Kaylee stared at her reflection in the mirror across the bar, and took a sip of her drink. The Bleeding Heart was a Valentine’s special cocktail her local bar, the Broken Heart, made only during the week of February 14th, so she made sure to drink a lot of them while they were available. Sure, she lived in a small town on the outskirts of a larger city, but the rent was cheaper here, and she felt more safe than she ever had living in more metropolitan areas. And it didn’t stop the bar from making a delicious cocktail: champagne, strawberry puree, a dash of elderflower liqueur, with a floater of vodka on the very top. It started sharp, because of the vodka, but as you drink your way down the glass, it mellows and morphs into something fizzy, strong, with just the right amount of sweetness. She’d forced her favorite bartender to give her the recipe, and she made them at home quite often, but they never quite tasted as good when she made them at home, and she loved the experience of sitting and drinking at her local bar. And because, often, she ended up meeting someone and going home with them, which could be its own adoring experience. That’s exactly what she was planning on tonight.
The guy she’d met about three drinks ago, Kevin, had just excused himself to go to the restroom. He was… fine. Average-looking, average height, average weight, average suit, just… a boring early-thirties white dude overcompensating so he could get laid. Which, whatever, she thought, shrugging to herself and waving her empty glass at the bartender. She loved this bar. It was women-owned and women only who worked there, which made it popular with both men and women, for different reasons, obviously. Earlier, she had looked over and rolled her eyes at the bartender while Kevin mansplained the tenets of a good dramatic television show to her, even as she tried to explain that she had, in fact, watched The Wire, The Sopranos, and Six Feet Under, thanks. He’d also gone on a slightly racist tangent about football and professional sports in general, which she only half-followed as she wasn’t much of a sports fan. When he had headed to the bathroom, the bartender had come to check and see if she was okay. “I guess? He’s a racist mansplainer, but, these cocktails are just so delicious I can’t justify leaving quite yet.”
Now, she signaled to the bartender that her glass was empty and she’d like another one. The bartender held up a finger and went into the Employees Only room right next to the restrooms, and came back out a few minutes later with a fresh bottle of puree. She walked over to Kaylee and apologized. “I had to get fresh mix! You know we make this in-house, right?” Kaylee smiled and nodded. “I’m addicted to it. It’s so great!” The bartender smiled back. “Well you’re in luck; it’s so popular that we might end up making it a year-round drink! Just have to find the right suppliers,” she said, handing the cocktail back to Kaylee, who raised her glass in salute to this happy news.
My, Kevin sure was taking his sweet time in the bathroom. It had to have been at least ten or fifteen minutes since he’d excused himself. Maybe he has some kind of bowel disorder, or maybe he just didn’t know how to say he wasn’t interested and secretly left. It wouldn’t be the first time. It seemed like men left their dates often at this bar, just vanishing instead of coming up with some half-assed excuse to leave. It happened to her a few times, and she saw it happen to other women as well. They always commisterated with a shot, before one or both of them slunk out and back to their respective nearby apartments. Even tonight, about two hours ago, a woman on what seemed like a truly horrific first date with a man signaled the bartender for drinks while he was in the bathroom, and the guy just never came back. He must’ve left out the back door. What a dick. She’d treated that woman to a shot of tequila and watched her leave, her face a combination of relieved and annoyed and tipsy. She’ll be fine; she was another regular and Kaylee would likely see her in a day or two and nod in recognition of the failings of average men.
She was the only one left in the bar now, and they were likely closing in a few minutes. She took a big swig of the fresh drink, and realized this one was a little more metallic-tasting than the last few. Or maybe she was just drunk and her tastebuds were off. Didn’t matter; she loved the taste and drank this one the fastest of them all. As the last sip hit her lips, the bartender brought over a fresh one. Kaylee was definitely drunk-drunk at this point, and while she knew she shouldn’t, she drank the definitely-metallic drink down in one large gulp, and immediately ran for the bathroom. Except, she chose the wrong door, and opened the Employees Only door. There was Kevin, strung up, along with the guy she recognized from the terrible date earlier, and what appeared to be several other men she’d met or seen earlier that week. She was shocked, disgusted, and at the same time, totally satisfied. This was right, somehow. Justified. But the sight of all the blood, on the floor and in the jars around the room…. She slammed the door, ran into the ladies room, and out came the gallons of cocktail she had consumed that evening. Once it was all out, she came out of the restroom and face-to-face with the bartender. “Are you going to tell anyone?” the bartender asked. “Absolutely not,” Kaylee answered. “You’re doing a public service. Plus, those cocktails are so good, I don’t even care that blood is an ingredient. I’ll be back tomorrow, and I’m bringing a terrible male coworker with me.” The bartender smiled and nodded. “Fresh supplies,” she said. Kaylee nodded. “I’m so happy to support a local business that’s doing such great work for the community.”
Scent notes: A fizzing glass of champagne filled with fresh strawberries