Seth had work that night, and, as always, the bar wasn't crowded at all. Only a few people came in and sat to take a drink, but that was alright. Seth liked it that way – he was never too fond of crowds. Plus, it's not like the owner of the bar expected the place to be a hip, happening place. It had an old-fashion kind of look and it was just a place where you could escape to in the city and run away from all the hustle and bustle and take a nice drink to get your mind off things for a while. It was like a mini-vacation in the city. You didn't have to deal with the crowds, or a nagging boss, or anything. It was really a nice place, and Seth learned to respect that over the last couple of days.
Dim, red lights hung from the ceiling, lightly illuminating the just about completely silent bar as Seth cleaned glasses in the sink and put away coasters. He worked at the counter all the way at the back of the bar. It was sort of styled like the ones in Manhattan, but not as "hip." Instead of a dance floor there was a black wooden floor and instead of dancing bodies moving all about, there were stationary wooden tables and chairs for people to sit and drink, if not at the counter. The place was a modest place, and Seth was proud to work there. It wasn't a bi place, and it wasn't as exciting as the flashy places in the city, but that was all okay. Seth didn't like noise anyway.
Seth took a break from cleaning glasses. His hands were beginning to get tired of making the same motions over and over again and put a washing cloth under the water in the sink. He felt its cool wetness travel throughout the fabric and against his clammy hands. He wrung the cloth, listening to the noise of dripping water as excess fell into the sink, and began washing black granite countertop. Seth was a good worker; he made sure of that. He washed everything until it was squeaky clean and tried his best to memorize formulas for certain drinks.
The seats at the counter were short, circular, and red. Seth liked those kind of chairs. The ones that spun you around and took you for a ride. Those were the fun, exciting ones. As a kid, he always liked to spin around and get himself dizzy on purpose just so he could feel so alive doing it, just so he could have fun and take a break from all the stupidity he had to deal with sometimes. It was relaxing, and Seth had a nice time reminiscing about it as he washed the rest of the countertop until it was squeaky clean. While he worked, there was nothing but complete and utter silence. I'm so happy I found this job, Seth thought to himself with a smile on his pale face as he looked at his own reflection on the countertop. He looked happier than he had ever been.
It was really nice to work in a place like this. People came here to have a modest drink and possibly even a smoke. There wasn't much conversation all the time, and no one expected Seth to be able to make some fancy cosmos and do a couple of dance moves while mixing drinks. No one expected there to be blasting music and flashing, scattering lights from ceiling. The stable, unmoving red lights were enough for this bar. It was Seth's kind of place. He got attached to it really quickly. He felt like he never wanted to leave. He even earned a reasonable amount of money and it gave Seth a sense of independence for the first time in a long time. There was only one problem he could think of as he rewashed the cloth and wrung out the water. And that problem had a name.
"Pierce," he called the name of his friend as he looked at the actor, head covered in his arms, lying down on the countertop. He hadn't even moved for Seth to clean that part of it. "What's wrong?" Seth finally asked, bringing up enough courage to do so. That was right. Pierce was there, again, for another night. He would always come in, ask for a couple of drinks, bow his head down against the counter like a student sleeping in class at school, and not talk at all until it got so late, he had to go home. Seth could tell that he wasn't being his normal self lately. Ever since a couple of days ago when he yelled at Seth, which he had never done before, he had seemed like he wasn't as happy, content, and assured as always.
As Pierce moved a bit, seeming as though he had fallen asleep and just woken up, Seth turned on the sink again and began washing glasses. He washed until they were squeaky clean and glimmered in the light. But right now, he wasn't paying attention to how good of a job he was doing on washing it. Right now, he wanted to talk to Pierce. He wanted the guy to say something, anything that would feel Pierce-y. Anything that would make both of them believe that everything was alright. Pierce finally got himself to sit up a bit more straight, but his shoulders seemed to be slouching. He looked up with flustered, tired green eyes that had lost the hopeful glimmer they had always had captured in the center, safe and secure. He had the look of death all over his face. His hair was messy and looked like he had slept in bed for three days straight. Seth didn't know how he got that way. Then, as though Pierce hadn't heard Seth at all, Pierce said, "Could I get another beer…?" His voice was heavy and dulled, boring. It wasn't much like Pierce at all.
Seth stopped washing the glass he was working on and gave Pierce an unsure look. Seth didn't know what to say. He wasn't too used to confronting others, but he was willing to do so if it meant trying to get Pierce to feel better. "Actually, no, you can't," Seth began, sighing, "I think you've had enough, Pierce." He tried to say his words in the friendliest way possible. It was obvious Pierce wasn't feeling well at all today, and if it were just today, maybe Seth would let it go, but it wasn't. It had been the past couple of days that Pierce had been in here doing the same thing over and over again and Seth couldn't help to watch him do it anymore.
