Chapter 27: Drink Orders

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Rob felt queasy sense of déjà-vu as he walked into the Dancing Shoes. New straw covered the tavern's blood-stained floor, the knocked-over furniture had all been picked up, and his drunken cousin was stumbling around on top of a table, but otherwise everything was like it had been the night before. 

Rob could almost see the bodies lying in pools of their own blood, but he shook off those images in order to deal with whatever craziness Zev had gotten himself into this time.

"Keep looking," Zev called, slurring his words. "All of you! You've got it somewhere, I know you do. Just make one for me. Just fucking one."

"Zev," Rob said, announcing himself.

Zev brightened when he saw Rob, but then his face slipped back behind its dark mask. "Make one for him, too," he barked just before tumbling off the table.

Rob helped his cousin to his feet. Zev's clothes were filthy, and he reeked of mud, manure and dirty socks.

"Thanks," Zev mumbled as he drunkenly picked bits of straw from his curly hair. "Bastard won't make me my drink."

"Zev, what's going on?" Rob demanded. "And what are you doing back?"

"I'm ordering a fucking drink," he said, wobbling up to the barman. "That's what you do in a tavern, isn't it?"

Rob followed his cousin. "Zev, I get the sense you've had a few already. Why don't we go home. I've got some news you won't believe, and you can tell me about where you've been these past weeks."

"Fuck that," he said, clutching the bar in an attempt steady himself. "You don't have a fucking clue what this is all about, do you?"

"Not unless you tell me," Rob said. "Why don't we go talk about it?"

"No," Zev said, slapping the top of the bar. "Not 'till I get my fucking drink."

Rob threw up his hands in defeat. "Have it your way. Get your drink, then we'll go."

"But he won't give it to me." Zev's face cracked as if he were about to cry.

"Help me, m'lord," the barman said to Rob. "I don't have what he wants. I don't even know what he's asking for."

Zev clumsily grabbed the front of the barman's apron. "I want. A fucking. Gin. And tonic. With lime, dammit."

Rob reached out to take charge of his cousin, but the bartender was quicker. With a clean, practiced motion, he drew a wooden club from beneath the bar and rapped it against Zev's forehead. 

He didn't hit Zev very hard, just enough to penetrate a drunken man's skull, but it was enough to topple Zev back onto the floor.

"I'm sorry, m'lord," the bartender apologized. "I didn't want to hurt him, he being your cousin and all, but—"

"I understand," Rob said. "Can you help me get him outside? Maybe the fresh air will . . . I don't know, clear his mind or something."

"No," Zev said, rolling onto his side and spitting on the straw floor. "Didn't get my drink. Didn't get my gin and tonic. With fucking lime."

"Zev, there's no gin. No tonic or lime, either. Well, there's probably limes somewhere, but not this far north."

"Bullshit," Zev snarled as Rob and the barman dragged him toward the door. "It's there. Right there. He could pull a lime out of his fucking ass if you wanted him to."

The barman glanced worriedly at Rob as they stepped outside. "M'lord, I'd give him anything he wants, I swear."

"It's all right," Rob said. "I'm not sure he knows what he wants."

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