Not much had changed in Eddie’s Bar across the street from Jeremy’s apartment. It was the middle of the week and a slow night, and Jeremy wasn’t surprised by the lack of people drinking inside the small bar. It comforted him, much more than the harsh noise and the crowds pressing in on each other at Eternity, the club he had been to a few nights ago. He enjoyed the soft and consistent glow of the lights at Eddie’s much more than the flashing strobes and arcing beams of light at Eternity. The smell of cigarettes and cheap liquor still clung to everything inside, especially the regulars at the bar. Jeremy was pretty sure they were the some of the same people who had been here the last time he had stopped in.
He and his former partner, Dillon, were at the back of the bar at a pool table with beers and shot glasses of whiskey resting on a table nearby. Overdriven riffs of blues-rock were playing from the jukebox behind them. Despite everything that had been going on in his life, this was easily one of the best nights Jeremy had had in a long time. He hadn’t honestly laughed in half a year, and now here he was, downing beers and shots while reliving stories of their time working together for the police department. Jeremy had almost pissed himself from laughter when Dillon brought up when he had to defend himself from an angry woman jumping on his back while Dillon was handcuffing her boyfriend.
Jeremy and Dillon had been drinking and playing pool for almost an hour and had the back of the bar to themselves. Between the music and the distance from the bar, there seemed no reason not to be sitting in a booth whispering. Dillon nodded at the corner pocket closest to the eight ball. He leaned down over the rail of the table and with the help of his left hand he drove the cue steadily into the cue ball with his right hand. The scuffed white ball rolled to the other side of the table and cracked against the eight ball, sending it careening into the nearest corner pocket.
Jeremy shook his head in defeat and reached back to the table behind him. He picked up one of the shot glasses and raised it briefly in a silent toast and then tossed his head back and the shot of whiskey with it. Dillon’s deep-voiced laugh was clear over the music.
“Okay, so maybe playing for shots was a shit idea,” Jeremy said with a smirk.
“It’s either that, or you get better at playing pool.” Dillon started reracking the balls on the table with the help of a well-worn wooden triangle and then stored it back under the table.
Jeremy shrugged and took a sip from his beer and put it back on the table behind him. He made a mental note of the games he had been losing. Out of the six shots of whiskey on the table, only two remained, and so far Jeremy had downed three of the shots to the one Dillon had to finish when he lost the first game. Since then, Jeremy had been on a steady path of losing each game, and it didn’t look like it was going to play out any other way. He took a deep breath and assured himself he was still good between the shots and beer as long as he didn’t drink too much more.
“I told you, it’d be good to get out,” Dillon said as he offered the space at the head of the table to Jeremy and stepped away.
“Yeah, it’s nice to catch up,” Jeremy said as he leaned over the table, leveled his cue stick, and took his aim at breaking the triangle formation of pool balls up.
Over the last hour, they had joked about pranks that had been played on each other, as well as their funniest or most awkward arrests. The conversation had been serious too though, with Jeremy catching Dillon up with the information he had uncovered regarding Andrea Wynn going missing and his visit to the goth nightclub, Eternity. Jeremy had mentioned everything that he could think of. Hannah, the waitress who remembered Andrea and the drawing she had left her. The purple-haired bartender, Shyanne, who seemed to want to help but seemed more interested in Jeremy. The strange feeling he had gotten from the man he had bumped into. Andrea had definitely been at the bar.
Jeremy drove the cue stick forward, sending the cue ball crashing into the triangle of fifteen striped and solid colored balls. The balls scattered and much to his displeasure, Jeremy watched as none of them dropped into one of the pool table pockets. He sighed and stepped away from the table.
Dillon’s eyes scanned the table, and he looked back up at Jeremy. “You suck at this.”
“That’s why I was a cop,” Jeremy said with a shrug as he walked over to pick up his beer bottle again.
“That… you were pretty good at.” Dillon said with a nod. He stepped around to the side of the table, lining himself up with the cue ball and a couple easy shots. Dillon took his time taking each of the shots and stopped after missing on his fourth.
Jeremy finished his beer and waved the empty beer bottle at Eddie, the owner of the bar, who nodded back and reached behind him at the counter to grab another two bottles of beer and put them on the bar. Jeremy watched as Dillon walked over to the bar to pick up the beers. As Dillon returned, Jeremy prepared to take another shot on the pool table and was interrupted by his cell phone ringing in his pocket. Jeremy stepped back and set his cue stick in the wall as he fished to get his cell phone out of his pocket.
The number calling wasn’t one Jeremy recognized, but he could tell by the area code that it was a local number. He hesitated for a moment, his phone buzzing and ringing in his hand, before he answered and lifted the phone up to his ear and turned away from the jukebox speakers.
