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© 2019 Benjamin’s Fiction — All Rights Reserved

6.

The stories within "How to Drink Bourbon & Soda with Rocks" are completely true. The names have been changed to protect the heroes and villains.

 

Desert Sky.

At twenty-two years of age, young Adrian Veidt was addicted to the idea of romance. Girls. Women. It was a problem that would run throughout his life.

Editor's note: Yeah, that sounds like a load of shit, doesn't it? Addicted to an idea? The idea of romance no less. At this time, Young Adrian is twenty-two. Maybe we should cut him some slack and just hear his story.

It was a Tuesday and Adrian was at his neighborhood bar. He liked to drink and smoke a bit. Nothing too crazy. His real problem, as already stated, was his addiction to the idea of romance. Girls. Women.

He was playing pool on this particular Tuesday. Something he rarely did, but sometimes he liked to switch things up, take his bourbon and soda from the bar, put a few quarters up on the table, and do his best not to look the fool.

He was getting his ass thoroughly kicked by an older regular pool hustler, who he guessed had worn out his VHS copy of the Color of Money.

Adrian lit his cigarette, took a sip of his bourbon and soda, listened to the clack of the older regular pool hustler drop another ball when he heard the soft voice of a young woman say, "Mind if I play the winner?"

Adrian looked up and saw her. An absolutely beautiful young blond girl in a skin-tight dress, who decades earlier could have been drawn on planes used to bomb Nazis.

The older regular pool hustler spoke, tripping over his words a bit, "Sure thing, sweetie. I will be done with Adrian in a minute."

"Thanks, doll," the young blond pinup said.

Adrian didn't say a single word. He really couldn't. The older regular pool hustler was right. He would mop up Adrian in a minute. Not that Adrian cared, but he certainly could not argue the point.

"What's your name, sweetie?" the old regular asked as he sunk the eight ball in the side pocket.

"Dolores. Dolores Haze."

Adrian sucked down the rest of his bourbon and soda and started to walk away from the table.

"Hey, Adrian? Do you mind grabbing me another beer?" the old regular asked, "And for you Dolores? You need a drink?"

"I'd love one! What's good?"

"Adrian, grab Miss Dolores here a vodka cranberry."

.

In the seven minutes it took for Adrian to return with the old regular pool hustler's and Dolores’ drinks, a staggering number of men seemed to have a sudden urge to play pool.

Dolores wasn't much of a pool player, and the old regular pool hustler's skills seemed to have magically diminished.

The stacks of quarters grew as Adrian leaned against the wall and witnessed what he believed to be the longest game of bar billiards to ever be played.

It went on.

And on.

Dolores’ ass and cleavage popping out as she played.

The old pool hustler tried not to ogle.

Adrian tried not to ogle.

The crowd of young men made no attempt to hide their ogling.

.

Miraculously, the old regular pool hustler's skills returned. Whether it was because he actually grew tired of watching Dolores bend over the table for shot after missed pool shot or because his desire to illustrate just how great his pool playing was in front of the throngs of young men whose hairlines still existed, Adrian did not know. He guessed it was the latter.

With Dolores defeated, quarters were pulled and the crowd thinned.

The young blond pinup walked over to Adrian as he smoked his cigarette and sipped his bourbon and soda.

"Thanks for the drink. Adrian, right?"

"Yeah, Adrian."

"Want to have a drink with me. Another?"

"Sure."

Adrian and Dolores went to the bar and found a couple of stools.

Over the next few hours, they would drink, talk and smoke their cigarettes.

Adrian became consumed by Dolores. Hanging on her every word. Listening intently. He was convinced that it was not the dress or the cleavage. Dolores was the girl he had always been looking for. His soulmate. The one.

If anything was capable of confusing young Adrian more than his bourbon and soda, it was the idea of romance. Girls. Women. And at this moment, Dolores.

.

It was last call at the neighborhood bar.

Adrian and Dolores had become a little tipsy.

Nothing too crazy.

Adrian paid the tab and was about to ask Dolores for her number when she said, "You live around here, right?"

"Yeah, just up the street," Adrian replied.

"I am having such a great night. You are so much fun. Let’s go back to your place and have some more drinks."

"That sounds like a great idea."

.

The two of them walked their way to Adrian's apartment.

Adrian fumbled with his key as he tried to slide it into the lock of the front door.

Dolores grabbed his hand and said, "There is something that I have to tell you. It is important. I don't want you to think less of me though."

"You can tell me anything. I promise not to think less of you."

"Promise?"

"I promise."

Dolores took a deep breath and said, "I am sixteen years old."

"God damn Tuesdays," Adrian said.

He did not say that.

The front door remained locked.

.

Adrian and Dolores sat on the front step of Adrian's apartment.

Dolores was upset. For a reason unknown to Adrian she began telling stories of her father, who was a preacher, and how sorry she was that she was so young.

"It’s fine, Dolores. Your cab should be here any second," Adrian said as he thought about the lax IDing policy at his neighborhood bar.

Dolores’ cab was indeed there in seconds, and just like that, Adrian's Tuesday soulmate was gone.

.

With his soulmate Dolores Haze whisked away in her cab, Young Adrian sat on his couch, feeling defeated by yet another Tuesday.

He was lonely. Loneliness was a killer to Adrian—and probably every young man addicted to the idea of romance. Girls. Women.

He picked up his cell phone and ran through the contacts.

He stopped at the name Alabama Whitman.

He had not seen Alabama in a long time. He wondered what she was up to. He had liked her. At one time he had thought maybe Alabama was his soulmate. The one.

Maybe she was the one. Maybe if he sent her a well-worded text, he could reconnect with her. Maybe then he wouldn't be so lonely.

He decided to text Alabama. Right then. At two thirty on Wednesday morning.

Editor's note: It was previously noted that Adrian should be cut some slack for his addiction to the idea of romance. Girls. Women. But lonely or not, addicted or not, tipsy or not, twenty-two or not, Tuesday or not--Young Adrian was dumb.

So he texted her.

Another Editor's note: Old Adrian has no recollection as to what Young Adrian wrote to Alabama Whitman. And per the stringent rules of "How to Drink Bourbon & Soda with Rocks," no speculation will be made.

Within a few minutes of sending his message to Alabama, he got a response.

She was happy to hear from him after all this time. "All this time" to twenty-two-year-olds was actually four months. She had moved out of state and was working in medicine. She said that he should come visit some time.

"How about now," Adrian typed and waited for a response.

Five minutes went by.

It was a lonely five minutes for Adrian.

She responded, "Now? Right now?"

"Sure. Why not?"

It was three in the morning, Adrian and Alabama were two thousand miles apart, and they both agreed--there was no reason "why not?"

.

Adrian would get some sleep, and in the morning he would get into his sports utility vehicle and drive two thousand miles to see an ex-girlfriend named Alabama.

And that is exactly what he did.

.

Adrian was in the 23rd hour of his drive.

He had only stopped for gasoline, food and once to take a nap in the back of his sports utility vehicle.

He was in the desert.

He had turned north onto a highway that had a warning sign. No services for two hundred and seventy-four miles. He had checked his gas and estimated that he could make it, but it would be close.

