira. So what brings you in here drinking, then? Just the casual drink or do you have some sorrows to whittle away at?"

"Well, as I was sitting in the public library on Thurman Street spinning through Rogue Herries by Hugh Walpole, I suddenly came over all peckish," he answers immediately. "Sorry, bad Monty Python joke. I just left the office late today and in the light of all the debauchery over the last few days, decided to stop in at a bar I never thought I'd go into," he says, then looks quickly at the bartender. "No offence, bud."

"And it's a pleasure to be pickling oneselves' liver with you, Nadira. To be honest, I came in tonight because… well, it's cold out and I wasn't doing anything better. Tomorrow's sunday and I don't have a show, so I figured I'd just stay out late and get hammered." The bartender slides another glass to Reuben, who looks down at the bubbling drink with confusion. Before the long-haired man can say anything, the bartender holds up a hand. "Jim Beam and Diet Coke. See if that's any better for you," he said, then went to the other side of the bar. Reuben sipped his drink quietly, an approving expression gracing his figures after the first gulp.

Nadira grins. "I knew that would suit your fancy a bit better." She lifts her scotch, taking a long sip. "A show, huh? You a performer, then? Musician?" She questions, looking down into her drink. "I am a bartender, over at a goth club called Tartarus. Used to have two jobs, working over at another bar in town, but the owner and I had artistic differences." She scowls a bit at the last part. "Glad you came in, anyways, I could use the company getting drunk. Everyone I usually drink with has skipped town or is… probably dead."

"It may be the cynic in me, but I don't think we're lucky enough for everybody out on nights like this to be dead," he says darkly, with a quirk of his eyebrow. "Actually, I'm a radio personality. Kinda like a healthier, sexier and less disease-ridden Howard Stern. Ever heard of Revolting Rooster and Friends on 106.7FM? That's me," he says.

The bartender looks up suddenly. "Wait, you're Rooster?" Reuben nods assent, obviously pleased that somebody in the city listens to his show.

"Yeah, my son listened to that show where you gave some poor dude LSD on your show and he ran off screaming. How'd that work out?"

"Actually, he was alright in the end. He was given sugar pills and the placebo effect did the rest."

The bartender nodded. "Yeah, well, other than that, your show sucks."

Placing one of the cigarettes between his ring- and index-finger knuckle, he flips the bartender off with a wide, unique grin. "So yeah. Tartarus? Never been there, but I gotta check it out. I need to find something new to do with myself during the evenings other than work."

"I can't say I have actually listened to Howard Stern, to be honest, much less you. I will give you the benefit of the doubt and assume your show is fantastic, even if it seems you have a few naysayers." Nadira says, peering at her glass of scotch, then taking a long swallow and turning back to Reuben.

"I know the feeling. I do a bit too much working and not enough going out and doing things. As I have said… most of those I hang out with on a regular basis have high-tailed it out to New Jersey or Heaven or who knows where." She taps her chin with a fingertip. "Tartarus is a good club. Pretty dark themed, if you are into that sort of thing."

"Well, you've got one up on me. Aside from my boss's creepy sister, I haven't hung out with many people at all since I moved here. Guess you can just hang out with me now," he says with a slight smirk as he enjoys a bit more of his drink. "As far as dark clubs go, I don't mind if it's dark and gothic as long as there aren't any people there that like to perform involuntary body-piercings or tattoos. I'd rather not wake up one morning with thin metal spikes through popular parts of my anatomy."

He rolls one of the two cigarettes given to him by the bartender back and forth between Nadira's glass and his own. "So, aside from wanting to imbibe noxious compounds with friends and acquaintances, what has you out in this part of town so late at night and alone, for that matter?"

The Egyptian raises an eyebrow at the notion of impromptu tattoos, then laughs. "I can assure you that they are too busy dancing to think of such a thing, so your popular anatomy is quite safe." Her lingering amusement at the idea is evident even as she takes another sip, watching the cigarette on the bar.

