She sipped the drink slowly, savoring the bourbon as it slid down her throat and lit a fire inside. Cigarette smoke filled the bar air, making it seem as if it were filled with an unnatural mist. Allison loved the smell. The stale cigarette smoke always gave her a strong sense of nostalgia. It brought back memories of an unattainable past like echoes in a deep cave. She came out of her daydream and realized she had been staring at the man across the bar while he stared back. Allison quickly dropped her eyes to the amber liquid floating in her glass, but could still feel the man’s eyes on her. She finished her drink in one gulp and stood up, swaying slightly. Catching the eye of the bartender, she waved him over, and dropped a twenty, telling him to keep the change.
Allison put her wallet she had bought for dollar from a thrift shop back into her purse and began to put on her coat. She glanced back across the bar to see the man still staring at her. The small peevish smile that had formed on his face made her shudder. She knew she would have to walk past the man to get to the exit, which made Allison feel uneasy. There was something about the man that stirred a recognition inside her, but she couldn’t quite place him. Allison slowly began to walk towards him, hoping he would stop staring, but he didn’t look away. His smile grew wider as she swayed drunkenly on her feet. She looked away from the starring man and down at her shoes. She was less than three feet from where the man sat, when she turned around abruptly and hurried to the bathroom.
The dim light cast by the bare lightbulb flickered slightly as three moths slammed themselves into it. Allison walked slowly to the small sink against the left wall and splashed some water on her face. The staring man had reminded her of something from the past but she couldn’t quite put her finger on it. Was it the way he smirked at her when she swayed? Allison didn’t know what it was but the memory connected to the man wasn’t pleasant. She stared into the mirror for a full five minutes, composing herself, before she made her way out of the bathroom. Exiting the bathroom, Allison looked to the end of the bar, but the man was gone. She breathed a sigh of relief and walked to the exit. Her drunken gait was slightly more pronounced now and she bumped into a low table, nearly spilling the drinks of the couple sitting there. Allison had had more than she planned tonight, but the old memories had been coming back to her and the bar was the best place to get rid of them.
The chilly winter wind hit her as she walked out of the bar. Clouds obscured the moon, casting the nearly full parking lot of Mike’s Tavern in complete darkness. Allison slipped on her leather gloves as another cold November breeze chilled her. She began the trek to her car while rummaging through her purse. She didn’t seem to notice the man staring at her near the driver side door of her car as she continued to look deeper into the bag. She didn’t even seem to notice the lead pipe he held in his hand or the large grin that still hung on his face as she walked within feet of him. The darkness was so complete. He began to get excited as she stepped right up to him, still looking in her purse. She stopped when his shoes came into her peripheral vision. As Allison slowly raised her face to meet his, the staring man raised the pipe in his hand. His grin was huge. His teeth were so large and white that she could see them in the darkness. The pipe sailed down in an arc towards, Allison’s skull.
It stopped short just as it got halfway to its mark. The grin disappeared and the staring man gurgled, as if trying to say something, but the blade of Allison’s knife had filled his windpipe. She forced the knife forward and heard the pipe the staring man had been holding, fall to the ground just before its owner did. The handle of the six-inch knife was buried in his throat and its tip severed his spinal cord.
Allison went to work quickly, as the memories floated back to her. She had recognized this man, because he had stared at her the same way her father used to. He even grinned the same, like he was enjoying a small private joke. He grinned the same as all the others before. She remembered them now. Remembered their grinning faces and how she had stopped that grinning with this knife. She began to whistle as she cut little pieces from the body and set them around it in an outline. As she had done with all the others before. Perhaps some investigator would find a hidden meaning in the patterns she made or the pieces she removed. If there were hidden secrets they remained a mystery to Allison. It was all just part of her own ritual.
When she was done with her work, Allison got into her car and drove home, still whistling to herself. Even as she put her clothes in the washer, and washed the blood off herself, the memories faded away. She was right. The bar was the best place to drown her memories.