Fan Fiction

A Night at the Bar
by Eppendorf Webster
Part 1 / Part 2

A Night at the Bar, Part 1

Ralph belched. It was a long, low belch, delivered with great breath control and a good amount of experience. Ralph often joked to his so-called friends that his belches could kill flies at range.
"Barkeep," he slurred, "gim'e another."

The barkeep plunked down another mug of the house beer on the bar. It was just out of Ralph's reach, and the barkeep watched with a cruel smirk as Ralph tried to grab hold, only to be left snatching air and blinking to clear away his beer goggles. "Let's see you pull some cash out of that shit-factory you call an ass first," the barkeep finally growled.
Ralph fished around in his back pocket for a while, finally coming up with a $5.00 bill that was torn, wrinkled and smelled faintly of beer and sweat. Quite fitting legal tender for this particular establishment. The barkeep examined the bill, spit on the floor and stalked away to cater to another customer, leaving Ralph trying to reach his beer without upending it or himself.

The barkeep usually would have tortured Ralph some more, for it was one of the ways he got some enjoyment out of his retched job, but he was out of sorts tonight. He thought he might be sick, because he kept thinking for a moment he was looking at a giant rabbit. The sensation never lasted for more than a moment, but it still left him grumpy and irritable. He passed some money at the counter and almost forgot to greedily snatch it up like he usually did. He then noticed the written order next to it. After muttering a few more choice oaths, he filled it. "Whoever ordered the pitcher of house beer, they can come and get it their own damn selves," he called. There it was again, he thought as he turned away, that stupid imaginary rabbit. He shook it off and returned to his customers.

Sam had been observing the other patrons of the bar, and had come to the conclusion that he would need a pitcher of whatever crap the "house beer" was to really get him buzzed, even if he was only 4 foot tall. From what he had seen, the reason it was so cheap was that so little of it was actual alcohol. He filled his mug, took a swig, and realized he was only too right. Still, it was good to be drinking again. He sighed and settled himself onto his stool.

He was kind of surprised, actually. Sam had reasoned a bar would be the safest place to go to get out of the house: many were dark, smoky and full of people who wouldn't remember what they saw the last night. Of course, his drinking habits had a lot to do with it too. But he had been pleasantly surprised at the humans' refusal to believe in him. Trying to locate the bars, he encountered several humans, and to a person, they completely ignored his presence. He didn't exist. Sam wondered how they could ignore their own senses, but he wasn't going to complain; it simplified his problems tremendously. He smiled between swigs as he thought of Sandra's reaction, and what he would say to her when she inevitably came looking for him.

Ralph, meanwhile, had finally succeeded in gaining a hold of his beer. He yanked it toward himself in glee, then watched the mug gradually tip over, as if time were slowing down. Ralph's grin turned into a sob as beer gushed across the bar and into his lap. He sat, nearly in tears, staring at the dripping foam and wondering if it would be worth it to lap it up like a drunk, dirty and desperate kitten. Deciding against it, he raised his head to ask for another beer from the barkeep. As he did so, he noticed something that made him grin again. Why, there was one of his hallucinations, and it had a pitcher nearly full of beer!

Ralph had been having hallucinations for a while now, mostly of his dead mother or the old stuffed bear she made for him. Once, after he had gotten hold of a bag of white powder from his friends behind the grocery store, he had a nightmare about the devil. Ralph couldn't tell if it was the devil for sure because he had been dressed all in black, but he had a really scary grin. This particular hallucination was a rabbit, and he looked much friendlier. Ralph had never seen this hallucination before, so he thought he'd go over and say hi, and maybe try and borrow some of the rabbit's beer. After all, how much beer did a rabbit need?