When Adrian heard about desert highways, he did not know what that meant. Now he did.

Much later in his life, he would remember the desert highway that he was on. He would be watching a film with a scene where two misfit drug addicts were traveling down a desert road, and Adrian would say to himself, "I have been there."

"Much later in his life" to Adrian was the following year.

His gas gauge was getting dangerously close to the big letter E. He was questioning his math, among other things.

But his math was correct. Out of the nothingness, he could make out the shape of a building on the horizon. He could also tell the landscape was changing. Soon he would be out of the desert.

Adrian pulled up to the gas pumps in front of the lone adobe building. The price of gas at this particular fueling station on the edge of the desert was a tad bit inflated. They could have charged a literal arm and a leg and people would have no choice but to pay it. So they did.

A red truck coming from the opposite direction pulled next to Adrian. An older bearded man got out, looked at the price of gas and said, "Hooooly shit. Guess they have the market cornered."

As the two strangers pumped their overpriced gas, the bearded man asked Adrian, "What's it like from your direction?"

"Huh?"

"What's the road like from the way you came?"

"Oh. It is straight, and there is nothing. Seriously. Nothing," Adrian said.

"Well, from the way I came," the bearded man paused, ". . . you'll see."

The two desert travelers parted ways and drove off in opposite directions.

.

An hour later the sun was setting, and as Adrian drove up out of the desert, he saw exactly what the bearded man meant by ". . .you'll see."

Adrian, the young man addicted to the idea of romance. Girls. Women. He saw the most beautiful vision he had ever seen. It was indescribable. More beautiful than a pinup drawing on the side of a plane used to bomb Nazis.

He pulled his sports utility vehicle off to the side of the road and just watched the world around him.

He took in the moment.

Then he drove to Alabama.

.

There are moments when exes or estranged friends see one another and immediately remember why they are no longer in each other’s lives.

That didn't happen with Adrian and Alabama.

They picked up their romance right where they left off.

In all fairness to reality though, Adrian and Alabama were originally together for only a sliver of time before they parted ways. A sliver that may have seemed like a decade to two twenty-two-year-olds, but still, there was no time to seed any kind of deep negative feelings that would flower into giant blossoms of hatred.

It also helped that Adrian and Alabama were a bit dumb.

.

On their first day together, they never left Alabama's bedroom

.

On their second day together, they never left the bars.

.

On their third day together, they never left Alabama's bedroom.

.

On their fourth day together, Alabama remembered that there was a small town nearby that had a nearly year-round Shakespeare festival. She remembered that Adrian liked that sort of thing.

.

On their fifth day together they were dancing in Alabama's living room for no reason what-so-ever. Adrian dipped Alabama for no reason what-so-ever, and Adrian's back decided to quit working for no reason what-so-ever.

He collapsed to the floor.

He stayed on the floor.

.

On their sixth day together, Adrian was still on the floor.

Editor's note: Old Adrian has been asked why Young Adrian did not go to the hospital. The hospital that Alabama worked at. Old Adrian responded, "Young Adrian was dumb."

.

On their seventh day together, Alabama managed to move Adrian to the couch. Adrian could make small movements. Movements that caused him excruciating pain.

.

On their eighth day together, Adrian just wanted to go home.

He was able to stand up and take small tiny steps. He could make it into Alabama's kitchen and back to the couch. In pain. But he could move.

He told Alabama he was going to go home.

So that is what he did.

.

Alabama helped him to his sports utility vehicle. It took them an hour, which seemed like six years to twenty-two-year-olds.

They said their "goodbye."

They said their "it was fun except the end part."

.

With his back out of whack and even small movements causing him severe pain, Adrian set off on the long journey home.

He knew that the only time he would leave the driver's seat of his sports utility vehicle was to pump gas. That was it. And he wasn't particularly looking forward to those painful moments of climbing out, pumping gas and climbing back in.

.

He was back in the middle of the desert, in pain and tired.

It was almost midnight.

Adrian decided that he needed to sleep if he could. He pulled the sports utility vehicle off to the side of the desert highway.

He felt his back getting worse. Maybe, if he could somehow get into the back and be able to stretch out, he would feel better and be able to sleep.

It took him effort and pain but he managed to maneuver into the back seat.

Young Adrian Veidt was addicted to the idea of romance. Girls. Women. He often felt lonely. No more so than in the back of that sports utility vehicle along that desert highway at midnight.

The loneliness was consuming him. He would not be able to sleep.

He could barely move, and when he did make small movements, the intense shooting pain was unbearable.

He was so positioned that he was unable to crawl back to the driver’s seat from where he was. He would have to open the back door and go around somehow.

It took him five minutes to get the back door open.

He started to slide his body outside.

When his legs were halfway outside the sports utility vehicle, he heard and felt a pop.

His body crumbled to the ground.

He was face down along the desert highway, and he could not move.

Adrian did not know why he did what he did next. He knew no one could hear him. He did it anyway.

He cried for help.

.

Adrian did not remember how long he was face down in the desert. But he knew that he couldn't stay that way forever.

He found every bit of energy he could and painfully rolled to his back.

That is when it happened.

He saw the sky.

A sky he had never seen before.

Neither young nor old Adrian had words to describe the stars across that lightless desert night. They only said it was far more beautiful than a pinup drawn on the side of a plane used to bomb Nazis and a bearded man's road out of the desert. Combined.

Adrian no longer felt alone.

.

It would take Adrian well after sunrise to crawl inch by inch back into the driver's seat of his sports utility vehicle.

It would take him another two days to get home.

But he did get home.

 

Epilogue.

Weeks later on another Tuesday, Adrian was sipping a bourbon and soda at his neighborhood bar.

A hand touched his shoulder.

He turned and there was the sixteen-year-old blond Dolores.

"Sorry about the other night. How have you been?" she asked.

"Fine. My back did go out a little while ago. Still hurts a bit."

Dolores said, "Oh no, that is horrible. That will stay with you for the rest of your life."

Adrien replied, "Some things do."

 
 

7.

The stories within "How to Drink Bourbon & Soda with Rocks" are completely true. The names have been changed to protect the heroes and villains.

 

Chernobyl Pony

Tuesdays in the summer meant Waylon Jones could be found at the horse track.

He thought there was something special about sitting in the sun, drinking his bourbon and soda, and placing wagers on the outcome of powerful majestic creatures as they raced against one another carrying tiny uniformed humans.

The track was a change of pace from his regular Tuesday afternoons of smoky bars or crowded patios.

Waylon knew a little bit about actual handicapping. Not much, but he had a good idea how things were supposed to be done.

He knew there were a number of different factors one could consider when picking winners. When and how long was the pony's last race--did it win, place, show or fall down? What tiny uniformed human was riding it? Was the pony doped up on make-horse-go-fast juice?

Editor's note: Waylon's "make-horse-go-fast juice" as he calls it are Bute and Lasix. They were and are drugs given to race horses. A pain killer and a blood thinner.

Those questions were just a few Waylon would ask himself as he penciled through the daily program.

But like most things in Waylon's life, after enough bourbon and sodas, all of his knowledge and well-thought out plans were abandoned, and he resorted to other less-time-tested tactics.

