I am a bartender. I prepare drinks in a timely fashion and customers often tell me that the manner in which I pour drinks is impressive and exciting. I like to humbly think of myself as the single greatest bartender in the history of time, worthy enough, even, to serve Kings.
A woman with fire-red hair and piercing blue eyes enters my bar and sits down gracefully. She probably wasn't a king, but she had Money and Power written all over her, and in my neighborhood, that's as close to Royalty as you can get. She took out a cigarette and placed it between her lips as I approached her.
"There's no smoking here," I told her as I casually lit her cigarette. She smiled at me, most likely recognizing and appreciating my Fonzie-like contempt for the rules.
"Thanks," her mouth said. "Take me,” her eyes implied.
"The name's Hank Donahue," I said. "And yours?"
"Venom. Rebecca Venom." Venom, huh? Must have been tough growing up, I thought.
Till she hit puberty, that is.
I'd say she was about 5'9, but I'm terrible at guessing a person's height.. She could have just as easily been 5'4 or 6'3, for all I knew. I was almost %100 certain, however, that she wasn't a midget. And that's what's really important. When she did move- grabbing a few napkins or reaching into her purse- she moved slowly. It was like watching syrup being poured in slow motion except not quite so sticky. And with a face. She took her time with that illegal cigarette; really enjoying each sinful drag. Pretty soon the whole bar smelled like guilty nicotine, her sweet perfume and enough sexual tension to fill a garbage truck.
She looked up at me, all seven-feet-eleven-inches of her, and flashed me a smile that drives the boys wild. She winked at me. I never really know how to react when people wink at me, so, in an attempt to “up the ante,” so to speak, I just winked back at her with both eyes- what you would probably call “blinking.” This seemed to appease her as it brought on another smile. I winked again, albeit, less appropriately, and she turned her gaze from me back to her purse. Damn. Really went overboard with the winking, there. While she was distracted by whatever she was distracting herself with, I took the opportunity to give her the up and down, really objectify her and make her feel special. She was 12 feet of pure woman; soft skin, pouty lips, and legs that went on for days. She wore a tight dress, the color of money, and she wore it well. The fabric hugged her body like wrapping paper. Kudos to the lucky bastard who finds himself opening up that present on Christmas morning. Her eyes were an electric blue and her hair was the color of red money...red.
It's times like this I remember why I love being a bartender so much. Sure, I'm good at pouring drinks and I enjoy what I do, but I do this job for one reason: The Women. Over the years, I've been working on perfecting the art of enticing women to sleep with me. I hope to one day get it down to a science. A sexy, dangerous science. Like Physics except without any clothes and significantly less math.
"What can I get for you, Ma'am? A 'Screaming Orgasm?' Some 'Sex on the Beach,' maybe? A little something 'Between the Sheets,' perhaps?" These are all legitimate cocktails, and it was this list of sleazy-sounding drinks, in this order, that I offer to every single attractive woman who walks into my bar. 9 out of 10 times, what they really end up with is a little something I like to call, the "Happy Bartender."
"I don't want a drink," she said.
"You came to a bar to not drink? Interesting choice," I said with yet another regrettable wink.
"I'll cut right to the chase, Mr. Donahue," she said in a very cut-to-the-chase-ish tone.
"I want to buy you."
Silence from my end.
"You and your bar," she continued. "I represent some very powerful, very rich people, Mr. Donahue. They have considerable means and they will stop at nothing to acquire your services."
"Why me?" I asked. I knew the answer, I just like hearing it out loud.
"Because," the woman said, "My client is accustomed to having only the best of everything. And, according to our records, you're the best." I took a white rag off my shoulder and started drying a glass mug. The mug was plenty dry, but I bet I looked pretty friggin’ cool, regardless.
"You're records are accurate, Ma'am. I am the best. But whoever told you I was for sale...Well I'm sorry, but they lied right to your pretty little face. Now, unless I can interest you in a 'Raging Orgy' or a 'Pants-less Bartender,' this is the end of our little meeting."
"I already told you that I didn't want a drink, Mr. Donahue."