Pierce sighed as his tired, green eyes watched Seth's hands work nervously, tensely at the glass that, strangely, still had the scent of bourbon on it. Seth knew Pierce could smell it, and it looked like that made the actor even more miserable. Pierce sighed once more and ran his fingers through his hair, sort of fixing it, but not really. "…Maybe you're right," Pierce told Seth. He looked at the other man work moderately with the cups and everything. Something twinkled in Pierce's eyes, and he seemed completely mesmerized by the sight of Seth working and doing his best. For a while, neither of them heard any other sounds other than the voice of the running faucet water and the squeaking of fabric that dried the water from the glasses. It was the sound of work. Easy and low-level work, yes, but it was still work. And it hypnotized Pierce.
"Listen, Seth," Pierce finally said, awakening from his trance. He blinked for a good second, and Seth hoped that when he reopened his eyes, the brightness that he had always once seen, always wished that he himself had would return, but it didn't. Seth picked up his eyes from the sink and looked Pierce in the eye. It was hard to do so. He looked like a mess, and it seemed like he was having a really hard time placing his thoughts into words. Seth knew something big was coming. "About a couple of days ago," Pierce continued, "I yelled at you, I remember. I think. Right?" Pierce asked him, as though unsure. Seth wasn't quite sure what to tell him, but he didn't have to think it through, because Pierce just continued talking anyway. "I wanted to apologize," he finally said. Pierce said these next words with great difficulty, as if the words themselves stabbed him in the heart and kicked him when he was down. "I was just… hung over that day," he said, to put it lightly. "I'm really sorry."
Seth sighed. What was he doing? Why was he apologizing? The new bartender shut off the water and stopped washing everything for a moment. He looked Pierce in the eye and found the regret that lingered inside the green. Seth made a remorseful face. Putting away the last glass he had finished cleaning, he listened to the sound of the clink it made against the surface of the counter. "Pierce," Seth said. "Don't apologize." Pierce still gave him the same old look. Seth continued with a serious face, "I deserved to get yelled at," he admitted. He felt weird admitting the truth, something he really hadn't done before. Seth actually hadn't done many things before, and as he got out there and experienced life more, he really began finding himself do things that felt good but foreign at the same time. "I was doing so horrible," Seth said, "and all the things you said to me were true, too. In fact, you guys have been telling me these things in a much lighter way all this time, but I chose not to listen to it. So please, don't apologize." Pierce made an unsure face. "Once I realized everything you said was right, I got this job. If anything, you shouldn't be apologizing." The two of them exchanged solemn looks. "I should be the one thank you." Seth wanted to give him a light smile, but for some reason, it seemed inappropriate.
Pierce looked Seth in the eye, as if to make sure everything he had just said were true. Then, the actor sighed and cut away eye contact. He didn't seem like he could handle looking him in the eye for a while. There was the strangest moment of silence. Seth didn't clean, and no one said anything. People sitting in random areas at the bar smoked but didn't speak. Only the sounds of their glasses meeting the surface of the wooden tables once again were heard. Then, finally, with hesitation, Pierce told Seth, "I guess you're right." Pierce shrugged his shoulders a little bit. He looked really thoughtful, more thoughtful than ever and Seth wondered what was going on in that head of his. Pierce was a man who used to have a good head on his shoulders. Now, he was beginning to look more and more like how Seth used to be, and that scared the bartender as he tensely felt his thin arms. He suddenly felt cold.
"You know, Seth," Pierce started again. "I'm really glad you found this job." Seth listened to Pierce's words carefully. "It really shows you're already making progress in your life." Pierce seemed to tense up at his words.
Seth didn't know what exactly to say back. "Yeah, I guess," Seth shrugged. "Thanks," he then quickly said, realizing that his last statement wasn't as polite as he wanted it to be.
"It's the greatest feeling," Pierce told him. "Don't forget it."
Then, Seth stopped right there. Anything he was doing, he stopped it. Anything he was cleaning, or touching, or moving, he stopped. Seth looked Pierce straight in the eye, giving himself one last chance to find out without asking what was really wrong with this guy, who had been so kind, so content and happy in the past. What was different with him? Why was he being the way he was? When Seth couldn't find the answer, he had to muster up the courage to finally ask him. "Okay, what the hell, Pierce?" Seth sort of snapped.
Pierce looked surprised. It was the first sudden emotion Seth had sensed in Pierce for the whole week. "What?" the actor asked.