Tactics such as taking the advice of an unsupervised five-year-old girl screaming, "Number eight! Number eight!"

.

Waylon had not successfully picked a winner in a while.

.

The second race of the day was six minutes to post when Waylon was joined by his friends Floyd Lawton and Jonathan Crane.

Waylon had known Floyd his entire life and Jonathan for half that time.

Floyd and Jonathan were strangers to each other and could not be any different.

Floyd was married—a reserved businessman who had dreams of an empire.

Jonathan was single—a charming and unpredictable lunatic who once tried to get his hands on some make-horse-go-fast juice just to see how it would make him feel on a Tuesday night.

Their common bond was Waylon.

Waylon and ponies and bourbon and sodas.

.

Over the course of the next seven races, Waylon's bourbon and sodas got the better of his higher reasoning.

He placed bets based on things like whether the horse took a shit right before walking onto the track, or if it was a nice shade of grey, or sometimes based solely on its name.

Names like "Salinger's Tempo" because he once gave a book report on "The Catcher in The Rye" and once gotten a handjob from a pretty girl in an affordable four door American family sedan.

Waylon was not winning.

Neither was Floyd.

The lunatic Jonathan, on the other hand, could not lose.

Going into the last race, Jonathan had made a small fortune with dumb luck.

Exactas. Trifectas.

 

Wins. Places. Shows.

All. Pure. Dumb. Luck.

.

The last race of the day was sixteen minutes to post, and the horses were being walked before the crowd.

Waylon and Floyd, tired of losing, had given up on the ponies and focused on their bourbon and sodas.

Jonathan was counting his small fortune when he looked up and saw her.

A three-year-old busted-up filly that had no business being on a race track.

Limping along, the filly looked like it wanted to be anywhere else but that dirt track on that Tuesday afternoon.

In Jonathan's own words, "Worst horse I have ever seen. I love her."

He looked up at the tote board. The busted-up filly that had no business being on a race track was a long shot. The longest of long shots. No one in their right mind would put a single penny on such a horse.

Jonathan knew what he had to do.

He piled up his small fortune and made a beeline for the nearest pari-mutuel window. He put almost every last penny on the three-year-old filly that had no business being on a race track.

.

Jonathan returned to Waylon and Floyd with three fresh bourbon and sodas as the last race of the day was about to start.

"Who do you have?" Waylon asked Jonathan.

"The seven to win."

Floyd looked up at the tote board and saw the extremely long odds on the seven and asked, "How much did you put down?"

"All of it. Well, nearly all of it. I saved enough for our bourbon and sodas. Plus tip," Jonathan said as he took a sip.

"Jesus Christ, you are dumb," Waylon said.

"What? You didn't want another cocktail?" Jonathan replied.

"Holy shit, you are dumb," Floyd added.

.

The horses for the last race of that Tuesday were in the starting gate. Including the three-year-old filly that had no business being on a race track.

The gates opened.

Off they went.

Editor’s note: Neither Waylon, Floyd nor Jonathan recall exactly how that mile and a quarter thoroughbred race started. Waylon and Floyd do remember laughing at the lunatic Jonathan as the three-year-old filly who had no business being on a race track trailed the field, but that is about it. Although—they do remember what happened at the final turn.

The horses were coming into the final turn. Two favorites were in the lead—running neck and neck—and the filly that had no business being on a race track was dead last.

Then it happened.

The two favorites bumped.

Chaos broke out among the lead horses.

The pace dropped.

An opening emerged along the rail.

And the three-year-old filly that had no business being on a race track took it.

Like she was shot out of a canon, she took the inside.

Absolutely flying.

.

The entire crowd watched in stunned disbelief as the three-year-old filly who had no business being on a race track won. The entire crowd with the exception of three people: Waylon, Floyd and the lunatic Jonathan—who screamed like unsupervised five-year-old girls, and spilled their bourbon and sodas.

.

Jonathan counted his now decently sized fortune as he walked out of the track with Waylon and Floyd.

“I know exactly what you two losers should do,” Jonathan said.

“I should go home,” Floyd said.

“Bullshit, you should listen to me. I am what the world calls a winner. Come with me and maybe we can get that loser stink off of you two. Couple hours. You can go straight home after. Waylon, you’re driving,” Jonathan said.

With only a bit of an argument, Waylon and Floyd decided to follow the lunatic Jonathan.

.

Waylon had been driving for twenty minutes with Jonathan’s navigation when Floyd asked, “Where the fuck are we going?”

“Heaven on earth, friend. Heaven on earth,” Jonathan replied.

.

Waylon had been driving for twenty more minutes when Floyd asked, “Seriously? Where the fuck are we going?”

“Easy, we are almost there,” Jonathan replied.

.

They drove for another twenty minutes and came to the edge of an industrial part of town when Jonathan giddily said, “There, right there. There it is.”

He pointed to a small red brick building that had a silhouette of a naked woman, a lightning bolt, and a martini glass all cut out of slightly rusted sheet metal adorning its side. That was it. No name. No sign. Just the slightly rusty lady, lightning bolt and martini glass.

“No fucking way,” Floyd said.

“Yes, fucking way,” Jonathan said.

.

Editor’s note: Neither Floyd nor Jonathan recall the exact conversation that occurred following Floyd’s initial protest and due to the stringent rules of “How to Drink Bourbon & Soda with Rocks,” no speculation will be made.

Waylon, Floyd and the lunatic Jonathan walked into the little red brick building. Directly inside they found a young doorman taking cover charge. One dollar. One single dollar was the cover.

Beyond the doorman, they discovered what may have been the dirtiest rathole strip club in existence.

Jonathan put his arms around Waylon and Floyd and walked them to the bar.

“We’ll have three bourbon and sodas,” Waylon said to the bartender.

“Whoa, whoa, whoa. Delay that order!” Jonathan said to the bartender and then turned to Waylon, “You crazy? You don’t drink out of glassware in a place like this. When did you become an amateur?”

Jonathan turned back to the bartender, “We’ll have three bottles of beer please,” and he paid the man—plus tip—from his decently sized fortune.

.

Waylon, Floyd and Jonathan found a dirty table in the corner.

“We are drinking these beers. Then we are getting the hell out of here,” Floyd said.

“Agreed,” Waylon said as he noticed an elderly man in a wheelchair hold a wired microphone up to his mouth.

Through blown speakers, the wheelchair-bound elderly man’s voice crackled, “Gentlemen, get those hands free and put them together for our next entertainer. Chernobyl!”

That is when Waylon, Floyd and Jonathan all looked up and saw her.

A forty-three-year-old busted-up dancer that had no business being naked on a stage.

Limping along, the stripper looked like she wanted to be anywhere else but on that stage on that Tuesday.

In Jonathan's own words, "Worst stripper I have ever seen. I love her."

Waylon and Floyd tried to drink their bottles of beers as quickly as they could.

Chernobyl was dancing and spinning around a tarnished brass poll to an early nineties pop song when the speakers unexpectedly quit.

She climbed off of the stage and was walking towards Waylon, Floyd and Jonathan, who were chugging their beers.

Editor’s note: Everything within “How to Drink Bourbon & Soda with Rocks” happened. Completely true stories. It has been stated repeatedly. Still, to reiterate. This actually happened.