"I wasn't offering a drink," I said, cocking my eyebrow suggestively and doing everything I could to stop myself from winking. The look of disgust that crept onto her face assured me she got the message.
"Let me be frank, Mr. Donahue. I represent the Emperor of Spain, and he wants you to bartend for him. Exclusively. I'll give you some time to let that sink in." Something was off about this dame, I just couldn't put my finger on it. Maybe it was those flaming, beguiling eyes. One look tells you those eyes have led more than a couple of guys to their downfall, the poor saps. Or maybe it was her all-too-eager-to-spend attitude. No one opens up their wallet that wide unless they know they’re getting the thicker end of the bargain. Or maybe it was because this is 2006, and Spain doesn't actually have an Emperor. It is, in fact, a European Parliamentary Monarchy and as such acknowledges either an elected or hereditary monarch as its head of state. It could have been any one of these things, but whatever it was, my gut was telling me to stay away.
"Sorry Miss..." I trailed off, not for any dramatic effect, but because I'd forgotten her name. It was something...snakey. I remembered because she herself was kind of snake-like in mannerisms and appearance. Those almost reptilian eyes widening with every second I spent not remembering her name. Jesus, it was something ridiculous and terrifying. Viper, maybe. Ok, ok, shot in the dark here.
"Miss Cobra," I guessed, probably incorrectly. "I'm not for sale. And that's final."
"I'm sorry to hear that, Mr. Donahue."
Was it Poison? Miss Poison?
"Are your sure we can't come to any sort of agreement?" Miss Rattlesnake began. "There must be something you want. Something I'm sure we can provide." Well that confirms it. Any woman who is willing to sleep with me without getting a couple of Appletinis is clearly up to no good. This broad’s got “Trouble” written all over her face.
"It's not in my nature to disappoint beautiful women," I lied, "but I'm afraid my answer is not going to change. I'm staying here, and unless I can get you a drink, please excuse yourself from my bar, Miss Conda." Was that it? Like, first name 'Ana?' That'd be pretty clever.
"You do realize, Mr. Donahue, that my employer has a great deal of influence in the bartending industry, right?" Really? The make-believe emperor of a foreign sovereign nation has clout in the bar world? That's news to me.
"We can make your life very easy, or very difficult."
"Are you threatening me, Miss Snakeface?"
Well that definitely wasn't her name. Hearing it, in fact, just seemed to make her more angry.
"I am losing my patience, Mr. Donahue."
Scales? Miss Scaly? Miss Python?
"I'll have you know that my employer will surely send some of his, shall I say, 'more aggressive' associates when he learns of your foolish decision.' She put little air quotes out when she said 'more aggressive.' I hate when people inappropriately use air quotes, its one of my biggest pet peeves.
"I'll have you know that I 'won't' be scared, Miss Cottonmouth." I decided to put my own air quotes around 'won't,' just to show her how stupid she looked. Was it Copperhead?
"The rest of your life, Mr. Donahue, will not be pleasant," she said, clearly missing my little joke. "Make no mistake about it, you will suffer."
Garter Snake. Diamondback. Sidewinder. Blackhead Snake.
“You have no idea what my employer is capable of when he doesn't get what he wants. You, your pathetic bar, your friends your family, your grammar school teachers; no one is safe."
"Venom!" I shouted. "That's it. God, that was gonna be bugging me all day."
"Are you even listening to me?"
"Yes," I said, despite the fact that I wasn't listening even a little bit.
"You've ruined a wonderful opportunity here. This could have been a beautiful partnership, but now… You can’t possibly imagine the hell you're about to go through. You damned fool." And with that, Miss Rachel or Raquelle or Michelle Venom stood up, all 28 feet of her towering over me. Tears started to form in her eyes as she gave me one last look. She turned, shaking her head as she walked away.
"I'm sorry it's come to this," she whispered.
"I'm sorry I'm checking out your ass while you walk away," I whispered back, fully aware that we both knew I wasn't sorry at all. Her shoulders shook with sobs as she syrupped her way out of my bar.