Chuckjd's Words

a convenient dumping ground for my writing

1990/12/31

31 December, 1990 – 11:22 pm – The Red Lion Pub

“A toast! To our Manics!”

Pints and glasses of Babycham were raised all around the back tables of the pub. The boys were surrounded by their friends for a New Year’s plus going away party. It was just before midnight, and the countdown would be underway soon. The pub was alive with an overabundance of patrons. Everyone had smiles on their faces, even if they had tears in their eyes. They were going to be missed. Who knew?

After the cheering died down, they dispersed, going back to be the lives of the party. They chatted up everyone that came up to them, always the charismatic bastards.

In the back hall by the toilets where it was only a little quieter, Nicky and Rachel stood. They had snuck away soon after the toast. They were gesturing fiercely, yet talking quietly. Richey peeked around the corner, eyeing the scene. He couldn’t hear them and he couldn’t read lips, so he was at a loss. But any trouble in paradise was something new because Nicky always made it sound like they were the perfect couple with no problems. He almost felt bad for spying, but since he didn’t actually know what was going on, he didn’t.

“You have things you need to do,” said Rachel, “and they don’t include me.”

Nicky sighed and wrapped his large hands around her sides. “But I love you. You know that.”

Rachel shook her head. “I love you too, but we’re going in different directions. We barely see each other, and that’s just going to get worse when you go away.” She studied her hands wrapped in the hem of Nicky’s shirt, then looked back up into his face. “No matter how cliché it sounds, we’ll find each other again if we should.”

Nicky looked down at her small hands wrapped in his shirt. She untangled her hands and grabbed his chin, kissing him on the lips. She pulled away after only a second, and smiled mournfully. “I think I’m going to leave. I’ll miss you.”

Nicky hugged her and then watched her go. Richey ducked through the crowd so Rachel wouldn’t notice him. When he was sure she was gone and not coming back, he peered around the corner again to see Nicky with his back against the wall, head back and eyes closed. He softly hit the back of his head against the wall a couple times and clenched his fists.

This was his chance. He took a deep breath and strolled down the hall towards the men’s room.

“What ‘re you doin’ back here, boy-o?” Richey said cheerfully, as if he hadn’t just seen the scene that may have just crushed Nicky.

Nicky sighed again. “She left.”

“Who left?” asked Richey, acting dumb.

“Rachel.”

“But the countdown is so soon. She can’t be tired yet.”

“No,” said Nicky seriously, “she left me. For good. Or, according to her, until we’re meant to be together again, whatever that means.”

Richey finally understood Nicky’s reaction. He felt sincerely horrible for Nicky because he knew how much he cared for Rachel, but there was a part of his brain, tucked in the far back, that was jumping for joy. She’s finally gone, it screamed. Richey hated that voice and ignored it.

“Shit, I’m sorry to hear that,” Richey said, rubbing Nicky’s arm consolingly. “You always said how well you guys were doing.”

“I don’t know what happened,” Nicky said, his voice close to cracking. “We’ve been having some bad times, but I never expected this.” He hung his head.

Richey patted Nicky’s shoulder and then threaded his arm with Nicky’s. “I know what you need.”

“What?” Nicky said weakly.

“Another Babycham.” Richey smiled goofily, trying to make Nicky smile too. It didn’t work, but he didn’t let that stop him from being the best friend he could be. “You’ll get through this. We’ll figure it out together.”

Nicky gave Richey a twitch of a smile. Progress.

They walked back out to the bar just in time for the official countdown to begin. With drinks in hand, they joined the count in the final ten. They caught the glances of James and Sean, all exchanging nods of good tidings.

“Well, you are supposed to spend New Years with the people you love,” Nicky said, grinning sadly, bumping his hip against Richey’s. Richey smiled back, his face suddenly warm.

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