Chernobyl walked up to Waylon, Floyd and Jonathan’s table and said, “Would you boys like a dance?”

Jonathan slammed his beer on the table, pulled out his decently sized fortune—every single last penny—and handed it to Chernobyl.

 

He said, “I’m good. But take care of my friends,” then quickly walked past the one-dollar doorman and out of the shittiest rathole of a strip club that ever existed.

Waylon and Floyd sat there in stunned disbelief.

 

The forty-three-year-old busted-up dancer that had no business being naked on a stage climbed on top of Waylon.

There was no song playing.

Waylon looked like he was being tortured for information. His head turned to the side gasping for air.

After a matter of seconds, he said, “I’m good. I’m good. That’s enough; I’m good.”

Chernobyl, the forty-three-year-old busted-up dancer that had no business being naked on a stage, slid off of Waylon and climbed onto Floyd, who put an end to the dance as quickly as Waylon did.

Chernobyl spent the next few moments, gripping Jonathan’s decently sized fortune and thanking Waylon and Floyd over and over.

.

After their dances, Waylon and Floyd walked out of the little red brick building with the rusty sheet metal lady, lightning bolt and martini glass.

 

Their car was still there, but Jonathan was gone.

They did not look for him.

Epilogue

Years later, Waylon, Floyd and Jonathan would be drinking their bourbon and sodas and make a toast to the dancer known as Chernobyl.

 

They hoped that she was well. Hoped that Jonathan’s decently sized fortune gave her an opening on the inside rail and that she got out of the dirtiest rathole of a strip club in existence.

They hoped she absolutely flew.

 

8.

The stories within "How to Drink Bourbon & Soda with Rocks" are completely true. The names have been changed to protect the heroes and villains.

Mister Ash's Ashes

Jack Torrence had just left university after being a full-time student.

He had taken a job bartending and was going to quietly figure things out before he made any big decisions about his future.

Eighteen years old and a day. Long before a string of Tuesdays. Long before his bourbon and sodas. Long before he would know what the word cesspool even meant, let alone dip his toe into one.

Jack thought he knew a lot about life.

 

Jack didn’t know shit.

.

It was a Monday and he was working the afternoon shift in a cozy pseudo Irish pub. The decor was Irish, the name was Irish, he had heard that the owners were part Irish, but wasn't confident on that point.

 

"Pseudo" because full kegs of Guinness and Harp were repeatedly tossed out due to no one drinking them and the Irish whiskey selection consisted of a half bottle of Jameson that no one ever touched.

The cozy pseudo Irish pub was just off the interstate in the middle of nowhere. Jack's patrons in the afternoons usually consisted of businessmen, truck drivers, and people cheating on their husbands and wives.

He worked alone in the afternoon. At eighteen and a day, he was not entrusted to do much except cut fruit, stock beer, and make sure the bar was ready for the closing bartender.

Jack looked forward to customers—the suits, truckers and cheaters. They broke up the monotonous work of prepping the bar.

Jack was taught how to bartend by the cozy pseudo Irish pub manager. A professional. A woman in her forties who took every aspect of bartending very seriously. There was a proper way to do everything, and she was bound and determined to teach Jack all of it.

One of those things was cutting fruit to garnish drinks. There was a perfect way to do it. She showed him. Thick wedges. She was very serious. It did not look like rocket science to Jack, but he appreciated her very serious lessons.

Jack was not very serious. About anything. At all.

Still, he knew to cut the fruit in her serious manner.

.

On this particular Monday, he had yet to even pull out the fruit-slicing knife before a man came strolling through the door.

The man plopped down at the end of the bar, and Jack greeted him with a friendly hello.

"What's the strongest drink you can make?" the man asked.

"I have a bottle of hundred and fifty proof rum. But that doesn't seem like much fun to drink just straight, ya know? What do you normally drink?"

"I don't drink," the man replied.

"Oh . . . umm."

The man scanned the liquor bottles behind the bar and asked, "What's in a black Russian?"

"Kahlua and vodka. That's it. Tastes like coffee."

"I'll have one."

Jack made the nondrinking man a black Russian, put it in front of him and asked, "Cash, tab, just the one? Whaddya want to do?"

 "A tab."

"Sure thing."

Jack grabbed a pen and a note paid and jotted down "Nondrinker—Black Russian" and put a single mark underneath.

 

He then pulled the fruit-slicing knife out of the fruit-slicing knife drawer to cut the limes and lemons.

After slicing just one lime to the very serious pub manager’s standards, Jack heard the nondrinker's empty glass slam against the bar top.

"That was good. I'll have another," the nondrinker said.

"Coming right up."

Jack made another black Russian.

Jack made another mark on the tab.

Jack cut another lime.

Jack heard the empty glass of the nondrinker slam against the bar top again.

"That was good. I will have another."

Another lime.

Another mark.

Another black Russian.

Jack and the nondrinker repeated this routine for half an hour.

A pile of cut limes. A tab full of marks. And a toasted nondrinker.

.

Eighteen and a day, Jack thought he knew things. Jack didn't know shit.

But he did know that a self-proclaimed nondrinker that pounds a slew of black Russians might have something going on.

"So, what brings ya in?" Jack asked.

"Sabotage," the nondrinker replied.

"Oh,”

"Sabo . . . “

“Yeah?”

. . . tage."

"You don't hear that every day," Jack said.

Eighteen and a day and Jack didn't know shit, but he knew that he was not going to pour the nondrinker another black Russian.

.

The pub was filling up with the suits, truckers and cheaters. The nondrinker was still plopped down at the end of the bar—an empty glass in front of him.

A businessman by the name of Shelley Levene grabbed a seat next to the nondrinker, a curly blond cheater by the name of Connie Sumners and her current rendezvous Paul Martel lined up beside Shelley, and a bulldog trucker named Tom capped them off.

Tom, Paul, Connie and Shelley—all four afternoon regulars at the cozy pseudo Irish pub.

They were all fine people as Jack knew them. He doubted Connie's husband or Paul’s wife would agree with that sentiment, but they all had been kind to Jack. They knew he was just a kid of eighteen and a day and that he didn't know shit.

.

Shelley, gregarious as he was, leaned over to the nondrinker and said, "Name’s Shelley, how are ya today?"

"Car trouble."

Oh, that is what he meant by sabotage. He is not deranged, Jack thought. Jack had yet to learn that it could always be both.

"Car trouble. That’s no good. No good at all. Let me buy you a drink," Shelley said to the nondrinker, "Jack, get this man whatever he would like. Put it on my tab."

"I'll have a black Russian,” the nondrinker said.

Connie, eavesdropping, chimed in, "A black Russian? I have not had a black Russian in ages.”

“Neither have I. We should have one,” Paul said.

“Jack, black Russians for everybody and don’t put ‘em on Shelley’s tab. I’m buying,” Tom yelled.

Jack had already decided that no more black Russians would be poured for the nondrinker. But Jack—at eighteen years and a day, Jack—who didn’t take anything seriously at all—said the following:

“Five black Russians it is.”

.

The suit, the cheaters, the trucker and the nondrinker were all chatting and enjoying their black Russians. Several black Russians apiece. All having a lively lovely time that Monday afternoon in the cozy pseudo Irish pub.

