Friday, September 08, 2006

Drinking Buddies

Originally this scene was written in response to a 500 word challenge that had to begin with the prompt "All I wanted was a drink."

Drinking Buddies
by C. Rooney

“All I wanted was a drink.” He lifted the small lacquer cup. “You don’t have to be so damn suspicious.”

“You never want just a drink,” the other sighed, reaching for the ceramic flask. “You want several drinks and someone to pour them.”

“How astute of you, dear Kannon.”

His eyes, the rich color of liquid honey, took on a more golden hue. Annoyance? Fear of the salarymen around them overhearing? It was never easy to tell. The Sword of Kannon kept to himself—at least until after he’d gotten a flask or so of good sake in him.

“Drink clouds the mind.” Ken eyed his cup. “Polluting one’s body with it is against the teachings of the Buddha.”

“You can cut the Buddhist crap,” Shiro downed the contents. “It’s just us. No one else to impress.”

Ken set down his cup, lacquer tocking against the isakaya table. Tobacco smoke drifted lazily above their heads, flavoring the air with nicotine. It was quiet—late into the night, when all the good boys and girls of Kyoto had gone home.

“Why are we drinking?” He poured Shiro another drink.

“We’re celebrating.” Shiro returned the favor. “Isn’t that the only true reason to drink?”

“It is my experience that sorrow leads to sake more frequently than joy.”

Shiro was silent, letting the sake roll over his tongue and run down his throat. It was liquid foxfire, a burning and untrustworthy guide. Many a man who found his path at the bottom of a flask was as confused as those who wandered off into the fields after the glowing orbs of light.

Good thing neither of them was human.

“Another.” He held up his cup.

Ken’s fair hand over the top of the flask, his skin the color most women paid through the nose trying to achieve with bleaching creams and lotions.

“Something’s happened.” Honey eyes searched Shiro’s face. “What are you trying to drown in rice wine?”

“Nothing. I told you, we’re celebrating.”

“Celebrating what? The death of your liver?”

“I’m leaving Japan.” Shiro shrugged. “Orders to set out tomorrow.”

“Leaving Japan?” He blinked. “Where will you go?”

“To follow the box.”

Silence.

With philosophical approaches as different as theirs, a multitude of topics had to be labeled ‘agree to disagree,’ but none killed a conversation faster than the mention of those two words. The item that had caused their introduction and remained their only common interest.

“You’re killing the mood.” Shiro yawned. “Maybe that cute waitress will pour for me, if you want to go home and sulk.”

“Why did you ask this one to accompany you?” Ken asked. “Shouldn’t you wish to spend your last night with your family?”

“Ha, they’re the reason I can’t wait to leave.”

“Then tomorrow brings your freedom.”

“That’s why we’re celebrating tonight.” Shiro leaned forward, elbow on the table, and flashed Ken a teasing grin. “Will you miss me?”

“I won’t miss the hangovers.” Ken leaned forward and refilled Shiro’s cup. “A toast to freedom.”

Kampai.”

1 comment:

Christina Rundle said...

You have such a beautiful hand at imagery.

"His eyes, the rich color of liquid honey, took on a more golden hue. Annoyance? Fear of the salarymen around them overhearing? It was never easy to tell."

I think I held my breath at this part, wondering how close of friends were they and if they could trust each other. You have this build up where one has to wonder what is this secret that they shared, that would make them seem friendly, but maybe not completely friends.

I also like how you keep adding details to the situation. It's easy to fall into your style of writing. It's very pretty and reads smoothly.

Great character development by the way. Your two characters are very strong and easy to picture.