It was an ordinary Mojito Monday, and Chris was feeling better than he had in a long time. December was already under way and soon, they would bid adieu to 2013. It made Chris hopeful for the future. Hell, he considered adding to his offerings in 2014. Visions of mangoes and pomegranates danced in his head. He snickered quietly to himself. Maybe he’d even break out a Sugar Plum Mojito for Christmas.
If everything kept going as well as it had, well, he’d have all the Christmas present he could ask for.
Jamie strolled into the bar, a satisfied smirk on his face. He wiggled within his jeans, marveling at the feel of the denim against his cheeks. He thought about adding a little powder into the mix, but that was really more for the professionals.
“What is up with you, today?” Joey asked.
Jamie smiled at him. “Welp, Joe, my dude ranch was a -hankerin’ for a breeze, so I decided to take the rag top off my hot rod.” Jamie was trying out a cowboy/farmhand persona, today. He thought seriously about spitting, but figured that might be tasteless in a bar setting.
“Don’t call me Joe.” Joey arched an eyebrow and rolled his eyes, preparing to walk away, then he circled back around. “Wait, are you trying to tell me you’re not wearing any underwear?” he asked. The telltale grin he was greeted with confirmed his suspicions, and Joey wished he’d never asked.
“Its dern liberating Joseph, you should try it,” Jamie replied.
Joey couldn’t think of anything he’d rather deal with less, than a free ballin’ Jamie on Mojito Monday. “Where is Tyler?!” he asked in desperation.
Jamie hooked a thumb into the belt loop of his jeans and leaned back against the bar. “I reckon he’ll be along directly, though I think he’ll be as unencumbered as I on this cool winter’s day.” He laughed in a way that frightened every bartender under his employ.
Just then, Tyler came in, a grumpy scowl on his face. “Jamie, you’re an asshole, and I’m going to murder you!”
Jamie assumed the most innocent of visages, and in his gruff, cowboy, voice uttered “Why, Tyler, whatever do you mean?”
Narrowing his eyes at Jamie, Tyler produced a note, handing it to Chris, who read it aloud, with Joey looking over his shoulder.
Good Morning, Tyler.
I want to play a game.
It’s called Soiled Panties. I’ve worn one pair of your underwear for precisely one hour and forty-five minutes. Can you look into this drawer and guess which one?
Chris and Joey burst into laughter, much to Tyler’s dismay. “It took me twenty minutes to decide if I wanted to wash all of them, or burn them all and just start over,” Tyler lamented.
Still, Chris and Joey chuckled at his misfortune. “So, I guess you and Jamie are restraint rebels today,” Chris joked.
“Kiss…my…ass,” Tyler growled.
“Well, there’s certainly nothing standing in our way,” Joey chuckled.
Yes, today was certainly a good day in Black Flower Land.
Just then, the crowd began to filter in, and things started to get busier. The music was blasting, and the booze was flowing. Before long, solitary faces could not be seen, only a mass of patrons. Vodka, Gin and Rum comprised an endless sea of joy and fulfilment. All around were smiling faces. Laughter tumbled forth as easily as tequilla shots. Hips swayed as loosely as Fireball shots were poured. It was so easy to get lost in the merriment, and lost was Mad Muddles Bannon.
Again the hordes were shouting his name, again he was in demand. They needed him, they wanted him…
They loved him.
He was the best muddler this side of the country, boasting 73 muddle muscles, and counting. He even began to feel the old muddling vein that had catapulted him to fame on the west coast. He was smiling when Joey approached him with an odd request.
“Some guy wants a Mint Julep,” Joey said.
“A Mint Julep? What is he, 60?” Chris replied.
Joey shrugged. “I don’t know, I thought it was weird too. But, ours is not to reason why, our is but to do …”
“… and die, ” Chris finished, already muddling the mint. He smiled at Joey, still curious as to who would order such a dated drink. As Joey took it away, Chris tried to follow his movements into the crowd. He never lost sight of Joey, but could also not see who the drink was given to. With the demand of the customers, the antiquated drink was soon forgotten.
Muddles had hit his stride. This was the day the Muddles had made, and all were rejoicing in it. He was in his element, surrounded by fruit, bringing joy to all who crossed his path. The rest of the night passed with everyone sated and pleased with his performance. As the congregation thinned and swelled throughout the night, Chris began to feel like his old self again. With the dawning of a new year, he felt like he could actually put his past behind him.
He could finally move on.
The Mojitos were in such high demand, he needed more supplies. “Hey, Not-Chandler! I need more limes!”
A nearby patron furrowed her brow, leaning across the bar. “Hey, why do you call him Not-Chandler?” she asked.
“Because, he’s not Chandler,” Chris simply replied.
She briefly admired his lime cutting technique, shying away when he looked at her. With a cheeky wink, Not-Chandler said “It’s all in the slit.” causing the young lady to blush profusely.
The night was slowly coming to a close, with Chris shouting loudly for “last call.” He sent Tyler home, confident he could handle the rest of the evening by himself. Tyler took the opportunity offered to exact retribution. He left Jamie a note on the back of a napkin, in the care of Joey.
I want to play a game too. It’s called, Loofah Scavenger. I’ve lost a curly brown hair in a certain purple loofah… Exfoliate that, bitch!
Love and Kisses
Jamie took one look at the note, bellowing out his amusement. “Touche, Tyler. Touche,” he said.
Chris provided Joey with the appropriate tabs for the tables around the bar. He found it odd that the person who had ordered the Mint Julep, was not only still present, but had not ordered another drink. He followed Joey’s movements, noticing that he stopped by the table close to the t.v.
Unfortunately, the glare from the abandoned Mario Kart game left a shadow over the stranger’s face. Chris watched Joey’s progression around the bar, until returning to the register. He was not overly concerned, but there was the slightest nagging at him, and a sense of foreboding.
Joey returned everyone’s cards to them, requiring only a signature to settle their bills for the night. As Not-Chandler saw their wards safely to their vehicles for the night, Chris waited to get a glimpse of the stranger who had ordered one drink, yet stayed all night. The gentleman was hooded, sleight of frame and build, but there was something ominous about him.
Joey collected the signed receipts, bringing them back to Chris for the nightly accounting. Chris gathered them, tearing through each one, disregarding names he knew as regular customers. He flipped through the receipts until one stopped his blood cold. He went deaf to all around him, and his fingers held no sensation. Though only three letters were scrawled boldly on the receipt, a lifetime of words sprang to mind.
The very devil was in their midst. The one person who could bring all to ruin in Chris’s life. The one person who knew, unequivocally what had truly happened in Tucson. Chris had thought him dead, but he had returned, no doubt to expose his every secret. In a trembling voice, Chris found he could only utter two words.