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New fiction: Keep Em’ Coming Bartender

Note: This is the first three chapters of my novel in progress. Although it is fiction, it is based on real people and events. I have written more than I will post, but based on the response that may change.

By Brien O’Donal

 

One

BAM BAM BAM BAM!! “Wake your ass up!!”

The loud and fast pounding on his door woke him from a deep alcohol induced slumber. Daniel knew who it was in an instant. With all the strength he could summon he bellowed a thunderous “ALRIGHT! I’M UP!!” He had no idea if it was Saturday or Sunday, but he knew it was one or the other. He slowly opened his eyes to the grayness of his tiny room and felt the slivers of sunlight hit his face from the narrow gaps between the curtains and window. He knew that since he was waking up after sunrise there would be no work today, but before he could get out of bed the door flew open. There was Tommy, beer in hand ready to pick up where they left off the night before.

Tommy, as always on a morning like this, wore only flip flops and a pair of jeans. He had blood shot eyes and a thick morning stubble that was surprisingly red despite his brown hair which was both matted and disheveled at the same time. He was a man of average height and looks, sporting many tattoos of varying types expressing no distinct representation of his character. His blue eyes and bold cheek bones told the most about his Irish heritage. It was this fact that never eluded Daniel for he himself was Irish. And as Americans of Irish descent, both Daniel and Tommy found a simple bond that began a friendship; however loosely at first. They were like two long lost brothers finally reunited. Daniel looked over and saw Tommy standing in the door holding a beer and scratching his chest still trying himself to fully wake up, and he could think of only one thing: “Why did I give him a key?”

As he lie there in bed wearing only a pair of white boxer shorts (a size too small after some recent weight gain), he begrudgingly accepted the beer and told Tommy to get out.

“Hey! Don’t get snippy with me. It’s time for kegs n’ eggs.” barked Tommy “Get your ass up and start drinking!” He then flipped on the light switch and closed the door behind him.

Daniel, still not fully awake, could muster only enough will power to tilt back the bottle and move to the couch that was butted up next to his bed and light a cigarette. Few things gave him as much pleasure as that first smoke before he had completely come out of his morning stupor. This exchange with Tommy, the sights and smells that accompanied it and the dreaded feeling that soon set in were becoming all too familiar. Daniel thought silently and reminded himself that once he left this place things would be different.

The routine of passing out from too much alcohol and waking up to more of the same was not part of Daniel’s nature. He grew up with a strong sense of right and wrong, an understanding of responsibility, and an aversion to this type of reckless abandon. Like Tommy, Daniel was average height, looks, and build with brown hair and deep blue eyes. He had a few tattoos as well. The difference between the two men was all personality. Tommy lived his life in search of a good time, nothing was off limits or too risqué; whereas Daniel was reserved and cautious, always fearing the repercussions. It was Tommy’s personality that created the present situation. Not that Daniel was innocent; after all, he participated every step of the way. But being the self-reflective person that he was, he spent the same five minutes every morning smoking his cigarette and wondering when it was all going to be over.

No time for that now though. He could hear Tommy yelling from the kitchen about waking up and getting dressed so he could open the door. After all, the couches, TV, and stereo were in the room with Daniel. BAM, BAM, BAM! The pounding on the door was enough to snap Daniel back to life. “Hold on a sec!” he yelled back reassuring Tommy that he hadn’t crawled back into bed. He threw on his usual morning outfit of workout shorts and an old high school t-shirt of a sport he never played. He scooped up his beer, took a sip, and opened the door to see Tommy bent over in the refrigerator searching for the traditional breakfast ingredients. Returning to his room he turned on the TV and the computer. Checking the messages on his phone Daniel was able to determine that it was 9:41 AM Saturday morning.

How could Tommy be up so early? He thought to himself. He returned to his cigarette, sucking in the last puff of smoke and smashing the butt in the overflowing ashtray. Turning back to Tommy in the tiny kitchen area he jokingly said “is breakfast ready yet?”

“F___ you! I just got here.” was Tommy’s quick reply. This brought a smile to both of their faces and gave rise to the realization that they might both still be feeling the effects of last night’s drunken adventure.

“Alright, what do we have in the fridge? Please tell me we have all the good stuff.” said Daniel as he leaned his head over the door to see what was there. “Oh yeah. We got some ham, some bacon, some pepperoni, eggs, and cheese. Nothing like a greasy ball of goodness to settle your stomach after last night” spouted Tommy. As he listened to the contents of their breakfast Daniel felt a little less hungry; although he could never fully lose his appetite. “Let’s do the damn thing” he said “Who’s cooking?”

