Crave(8)

By: Sadie Black


“I wanted to thank you for the dinner and the drinks. The food was delicious.” This seemed like a nice, safe conversation starter.

“Thank you. Sonia tells me you’ve been enjoying the company as well.”

Thanks, Sonia.

“I just figured you get a couple drinks in you and let the animal out.”

“I can hold my liquor better than that.”

“Ok.” Moneka’s skepticism was palpable. I could tell she was hamming it up to get under my skin, but I let it get to me anyway.

“Yeah. I was pounding Irish Car Bombs while you were in diapers.” I tipped my scotch up and finished the tumbler in one gulp, bringing it down on the bar with a click for emphasis.

Moneka raised her eyebrow at me. “You are only five years older than me. You must have been the hardest eight-year-old this side of the Charles.”

“You know what I mean. But you can keep stalling if that’s what works for you.”

“Stalling? Is that what I’m doing?”

“Yeah.”

My adrenaline was pumping now. The scotch seemed to have veered straight into my bloodstream. I didn't come here with the intention of getting blindingly drunk, but if I could see perfect Moneka Hart get even a little messy, it would be well worth it. Moneka Hart, with the rigid budget and detailed plans. Moneka Hart, with the pristine kitchen and strict expectations. I wanted to take her down a peg.

“What do you say, Moneka?” I goaded.

“Moneka? So we're on a first name basis now, huh? Ok. Cole. Fine.” She downed her Scotch as well.

I motioned for Sonia to pour us shots, vodka, and to keep them coming.

Pretty soon, we were huddled over a table, empty shot glasses neatly stacked on both sides. When we had started, I had images of us stacking the glasses precariously high. Sonia would swoop in and clean them up despite our protestations. We’d ask her how we’d know who was winning if she kept clearing the scoreboard. Kaila, her date, and my crew members would be watching, impressed that we both could hold out for so long. It played like a movie in my head.

In reality, we each had maybe four shots between us before it was clear that things were going to get too messy too fast. The trick was being the last one to admit it. One look at Moneka’s eyes told me that she would rather start tap-dancing on the table than take another shot. I didn’t blame her; I’d about met my vodka quota as well. But one of us would cave first, and I knew it wasn’t going to be me.

Sonia handed us another pair of shots. “Take it easy guys,” she offered, clearly concerned that her job tomorrow would be cleaning vomit off her nice new bar.

The stench of the vodka made my head reel. What was sometimes an inviting aroma had become noxious and the room tilted with every inhalation. I tried to give my fingers purpose, gripping the glass firmly, counteracting the effects of the booze on my brain. Looking across the table, I could see a similar struggle in Moneka’s eyes. A subtle grimace fluttered across her face for just a moment. It was soon replaced with a renewed resolve.

Somehow her competitive spirit made her even more attractive. Her hairline glistened with sweat. After shot three, she had pulled it tight into a ponytail, illustrating how ready she was to get down to brass tacks. Her skin was dewy, a droplet of sweat rested on her shoulder, ready to ride down the length of her arm. I wanted to reach out and touch that droplet. I wanted to rest my palm on her shoulder and feel her movement against my skin. But then our eyes made contact and, with a smirk, she downed her third shot. Well, there was only one way to respond to that. I tipped the glass back and slammed it down.

“Took you a while to tackle that one, Moneka. Getting tired already?” I knew I wanted this to end as much as she did, but I couldn’t help myself. I loved seeing her squirm.

“I’m not the only one who’s slow on the draw.”

“Well, you know, ladies first.”

“Oh, please.”

“Fine then.” I grabbed the next shot from Sonia’s hand right as she was approaching the table and immediately downed it. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see Moneka’s uncertainty. I might win this thing after all.

Unwilling to go down without a fight, or a stretcher apparently, Moneka took her fifth shot. There was a brief moment where it looked like it might come back up. I sympathized. Mine was threatening to make an encore as well. Six shots, a scotch and a half, and four glasses of wine were plenty for one night.