Despite the allegations against Gorman, he and Duggan had remained friends. They weren’t as close since the school had been putting pressure on Duggan to provide evidence that Gorman had been involved in the disappearance. That had understandably strained things between them.
It was a few days after Duggan’s birthday, and Gorman had invited him out for a drink. He’d skipped out on the party that Duggan’s staff had thrown for him the weekend before and felt a bit of regret about it. He’d known he shouldn’t attend, given how some of them felt about him.
They had met in a dive bar, down in the bad part of town. It wasn’t the faux dive bar where hipsters hung out, it was a legitimate down on the luck sort of place. A place that hadn’t been bought up by the forces of Gentrification and Urban Renewal. Duggan had been surprised that they’d been given a booth in the back, and more surprised when James had reached down under the table and pulled out a bottle of decent scotch and set it on the table.
“They let you bring in your own booze?”
“We have an arrangement. I’m renting this booth.” He poured the scotch into a pair of glasses. “And a room in the back.”
“Why the hell would you want to do that?” Duggan picked up his glass and sipped it, smiling as the liquid danced it’s way down his throat.
“It was easier than changing bars all the time. It made sense. I made some deals and now I don’t need to worry. University ID won’t get in the door.” James chuckled. “Well, with the obvious exception of yourself.” He held out his glass to Duggan.
“Seriously? What kind of cash are you paying for that kind of treatment.”
“Less than you’d think. I wasn’t exactly accurate when I said I was renting the booth and the room in the back. It would be more accurate to say they’re the only part I’m not renting.” He gazed deeply into the glass and then tipped it back, swallowing it in one gulp.
“You bought this place?”
“Inherited, apparently. From my namesake uncle. Who I’d never heard of, before his lawyer showed up at my door. He left me this building, a collection of fine wines, and a shitload of money. And some really weird letters.” James poured the scotch into their glasses. “Including the letter that told me that we needed to drink this bottle tonight.”
“We? I’m mentioned in these letters?”
“No, actually quite the opposite. It says I should drink this bottle alone here tonight.”
“Then why am I here?”
“You really think I’m going to follow the instructions of a dead ‘Uncle’? I’m grateful, but I’d rather not drink alone.”