Nadira seems thoughtful at the question. "I wanted to get out, mostly. Last few nights I've sat around my apartment hoping to hear from someone I haven't heard from since the 8th. No dice. So I decided it was worth venturing out for a few hours and having a few drinks in hopes of bringing back my hopes and spirits." She nods towards the bottles of alcohol. "At least there are spirits."

"Cute pun," Reuben quips as he takes another sip of his drink and exhales slowly. "Well, I can imagine how lonely it must get waiting at home for the phone to ring. I personally have been so bored at home before that I thought I got Mono once," he said, quirking an eyebrow at the Egyptian as he speaks. "So, I started finding things to do that kept me from assuming my lack of activity was brought on by an inner-throat illness."

He finishes his drink and has another. The jukebox in the back of the bar plays another Vince Guaraldi tune as Reuben slowly turns a cigarette between his fingertips. "Do you smoke? I feel like lighting up but I'd rather not annoy my only company so far tonight. Feel free to grab the other one if you want — We can take our time and have cancer together."

"I don't usually smoke, but I will make an exception this once. I suppose if I am going to hit rock bottom, I might as well go the whole way and go out with a bang," Nadira murmurs, snatching up the other cigarette and taking a sip of her scotch. "I suppose there are worse things than cancer, anyways."

"Typically," Reuben starts, taking a lighter from his jacket and putting a flame against the end of his cigarette, "People don't smoke out of depression. Sometimes to relieve stress or bask in the afterglow of an awkward one-nighter with a random stranger or coworker, but not due to depression." He holds up the flame for her as he takes a long and lustrous drag, filling his lungs.

And then, he exhales. "So, you might have the strong urge to cough if you never smoked before. Just go ahead and cough once or twice and you'll get the hang of it soon after. Marlboro Lights aren't that strong and are easy for beginners." There's a pause as he takes a sip from his drink and leans back on his stool a little, popping his back. "So, a friend of yours or significant other hasn't been in touch since the 8th?"

The cigarette is lit, and Nadira takes a long drag, managing to not cough, but making a bit of a face at it. "Certainly not a sensation I've ever had before." She studies the cigarette for a moment. "I suppose I'm not doing it out of depression but more of stress. I tend to get angry and frustrated when things get bad, not really depressed. I think I'm too tough for that."

The cigarette is brought back to her lips. "He's… I guess he's officially my boyfriend, now. It was sort of casual, kind of an extremely slow thing, which is not at all my usual kind of thing, but some serious stuff went down and now we've kind of just got each other and not exactly much of anything else. So we made it more official. I suppose I am a bit cynical, though, when it comes to relationships. It is nice, though, to feel like I am needed, for once."

"Remember the boss's creepy sister thing I mentioned? Yeah, I had a 'casual' thing with her. She just kinda dropped off the map, though," he says, stifling a yawn as the alcoholic haze starts to manifest in his mind. He takes another sip of his drink. "After all that mess that happened Monday, I think a lot of people are looking for their loved ones. Usually, my show is of very light topics and manners… but this past week, people are just getting on the air to beg for their loved ones to call them. It's depressing," he says after taking a drag, blowing smoke out of his nostrils.

"I was actually in the studio all day when the shit started. Kinda stayed there until it blew over. So what was your better half doing during that mess, anyways?"

"I can imagine, kinda seems like everyone's shaken up. Felt like the world was ending or something," Nadira remarks, reaching for her glass. "I saw him earlier in the day, we saw some of the rioting, but he had a friend that needed his help, he headed off and I haven't heard from him." She shakes her head. "I am not really going to be able to confirm he is dead unless I see a body and I won't know he's okay unless I see him for myself, which makes me fear that may take some time. They can just pick anyone up and lock them in jail any time they want now. If he gets locked up, I won't know. It is just some big… mess of not knowing."

