~ a fairy tale ~
"Why are you wearing a Santa Hat?"
"Because I'm a ho ho ho."
I was drunk. Stupid drunk. I believe the term is wasted.
I'd gone to the bar that night in search of something. I didn't know what. I had a few drinks, a few beers, and no food. And then this new guy, some twenty-eight year old with perfect teeth and slicked back hair asked me that question. And I answered too loudly.
Everyone looked over at me. My friends. Faces I didn't recognize. Everyone looked at me with the same expression plastered across their faces. It was enough to sober me up.
I grabbed my bag and left, stumbling down the stairs and out the door.
The air was bitter cold, but thankfully there was only the slightest of winds. I cut through the residential neighborhood towards where I parked my car. At least it's where I thought I parked my car. Now, six drinks later, my keyless entry fob was not helping.
"Stupid. Stupid. They're all stupid."
Even though I was wasted, I could still tell I was slurring my words.
My skirt was short. My boots had heels. I wore fishnets, which I guess was better than nothing. At least my coat was somewhat warm, but it just barely kept me from shivering. As I looked down the lines of cars on either side of the road, I still couldn't find my hybrid.
In the midst of my search, the only noises I heard were the click of my footfalls and the rattle of my keys. I'd finally found a parking spot many blocks away from Happy Hour, in a quiet neighborhood with front lawns and no driveways. Most everyone who came to Happy Hour used public transportation. I had the unlucky distinction of not living in the city.
And then I heard it, the honk of my horn. I pressed the button on my fob again and ran towards the noise. A third time and I could make out the lights flashing from around the block.
I dashed around the corner and spotted an odd sight: Manny sitting on the hood of my car, a stern look on his face.
"Give me your keys."
Manny, the bartender who served us every Happy Hour, who knew our names and our favorite drinks according to our moods.
"I can drive."
"Yes, you can. In the morning."
Manny was big. He'd played football in high school and college, but was sidelined his Sophomore year with a knee injury. No one messed with Manny.
"Fridays you work from home. You're staying with me tonight. Give me your keys."
Manny, who always treated us great. Manny, who listened to and remembered everyones stories. Manny, who walked the girls to their cars at night when they needed or wanted it. Manny, our fierce teddy bear and friend.
"What about the..."
"Travis is covering the rest of the shift. Come on, I live a few blocks from here."
Even sitting on my car, he was taller than me and easily twice my size. I couldn't think of a way to get out of this, and I was feeling a bit woozy anyway, so I gave in.
I tossed him my keys and followed as he started walking.
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