No Cognitive Defect XVII

And then he was dancing alone, and his right leg wasn't working at all. The air conditioning was unbearably cold, and his teeth began to chatter. Erica was across the room now, her back to the open door. Behind her, he could see snow falling and a house on a hill in the distance.

"Don't leave me, Wilson. Don't leave me."

"I'm not going anywhere, Erica. Close the door and come here!"

He blinked slowly, his exhaustion betraying him, and when his eyes were open again the crowd was gone and so was Erica. The stage was empty and Patsy Cline was playing on the jukebox near the open door. Was that jukebox there a moment ago? No… no, it wasn't.

The bartender motioned him over.

"Last call, Wilson."

"Where did everyone go? Where's Erica?"

"You were drinking whiskey, weren't you? But I think you're more a single-malt scotch guy. All you Garfield & Garfield folks drink single malts. Well here you go, on the house."

A full bottle slid to a stop in front of him.

Someone was still calling him: a woman, faint and distant, the voice vaguely familiar.

"Drink it and go to sleep or leave it there and get the hell out. I have to close up."

"It's so cold in here. Can't you at least close the door?"

"Sorry. Door stays open until one of us leaves. And don't worry about the cold. Just drink that and you'll warm right up. Drink the whole damned thing and go to sleep. That's what you want, isn't it?"

"Where's Erica?" he demanded. "Is that her calling for me?"

"Erica's gone, pal. She's done the old two-step right out of the building. You want to dance with Erica, take a couple of good pulls on that and close your eyes."

Wilson picked up the bottle. Macallan, eighteen years old. Extraordinarily expensive.

"Where did you get this?" he asked but the bartender was gone and the lights were dimming.

He opened the bottle with difficulty. He had to use his left hand while squeezing the bottle to his chest with his other arm because his damned right hand wasn't working anymore. He raised the bottle to his lips and started to close his eyes, but someone called for him again. It was fainter this time, but tinged with urgency and desperation. He contemplated the bottle, but then there was another shrill, desperate cry: Wilson! Help me!

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