The bearded nymph of Absinthe House
by Will Brendza
Halloween was an ugly success if I've ever known one. It began so mildly, so tame, so ordinary ... The drink started flowing at La Casa de Clase sometime around 6pm and the cops were there by 9:30pm - something about a pirate and crippled hobo beating the living hell out of each other in our driveway. Pretty standard stuff.
Anyway, the group was scattered by 10:00pm: some were fleeing the cops, others were hunting them down. I was with a small company of drunks stomping merrily towards the Pearl Street mall. It wasn't until several hours later when we would all reconnect, and it was from that point forward we were doomed.
The Absinthe House was our first stop, a truly revolting institution. I walked in on a hideous scene: a gorilla was violently fucking some kind of scarecrow on the bar whilst Oompa Loompa's swung from the chandeliers and a wild crowd of madly dressed drunks danced in a raging mass before the DJ.
We went straight to the bar. But we didn't even manage to buy a single drink before fate swooped in from some VIP balcony and intervened: he was one of the scrawniest and shortest men I'd ever seen, and his beard was larger than his head and fiery red. I knew what he was as soon as I laid eyes on him -
"Goddamnit Arlo! Look!" I screamed, grabbing my closest companion. "It's a Nymph! And he's stealing our women!"
Sure enough the bearded bastard had grabbed our three female companions by the wrists and was skipping off, dragging them behind and cackling with glee.
"Sonofabitch! What do we do?"
"We chase the fucker." I said. "What else?"
And that's exactly what we did - across the savageness on the dance floor, around the gaping orgy pit against the wall, up the stairs, and onto an elevated private balcony directly beside the DJ.
We blasted in on the private party bravely and with our chests puffed up like inebriated turkeys, ready to do battle with the woman-snatcher who'd stole our companions. But at the very moment we burst through, the bearded nymph shrieked, cast a handful of his magic glitter into the air and disappeared with a fart. He was gone.
Which left Arlo and me facing two very large, and very unfriendly looking firemen who were likely wondering what-the-fuck these two assholes just crashed into their VIP balcony for. All around us some twenty scantily dressed girls were sucking tequila straight from the bottles, dancing on each other and giggling in ecstasy. The firemen loomed over Arlo and I, threateningly ... they were, without a doubt, about to lunge ferociously and beat the life from our trembling bodies.
Instead, the closest one extended a bottle of bourbon, and broke into a very large grin. I almost collapsed with relief, but grabbed the bottle from the man's hand instead and lost myself in a drunken swirl of music, lights, costumes, and complete and utter insanity.
At some point we found our kidnapped girls. Little good that did us, though, the damage was already done - Arlo and Lauren would wake up in a field some four blocks from our safe house, all 62 pieces of Lauren's costume mysteriously MIA. Rachel's hangover nearly killed her the next morning, Danielle was regrettably never located and I had to eat a very lonely, altogether-still-intoxicated breakfast all by myself.
So, as I said: we achieved our goal, I suppose. But all the unnecessary suffering I attribute directly to that goddamn bearded nymph. We later discovered that was his job: he was a contract sprite that specialized in the artful inebriation of patrons, and was often employed by scurvy dives like Absinthe House to cultivate a highly drunken populace - and he was undeniably the best in the business.