Then an odd thing happened.

The nondrinker pulled out a thick electronic device with a keypad and small display from his pocket.

Editor's note: Twenty-one years and fourteen days later, Jack was asked exactly what it was that the nondrinker pulled out of his pocket. Jack said, "I really don’t know. Looked like an electronic dictionary slash thesaurus thingy. But that’s not what it was. It was odd."

The nondrinker with his odd device asked Jack, “What is your last name?”

Jack didn’t know that it was probably a bad idea to give the nondrinker his last name. Jack didn’t know shit. He said his last name.

The nondrinker punched the last name into his odd electronic device. Backwards.

On the display a bible verse appeared.

The nondrinker stood up and recited the bible verse, “A wolf of the deserts shall destroy them; a leopard is watching their cities. Everyone who goes out of them shall be torn in pieces because their transgressions are many, their apostasies are numerous.”

“Jesus,” Tom said.

“Yes! Jesus!” the nondrinker shouted.

“No, Jesus Christ, you’re nuts buddy,” Tom replied.

The nondrinker then started yelling.

Yelling at no one in particular.

In tongues.

Crazed.

Jack could only make out a few words here and there. It was mostly biblical stuff that made no sense. Jack didn’t know what it meant. Jack didn’t know shit, but he did know that he might have served the nondrinker one too many black Russians.

.

After the wild verbal performance, the nondrinker stuck his nose into Connie’s curly blond locks.

Surprisingly, her rendezvous Paul did not move an inch. Maybe he only defended his wife, Jack thought.

Jack yelled, “Hey! Hey, buddy! Time to pay your tab and go. Now.”

The nondrinker sat back down in his chair and said, “I am everywhere for I am God.”

The nondrinker was not leaving the cozy pseudo Irish pub.

The very serious pub manager had taught Jack many things about bartending. But she had yet to cover the lesson on how to calm down God and get him to pay his tab and leave.

Jack set the nondrinker’s tab in front of him and said in a calm tone, “Sir, I am going to need you to pay your tab and leave the establishment.”

Tom waved Jack down.

“Jack, I think you are gonna be fighting a losing battle on this one. Trying to reason with God over there,” Tom whispered. “I can take him out of here for you. Just say the word. I have had a beef with God for years.”

“No, Tom, I will handle it. Thanks for the offer though.”

“Always on the table.”

.

After fifteen minutes, with momentary bursts of Bible verses and incomprehensible shouting from the nondrinker, Connie and Paul paid their tab. They had had enough of God’s antics and were leaving.

“It has been a fun show, but we gotta go. Kid, you probably should call the police,” Connie said.

Shelley agreed with the cheating wife, paid his tab, and left as well.

“Son, I ain’t leaving you alone with God,” Tom said, “The others are probably right. Maybe call the cops on God.”

Jack went to the phone attached to the wall and said to the nondrinker, “Buddy, one last time. Pay your tab and go, or I am going to have to call the police.”

“I am the law. I am God,” the nondrinker said.

“Okie doke,” and Jack called the Police.

Editor’s note: While on the phone with the police, Jack described the man and the situation. The Police asked for the man’s name. One of the stringent rules of “How to Drink Bourbon & Soda with Rocks” is that all of the real names are replaced with the names of fictional characters. For the sake of storytelling, the nondrinker’s real last name will be used.

.

Three local uniformed officers arrived at the cozy pseudo Irish pub. Two young beefy cops named Chip and Dale and a strikingly pretty brunette named Gadget.

Gadget did all of the talking.

“Mister Ash, this gentleman has asked you to leave,” Gadget said to the nondrinker.

"I am God," Mister Ash said.

"He thinks he's God," Jack said.

"Yeah, I caught that. What is his tab?" Gadget asked.

Jack went back and glanced at all of the marks he had made for every one of Mister Ash's black Russians, and the tab’s total, sixty-five dollars. He thought—can someone go to jail for over-serving God? Jack didn't know shit.

"It is sixty-five dollars," Jack said.

"Mister Ash, do you have sixty-five dollars?" Gadget asked.

"I am God."

Gadget glanced at Chip and Dale, and they swiftly picked up Mister Ash and took him outside.

.

Mister Ash sat on the curb next to a patrol car as Jack told Gadget what had happened.

Gadget spoke to Mister Ash, "Sir. You have had too much to drink. Is there anywhere we can take you?"

Mister Ash pointed to the sky.   

"Sir. Besides heaven, is there anywhere we can take you? Because if not, you are going to jail," Gadget said.

Mister Ash pointed to the sky.

Gadget glanced at Chip and Dale, who promptly put Mister Ash into the back of their patrol car.

"Kid, next time be a little more careful when you are serving God," Gadget said.

So Chip, Dale and Gadget took Mister Ash to lockup.

.

Several hours later, the closing bartender had arrived and was listening to the bulldog trucker Tom tell the story of Mister Ash and how he was ready to kick God's ass but didn't want to cause trouble.

Jack was sitting in a booth when he saw a nice-looking middle-aged woman and a small boy holding a teddy bear walk into the pseudo Irish pub.

 

Jack hopped up to great them. Their names were Sylvia and Michael, and like pretty much everyone else, they were not in the cozy pseudo Irish pub for the Harp or the Guinness.

Sylvia and Michael were looking for a man—Sylvia’s husband, Michael’s father.

 

They had all been in their car traveling on the interstate.

 

They were from out of state and just passing through on a permanent move south.

 

Sylvia’s husband was driving when the car started having trouble and broke down four miles away from the cozy pseudo Irish pub.

Sylvia decided she would stay with Michael while her husband went to go get help.

That was hours ago.

She had wondered if Jack had seen him.

Jack didn’t know shit, but he did know where her husband was.

 

He thought about how he was going to tell Sylvia what had happened. That hours ago he served her husband one too many black Russians and had him promptly arrested.

 

He looked at Michael who was squeezing his teddy bear while sitting on a bench near the entrance to the cozy pseudo Irish pub.

Jack, who had not taken anything seriously in all of his eighteen years and a day, was about to have to take something seriously.

“I think I may know where your husband is. His name is Mister Ash, right?”

“Yes, that is his name. Where is he?”

“Well . . . he came in this afternoon. He became a bit of a problem and the police had to be called. He was arrested.”

Sylvia sat down next to Michael.

She sat in silence for a moment then asked, “A bit of a problem? How was he a bit of a problem?”

“He was drunk. So drunk he thought he was God.”

“No. You must be talking about someone else. My husband doesn’t drink.”

“That is what this gentleman said as well. Then he drank a whole bunch of black Russians.”

“Black Russians?”

“It is a drink. Tastes like coffee.”

“That cannot be my husband. He wouldn’t know what a black Russian was.”

Jack who didn’t know shit then described Mister Ash to Sylvia.

It was indeed her husband.

The nice-looking middle-aged woman named Sylvia and the young boy named Michael, who was clutching a teddy bear, left the cozy pseudo Irish pub.

.

One year later almost to the day, Jack came in to the cozy pseudo Irish pub to clock in for a closing shift.

Tom, the bulldog trucker, was sitting at the bar reading the paper and shaking his head.