"Generally, people go to the police for missing persons," he said as he finished his drink and slumped a little in his seat. He hadn't thought to call around asking for Kelly, but she'd also made it clear that sleeping with him was purely 'satisfying a need.' Didn't mean that he didn't sometimes miss the creepy, dry woman. "Well, I'm sure that he'll turn up. This city isn't clever enough to take down anyone with some mental resources at their disposal. It'll be alright," he says, adding as a mental afterthought: probably.

Nadira shrugs her shoulders a little bit. "I'm sure I'll hear from him eventually, I just… doesn't make waiting any easier." She takes a long drag of the cigarette, blowing out smoke before she finishes off her scotch. "At this point, I don't think I trust the police. The police could shoot you just as soon as they could help you. That is what martial law is, isn't it?"

"Ah, yeah," Reuben says with an elaborate display of agreeing with that statement. "Unless it's a donut or a hooker of especially-low moral fibre, the pigs likely won't behave positively towards anything during martial law. I'm surprised I didn't get stopped and frisked on my way up here. I know that the riots are especially bad these days, but seriously — the lack of human decency in these times is, er… staggering."

After the oddly reflective statement from the shock-jock, he takes another drag off of his cigarette and looks out the window at people walking by. "I don't suppose you'd let me order a few pizzas, would you?" he asks the barman, who simply shrugs. Reuben glances over at Nadira with a wry smirk. "What kinda pizza do you like?"

"You should have seen it when I lived in Egypt. At least they don't stone people for being Evolved here," Nadira rubs at the back of her neck. "Though after all this I am not sure it's any better here." There's a sudden grin at the mention of pizza, and she takes another drag from her cigarette. "I'll eat anything, though I'm partial to olives. Feeling the urge for food?"

"What gave it away?" Reuben asks, cellphone already in hand, "The fact that I've gone a full fifteen seconds looking up the nearest Panucci's? I was kinda hoping we'd get some Irish pub food, but apparently everyone that comes in is looking to subsist on a liquid diet," he says, punching in a few numbers. "Okay, so how's about I order a thin crust with hamburger and extra black olivescause I loves them myselfand a Chicago-style pizza with the works?" The bartender, suddenly taking an interest in the conversation puts down his newspaper. "Yeah, and while you're at it, get some of those little chicken wings they make over there." Reuben nodded and dialled.

Nadira's grinning now. "Fantastic. It's been a while since I've had anything to eat, and I'm famished. They say you aren't supposed to eat on an empty stomach anyways." She takes another drag of her cigarette while she watches him, blowing the smoke out slowly. "Well, I'd wager things are already looking up. Can't go wrong with pizza…"

The order came quickly, with the pizza boy only having one beer before setting back off into the freezing night. The boxes of pizza and chicken wings were pulled open and drinks were refilled as the bartender got out paper plates from a back cabinet. "Normally beer goes good with pizza," Reuben says as he raises his glass to Nadira and their barkeep, "But I'm not about to mix beer and Jim Beam — it's just plain fucking stupid."

"Amen to that, Mr. Bond," says the bartender as he pours himself a beer and starts on the chicken wings.

The Egyptian woman carefully pulls out a slice of the extra-olivey pizza, putting it on a paper plate as she nods towards the two. "So I've blathered on about my love life for far too long. Go on, Reuben, rant about whatever you want. Soapbox is all yours, and we've had a few, so no topic is too taboo." She finishes off her cigarette, putting it out on the ashtray.

"Okay, but you asked for it," he says blithely as he knocks back his fifth drink of the night, already feeling 'nicely drunk' as Dave Lister would've put it. "Against my better judgement, I've become semi-attached to a woman that keeps a large Burmese Python in her apartment, which she has at one point let out of it's glass case while we were using her bed as a horizontal tango mat," he says quickly and all in one breath. Once again, the look on the bartender's face is priceless.

"I dunno, I've had hookups before, but this woman's really… strange. I think I like that about it. However, she's not around anymore so I have to assume that she's gone and done something else with her life. Besides, my boss didn't seem too happy with the idea that I was shtupping a member of her family. You don't have any single friends that like the odd DJ every now and then do you?"