“Hello?” Jeremy asked. He looked up at Dillon and waved for him to continue playing pool without him.
There was a contented sigh on the other line, and then the soft voice of a woman broke the silence. “Is this Jeremy?”
“Yeah, this is Jeremy. Who’s this?” he replied. He could barely make out the woman’s response, but somehow – he knew who it was.
“It’s Shy. We met at Eternity last weekend.” the light and pleasant voice responded.
“Hey, Shyanne. Err Shy. I remember you.” Jeremy replied. He looked back at Dillon who was silently clapping at him and taunting him from across the pool table.
Shy sighed again, and Jeremy could almost hear the smile forming on her lips as she spoke. “I want to talk to you. Are you free tonight?”
Jeremy was quiet for a few seconds. He didn’t want to give her the wrong impression, but drinks out at a bar was about as much of a social life as he had at this point. She had been helpful at Eternity though, and Jeremy couldn’t help but wonder if she had some new piece of the puzzle he was trying to solve. “Yeah, I’m out at a bar with a buddy right now,” he finally replied.
Dillon instantly began shaking his head. It was clear to Jeremy, Dillon still didn’t want people knowing about him meeting with Jeremy, even if it was mostly to have drinks and catch up with each other. Jeremy not so subtly raised his middle finger in response to Dillon and turned away from him.
“Great, you wouldn’t mind if I swung by to talk to you, would you?” Shy asked.
“Not at all,” Jeremy replied and then gave her directions and a description to Eddie’s Bar.
“I’ll be there soon,” Shy said and hung up.
Jeremy looked down at his phone and shrugged as he tossed his phone back down on the table next to him.
“Looks like you’ve got yourself a date,” Dillon teased as went back to slowly clearing the pool table.
“It’s not like that, and you know it,” Jeremy said in his own defense.
“Man, you told me this lady basically threw herself at you, and now she wants to come see you in the middle of the night?” Dillon did his best not to laugh.
“Yeah, well – nothing’s happening,” Jeremy replied. He couldn’t think of anything else to say, he just knew nothing would happen. “It sounded like maybe she had something to talk about.”
“Well, that would be great. If she does, let me know. I intend to finish this game up, and then I’m out.” Dillon added.
Dillon and Jeremy each took one of the last two shots and continued to play pool. They talked about the case for the next ten minutes, until Dillon decided he should get ready to leave. By the end of the game, they both came to a consensus that the only thing they really knew was that something strange was going on within the police department.
Dillon slid his jacket back on as he prepared to leave. “Just remember, this is between you and me. Do me a favor and keep it that way.” Dillon warned.
Jeremy looked over Dillon’s shoulder as he saw the light from the street outside flood into the bar as the door to Eddie’s Bar swing open. Jeremy nodded to Dillon, signaling that the woman entering was the woman he was expecting. Jeremy waved to Shy from the back of the bar, and Dillon stepped back to the other side of the pool table.
“I know you’re not in the best place right now man, but damn…” Dillon’s voice trailed off as he turned to watch Shy enter. “No man gets that lucky twice.”
Jeremy watched as Shy walked in and held back a retaliation to Dillon’s comment. Now, it was Shy who stood out. Her purple hair didn’t capture as much attention in comparison to the black and purple leather bustier and black leather pants that clung to her skin. Even with the short black jacket she had on, she couldn’t have been warm, and she was anything but subtle. Eddie and the patrons at the bar were all looking her way as she moved to the back of the bar and joined Jeremy. After a few seconds, heads turned away, and the patrons went back to laughing and talking at the bar with Eddie.
Dillon nodded and excused himself without an introduction and Jeremy watched him stop by the bar and pay Eddie money for their tab.
“Son of a bitch,” Jeremy whispered as he remembered he was supposed to be buying drinks tonight. It wasn’t a horrible idea to let Dillon pay. The money from his savings and Nicolette’s life insurance wouldn’t last forever. Eventually, he’d either have to finish what he’d started before Sarah had knocked on his door begging for help or he’d have to find a paying job.
“Hey,” Shy said as she nudged Jeremy slightly and stepped in front of him. She moved closer to him and before he could react she wrapped both arms around him and pressed herself against him. After stepping back from the embrace, she inhaled slowly. “Mmm, that smell. What are you wearing?”
“Hey … uh Shy. I’m not sure, cologne I got as a gift.” Jeremy said looking her in her light blue eyes. Her leather jacket did little to cover up the bustier that she seemed so close to popping out of. Jeremy offered her a seat at the rearmost booth with a wave of his hand. “I’m a few drinks in, but did you want a drink?”
“I’m good, I’ve already had a few. What are you drinking?” Shy asked as she slid into the booth’s bench seat.
