He gazed at the golden liquid in the glass, oblivious to the other guests in the bar. Ed Sheeran’s “Perfect” filtered through the speakers. He took a sip from the glass, as he pondered on the song. Perfect. He had wished theirs would be a perfect relationship. Yet the fear never left him. It was always lurking around. And it came as a jolt, when she said those words to him earlier that afternoon, “I’m sorry Patrick, but I can’t put up with this any longer. It’s over”. Sure, he loved Christine, but his fears never left him. And she had to deal with it often. Now she was gone; and here he was mourning his breakup, with a bottle of 33 Export Lager Beer to keep him company. Patrick took another sip of the drink and his eyes fell on a stocky man in a grey coloured suit who had just walked into the bar and was at the counter.
“That one!” He said loudly, pointing to a glass cup. He grabbed the glass and a bottle of 33 Export from the bartender and turned around. His gaze fell on Patrick, and he staggered towards his table, bumping into other guests and swearing out loudly each time.
“I have to join you!” He dropped the bottle with a bang that shook the table. Patrick looked at him suspiciously. Mystery man is obviously a nut job, he thought to himself.
“Alright” Patrick said reluctantly. Mystery man opened his drink, filled his glass with the gold liquid and gulped it down.
“You are a good man!” He stared at Patrick. “I know this because I believe you are. Also good men like us drink 33 Export Beer”. He laughed. Patrick looked bemused. He continued, “I think you’re the only one I can call a friend right now”.
“That’s interesting” Patrick said quietly. A young lady walked by and Mystery man made a catcall to her. She snorted angrily and he laughed again.
“My name is Donald”. He turned to Patrick, his eyes bright. “I would love you, my new friend, to do me a favour”. And seizing Patrick’s hand, Donald dragged him out to an alley close by. He stopped at a dead end, handed a brown envelope to a bewildered Patrick and drew out a gun from his suit pocket.
“What the hell!” Patrick was alarmed.
“I will end it all in a few seconds” Donald pointed the gun at his own head. “You are to be the witness and you will hand over that envelope to the police. It explains everything”.
“Please Mister. Don’t do this” Patrick said softly.
“It’s no use preaching to me” Donald said. “I’m tired of everything.”
“Donald” Patrick looked pleadingly at him. “I’m currently facing an emotional trauma. Seeing you do this would only add to the burden on me”.
“No!” Donald said forcefully. “I must end it now. I must”. Tears swelled in his eyes.
“Donald, you believe I’m a good man and the only friend you’ve got now. Can you at least treat me as a friend? Let’s go sit down and you tell me the problem. I promise to help out. It can’t be that bad. Just confide in me this once. As a friend.” Donald looked at the floor. The time seemed to take forever. His hand slowly came down.Patrick quietly took the gun and led him back to the bar.
He told Patrick the story of his successful career as an employee at an insurance agency. Some jealous colleagues whom he had taken as close friends, had set him up on a forgery, which had cost the firm a lot of money. Though his boss chose not to press charges because of his good past records, he had been dismissed and blacklisted among other insurance firms. He had been deserted by his wife and being frustrated, had chosen to end his life. Patrick consoled him. He reassured him of better days ahead. Donald inquired about his life, and Patrick told him about Christine his fiancée. He loved her, but never really felt he deserved her. Owing to his insecurities, he had trust issues, which had been frustrating for her. She eventually became fed up and broke up with him earlier that day.
They talked well into the night, with their moods becoming lighter and the bottles of 33 Export Beer spicing the conversation.
“You know, this drink reminds me of friendship all the time” Donald gazed at the glass of 33 Export beer.
“How so?” Patrick quizzed.
It’s golden coloured”. Donald sighed. “True friendship is like gold. It stands the test of fire. Real friends are for moments like this. Moments to share our problems, fears, worries, disappointments, joys and triumph”.
“Yeah. That’s so true”.
“Thank you Patrick for saving me. Despite the wolves in this world, it’s always refreshing to know that good people still exist and that we can have them as friends”. Donald took another sip. “I would love you to do one more thing”.
“Not a crazy one, I suppose?” Patrick smiled.
“Nah” Donald laughed. “I want you to go back to Christine and open up to her. True love is devoid of fear. It’s a golden experience, and you both need to share a taste of that gold. Always remember that.”
“Yeah” Patrick said slowly. “I will. Always.”
“Here’s to friendship” Donald raised his glass. “And more bottles of 33 Export”
“And a taste of gold” Patrick laughed. They clinked their glasses, and quietly listened to Elton John’s “Sacrifice” playing through the speakers.