Here is this week’s Chuck Wendig Flash Fiction Challenge. This week’s challenged is the Random Cocktail Generator. What happens is you go here, or here, where a random cocktail is named. The name is the title of the author’s 1000 word short story. This was mine. Enjoy.
It’s simple math, really. You take today’s date and subtract twenty-one years. If the ID of the person in front of you is before that date, they’re good, if not they go away.
“Five bucks,” I say, holding my hand up reinforcing the admittance fee over the noise inside the small bar.
“Five?” they say. It’s a question I get often.
“It’s for the band, not the bar,” I reply. It’s 9:30 p.m. and the band is still setting up. The wannabe patrons take a look at the night’s entertainment.
I tell them the name of the band.
“They any good?”
“Not bad,” I say.
“What do they play?”
“A little bit of everything,” I say as they hand over their fare.
It goes like this for the majority of the night with the aforementioned conversation supplying little variation. I take a swig of beer followed by a gulp of water and wait for the door beside me to open bringing the next round of people and questions. Most people hand over their money without question, others seem surprised at the fee. In most cases it’s the same faces week after week who are astonished by my request.
“It’s for the band, not the bar,” I say.
In addition to beer, I get a cut of the band’s proceeds for taking door. It’s percentage varies based on the night, yet it keeps me in spending money throughout the week. I’m not an employee of the bar, but of the band, it just so happens I take door mainly at one bar. Most bands know me, and know I have their best interest in terms of money. Occasionally I’ll run door elsewhere based on my take, but I prefer this bar. It’s within walking distance to the house I rent, and the bartender always catches my eye. This evening, however, is her night off, and instead of staying home, or going out with friends, she sits across from me sipping on bourbon.
“There’s always something sexy,” I say “about a woman who slings booze.”
“Oh yeah,” she replies. That familiar coaxing grin touches her face for an instant.
“And there’s something especially intoxicating about a woman sipping whiskey,” I say.
“Nice try,” she smiles sliding a lock of hair behind her ear. “But I don’t date customers.”
“Ha,” she says. “Not ever.”
“Then what, or who, are you waiting for,” I ask.
“Something better,” she replies. She grins. She takes another sip.
The night continues with more customers, more questions, more noise, and more money. The zip pouch of a bank bag bulges, and more change is made. The bartender leaves my table and disappears into the crowd, returns with a fresh drink and sly smiles as we talk between incoming waves of patrons. She leaves, again. She returns. When one oclock in the morning comes, there is less than an hour left for the bar, and band, to entertain their flock. The holy worship of booze and music are at full force, and I take my leave from the door by 1:15 a.m. At this point in the night, it’s neither fair nor justified to charge anyone for a few minutes salvation. Showing up late to the show gets you in the door for free, but the booze still has their price. The bartender follows me to the back room where I separate the money, math at work again. There is the initial amount to be subtracted from the lot, the first two hundred dollars supplied by the bar so I can make change for anyone coming in with something larger than a five. The rest is the net for the band. I divide the money based on the number of members until I have four monetary equal stacks. Any remainder bills not allowing equal share goes into my pile. The band says goodnight, the patrons are shuffled out the door, and I sit waiting with the bartender as business is handled. Each member takes a twenty and a five from their stack, and place it before me. I find it important for them to do this, that way there is no question as to my fee. On leaner nights I take less, and better nights I get more.
I walk the girl home. At this hour she is no longer a bartender even if she wasn’t working. She sways from the alcohol and I guide as best I can while under my own influence. I step up to her door while she unlocks it. I say goodnight, and she turns to me.
“Hey,” she says.
“Yeah,” I reply.
She leans over and kisses me on the lips. The smell of the night’s spirits mixed with the tangy sweet fragrance of her perfume washes over me. She released her embrace leaving my lips wet.
“Does this mean I’m something better,” I ask.
“Maybe,” she says. “You definitely are something.”
“Well,” I say, “something is better than nothing.”
“Yeah,” she replies. The light shines in her eyes like a flash capturing the moment as we smile at each other. “Thanks for treating me like a person, and not a bartender you want to sleep with. I get enough of that at work.”
“No problem,” I reply.
“Goodnight,” she says, and goes inside.
I walk home with the smell of her in my nostrils. I lay down in my bed still feeling the dampness from her whiskey kiss, and the knowledge there is hope for someone to see another through their armor.