A million voices were blending together the same phrase. I'm so sorry. Minor adjustments to the statement came and went, but in the end, they all meant the same thing. The sympathy and apologies would not change what had happened though. Nothing could mend the broken heart and lost he felt, nothing.
The grandfather clock that sat in the dark corner of the funeral home struck five o'clock. Finally, it was time to depart from the sad faces, red swollen eyes, and the stuffy air of being stuck in a small cramped room. Unknotting his tie, he let the constriction of presentation loosen. With trembling fingers, he undid the top button of his white-collared shirt and disposed of his black suit jacket never to be worn again.
In fact, he wanted to burn all of his clothes. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Every thread of the designer material that clothed him was only a reminder of the awful memories from the day.
Getting into his car, he departed the scene and fast. He drove until he reached the limits of Mystic Falls and found an off beaten bar with a flashing liquor sign out front. Perfect! Putting the car in park, he ran his rough hand over his face and inhaled deeply through his nose followed with a long sigh. She would kill you if she knew you were doing this, his mind ran wild with reason, but the temptation was far more strong. The moment he stepped out of his car, he immediately was met with the stall stench of cheap beer and cigarettes. It scared him to know how comforting that was and proceeded through the front door.
Inside the bar, it was empty. Only one person occupied the establishment and they were standing behind the bar with a deadpan stare. With a towel in hand, a middle-aged woman wiped the counters down and shook her head. "Keep going straight. Take a left and you'll find the deep heart of town." She called out.
"Excuse me?" He asked caught off guard by her statement.
"You look lost." Her shoulders rose and fell. "Everyone who comes in here asks the same damn question. How do I get into town? I'm just saving my breath by giving you the answer before you even ask."
Lost? Was it his attire? His worn out expression? The place was deserted. Not a single soul in sight. How did this place even stay open if every person who came only left looking for directions.
"I'm not lost." He assured her and took a seat at the bar. "I'm sure as hell not looking for directions. The only thing I came looking for was a drink."
"No offense, boy, but your kind don't come here. I suggest you keep on moving." The woman shook her head and threw the towel down. "I'm planning on closing up anyways."
Was he seriously being turned down? He was a paying customer! For a place that was on the edge of closing, you would think she would be happy to accept anyone willing to pay with open arms? Not this place. Not this lady. Or maybe it was a sign for him to turn on his heel and leave. But instead, he pulled out his wallet and slapped a hundred dollar bill on the bar.
Wide-eyed and with a gaping mouth, the bartender stammered, "I guess I can stay open a little while longer. What will it be?" Now, she was talking.
"Give me your best whiskey. Bottle, please." He insisted.
Hesitation stalled his request as the bartender glanced at him. Give me the damn bottle!
He knew what he was doing was wrong. He knew how stupid his choice would be in a few hours, but he did not care. Not a single fuck was given at the moment and he reached back into his wallet and pulled out another hundred dollar bill. The woman's eyes grew bigger and without hesitation this time, she stepped on top a ladder and pulled down a bottle of whiskey from the top shelf.
"Glass?" She asked. Her hand snatched the money.
"Please, with ice."
Watching her pour him a glass, his bottom lip quivered. He needed this. "Keep the liquor coming." He said as he rolled up the sleeves of his white dress shirt. "I promise to keep the cash flow coming if you promise to keep pouring. Deal?"
It was now or never. As she slid the glass down to his seat, his hand trembled around the curves of the glass. He raised the smooth rim to his lips and downed it like a champ. The warmth and bitter after taste soothed him. He forgot how good it was to sin like this. His tongue darted out of his mouth and he licked his lips. What he was doing, especially in his state of mind, was not the best idea, however, he wanted to numb the pain. It swelled in his chest and he hated it. He hated how much the pain hurt. And alcohol was the only way he knew how to take that pain away, at least for awhile. The ugly truth of his temporary remedy wouldn't last. When he would wake up tomorrow, all the pain would come flooding back and reality would set in. His life would be incomplete and the void in his heart would still be there. Now thinking of it, alcohol would only make the pain worse. He really should stop, but one drink in was enough to urge him deeper down the rabbit hole.
Whiskey, rail or top shelf, was his weakness. No other liquor compared and tonight he had caved and succumbed to it in a dirty, run-down bar on the outskirts of town.
"So, what brings you here?" Her voice was filled with curiosity. "And sorry about earlier, I just don't get folk like you coming into my bar often."
"Well, my folk don't come here for a reason, but tonight I was feeling adventurous. No offense." He smirked. With the bottle within reach, he poured himself another drink.
The woman puckered her lips. "Adventurous? Sounds more like you're running from something." Her observation was right, but he wasn't about to admit that to her. "You want to drown yourself in the devil's finest of remedies."
"I gave you my damn money already." He rolled his eyes. "I'll give you another fifty to leave me alone and drink in peace."
His words looked like they had slapped her across the face and he didn't fucking care. Taking out his wallet, he smacked a fifty dollar bill down to assure he wasn't bluffing. With a tight smile, the woman snatched the money off the bar and stuffed it into her bra, and like that she left him to drink in peace. He would pay her even more to leave the place and let him really wallow away in his misery by himself. It wasn't like he couldn't afford it. His bank account attested to that and so did his hefty trust fund. The amount of control and power that came behind any hint of green had its satisfying moments, like this one. If he really wanted something, he could get it and tonight he came prepared. What he wanted was the endless liquor that would lull him into a drunken state so he could fall asleep without shedding a tear. And he wanted to be alone.