Always the excited cook Tommy volunteered his services and Daniel was happy to oblige him. “This is going to be so nasty, yet so awesome.” Tommy had a habit of speaking in oxymoron’s when it came to such things.

The kitchen was extremely small and could hardly be considered one. It was a small space that had, on the opposite wall from Daniel’s room: a sink, counter, and small cabinet set up; a refrigerator; and one large elevated counter top where Daniel held his vast collection of liquor bottles and a griddle that served as their hot plate. It was at that griddle that Daniel watched Tommy begin cooking the meat that would form the basis of their kegs n’ eggs.

Having breakfast securely in Tommy’s hands, Daniel returned to the room and looked for a CD to put on the stereo. Music always seemed to lighten the mood and get the blood pumping through his system. Besides, he had better play something he wanted to listen to before the third member of the group arrived; otherwise he would be listening to some random mix of modern rock that he was not very fond of. “Here we go! Get ready for some jams!” he exclaimed as he put the album in the CD player and grabbed the remote.

“What are you putting in?” he heard from the kitchen, “It better be f___ing good!”

“I always put in something good and if you don’t like it then you’re not Irish.” he replied, knowing he was challenging a core tenet of Tommy’s identity.

Predictable as ever, the beast turned from his sizzling breakfast with his obviously fake angry face and said “Don’t challenge my Irishness boy! I’m more Irish than you’ll ever be. As a matter of fact; I’m going to chug this beer and prove it.” As if chugging a beer proved how Irish he was.

Daniel laughed and dared him to do it, but before he could finish the sentence Tommy had already downed his beer and began a thunderous belch. Like a brother trying to prove he was better, Daniel looked as his near empty bottle and drank it. Then he grabbed the new one that Tommy was already handing him (this sort of telepathic connection was not uncommon) and chugged nearly all of it.

Of course he heard, “Don’t be a b____! Finish up!” and Daniel did. This had to be the best way to start the day.

After that, he pressed play and the booming sound of the Dropkick Murphy’s caused both of their eyes to get wider and a synchronous joy came across their faces. Now all parties were awake and the room filled with excitement and adrenaline.

Grabbing another beer Daniel sat down on the couch and took a deep breath. He could already feel the beer hitting him and he smiled a drunken smile. The music was good, the beer was great, and breakfast would be better. Somehow he couldn’t be entirely happy though. He knew it wouldn’t last long. It wasn’t because he was generally unhappy with things. To the contrary; he would enjoy this if it weren’t for the knowledge of what had to be coming soon, Alan.

And right on cue; “What’s up b______?” said Alan as he walked through the outer door to the kitchen, “I hope you two aren’t getting drunk without me.”

Daniel could do one of two things: manifest his dislike of Alan or pretend they were best friends. As usual he chose the latter. He could have a bit of fun though, “We’re not drunk yet but you’re down two beers.” he said handing Alan two cold ones.

“I don’t know man. I’m still a little buzzed from last night.”

“So?” Daniel shouted, “So are we! You better get with the program.” Turning to Tommy: “Tell him.”

Tommy was half listening but somehow knew enough about what was going on to turn to Alan and say: “Hey b____, you better drink those beers right f___ing now or I’m going to shove this spatula up your ass!” They all began laughing as Alan agreed to drink the beers, refusing to chug though.

Alan had the makings of a decent human being but Daniel generally considered him an ass____. He had an alpha male personality. He always had to be the one with the plans, the one who was the funniest, the best looking, the center of attention; and when he wasn’t his natural reaction was to embarrass whoever took that away. Often that was Daniel, much to his dismay. Despite all that Alan was loyal, a bit awkward about it, but always there to defend you if an outsider caused trouble. The three men had been through a lot together and Tommy really liked Alan so Daniel kept his mouth shut about his disdain towards him.

Alan was tall, in shape, and stylish. Unlike the other two he wanted to maintain his physique and some semblance of style. He wore a t-shirt and jeans, but like everyone else wore flip flops. Tommy and Daniel really didn’t care about all that so soon after waking up. Oh, and he was the non-Irish of the three. He came into Daniel’s room and true to his personality sat down at the computer as if it were his own to start checking email and surfing the web. This didn’t go unnoticed and Daniel contemptuously shrugged it off as the norm. He sat back down on the couch and sipped his beer while he waited for his food.