“Beer and whiskey, so far,” Jeremy replied. “I was catching up with an old friend.”
Shy made a look of disgust as she looked at Jeremy’s beer bottle and sniffed the shot glasses. – obviously disappointed in Jeremy’s drink choices. “As a bartender, I must recommend you not drink shitty well drinks,” she said with a thin-lipped smirk.
“Okay, so you’re here to abuse and mock me over my poor life choices. And here I thought you were here because you might have new info about my missing friend.” Jeremy added as he took another drink from his beer. He felt pretty good, but as the buzzing feeling behind his eyes grew heavier, he knew he’d have to slow down on drinking, or he would regret it in the morning. Between four shots of whiskey and four beers, he guessed he probably wouldn’t feel well in the morning either way.
“I do want to talk to you about that, but if you’d like me to abuse you – I can always get some handcuffs.” Shy said as she leaned forward and winked.
Her eyes were focused on him, and as Jeremy looked in her eyes, he was almost sure her pupils had gotten larger when she’d made the joke. Jeremy paused, uncertain of how to respond. After a few seconds, he managed, “So, did you have anything related to Andrea?”
The smile faded from Shy’s lips quickly and turned into a look of disappointment. “I talked to Hannah, the waitress you met, again,” she began. “Hannah remembers Andrea clearly, but can’t seem to remember the guy she was with. She only remembers he was dreamy to her and had an English accent that she loved.”
“So nothing new then, really,” Jeremy sighed and took another drink from his beer. He glanced at the bottle for a moment, checking to see how much he had left.
“Well, I did pass your info to the owner of the club, so you may hear from her, but I wouldn’t count on it,” Shy replied. She paused, seemingly contemplating something before she continued. “Look, I didn’t really have anything new to give you, and I knew that before I called. I just… I wanted to see you.”
Jeremy felt the loneliness in himself grow overwhelming as he leaned back in the booth. He took a deep breath before replying. “Shy, there’s a lot you don’t know about me. I’m sorry, but right now I’m not in a position to be with anyone in any kind of way. Nothing can happen between us.”
Shy leaned back as well, seemingly offended. She brushed a strand of her purple hair back away from her face as she leaned toward Jeremy. Her hands reached out for his as she explained. “That’s fine. That’s not what this is about. I can feel it inside you, Jeremy.”
Jeremy kept his hands pulled in to his side of the table as he looked at her. “What is it then? What do you feel?” he asked.
“Loss,” Shy said matter of factly. Her face softened as she looked down at her hands and then back up to meet Jeremy’s gaze. “Give me your hands, please.”
Reluctantly, Jeremy slid his hands across the table and put them on top of her cold hands. He half-expected her to start reading his palms or start muttering some new-age bullshit but was surprised when she just folded her hands together over his.
“I know that look. The deep-seated pain that comes with terrible loss. That heavy feeling of hurt and frustration in your chest, where you’re not sure if you want to scream and break shit or cry yourself to sleep. Everything else is dulled. The only thing that seems stronger is what is missing from your life.”
Jeremy was speechless. She knew. He felt miserable, and despite everything he’d tried, he didn’t think he’d ever get over the loss of losing Nicolette.
“I just wanted you to know, no matter what you’re going through, I will be there for you. I want to be if you’ll let me.” Shy continued. “You won’t hurt forever.”
“Why? Why would you do that for someone you barely know?” Jeremy asked as he pulled his hands back and finished off his beer.
“Because someone did the same thing for me and it literally changed my life,” Shy paused before continuing. “I want to help you change, and I think it’ll start with drinking less of that shit.” Shy brushed the shot glasses and beer bottles off to the side of the table as she stood up and swept her hair back.
“Oh, so it’s an intervention now, too?” Jeremy asked as he stood up, uncertain where she was going.
Shy laughed and nodded her head in the direction of the bar. “Not at all, it’s time to just drink better stuff. Come on, I’ll make you a drink.”
“I doubt Eddie’s going to let you just hop behind the bar and do whatever you want,” Jeremy began to point out.
“He’ll give me whatever I want,” Shy replied with no further explanation.
Jeremy followed Shy to the bar and watched in surprise as Eddie, without hesitation, let Shy behind the bar to make a drink. He seemed excited to let her have her way, and the other people seated at the bar had the same attitude.
Shy stood behind the bar, hands behind her back, as she paced the back area of the bar – studying the inventory of Eddie’s Bar. “Eddie,” she began. “I’ve gotta say, you’ve got stuff back here, that I’m not sure you’ve ever used. You’ve got a bottle of champagne back here at least, even if it’s probably not from last New Year’s, but no champagne flutes? Really?” She smiled and shrugged at Eddie, who shrugged in response.