“Jack, read this,” he said.

Jack picked up the paper and read a headline on the front page.

POLICE BAFFLED BY REMAINS IN TRUNK

Jack read the article.

.

A year ago a towing company removed an abandoned car from the interstate. The article explained that in such situations, the owner has a certain amount of time to claim the car. If no claim is made the car can become the property of the towing company.

An owner did not come forward.

The towing company took possession and opened the car.

Inside the trunk they found stacks of religious texts.

 

Christian. Jewish. Muslim. Hindu. Buddhist.

Among the religious texts they also found something else.

Remains.

Remains of a child.

The towing company promptly called the police.

.

Jack put the paper down and said, “Holy shit.”

“That’s God’s fucking car, isn’t it?” Tom asked.

“It’s gotta be,” Jack said, “But how are the police baffled? They arrested him. They have to have records and shit.”

“I dunno how that works. Maybe you should call them. Unbaffle those boys,” Tom said.

“Yeah. I will call them.”

At nineteen years and a handful of days, Jack who didn’t know shit—knew some shit.

Jack called the police. Twice in two days. No one seemed to want to hear what he knew about the owner of the car with the remains in the trunk.

Jack called the reporter who had written the story with the headline POLICE BAFFLED BY REMAINS IN TRUNK.

The reporter listened to Jack’s story about Mister Ash and then did some digging on his own.

.

This is what the reporter found.

Upon leaving the cozy pseudo Irish pub Sylvia and Michael, the nice-looking middle-aged woman and the boy with the teddy bear, never went to the police to find Mister Ash. They took the first bus back home.

Mister Ash while in lockup had become gravely ill—and not from the black Russians.

He was sent to the hospital—where he died.

Editor’s note: Twenty-one years later, Jack does not remember the name of Mister Ash’s fatal affliction. No speculation will be made.

The remains in the trunk?

 

Apparently Mister Ash and Sylvia had another son.

The remains were his.

Epilogue

The reporter ended up writing another story.

 

This time about the odd Mister Ash.

It was printed a few days later.

The police promptly called the cozy pseudo Irish pub to talk to Jack, who didn’t know shit.

 

9.

The stories within "How to Drink Bourbon & Soda with Rocks" are completely true. The names have been changed to protect the heroes and villains.

Newsgirl.

Ernst Blofeld and Emilio Largo were an unlikely pair of friends.

Ernst was a discreet calculating businessman who had acquired a great deal of wealth, and Emilio was brash, impulsive, and at the time completely without direction.

Emilio was often asked how or why the two were such good friends.

 

Emilio would respond, "I dunno. We met on a Tuesday long ago and have been drinking bourbon and sodas ever since."

When Ernst would be asked the same question, it would be answered with a blank stare.

.

Ernst and Emilio were playing a game while drinking their bourbon and sodas at their regular Tuesday night spot.

The game had no name. No rules. No winners. No losers.

The game wasn’t really a game at all, but a way to pass the time.

The game that wasn’t a game involved speculating on the lives of others—friends, acquaintances, strangers.

It went something like this:

Ernst and Emilio would spot a contestant. Anyone could qualify. The game that wasn’t a game did not discriminate.

Their current contestant was an unappealing older gentleman with an extremely attractive younger woman.

Was the extremely attractive younger woman the unappealing older gentleman’s wife?

 

And if so, how did that come to be?

 

Was his manhood of exceptional quality?

 

Was his bank account overflowing?

 

Or was it a twist of fate and they represented true love come together after the older unappealing gentleman had pulled the extremely attractive younger woman from a burning vehicle after it was broadsided by a truckload of nuns?

 

Or could it be that the extremely attractive younger woman was the unappealing older gentleman’s adopted daughter?

Ernst and Emilio would ask and answer the questions of the game that wasn’t a game and keep themselves entertained while they drank their bourbon and sodas.

.

Through the crowd of unsuspecting contestants of Ernst and Emilio's game that wasn’t a game they spotted one young Miss Mary Goodnight.

She waved to Ernst and Emilio as she strolled over to the barstool next to them.

"What did you say about me as I walked in?" Mary asked.

"Ernst was curious whether you murdered a whore in the parking lot and stole her clothes. I told him that was an awful thing to say and that you were not capable of taking another person's life," Emilio said.

"I didn't say that," Ernst said, "Get you a drink? Bourbon and soda?"

"Yes, please and God, no. Voddy por favor—maybe a splash of soda," Mary said.

.

Mary and Ernst and Emilio sat together on that Tuesday night for hours playing the game that wasn’t a game. Speculating and commenting and judging the lives of others.

They were a little tipsy as it approached closing time at their regular Tuesday night spot, but they still had some life left in them and wanted to continue the evening of bourbon and sodas and voddy and splashes.

"After hours? Ernst's?" Mary asked.

"Why not?" Emilio asked.

.

So, that is what the three friends did.

They went to Ernst’s and continued their Tuesday into Wednesday.

Ernst did not last long into Wednesday and collapsed into his bedroom while Emilio and Mary stepped out onto the front porch to enjoy some fresh air with their bourbon and soda and voddy and splash.

Editor’s note: Emilio does not remember the exact amount of time that he and Mary spent on Ernst’s front porch before their night drastically changed. He would also like to point out that they were smoking, not getting some fresh air.

As Emilio and Mary smoked and drank their bourbon and soda and voddy and splash, a rusty red eighties station wagon without an exhaust pipe loudly and slowly chugged by.

A few moments later, they saw her.

A newsgirl with a cap partially covering her face and a large satchel of papers thrown across her back.

She walked up to Ernst’s front porch.

“Wow. Is it really that late. I mean, early. Whatever. I’ve lost complete track of time,” Emilio said.

“Yep. It is early,” the newsgirl said. “You two look like you are having fun.”

“That is our specialty. Having fun,” Mary said.

“Looks it,”

It was then that Emilio saw under the newsgirl’s cap and said, “Fuck.”

“What?” Mary asked.

“Are you okay?” Emilio asked the newsgirl.

The newsgirl removed her cap and with tears pouring down her face said, “No. I don’t think so.”

Her face was battered.

Bruised.

She had been beaten.

Recently.

“Oh my god,” Mary said, “Come inside. Sit down.”

“Fuck,” Emilio said.

“I can’t. I have to deliver the papers.”

“You can come inside and sit down for a minute. It is okay,” Mary said.

“Fuck,” Emilio said.

The newsgirl went inside.

         

.

Mary and the newsgirl sat at the dining room table.

Emilio was making himself and Mary a fresh bourbon and soda and voddy and splash and said, "Newsgirl, would you like a bourbon and soda? Wait, how old are you?"

"I am twenty-three, and no, I don't need anything to drink."

"Water?"

"No, thank you."

"I am just going to come out and ask it. What happened to your face, newsgirl?"

"And don't give us the whole—fell down some stairs—bit. I have fallen down plenty of stairs. I know what that looks like," Emilio said.

"He has," Mary said.

The newsgirl then explained her situation. A situation of living with an abusive boyfriend. A situation where she delivered her abusive boyfriend's newspapers. A situation that she had been in too long. A situation that she desperately wanted to end.