While he sat there, Daniel began to think about a number of things. By now his mind was a jumble of thoughts. Seeing Alan reminded him of the night before and that led to thoughts of what might happen tonight. The three were practically inseparable and Daniel knew that if he wanted to have a good night he better find the good in Alan. He had to focus on that rather than the negatives of his personality. Sometimes it was tough to be the one going against the grain.

But for now, breakfast.

Their usual was a simple enough concoction, but still a confusing recipe of two parts grease and one part egg. In fact, Daniel couldn’t remember the last time he actually had a difficult time cleaning any of the dishes because the amount of grease in their food prevented anything from sticking. As far as drunken meals go, this was one of the best. The mixture of ham, bacon, pepperoni, eggs and cheddar cheese would be enough to make a normal person’s stomach turn but had seemingly the opposite effect on this trio of perpetual lushes. Somehow their weekend ritual of beer, grease, and memory jogging was all they needed to start the day off right. As per usual, reminiscing about the previous night was all that remained.

They migrated into the room and took seats around the coffee table. The room was small; about the size of a normal bedroom, but intended to be an all-inclusive apartment.

The furniture that existed when Daniel moved in was a single bed, a desk and a small entertainment center. To make it more of a home Daniel purchased a bookshelf, some shelves for his DVD collection and traditional electronics for entertainment. In addition he was able to acquire a couch and chair, coffee table and a nice area rug to create a living room atmosphere. Compared to others living in his building, his was one of the closest to a reminder of home. It became renowned as the place to hang out and enjoy a bit of comfort.

Walking in from the small kitchen it was easy to see how compact the room was. The long couch was against the wall on the right while the single chair was against the short wall immediately on the left. Against the left wall of the room Daniel managed to fit first his bookshelf mostly full of historical non-fiction works, then the entertainment center with (what was large in that miniscule room) a TV, then his desk with a fully connected computer, and in the corner his 250 plus DVDs.

In the back right corner of the room sat his bed, a single; which is one reason he was able to fit so much in a small space. In the middle of the room there was nearly the feel of home because the area rug he purchased spread almost the full extent of the space between couches and other living room furniture. On top of that was the coffee table to fill in the rest of the space and make the room feel like a home.

As the three friends settled in to eat their breakfast the conversation quickly turned to the events of the night before.

“Dude, what the hell happened last night?” asked Tommy. “I remember we went to The Station and that I was dancing up on some chick, but after that I have no idea what happened.”

The other two began laughing hysterically and then proceeded to trip over each other with stories from the remaining hours of the night. Apparently there were several women Tommy had danced with so it was first a matter of sorting out which one was the last he remembered.

“Are you talking about the fat one or the old one?” Alan asked.

“Wait; old one?”

“Yeah, that chick had to have been about 40 years old!” said Alan, with his usual loud burst of excitement.

In all fairness neither woman Daniel had seen Tommy with was old or fat. Alan was just being Alan: an ass____. He interjected on the side of Tommy and laughed while he said “Dude, she was not old, and the other chick wasn’t fat. You were just drunk and not being picky.”

“Whatever man.”

Tommy, still trying to sort out his night looked at Daniel and asked him what happened. Daniel, with his ever present Irish gift for story telling relayed Tommy’s night back to him in astonishing detail.

Apparently as the night went on and his hours long drinking binge began to take its’ toll, Tommy found himself on a crowded dance floor grinding on any woman that was within his line of sight. Nothing out of the ordinary for him. But this time he found someone to take his bait. The woman he spent time engrossing in slurred speech and overt advances was not really a prize to bring home. She spoke little English (which was quite entertaining for Daniel and Alan as they watched him), and well; was not attractive. He spent at least two hours trying to bed her while she often had confused and helpless looks on her face.

When the girl was finally able to pry herself away from Tommy he gave his usual “F___ it! Let’s go find someone else!” and returned to the dance floor where he went through his normal routine of getting halfway undressed and rubbing himself hoping someone would find that sexy enough to take him home.

“Damn, I must have been pretty drunk!” was all he could say when Daniel finished.

“Yeah, we were too.” was the reply.

Alan concurred; and because Tommy’s drunken charades were the most eventful part of the previous night the trio finished their breakfast, cracked open another round of beers and began talking about what was next.

Two

“What are we doing today?” Tommy asked Daniel.

“I don’t know, but I want to do something”

Alan chimed in “I have to go hang out with my chick today so whatever you do I won’t be there.”

“Ok.” Daniel quipped, making sure there was a bit of callousness in his tone.

Turning back to Tommy his brain suddenly came up with something.

“Dude. Das Boot!”

“You know what? F___ yeah!”

