New Year’s Celebration

The moon hung high in the sky as Korina pulled his gray hoodie over his head, obscuring his face while he started at the ground. The restless din of hundreds, if not thousands, lining the streets in celebration echoed through the air while a myriad of multicolored lights and balloons filled the dark sky. It was New Year’s Eve—one of the few nights of the year people packed the streets and bars of Zeia. Korina gave the crowd a fleeting smile as he lowered his head.

Shoving his paws into his hoodie pockets, Korina offered a mumbled apology as he pushed pass figure after figure. It wasn’t that Korina didn’t want people to recognize him—quite the contrary on a night like this—but rather, he didn’t want to be late to seeing the ball drop with Bishop, one of his closest friends. It was only when the crowd parted and the fluorescent, neon pink lights spelling out “Dick’s Bar” illuminated him did Korina finally stop. Looking up at the sign, Korina gave it a small smirk before casually pushing the door open, as a small bell chimed.

As Korina stepped into the bar, and the door closed behind him, he suddenly noticed that somehow the bar was noisier than the streets outside with fewer people. Nobody save the barkeep—a gruff-looking black-furred bull—batted an eye as Korina pulled his hood down. The barkeep simply snorted, giving Korina an ill-tempered glare—setting the shot glass and rag on the table to cross his arms—before it broke into a well-natured smile. “Nice to see ya again Korina,” they began while reaching under the counter to grab two glasses. “Happy New Year. Bishop’s in the corner, waitin’ on ya. I’ll have yer drinks over in a moment.”

Korina returned the ill-tempered glare before goofily smiling back. “Yea, great to see you too Dick! Happy New Year, and all that. Business going well?” he jovially replied as he looked around the cramped bar, his eyes flittering between TVs and the groups of people scattered about.

“Ya know it. Jus’ livin’ the dream. Livin’ the dream,” he merrily replied with a coy wink, as he pulled a wooden lever, filling the glass with a dark amber liquid, with a thick layer of froth.

Korina smiled back as his gaze finally settled on the lone black cat with emerald eyes, sitting in the corner with arms splayed. They ignored Korina, idly staring at one of the TVs. With a coy smirk, he walked over to the cat before sitting down beside them.

Before Korina could say anything, the figure turned to face him, giving him a look of displeasure out of the corner of his eye before saying “Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t realize they let anyone in here,” in a sarcastic tone. They gave him a simple wink before turning to face him.

Korina simply chuckled, sarcastically replying with “I could say the same thing.” He bit the inside of his lip before saying “It’s good to see you again Bishop.”

Bishop suppressed a small smirk as he replied with “Yea, I guess, your royal honor, the majesty, the Prince of Oclax,” exaggeratedly waving around a paw as he leaned in closer.

Flashing him a cautious look, Korina tilted his head as Dick finally swung by the table, holding two tall pitchers. The first one was filled with a deep amber liquid, which was passed to Korina, while the other was filled with a muddy brown liquid and passed to Bishop. Both had a thick layer of white froth off the top.

Korina and Bishop nodded their thanks as Dick turned around. He only got a few steps away before he paused and looked over his shoulder towards the two of them. “‘Ey, let me know if he’s causin’ any problems. I got some fellas in the back who’d happily teach ‘em a lesson. Jus’ say the word,” he casually said, with a laugh, giving Bishop a sly wink. “Happy New Year’s guys.”

“Don’t worry about it, I’ll take care of it,” Korina said with a chuckle as he turned to face Bishop. Bishop wasn’t amused however, as he shook his head before breaking into a smirk. A second later, he turned to face the TV, nudging Korina on the shoulder. Displayed was the ball, along with a countdown to the new year.

As if guided by some unseen cue, the entire bar fell silent only to roar to life as everyone called out in unison “Ten… nine… eight… seven… six… five… four… three… two… one… Happy New Year!” Smirking at each other, Korina and Bishop raised up their glasses, looking at each other.

“Happy New Year, Korina,” Bishop cheerfully said.

“And to many more, Bishop,” Korina immediately replied.

“Cheers,” they both said in sync, as their glasses loudly clinked against each other.

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