Alone. The word made him shudder. It was all he wanted, but essentially no matter how many people surrounded him, he would forever be alone. When the sun would rise tomorrow, he would be alone. The left side of his bed would be empty and his apartment would be silent. Just the thought of that made him not want to return home. Home held too many memories, happy ones, ones he wished he could have made more of, but that would never happen. The threat of tears stung his eyes and he gulped down another glass of whiskey. He had to numb the pain. He had to try to forget. He had to learn to live alone, but that wasn't what he wanted. His heart was still so damn invested in the past that it tore him up inside. There was no escape from what he had been through and what he felt, but at least he could try.
An hour and one bottle later, the sound of the door to the bar jingled. Not caring who had just walked through the door, they were more than welcome to drown themselves in a bottle with him as long as they stayed quiet and didn't ask any questions. He wanted silence and he hoped the unfortunate soul who was about to join him would take the hint.
"Keep going straight. Take a left and you will find the deep heart of town." The bartender stepped out from the back and ran through her spiel again.
"I'm not looking for directions, ma'am." A familiar voice announced. "I'm looking for someone and I think I might have just found him."
"Fuck me." He slurred as he took the bottle and pressed it to his lips not bothering to use the glass this time.
The seat next to him became occupied and the bartender approached both of them. Not looking up, he felt her observe the situation. "You staying or are you taking his drunk ass home?" She asked point toward him, the drunk ass.
"I'll have a beer."
She set an ice cold beer down in front of and stifled a laugh at the small bill he gave her. It was no comparison to the large tip he had given her so far. His generosity was probably the most money this place had seen in awhile.
"Thought I find you here." He saw the sleeve of his black suit jacket grab the beer. "I checked every bar in town. Should have known you wouldn't go back to your old stomping grounds."
"Congratulations, Nancy Drew."
The hand that strategically touched his shoulder made him tense.
"Come on, Damon. You're better than this." The man or better known as his brother lowered his voice. "She wouldn't have wanted this."
"What she would have wanted doesn't matter, does it?" Damon snapped at him. "It doesn't matter what she wants anymore."
"That's not true..." He tried to reason.
"But it is Stefan!" The volume of his voice rose ten notches. "She's gone and she's never coming back."
His eyes stung again and he used the bottle of whiskey to distract him. Stefan has come to talk some sense in him, but he wasn't having any of it. He didn't want to be reasoned with and he definitely didn't want to talk about her. Didn't he understand he just wanted to be alone.
"I think you've had enough tonight. Let's get you home." Stefan grabbed the bottle away from him and squeezed his shoulder.
"Get your fucking hands off me!" Damon yelled.
Within seconds, the bartender peered around the corner from the back to see what the commotion was about. She was no match for the two of them. She was better off staying put as a storm was about to emerge. Damon pushed Stefan away and straightened his shirt. He ran his fingers through his combed hair and leaned against the bar. As he stilled, the rest of the place moved. His vision was impaired and his speech was slurred, but that didn't stop him from thinking he was fine.
"Look at you," his brother shouted.
"I'm fine." Damon assured him.
"You're not fine. You just lost," Stefan dropped his thought. Even he couldn't let him finish that sentence.
"Stop!" He held up his hand and closed his eyes tight. "Don't you dare fucking say it. I can't hear it. I don't want to."
Deep down, Stefan cared and was genuinely concerned for him, but none of that matter. He didn't care, not tonight. The alcohol now flowed freely in his blood stream. It made him sway.
"Time to go!" His brother noticed his inability to stand straight.
"I'm not done here. Piss off." He slurred. Trying to reach for the bottle, the woman quickly ran over and snatched it away from him. "I told you to keep it coming you fucking bitch. I want my damn money back."
"Damon, let's go," Stefan ordered.
"Why? So I can go back to my fucking apartment that I shared with my fucking dead fiancé?!" Damon shouted.
The moment he heard the words slip out of his mouth, he regretted it. Pain rushed back and his heart sunk as low as it could go. It felt like his world had crashed down around him. The bar danced in circles and the bitter taste of whiskey made him nauseous. The heart-wrenching memories of her made him want to curl up into a ball and rot away. There wasn't a point to any of this, no point at all. She was gone. She was dead. He was nothing.
From the corner of the bar, music had begun to echo from a jukebox that looked older than him. The bartender had been the culprit behind the song that now played loudly and shattered him to pieces once more. In her attempts, she pushed play to drown out the sound of the drunken fight between him and Stefan, but what she had done only added to the pain. Out of all the songs in the world, she had to play that one. The one song that happened to be her song.
The lead singer filled his ears drums as he sung the lyrics to "Heat Of The Moment". His eyes closed upon impact as the words hit him hard and he recalled how much she loved the song. The way her smile spread across her face at the first few notes introduced the song whenever it came on. The way she sang along for everyone to hear. Seeing her like that would live forever in his memory and the song would forever belong to her. It was the song that had been playing when they first met.
"Fuck, we need to leave," Stefan mumbled. He was well aware of what the song meant, too.
Grabbing Damon under his arm forcefully, he dragged him out. He did not protest and sagged in his brother's hold as she continued to listen to the lyrics blared from the speakers. Once outside, he panicked and thrashed around like a fish out of the water. He yelled. He cursed God and everyone he knew out because he didn't know whom else to blame. It was not fair. She had been at the wrong place at the wrong time. He had lost her too quick and too soon.
"Oh god." Damon let out pitiful cry. "She's gone. She's fucking gone, Stefan."
His body tumbled to the ground. Dirt kicked up beneath him and he let his tears moisten the dry Earth below. He felt nothing and everything all at the same time. Overwhelmed by grief and heighten emotions as the alcohol seemed to fail at suppressing them, he went limp. Stefan pulled him up and he wobbled helplessly to the car. Not bothering to think about safety, he sprawled out in the backseat of the car and wept. The darkness engulfed him and his body swayed with the motion of the car. That was the last thing he remembered before everything went dark.