Now; to let you in on a little history, the trio was fond of a particular movie which contained characters drinking beer from a two liter glass in the shape of a boot, aptly named “Das Boot.” Recently, a friend of theirs had found a bar in a nearby town that sold beer in this fashion. From that day on they found themselves making the trip frequently as the beer was good, the bar itself had been open for more than 300 years, and consuming beer from a giant boot was the pinnacle of their drinking experience.

Alan’s frustration was evident. “Seriously? You guys are gonna go without me? I hate you.”

Tommy always liked to play the Devil’s advocate, and boy was he good at it. “No one said you had to spend the day with that chick. Come with us.”

“I can’t. I already told her I would go with her.”

“Is she your wife? Are you going to marry her?” he continued, putting Alan’s plight into context.

“No, but I want to keep getting laid. And besides, she’s a cool chick.” was his only reasoning.

“Don’t be a b____! Come hang with your boys and let’s go drink Das Boot and scare some locals. She will still be there later. If she isn’t, then f___ it. You can always find another one.”

Daniel just sat back and listened to the exchange, knowing that Tommy always had a way of framing the argument to his benefit. All he could think about was his unexpressed desire to have Alan absent for the day’s adventure.

Finally, the words were spoken that assured Daniel it would be a good day today.

“I’m not going with you. I have to go do this thing.”

The relief that washed over him was one of the greatest feelings a man can have. Knowing that he was going to be enjoying this trip without the annoyance of Alan gave him an immediate sense that it was going to be a good day. With that Daniel ended that part of the conversation and switched gears.

“Fine, your loss,” he said facetiously. Then turning to Tommy: “What time did you want to head out?”

“As soon as possible. I want to maximize my drinking time.”

At this Alan stood up and stretched before heading toward the door. “Give me a shout when you b______ get back. I’m gonna go s___, shower, and shave.”

They agreed to meet up with him later that night, and then began to hash out the day’s plans; or at least the start of what would happen that day. All they could really agree on was that they would both go clean up and the first one done would come to the other’s room and wait. Daniel knew he would be the last one ready; he always enjoyed taking his time getting ready on the weekends. He began drifting out of the conversation thinking about the music he would put on the stereo. Would he grab another beer? Would he play around on the computer? All he knew was that he was anxious for Tommy to leave so he could be alone.

“Alright dude, I’m going to get my ass cleaned up.” and he walked out of the door as Daniel followed him to close it. Before Tommy was fully gone he gave a familiar warning: “Don’t take too long. I know you and I don’t need to wait an hour just for you to get ready.”

It’s always funny how well friends know each other; but Daniel reassured him: “Hey, I’m excited too. I’ll be ready.”

With that, they left each other. Both had a certain lilt to their laughter as they parted and prepared for what lay ahead.

Three

                No matter how much fun awaited the two men on today’s adventure, the next 30-45 minutes would be the most relaxing ones Daniel enjoyed. Despite all his outgoing appearances he was a truly insular man. He valued his alone time more than anything else. Now that the room was empty of guests he had time to listen to music that only he enjoyed, smoke a cigarette and drink a beer with only his thoughts to keep him company. Oh, how he loved his thoughts.

He was always a dreamer, for as long as he could remember. His childhood was by no means tragic, but it lacked a lot of what others had. Mainly a feeling of belonging and a sense of purpose. The child of a single mother of three, Daniel was in the middle. He often felt that because he inherited a personality that did not mesh well with the upbringing his mother was trying to provide; he was an outcast in the family. He considered it a blessing that he was how he was. As he aged into adulthood he attempted to understand more about his Irish ethnicity, and he realized that his personality was the stuff of Irish genetics. He learned to embrace that by studying history, his family, and those great heroes of Irish lore; including his namesake Daniel O’Connell.

It was his thoughts of family, personality, history and the future that occupied most of Daniel’s alone time. What would his future hold if he continued to party as he was? What were his chances to be like Daniel O’Connell; The Liberator, if his past was filled with tales of drunken debauchery?

As he prepared himself to enjoy his thoughts during this limited time to himself, he considered how different he was from anyone else he knew. As he looked through his music collection he decided on something that he knew would offer him a full range of emotions, the soundtrack to a Broadway musical.

He had an affinity for musicals. Something about that music lightened his mood and prepared him for the day ahead. He took pride in the fact that he enjoyed many things that most other men would not. He figured it made him more well-rounded.

For today’s shower he chose the soundtrack to the classic “Oklahoma”. Of all the musicals he had watched and listened to with his grandparents; the ones who got him hooked, this was his favorite. He couldn’t explain why, it just was. Now he was ready to sing his heart out to that great opening line.

