Jake looked down at the glass that was set before him. The thoughts that crossed his mind didn’t automatically turn to what would happen when he drank the contents. No, instead they turned to the contrast between what stood before him and the booth of the restaurant where he currently sat. The booth stood as a representation for the diner: very nondescript with a green and red theme running through it as if the owners wanted to remind everyone of Christmas when they entered.
It’s funny what runs through your head when your life is about to change, he thought to himself. Staring at the glass, Maybe it should be called a goblet or a chalice instead. He thought to himself that maybe they should have found a different area for this; a high scale restaurant where the cup wouldn’t seem so out of place. The men accompanying him thought differently though.
Ivan and Gerald sat across the table from him. Dressed in Versace suits and wearing their Ray-Bans, they didn’t quite fit in here either, especially in the middle of the night when only the drunks looking for something more substantial than Taco Bell would be apt to visit this particular venue. That was one of the reasons for choosing this place for the task at hand though: people were less likely to take notice of the peculiarity of the situation.
Jake picked up the glass and examined it closer. The entire chalice appeared to have been crafted of solid gold with the bowl encrusted with various emerald, ruby, and clear colored precious stones.
“Is this the Holy Grail?” Jake asked Ivan and Gerald.
“Of course not,” Ivan responded.
“You can almost guarantee the actual Holy Grail, if it exists, is being kept somewhere deep in the Vatican,” Gerald chimed in. “We have no interest in that. Besides, anyone who knows anything about the myth of Jesus Christ knows that he was born a carpenter, not the king everyone was expecting. His cup was more likely made of clay and possibly adorned with lead. So if he did exist maybe the lead could explain his delusions of grandeur in later life. He should thank the Romans for executing and saving him from becoming as mad as a hatter in later life.”
“So where did this come from?” Jake further inquired.
“We can’t just give away trade secrets, Jacob,” Ivan chimed in. “Once you join us we can tell you more, but for now you just need to trust us.”
Jake wasn’t sure how much he could trust them though. They had initially met half a year ago in a tavern downtown. Ivan was about to get into it with a hothead who frequented the establishment and stood about twice Ivan’s size. Luckily, Jake knew the guy and talked him down. Jake had always been the type to keep the peace, and he didn’t like fights in his bar. He waved down the bartender and bought them each a shot. The hothead drank them both and was on his way. Once a week for the next several months Ivan and Gerald would run into Jake at the tavern, and since Jake was always a loner they felt the pleasure to keep him company.
Finally, a few weeks ago they brought up this meeting. It took Jake a few weeks to warm up to the idea; after all, he had never talked to Ivan and Gerald aside from at the bar at night. In the end he figured what harm could it do? Now that he was staring at the goblet he wasn’t so sure he wanted to go through with this.
“Listen,” Gerald said, “there are sacrifices that have to be made, but that’s like anything. If you want to lose weight, you sacrifice food. If you want to get drunk you sacrifice sobriety. If you want to find love you have to sacrifice self. That’s all you’re doing.”
“We started off right where you are,” Ivan said, “but we can attest to the way our eyes have been opened since we took the exact same step that you’re taking tonight. Sensory deprivation heightens the senses.”
“To truly live, Jake,” Gerald said, “first you have to die.”
Jake shuddered at the thought of this last comment. He wasn’t ready to die, but they had told him before he would come back. That was part of the reason that they chose to do this here: so he would feel safer, and because the wait staff would just assume he was a passed out drunk. What if they were wrong though? Could they just be freaks who get off on murdering people in public?
Jake peered into the goblet. Knowing what was in it, he had to suppress the need to gag. It appeared to be red wine, and he made himself believe that’s all it was.
“If you have your doubts still,” Gerald said, “we don’t have to do this tonight.”
“No,” Jake said, “I’m going to do it.” Jake raised the chalice to his lips. After hesitating for a moment he poured the warm liquid down his throat. He suppressed the urge to allow the drink to return to its golden home, and didn’t remove the cup from his lips until it was all gone. For a moment he sat there swallowing the contents of his mouth to make sure that the drink stayed down, and then he spoke, “Now what?”
“Now, we wait,” Ivan said. As soon as the words left Ivan’s lips Jake could see the vision at the corners of his eyes become blurry. He started to feel tired, sluggish. His arms which he had rested on the table fell limply to his sides. I hope this is for real, was the last thought that passed through his brain as Jake’s entire world faded to black.