"What's up with you lately?" Seth questioned him. "You haven't been yourself at all, so don't say that you don't know, or that it's nothing," Seth continued. "Because if it's nothing, then it wouldn't make you act like this, but it is, so that means it has to be something." Seth gave Pierce a moment so that he had the chance to say something back, anything. But Pierce just sort of looked away and gave him nothing but solemn silence. Seth continued. "You know, you never used to drink," Seth told him. "And now you're beginning to more than ever. I mean come on," Seth gestured at the three beers Pierce had in the last thirty minutes. The empty Heineken bottles remained on their coasters on the counter as a symbol of change. "Even when you are sober, you look depressed and bothered. What's wrong? Tell me." Seth tried to make a final statement to get Pierce to talk. He put his hands on the counter and took a stand. He really wanted to get Pierce to talk about this. He couldn't bear looking at him get caught up in misery. Not when he himself was beginning to do better.
Pierce didn't reply. He still didn't say anything at all to help the situation. And the funny thing is, he wasn't drunk. Seth knew he wasn't drunk. He could tell. That way, he knew that Pierce was just ignoring him, or didn't know what to say. Well, he was going to say something. He didn't care what it was, he just wanted something. One word that didn't make things feel awkward and abnormal. There's been too much of that lately anyway. But even still, Pierce just brought his head to face Seth and locked eyes with him. At least he was looking at him now. Seth sighed and told Pierce in a more kind, sympathetic voice. "…Whatever it is, you can tell me, Pierce," he tried to reassure him. "I want to try and help you. It's the least I can do after everything you've done for my sorry ass for the past years." Seth left him with a final silence. If he didn't reply this time, he would leave him alone.
For a while, Pierce really looked like he wasn't going to say anything again. He just looked at him, analyzing Seth's feelings and thoughts and words, like he had a hard time understanding them. Just as Seth took a final sigh and brought his hands down from the counter, Pierce said, "… I haven't been drinking that much…"
"Pierce," Seth said, turning back to him. "You've been in here for the past three nights, and not once did you walk out of this place sober," Seth pointed out a true fact. Pierce looked hurt at that statement, but it wasn't like Seth was making fun of him or anything. It was true! Seth had to call a cab for Pierce three times in a row, it was so bad, and Seth wasn't ready to watch him get into another cab today.
Pierce sighed. "I guess you're right. Again," Pierce shrugged a little and looked to the side. His green eyes were a little better, but they still weren't back to the Pierce condition Seth got to know and love. He just wanted Pierce to come back – the real one. The one that took care of him, and scowl at him for leaving the door open, scold him for being irresponsible, taking care of him when he felt sick. He wanted the one that was always on the top of the world, joyous, the one that knew where his life was headed. Now, all those things didn't seem to be there. Now, it was just a field of a body, barren and helpless. There was no life, no excitement. It was like a vampire had come and sucked out the soul of this always-do-good actor and left him to die in misery.
Then, before Seth knew it, Pierce began explaining everything. He told Seth everything he knew about his job, Lance, the job opportunity, even the whole Clarissa situation. He told him about the trick she pulled on New Year's in front of the camera for the news, and the talk he had with her during the Christmas party and the recent distance she seemed to be trying to make between them lately. He told him about Lance and what he did, the trick he pulled, and how now, Pierce didn't know where his life was going. Pierce talked about his life, about how he hadn't seen Ryan recently, either, even though they were best friends, and how he's been feeling like his acting's been worsening and worsening as the days go by.
As Pierce talked to him, Seth took in every single word that spewed from his mouth, comprehending his situation and keeping it in mind, placing it with great value into his memory. He didn't expect Pierce to have so many problems. It was almost like he was being tricked or something. How did someone who seemed to be living such a perfect life get down to this level? Nothing seemed to be going well right now for him and Seth wished he could do something about it, but he really couldn't. While Pierce continued to talk, Seth nodded his head, looking into his eyes throughout the whole thing. Something glimmered in Pierce's eyes as he talked. It wasn't hope. It could have been tears, but for the most part, it was the kind of glimmering you saw in one's eyes when they were craving something.
Seth knew exactly what it was. His green eyes glowed with a certain feeling, like they needed something, wanted something so badly that made it feel like all the problems were suppressed and all the worries, insecurities, and problems would just dissolve and go away. Seth knew that feeling, and the look in the eye all too well. It was only because Seth himself used to have it. He had to wake up every morning, craving, wanting, needing a miscellaneous substance to make him feel better, to get him excited and happy, and finding himself with the strangest look in his eye. It made him look like he was going crazy, and as Pierce continued talking about his problems, setting into mind that his problems were real and could not be denied, he had the shining too. He wanted something. It probably wasn't drugs, Seth hoped, but something else. Something called alcohol.
The bartender looked at the three empty beer bottles at the counter. They were a dark, eerie green. A dull green. A hopeless green. And they were cold and empty, unexciting. Drops of water had condensed on their surface and began to stroll down the bottle's curves. They were like tears, tears that couldn't be helped.