Nadira takes a bite of her pizza, chewing it as she contemplates a Burmese Python out of its case. "Well, it's a shame. She sounds like a strange and fascinating person. But as far as single friends… I don't have a lot of friends, so I'd be hard pressed… but my boss is single, so far as I know. She's worth meeting. Very attractive, incredibly intelligent… I'd say she's a bit of a loner but I think that's because she's had a tough life in some ways. Her name's Melissa."

"Fair enough," he says as he steals one of the barkeep's chicken wings. "I can do intelligent and loner-type. They're usually easier to talk to rather than the people that live and die by the concept of Cult of Personality." He swivels a bit in his chair, swaying a bit to an inaudible rhythm. "So, what's Melissa look like?"

"Well, I'd say she's a good conversationalist, at the very least. Blonde straight hair, but she dyes it from time to time.. blue eyes… she's got the punk look. Makes sense for managing a goth club. She kinda got a few of us wearing corsets now, at work. Her brilliant idea." Nadira seems thoughtful as she takes another bite of pizza, chewing and swallowing before continuing. "Unfortunately the only other real friend I have is a lesbian and she's not single." She taps her chin. "I… am kind of embarrassed to admit it."

"Why?" Reuben asks simply as he leans against the bar. "These days it's far more taboo to be an Evolved rather than be gay or bisexual," he says, finishing his cigarette and stuffing it out, then going to tear off another bite of pizza. "I've had people calling in before about the Evolved. Whether they're gay or straight, some people just find it strange that they can either climb walls like Spiderman or soar through the air like Saint Joan."

Of course, he was not readily admitting that Reuben Spencer himself was tested foras well as found to actually havethe SLC gene. "It's hard enough for people to get that a black man and a white woman should be allowed to marry and have a long life with one another as well as many kids, but now people are still getting their dicks knotted over the fact that one guy may like guys and one girl may like girls. It's the many flavors of life that make it just that: life, and not routine."

Without looking up from his meal, the bartender began to clap. Sarcastically.

Nadira rubs the back of her neck. "Er, I meant more along the lines of the fact that I've only got about two friends. Believe me, there's nothing wrong with Robyn Quinn. She does get a bit handsy when she's drunk, though, but I guess things are… okay with her girlfriend." She chuckles and takes a long sip of her scotch. "Really, I think people are more worried about Evolved people than gay people these days."
ORDER: It is now your pose.

"Well, people have to worry about something, anything, as long as it's something," he said. "And don't feel bad for not having many friends. I'm regarded by many to be a flippant, immature asshole who likes to play mean pranks on his own fans and coworkers. I kinda attract the attitude that states being involved with "Revolving Rooster" is a health hazard in and of itself," he says with an almost proud grin.

"I should hang out with some of your friends sometimes. They sound pretty fun and I'm almost positive that I could have more fun with them than on my own show. I've had to make things tame recently and I'm not a fan of that fact."

"Tame is not a way to describe my friends. Quinn's a coworker. She's the DJ for Tartarus and has her own band. She's probably one of the best people I've ever met." Nadira admits, giving a bit of a grin. "So you have got a bit of a bad reputation, do you? I suppose that can be a bit exciting, from time to time. Although I don't know that you're much of an asshole. You bought pizza and gave me a cigarette, company, and a good listening ear. I suppose you have to be a bit of an asshole on air, though. You have to have the whole larger-than-life personality in something like that."

"Don't let the generosity and free food fool you," he says, pointing at her with a bit of pizza crust. "I'm actually too tired to be myself right now, or else you may very well be sick and tired of me," he says with a wide grin. "I've got a bad reputation because I'm outspoken and because I believe in certain things that many people don't believe in. For one, I think that making the Evolved register themselves is a dangerous thing because it makes the Evolved into targets. When the bomb went off, I was in college radio stations pissing people off by stating that we shouldn't haul every person out of their homes one at a time and ask whether they could fly or not. I'm an asshole because I care and because I'm not afraid to say that I care."