Mary poured the newsgirl a glass of water that the newsgirl never asked for and pulled Emilio off to the side.

"We have to help this newsgirl, Emilio."

"How?"

"There is a spare bedroom upstairs."

"I don't need to remind you that this is Ernst's house. He might have a problem with moving newsgirls into his house while he is passed out."

"Just for right now. We can help her find a place tomorrow. A shelter or something."

"Fuck."

"Come on, you help people all the time. The newsgirl needs our help."

"Fuck."

"We need to help her."

"Fine. To be honest, Ernst probably won't even notice."

So, Mary and Emilio told the Newsgirl their plan to help.

The newsgirl agreed, but she needed to get some things from her and the abusive boyfriend’s apartment.

An apartment in a suburb outside of town.

"Fuck," Emilio said.

"We can take you there and get your stuff," Mary told the newsgirl.

"Fuck," Emilio said, "Fine, Mary. But you are driving."

.

So, Emilio and Mary and the newsgirl made a journey to a suburb outside of town.

As they drove into the suburb outside of town, Mary said, "This is a nice area."

Editor's note: Emilio recalls that it was an affluent suburb. Affluent with the exception of one stretch that contained an apartment building. An apartment building that Emilio recalls being the sole reason the suburb outside of town had a police department.

Emilio, Mary and the newsgirl pulled into the lot of the apartment building that was the sole reason the suburb outside of town had a police department.

"I just need to get a few things," the newsgirl said, "He isn't home."

"I will come help," Mary said.

Emilio sat in the backseat as Mary and the newsgirl made their way into the building and back with laundry baskets filled with the newsgirl's clothes and belongings.

"One more trip and we will have everything," the newsgirl said.

Emilio remained in the back seat as the two went back into the apartment building that was the sole reason the suburb outside of town had a police department.

Then he heard it.

He heard the sound of a rusty red eighties station wagon without an exhaust pipe.

"Fucking Tuesdays," Emilio said.

He did not say that.

Instead he watched as the rusty red eighties station wagon without an exhaust pipe parked in the lot.

He watched as a fat, bald, angry young man got out and began stomping toward the apartment building that was the sole reason the suburb outside of town had a police department.

Emilio was thinking a lot of things at this moment. A handful of those things involved scenes from movies where the hero tosses a witty line like, "Why don't you dance with a man for a change," before thwarting a wife-beater.

Emilio wondered what line he would toss out at the fat, bald, angry young man.

But the truth of the matter was that Emilio was chock-full of bourbon and sodas and hadn't thrown a punch out of anger in an extremely long time. And even then, it was a half-assed punch directed at a sibling over something petty.

On the flip side of the fictional battle playing out in Emilio's head, the fat, bald, angry young man obviously had been practicing. No offense to the newsgirl.

While Emilio began to get out of the car, he watched as the fat, bald, angry young man came face to face with Mary and the newsgirl and the rest of the newsgirl's belongings.

Editor's note: Emilio was too far away to hear the exact words that Mary said to the fat, bald, angry young man but recalls it being a ferocious display. Emilio also recalls being wrong about Mary—she would have been capable of taking another person's life.

.

Not much was said in the car filled with Emilio, Mary, the newsgirl and all of the newsgirl's belongings as it made the journey from the suburb outside of town to Ernst's house.

Emilio and Mary stacked all of the newsgirl's belongings in the dining room and showed the newsgirl to the spare bedroom.

Emilio and Mary passed out.

.

A few hours later, Emilio and Mary woke to the sound of breakfast being made.

They went to the kitchen and found Ernst making omelets.

They looked in the kitchen and all of the newsgirl’s belongings were gone.

Mary rushed to the spare bedroom, then came back to Emilio and shook her head.

"What's going on, guys?" Ernst asked.

"Oh, nothing," Emilio replied.

Epilogue.

Weeks later, Ernst and Emilio and Mary were sitting once again at their regular Tuesday night spot.

Playing the game that wasn't a game.

They had another after-hours.

Emilio and Mary again found themselves on the front porch enjoying some fresh air while drinking a bourbon and soda and voddy and splash.

And again saw the rusty red eighties station wagon without an exhaust pipe slowly chug by.

Then they saw her.

The newsgirl.

She threw Ernst's paper. 

 

It landed at Mary's feet.

Emilio said, "We can barely save ourselves. How can we expect to save others."

"Saving others is how you save yourself," Mary said.

Mary didn't say that, but she should have.

Instead, she said this:

"You're right. We're all fucked."

 

10.

The stories within "How to Drink Bourbon & Soda with Rocks" are completely true. The names have been changed to protect the heroes and villains.

Remember, Remember

Carson Wells worked at a Belgian beer bar.

He didn't drink Belgian beer. Or beer of any kind. Some found that odd about Carson.

To which he would say, "The car salesman who sells the insanely priced, high-end, super-fast, deluxe-o-rama, foreign-born sports car certainly doesn't own one, but that doesn't stop him from knowing every detail from the double-clutch gearbox to the width of the wiper blades. And it definitely doesn't stop him from selling the shit out of 'em. Now, what Belgian ale would you like this evening? I have several."

Beer drinking or no, Carson might have been a bit odd.

Down the stairs from the Belgian beer bar was a lovely English Pub being tended to by Carson's good friend Anton Chigurh.

Anton had some quirks. Quirks layered with quirks. He uttered phrases such as "What in the Helen of troy?" and gestured like a blackjack dealer after pouring every cocktail or beer.

Carson and Anton did not know one another before they became co-workers at the Belgian beer bar and lovely English pub, but their similar oddness-ity seemed to draw them together.

Drawn together into a brotherhood of the slightly odd.

.

It was a Tuesday and Carson and Anton were closing out the end of their shifts at the Belgian beer bar and lovely English pub.

It had passed the witching hour.

An hour at which the German black liquorice-flavored liqueur that looked like motor oil seemed to flow more freely into everyone's bellies.

Including Carson and Anton.

Of course, bartenders out-drinking their customers was frowned upon at the Belgian beer bar and lovely English pub.

But as Carson would say, "Frowning upon something doesn't stop it from happening."

Editor's note: Carson would like to point out that he and Anton were not "MC Hammered" on this Tuesday. "Not that it didn't happen from time to time, but not on this particular Tuesday."

.

It was a little before two when in through the door came three gentlemen. Three gentlemen named—

Another Editor's note: Carson is adamant that these three "douche nuggets" do not deserve fictional names. His objection is noted.

Three gentlemen named, Blossom, Bubbles and Buttercup walked into the lovely English pub at five minutes till close.

Anton was always a gracious host at the lovely English pub—even after the witching hour. But there was something about Blossom, Bubbles and Buttercup that rubbed him the wrong way, and it wasn't just their complete inability to tell time.

It might have been when Bubbles said, "Hey, fucker, three bottles of domestic light beer."

"Hey, yo. My name isn't fucker, and we're closed. You'd have to drink them in three minutes," Anton said.

Anton should not have said that last bit, but he did.

"We could drink a case of domestic light beers in three minutes!" Buttercup responded.

"You'll have to find that case of domestic light beers somewhere else. We're closed, yo."

"Fucker," Buttercup said.

