by Eric J. Krause
Jackson stared at the three tall glasses of beer in front of him. Though all three were different, he couldn't tell them apart thanks to the black food coloring he'd swirled in each. The green beer of St. Patrick's Day had given him that stroke of genius.
One frosty glass held his favorite micro-brew, Midnight Pale Ale. One held a generic light brand from the local grocery store, and truth be told, it tasted more like chilled horse piss than beer. (No, he'd never actually tasted horse piss--it's just what he imagined its flavor to be.) The third was a mystery. It held one he bought for the goofy name, not the quality; though for all he knew it could have been the best beer on the planet. For this exercise, the name Satan's Smile fit perfectly.
He started this morbid little game yesterday after work, and it kept him buzzed all night. Not from the alcohol, but from the adrenaline coursing through his veins. With all the shit he had to put up with--at work, with his parents, and even lately with his girlfriend--what more could he ask for?
Of course, it helped that he chose the Midnight. It'd tasted even better than that first time he fell in love with it. The only thing that worried him about the game was that he enjoyed pouring the generic beer down the drain more than the Satan's Smile.
The Satan's Smile he'd stirred deadly poison into.
Now, after another lousy day of being yelled at by customers and co-workers alike, arguing with Mom and Dad, and being completely ignored by Rachel, he needed one of those beers. But which? Each glass looked the same, and he'd mixed up their order enough so he couldn't be sure which was which.
Yesterday the middle had been paydirt, but what were the odds it was the Midnight again? Not good enough to tempt fate. He grabbed the left one and took a healthy gulp before he could chicken out.
Bitter taste with a hint of citrus assaulted him. That wasn't the Midnight, and it sure as hell wasn't the generic light. There was still time. He could force himself to puke and call poison control.
He took another sip and let it slosh around his mouth and roll down his tongue. Delicious. He chased it with another sip and marveled at how there was no strange medicine aftertaste. He'd read that on the Internet but hadn't believed it to be true. If he hadn't mixed the poison in himself, he'd have no clue it was even there.
He took another sip. Should he leave a note? It hadn't dawned on him before. What would he say? Nothing came to mind.
He took another sip.