"Is that why you tricked that poor Jersey kid into thinking he was tripping balls on LSD?" came the bartender, finding his voice once more.

"Of course not. I just did that for shits and giggles," responds Reuben without turning around to meet the man's gaze.

Nadira grins a little, taking another sip of her scotch. "Well, I do not think standing up for what you believe in makes you an asshole… it makes you more of a hero these days. Won't make you a lot of friends, especially after the 8th. I wouldn't be surprised if they decide to start hunting down the Evolved people in the registry. I mean, what's to stop them? If the government says they're dangerous, because of martial law, they can just shoot whomever they perceive as a threat. Scare people into looking like a threat, boom, and that's all it takes."

"I suppose that's very true," he says with a shrug. "But if we didn't have something to fight over, then how miserable would we be? As a culture, we seem to only be content when we're at war with something. Whether it's the war in Iraq or the War of Terror, or watching those miserable twats on those Real Housewives show duke it out over who has the biggest fake knockers or who's husband is the biggest pouf, we love conflict. We love the thrill of chasing and attacking. We're dumb, violent animals with hats and cellular phones and we still act like cavemen when we get bored enough to do something stupid, like these fucking riots," he says, a touch of bitterness in his words.

"So, no, I'm not surprised that the riots kicked off, or that it's brought forth martial law. For the few thousand years that man has walked this planet, we've treated any real measure of peace and tranquility just like the biggest threat imaginable. We take these measure of peace and happinessdismantling nuclear weapons, promoting a worldwide community, et ceteraand treat them like we're the proto-human, emerging from the forest primeval," he says, sipping his drink and talking into it at the same time, "seeing the moon for the first time and through fucking rocks at it."

Another liberal drink. "Well, if we're lucky we can reduce the violence to those housewives on TV and we won't have to worry so much about these other things. But the reality is that we're stuck with everyone being biased against Evolved and now it is only going to get worse." Nadira scoops up another slice of pizza biting down into it as she shifts on her bar stool.

Reuben closes his eyes, running his hand over his face and sighing as he lifts his drink up to his lips. "Well, it'll certainly get worse unless our so-called leaders get their well-paid asses into gear to try and make sense of this situation," he says, looking over at Nadira now with fatigue and age reflecting in his gaze. "I don't watch CSPAN, so I'm not sure if they're going to Bush the whole thing into some kind of misguided quest for something we can use as a nation or if they're going to actually try to do something."

"And forgive the bluntness, but are you…?" He asks, leaving the last word, 'Evolved', out of the sentence.

That question gets an uncomfortable bit of body language from Nadira as she tries to make herself comfortable on the bar stool. "It's why I left Egypt." She says, not answering the question directly. "It is interesting how people treat Evolved in Egypt… they're either gods or sinners. No in-between. You're stoned or you've got people groveling at your feet for your favor. Funny how other countries react."

Reuben took the answer for what it was worth and finished his drink. He closed his eyes again and thought how to retort. He found himself dozing. "Not that it's a huge secret or anything, but I tested positive for the gene," he says, looking over at her. "I don't have any skill, though. I'm just a fast-talking smartassed disc jockey from Cleveland."

"Not yet, but you might eventually." Nadira comments, giving a bit of a yawn. "Alcohol's starting to get to me," she says. Rubbing her neck again, she looks back to him. "Maybe your skill is fast-talking."

"If that's the case, I want a do-over," he says, signalling to the barkeep that he was done and leaving a small wad of cash behind. "I'd rather be able to fly than to talk a million words a minute," he says, yawning. "In any case, I'm gonna catch a cab home. It was awesome talking to you, by the way. You okay to drive, if you're driving?"

"I'll get a cab, no worries there. I never bother driving in New York." Nadira replies, slowly getting to her feet. "Come by Tartarus sometime, though. I'll give you a free drink, whatever fruity thing your heart desires, and you can hang out with Quinn and I."

A nod and a smirk as Reuben wobbles his way out of the bar and into the cold night. There would definitely be a hangover, come the morning. Definitely.

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