Part II
Ralph swayed over to Sam like a ship on a stormy sea. Sam nearly choked on his beer when he saw him coming. Even if drunk, this human obviously saw him and was going to confront him. Sam wondered what the hell made this human so damn special. Still, Sam had been around enough drunks (hell, he had been enough drunks) to know how to deal with them. He calmed himself by pouring another mug.
"Hello, Misshter Rabbit! How'sh the garden patch today?" Ralph doubled over at his own joke. Sam sighed.
After a final snort, Ralph stood and stared at Sam's beer like a tipsy cobra. Sam just kept on drinking.
"You know, Misshter Rabbit, I bet you're a nice rabbit. I can tell, because you, you . . . " A long pause.
"Have beer." Sam finished.
"You have beer!" Ralph replied, smiling broadly. "And 'cause you're just in my head, so you won't feel bad if I take some." So saying, Ralph plopped on the stool next to Sam and began clutching for the pitcher.
Sam glared right at him out of black-furred eyes. "You sure about that?"
Ralph froze, like a deer in headlights.
Sam considered, briefly, keeping his beer to himself. But he couldn't really risk getting into an argument. He wouldn't count on the humans' disbelief continuing if he and Ralph went crashing around the bar. And, Sam realized, his face softening just slightly, this guy reminded him of people he used to know, helpless drunks he had talked to outside Tawny's homeless shelter. He sighed again, and flipped his hand at Ralph. "Go ahead and have it." There was only a mug or two's worth left anyway.

Ralph had been close to panic the whole time Sam was staring at him. Now, he grinned again and grabbed the pitcher, this time being sure to keep it upright. He was so anxious to taste the beer, he lifted the pitcher straight to his lips and sucked it down noisily. It spilled out the sides of his mouth and down his shirt, which was so beer-soaked already Ralph didn't notice a thing. He set the empty pitcher down on the bar and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. Mister Rabbit was mumbling something. Ralph only caught snatches of it, something about " . . . cliche . . . god-damned character development." He started to giggle. "Yur' a pretty strange guy, Misshter Rabbit"
"You had your beer. Now leave me the hell alone."
"I can't. You're n' my head. You leaff me the hell alone." Ralph giggled again at his own cleverness. He was having fun now. Sam muttered curses again.
"Do you like to drink a lot, Misshter Rabbit? I do. I come here ev'ry day and get plastered. Tho'," and his voice sunk into a conspiratorial whisper, "It's not because the beer is good or anything. I hear, the bastard owner puts water in the beer to cut costs. But after five or twelve, you don't really notice. And it's cheap," he finished with confidence. Then he started up again.

Sam was frustrated. If he got Ralph mad, his cover might be blown. But Ralph was really grating on his nerves. As Ralph kept talking, Sam could feel his hair beginning to stand up as he got more and more annoyed. But Sam had to agree with Ralph about the beer: his co-worker Ed used to pass stronger stuff than this. Ralph was either a very cheap drunk, or he had consumed a small boat's worth of booze. All in all, Sam decided it was time to leave. There were two more bars to check out before Sandra caught up to him. Sam turned to go, and only then noticed that Ralph was no longer babbling at him inanely. Ralph was no longer talking at all. Instead, his face has turned green, and he was obviously gagging.
"Oh, crap."
Sam did the first thing that came to mind: he grabbed the pitcher from off the counter and held it in front of Ralph's face. And just in time, too. Ralph started hurling that pond of booze he had fought down, along with the rest of his stomach. Sam was almost afraid he was going to overfill the pitcher. The bar patrons expressed typical reactions of disgust when they heard what was going on, but one voice cut above them.
"God dammit Ralph! If you've hurled on the floor again I'm going to use your greasy empty head as a mop!" The bartender charged towards them.
"Oh for crap's sake . . . " Sam exhaled. That bartender had been looking at him funny already. Ralph was finally done and leaning on the bar, so Sam placed the pitcher down next to him and stood back against the wall, very still.

The bartender expected to find a smelly, sticky mess that started at the bar, dripped onto the floor, and would take him ages to clean up. He was mildly shocked to find that the mess had been contained. He wondered how in the hell Ralph could have managed to do that - he was still moaning and leaning against the bar. He looked around; he was sure someone had helped Ralph. And there was the rabbit again - or was there? The bartender flushed with frustration and annoyance. Why the hell was he still seeing that fucking rabbit? It wasn't real! What the hell was wrong with him? He wanted to smack something. And seeing how Ralph was so close at hand . . .
"Get the hell off my bar!" The bartender shouted, throwing Ralph a solid cuff to the head. Ralph pitched back, overturning a stool, and slammed to the floor. The bartender washed the pitcher and went back to his business, slamming down glasses and squirting booze as if he could drill a hole in the bar with it.

Sam, meanwhile, had a decision to make.