“Oh, what a beautiful morning! Oh, what a beautiful day!”

“God I love this song!” He yelled, and with that he took a deep drag of his smoke. With the buzz of alcohol beginning to take its’ affect he needed to have this conversation aloud.

“Ok, I’m going to finish this and hop in the shower.”

“What do I wear?” as he walked to the closet to decide.

“We’re going to be out all day. I may not get a chance to wear anything else. Ok, I need a decent shirt in case we run into any chicks. What do I have?”

As he looked through his closet, fate just happened to be on his side. Or really just shirt rotation. One of his favorite “going out” shirts just happened to be hanging there clean and ready for wear. Now he just had to iron out the wrinkles in his jeans caused by the floor of his closet and he would be ready to impress.

He walked over to the cigarette he had placed in the ashtray, took the last drag, put it out and walked to the bathroom for a shower. Now was the relaxing part of his alone time. Nothing feels quite like a hot shower when you’re drunk, or in his case; good and buzzed.

Staring in the mirror, Daniel brushed his teeth while debating whether or not to shave. He and Tommy were both from that breed of men who didn’t really have to shave every day. Even at 25 he looked 18 and didn’t grow facial hair at the rate of most men his age. His dilemma was about how old he wanted to look that day. One day’s growth made him seem closer to his real age, but shaving would bring out that baby face. He decided that today was not a shaving day. He started the hot water and proceeded to step into the shower.

Before he did that, he had one thing he wanted to do. That was to yell with excitement and let anyone who could hear know how he felt.

“AAAGGGHHH!!! YEAH!!”

He jumped in the shower with a smile on his face and proceeded at a quickened pace. He wanted to show Tommy that he wasted no time getting ready.

He was quick to finish and then; with a towel around his waist, walked into the other room to air dry what the towel could not. He drank the last of his beer and walked to the kitchen area to grab another. He was almost certain to consume a six pack before walking out the door.

He dressed quickly and took just as long to make sure his hair was combed right. Now he was ready. While doing all of this, he thoughtfully took frequent drinks from his beer so that he was able to grab two fresh ones before he left to meet Tommy. He was obsessive about such little details as finishing a beer before leaving. Luckily for his schedule he completed that task with ease. It was time for numbers six and seven for the road. He walked out the door, paused, and then checked to make sure he had absolutely everything that he could possibly need for the day. He closed the door and walked down the hall still smiling and excited about the day long drinking affair.

Now it was his turn to pound on the door.

BAM BAM BAM!!

“Hurry the f___ up!!”

Tommy threw open his door and turned back to his preparation. Once again he was wearing only a pair of jeans. He went into his bathroom and sprayed some cologne on himself. At least he had his clothes laid on the bed this time and it wouldn’t take long for him to get dressed.

“Oh, yeah baby! Smells so good.”

“Yeah, yeah. Just hurry up” Daniel said as he paced between the kitchen area and Tommy’s room.

Tommy quickly threw on his clothes and began to turn the lights off as they exited into the building’s empty hallway. Daniel always felt strange walking out there at this time of day. It wasn’t illuminated very well and because it was tiled all over there was a certain chill to it. The sunlight provided only a little light and Tommy’s room being at the farthest end of the hall made for a strange exit. The stairwell was about 100 feet down the hall and for two men with a good buzz it might as well have been a mile.

They were both thinking it but Tommy was the first to suggest it. “Let’s go grab a couple road pops.”

“Yeah, that sounds good. It might be a long wait for a ride.”

Being halfway between their respective rooms, it was a coin flip as to which one they went to for beer. Daniel was all about momentum and they just kept walking back toward his room.

After grabbing another beer from the refrigerator they walked down the stairs and out into the sunshine. And almost like it was fortuitous, it was a beautiful day. They closely concealed their beers so as not to get in trouble for walking around with open containers and headed for the exit gate.

One of the many things Daniel enjoyed about the place they lived was the historic construction of everything around them. The road they crossed surrounding the courtyard was made of cobblestones. The buildings that surrounded them; including their own, were relics more than 70 years old. The outer walls still had rings on them to tie horses. The grass in the courtyard was a lush soft green and he almost wished he had worn sandals to feel it touch his feet.

As they walked there was no conversation other than standard comments about the weather and their escalating excitement. They made it to the gate without incident and waved to the guard as they left. All they could do now was either wait for a taxi or walk to the train stop. They were on their way and to them the adventure had officially begun.

 

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