Blossom, Bubbles and Buttercup left the lovely English pub.

.

Fifteen minutes later Carson walked down the stairs from the Belgian beer bar with a drawer full of cash to be counted.

He sat down next to Anton, who also had a drawer full of cash to be counted.

Carson and Anton counted the money and chatted.

"Need a ride home tonight?" Carson asked.

"Nope, I got the bike."

Anton owned a handmade gearless black bicycle with handlebars racked out like a chopper. It steered like a tranquilized moose and weighed four thousand pounds. It was the least practical mode of transportation known in existence.

Carson was separating a pile of tens and twenties when he looked out the front windows of the lovely English pub and said, "Cool, cool. The weather should be—hey, what's the deal with the three douche nuggets out front?"

Carson and Anton both looked out through the lovely English pub's front windows and saw Blossom, Bubbles and Buttercup.

Bubbles slammed his fist against the glass and screamed, "Fucker."

"Those dudes? They came in at two. Wanted three bottles of domestic light beer," Anton said.

"They appear to be angry. Angry and wrecked-to-the-bejezus," Carson said.

"Probably came from that crappy sports bar down the street. They'll tucker themselves out," Anton said, "Hey, remember that one time I took you home?"

"Ha. Yes, I do. On the handlebars of that contraption. But If I recall correctly, and I always do, we got sidetracked."

"Ha. Yeah."

"You saw a giant discarded canoe on the side of the street and needed to take it home to your apartment."

"You can't pass up good ground scores like that! It was a perfectly good canoe."

"We walked that thing five blocks before realizing—"

Carson was stopped by the sound of a fist banging against the front window of the lovely English pub and the muffled voice of Bubbles screaming, "Hey, fuckers!"

"I am gonna go talk to them," Anton said.

Anton went to the front door followed closely by Carson.

Anton unlatched the door.

That is when Blossom, Bubbles and Buttercup charged and pushed the front door of the lovely English pub partly open.

Anton pushed his skinny frame against the door. Carson pushed his not-skinny frame against Anton.

With the yells of "fuckers," Anton and Carson pushed and pushed on the door until it finally closed and latched.

"Those douche nuggets really want those bottles of domestic light beer."

Anton moved to the front window of the lovely English pub and said, "Hey, fellas. Move along. Or I am calling the popo."

Blossom, Bubbles and Buttercup did not move.

Carson and Anton did not call the police—they went back to finish counting their drawers full of cash to the sounds of fists against windows.

Carson and Anton should have called the police.

.

Carson and Anton had finished counting their drawers full of cash and had noticed that the sounds of fists hitting glass had stopped.

Looking through the front windows of the lovely English pub, Carson and Anton could not see a trace of Blossom, Bubbles and Buttercup.

"See, I told ya they'd tucker themselves out," Anton said.

"What do we have left?" Carson asked.

"Just trash."

"Cool, cool."

.

Carson and Anton, carrying the trash from the Belgian beer bar and lovely English pub, walked out the large steel side door.

"Hey, remember that one time I drove you home and you made me stop for that giant mirror lying against a dumpster?" Carson asked.

"It was a perfectly good mirror!"

The mirror was indeed perfectly good. It was perfectly good and also perfectly huge.

Editor's note: Carson does not recall exactly how huge the perfectly good mirror was. "Eight feet by ten feet? It was a mirror from a bar. Most likely a crappy sports bar that sold bottles of domestic light beer by the truckload. Had to hold it against the roof of my car as we drove."

"You and your fucking ground scores," Carson said.

As Carson and Anton heaved the trash into the dumpster behind the lovely English pub, they saw them.

Blossom, Bubbles and Buttercup.

Hiding.

With bricks in their hands.

Carson and Anton dashed back through the large steel side door as a brick landed at their feet.

.

Blossom, Bubbles and Buttercup moved out of their ambush position and stood in front of the lovely English pub with bricks in their hands.

"Those douche nuggets really want some bottles of domestic light beer," Carson said.

"Now we call the popo," Anton said.

Anton called the police non-emergency line.

Anton should have called the police emergency line.

Carson poured two glasses of German black liquorice-flavored liqueur that looked like motor oil.

Drinking after two was frowned upon not only by the owners of the lovely English pub, but also the popo.

But as Carson would say, "Frowning upon something doesn't stop it from happening."

Carson and Anton drank their German liquorice-flavored liqueur that looked like motor oil while under siege by the brick-wielding Blossom, Bubbles and Buttercup.

"You approve of one of my ground scores," Anton said.

"Satchmo," Carson said.

Satchmo Chigurh was a runty black kitty cat that Anton had found while peddling away on his black bicycle that was the least practical mode of transportation in existence.

Anton saved Satchmo and took him home to pounce around all of the other ground scores—all the other perfectly good things that people had discarded.

Carson and Anton listened to the screams of "Fuckers," as they waited for the popo and continued activities that were frowned upon.

"Remember that one time at that one apartment?" Anton asked.

"I do."

"Remember that one time in Vegas."

"I do."

"Remember that one time on the frozen lake?"

"I do."

"Remember that one time on the roof?"

"I do."

.

A brick came crashing against the front window of the lovely English pub.

The window did not shatter.

Anton called the police emergency line.

.

For fifteen minutes, Blossom, Bubbles and Buttercup pounded on the front windows of the lovely English pub.

The popo was not coming.

Anton went behind the bar and pulled out two large empty bottles of imported vodka and handed one to Carson.

"What the fuck am I going to do with this?" Carson asked.

"If they get through the window, smack 'em in the head with it."

"What?"

Carson and Anton in all of their lives and all of their travels and all of their ground scores never found a manual on how or why to hit another human being.

"Remember that one movie night?" Anton asked.

"Which one?"

"The one with the zombies. Smack 'em like in the movie."

"Anton, in every zombie movie ever made, the zombies always win."

.

Blossom, Bubbles and Buttercup continued their assault.

Anton and Carson moved to a few feet from the window.

Bubbles pounded and pounded away at the window of the lovely English pub.

It shattered.

Bubbles began to climb through.

Then Carson and Anton saw them.

The popo.

.

Blossom, Bubbles and Buttercup were facedown at gunpoint when Carson and Anton walked out the front door of the lovely English pub.

It was explained to the popo that they had wanted bottles of domestic light beer.

Blossom, Bubbles and Buttercup were handcuffed and put into squad cars.

.

A little while later the friendly bearded giant of a man who owned the lovely English pub showed up with plywood to cover the shattered window, and said, “I frown upon my windows being shattered.”

He did not say that.

As they hammered the plywood into place, the friendly bearded giant of a man asked, "Why didn't you two just fight 'em off," and laughed.

Epilogue

After some time, both Carson and Anton left their jobs at the Belgian beer bar and lovely English pub.

After some more time they lost track of one another.

On occasion, they ran into each other on random Tuesdays.

Carson would ask about Satchmo.

Anton would ask if Carson remembered that one time . . .

.

Anton was born on a day celebrated in England.

The celebration had a poem that went with it.

It began, "Remember, Remember . . . "

.

Anton was still a young man on the day that he died.

A day that was not celebrated.

.

Carson went to Anton's wake.

He told people gathered there, “I remember that one time . . . “