His drink had warmed up. A putrid shot glass of nothing drinkable it was; if ever allowed to warm. Irritably, C requested another drink to replace this foul one. But, no, not on the rocks, thank you. Ice diluted the mixture. It always melted and watered down his drink.
His drink being, of course, the alcohol-less alocohol from the barmaid's magic tap. A bit like zero-calorie Coke. It was not us to question its nature, but to accept that such things simply existed.
Like reduced fat donuts. Or sugar-free icing.
Suddenly, the door opened behind him, pulling C from his thoughts. The rustic doors squeaked open like the ghosts of mice. A cold breeze touched C's back with spectral fingers, as caressing as the sigh of a dead man.
A man with heavy footsteps and the punctuating thunk of cane on wooden floor approached, sat, ordered. In his wake were left droplets of precipitation upon the floor, and his vest clung to his form, damp with residual downpour.
It appeared that the clatter of the rain outside was letting up, but still hung persistent in the humid, chilly air of this autumn evening.
His drink of choice was a whiskey of a peculiar brand. C knew no other drinks but his own, which he sipped methodically whilst drinking in the presence of such a newcomer. It seemed clear, to him at least, that this stranger didn't belong here.
Lighting the last reminents within his pipe, he made idle chatter with the barmaid, who was as always less than interested in hearing anything more than anyone's order. When the stranger discovered this avenue fruitless, he instead turned to C, who had caught his eye with his frank and blatant staring.
The stranger put on a polite face, wielding a smile and an extended hand. C had a sudden and inexplicable inclination to slap the man across the face. He could not pinpoint why that urge arose within him. Instead of acting upon it, he fulfilled the duties demanded of him of polite society: he took the offered hand and shook it. But he couldn't bring himself to wear even a smile for the occasion.
The stranger asked C's name. He gave it freely.
"As in the ocean?"
Do I look like a bloody ocean? C thought, but did not say. "No. Like the letter. C."
He drank. He needed the taste of his bitter alcohol-free alcohol to drown out the even worse taste left in his throat by speaking with this man.
"I see," replied the man, automatically. It was clear that he was already losing interest in their conversation. Which was good. C's mind was, and remained, miles away.
"No. I am," C corrected him. Why was everyone always getting that wrong? Was his name so special that everyone wanted to claim it from him?
Pulling the attention of the stranger back his way, he commented stupidly: "What?"
"You know, you're kind of..." the stranger paused, as if seeking the correct words.
C assisted him. "I know fully what I am. I am aware of it, and most anyone that meets me picks up on it sooner or later. But what it is, exactly, that I am can not be discussed, lest this post be denied because of the Mature word filter."
C pointed a lazy finger upward, refreshing his throat with another swallow from his shot glass.
"The man upstairs don't like us using the dirty language. And he pulls all the strings."
For once, the stranger fell silent, not sure of a thing to say. He sipped his drink, a drink that sounded foreign and therefore not appetizing to C.
The man upstairs... C pondered his own words a moment, sipping absent-mindedly from his shot glass, even after he had drained it. Suddenly, a thought occured to him.
"How'd you know about this place?"
The stranger beside him stirred, roused from his thoughts once again, before plunging back into his brain to pull out the answer.
"Dunno. Just wandering down the street, found this place, came in. Nothing special."
"I've been sitting in this spot for 63 chapters, and you only just now came in after I had held a discussion with..." C shot a foul look at the barmaid, who looked with steel right back at him.
"I don't understand. What are you talking about?" asked the stranger, curiously.
"That's what I get for opening my big-mouth," cracked C angrily. "I just say one thing, one little thing... Sitting here this whole time, minding my own, nobody to bother me at all. But I start one little conversation with the bartender there, and all of a sudden I'm noticed. Not only am I noticed, but I'm written about. And now the world comes in to take a peek at me, to see what kind of git-up I got going on here! I might as well have turned this place into a museum, or theme-park for all the traffic that's gonna start coming in that door!"
"I still don't..."
"He wrote about me!" C spat out, testily. "That little hog-turd wrote something about me, and now the whole world knows. He's probably at it again right now, that ungrateful little bast-"
A loud pounding sounded from upstairs, as if a giant had stomped on the floor from above. It's piercing noise filled the whole room, causing everyone to start and look around anxiously. C, his cheeks reddening slightly, quickly requested a re-fill and drink heavily.
"What was that?" asked the stranger, looking about with widened eyes and a nervous expression.
"That's what I was telling you about. The man upstairs." C pointed again. "Nick. He don't like them kinda words. He stops me before I can even try to use one. And my writer, he's a real foul-mouth son-of-a-gun. He'd fill this whole section with nasty words if he could."
"I still don't see what's going on-"
"Hey, you left your bar, remember?" C bellowed. "You left it and came here. And now that you are here, there's a few new rules you'll have to wrap your brain around. If I were you, I'd keep my head down and try not to say anything, lest we arouse more attention or, even worse, get written about again. If nobody else knows we're here, then maybe we'll continue to be the only ones here! And I don't want nobody in here who'll do a sloppy job and mess everything up! My writer might be an idiot, but at least he makes me look good. Now, if you know what's good for you, you'll just sit there, drink your fill, and keep quiet!"
Outside, a crack of thunder resonated in the distance. Either the showers were passing them by, lettening up for the night, or were coming back around for an even worse second round.