Jeremy sat down on the opposite side of the bar, watching the antics with curiosity.
After a full minute of deftly spinning bottles of vodka and blue curaçao, while explaining what was going into the drink, Shy finally began pouring into two glasses with sugared rims. There were moments where Shy was spinning bottles or moving her hands so fast, Jeremy hadn’t been able to keep up. First, the vodka, then the champagne, which added an effervescent effect, and finally a bit of blue curaçao to add color. She set the bottles back where they belonged and garnished both glasses with an orange slice and walked back around to the front of the bar with both drinks in hand.
“Thanks, Eddie. The show’s over now, back to minding your own business,” Shy said flatly to the people at the bar.
“That was kind of rude,” Jeremy interrupted as Shy walked back over to their booth.
“They’ll get over it. I’m not here for them, I’m here for you,” Shy said as she set both glasses down on the table and she slid back into the booth.
Jeremy moved back into his seat as well and looked at the glass on his side of the table. He could see the bubbles fizzing up from the bottom of the glass from the sparkling wine, and the entire drink had a soft blue tint to it. He spun the glass around. “Nice fruity drink, what is it called?”
“It’s the midnight kiss.”
Jeremy stifled a laugh. “Seriously?”
“Try it and tell me what you think. It’s supposed to be in a different glass, but I make this drink all the time at Eternity.”
Jeremy shrugged and lifted the glass in front of him to his lips. He took a drink from it and was impressed by the strength of the drink, although he was certain Shy had gone heavier on the vodka. There was a bittersweet citrus flavor, more so than Jeremy would have expected from the blue curaçao. Jeremy guessed that the vodka was citrus flavored, even though he hadn’t noticed. It was good, and there was no denying it.
“It’s good,” Jeremy began.
Shy began to smile.
“It’s too sweet for me though,” Jeremy added. “I don’t think I could drink much of it.”
“Well, I guess I can’t be too upset if you like it,” Shy shrugged and finally took a drink from her glass.
“I’m going to go pay for the drinks and apologize for being rude,” Shy said as she excused herself from the booth.
Jeremy nodded as he nursed the drink, wishing it wasn’t so sweet, or fizzy, or blue. He never got the obsession with mixed drinks and at this point, would exchange it for a glass of scotch if it hadn’t been given to him. He knew he wouldn’t be able to finish it though. He watched as Shy leaned against the bar, talking to Eddie and that was when he felt it hit him.
Something was wrong. Suddenly, Jeremy felt drowsy and dizzy. He tried to stand and found his movements slowing down – or maybe it was his perception of his movements. Either way, he didn’t feel as stable and coordinated as he did just a few minutes ago. As he leaned against the back of the booth and straightened his legs and back, he saw blurred movement at his periphery. Shy was back and standing next to him.
“Are you okay?” she asked.
“No, I don’t feel well. I need to get home,” Jeremy replied. Everything seemed to be catching up to him all at once.
“Jesus, maybe I made it too strong, I’m so sorry. Let me help,” Shy replied as she tried to get Jeremy’s arm around her.
“It’s okay,” Jeremy said as he began moving to the door. “I can make it home.”
Pushing through the door to leave Eddie’s, Jeremy wasn’t thinking about anything else except getting home. Shy was helping him. She seemed so concerned.
The two made their way across the empty street to Jeremy’s apartment and into the elevator. Jeremy laughed as he tapped the button for his floor. Shy was next to him, supporting him.
“It’s good for you, you don’t live so far,” Shy said.
Her voice sounded far off to Jeremy, but when he turned to face her, she was right next to him helping him down the hallway. When did they leave the elevator? Or did they take the stairs?
At the door to his apartment, he fumbled for the key and pushed the door open. There was barely any light coming in from the closed blinds, and no lights were on in the apartment. “Sorry, I’ve got boxes,” Jeremy said. He couldn’t tell if his words were slurring or not.
He clicked on the light to the living room and began stumbling over to the couch. He turned back to the door and saw the silhouette of Shy in the doorway. “You can come in, just shut the door,” he slurred. He turned back to the couch and was about to fall back into the couch when he looked back up for Shy.
The door was closed, and she was directly in front of him, pushing him carefully down onto the couch. How did she get into the living room so fast?
As Shy straddled him, Jeremy could feel her lips as she pushed his head back and began kissing his neck. Jeremy felt himself slipping and knew he was going to pass out. Was this real? Did he drink too much? He struggled to raise his voice in opposition, but found himself unable to speak. As he felt his eyes rolling back and his eyes growing heavy, he felt Shy’s lips next to his ear whispering to him.
“I want you,” Shy’s voice echoed in the darkness that enveloped him.
Photo by madeleine ragsdale on Unsplash