Chapter 21

Roy’s interview had gone very different than Chad's. Not having a perfect memory or anywhere near the level of dexterity his blond competitor possessed, Roy had been forced to lean on what he considered his two largest selling points: his looks and his charm. Oh, it helped that he had  a working knowledge of cocktails and shots, not the kind acquired from a book, but rather one learned through honed experience. He knew that adding a twist of lime here or two drops of sweet and sour there could bring out the flavors in regular drinks. Roy also had the experience to make recommendations based on what a person liked, something textbook knowledge could never effectively replicate. All of this made him a decent candidate to bartend; however, he knew it would have to be his capacity to pitch woo and make sales that made him a standout.

Fortunately for Roy, Roger Brown was an experienced bar owner, and he understood that you needed different types to maximize a bar’s appeal. Some of his female clientele would doubtlessly respond to Chad’s straightforward manner, his professional demeanor, and his slightly aloof nature. Others would much rather be served by a cocky cowboy with an easy smile and a ready compliment.

This understanding was why Roy currently stood behind the bar at Six-Shooter early one evening, Chad to his left and Roger on a stool in front of them. Both of the Lander students wore tight black t-shirts and jeans, Roger liked a certain amount of uniformity in his bartenders. Roy was glad he’d at least been allowed to keep his cowboy hat, since it was country bar and Roger felt it added some flavor to the strapping young man.

“Domestic cooler?” Roger asked.

Roy and Chad both pointed to a large silver tub on their left.

“At what point do you call for a barback?”

“When we have three of any type remaining in the cooler,” Chad snapped off automatically.

“Unless it’s a hot item that night,” Roy added. “Like if a group is ordering rounds of it. Then we should probably keep it at least at five, or enough to serve the next round of that made-up group.”

Roger nodded his head and smiled inwardly. He felt this had worked out very nicely. Chad’s memory meant it was possible for them to create any standard cocktail without having to look it up first, and his organizational skills had already shown themselves to be top notch. Roy’s affable nature would draw in customers, and his veteran drinking knowledge would give help when situations didn’t go by the book. Together these two could make an excellent bartender combination. At least, in theory. The real test would come later in the night when they opened for customers. Roger had done this job long enough to know that even promising prospects could go down in flames once they had a crowd screaming for drinks. That was why he was starting them on one of the smaller bars in the club; if something went to hell then at least it wouldn’t make a significant impact on business. Still, Roger let himself feel a touch of optimism. These HCP kids were usually made of tough stuff; he gave them better odds than most at surviving the night.

“I think you’ve both got the bar’s layout and procedures down. I’m going to go talk with the other bartenders and make sure they’re set for tonight. You two do pouring drills until I get back,” Roger instructed.

He’d barely made it off the stool before Chad had reached under a nearby shelf and produced six plastic bottles with different colored liquids. Each bore a simple label such as “Whiskey” or “Vodka.” In truth they were nothing more than water with food coloring added to make distinction easier. Chad lined them up on the bar while Roy set down a large cluster of shot glasses.

“Would you like to start?” Chad offered.

“Sure,” Roy said. “Call it out.”


Roy snatched up three bottles and flipped them outside down simultaneously, letting the trio of liquid come together inside the confines of a single shot glass. An instant later he made a quick motion and righted them, ceasing the colorful flow just as the water threatened to run over the shot glass’s limited area.

“You were a half-second too long,” Chad informed him.

From anyone else Roy would have thought this needless criticism; however he’d learned long ago that Chad was precise by nature. He didn’t understand that some people didn’t mind spilling a little for showmanship, so to him these criticisms were perfectly valid. After all, he would genuinely appreciate someone telling him he was making an error so he could correct it.

“Thanks, I’ll watch that. Your turn,” Roy said, setting down the bottles back in line.


“Vegas Bomb.”

They were working on Blue Waves when Alice and Angela meandered over. Angela hopped onto a stool with a curiously practiced motion that came off rather graceful. Alice, on the other hand, just stood there and tried to look more confident than she felt with as much cleavage and stomach as she was showing.

Though Alice had been worried, her interview had been a fairly simple process. Roger made sure she had good memory and people skills, then told her she was pretty much good to go. His requirements for wait staff and shot girls were far less stringent that the ones for bartending or cooking. Alice was good-looking and smart; she could handle running tables at a club. It was a surprise to both of them when she asked if she could try being a shot girl first, but one Roger was happy to accommodate.

Standing around in her uniform, Alice still wasn’t sure what had prompted to make that rash request. All she knew was that she wanted very much to try something new, and daring. She wanted to get out of her head and have some excitement rather than spend her days worrying and wondering about all the mysterious secrets in her life.

“Hey good-looking, how about a shot?” Angela said, greeting the new bartenders.

“Sure thing, what can I make for you?” Roy replied.

“Sorry there, big fella. I was talking to Chad.”

“I’m sure I can create anything you’d like,” Chad said, stepping up the bar in a move he had been secretly practicing. He hoped it came off as knowledgeable yet accessible.

“Oooh, a man with confidence. Let me have a shot of whiskey then.”

“That requires very little skill,” Chad said. “But the customer is always right.” He grabbed a plastic bottle with red water and poured a perfectly measured amount into a shot glass, then slid it over to Angela.

“What is this?”

“Whiskey,” Chad replied, a small hint of pride in his voice at the grace and precision of his pour.

“You know what, this is really my fault,” Angela said, shaking her head and sending her golden blonde hair flowing in all directions. “I knew who I was talking to. Never mind, I’m better off starting out sober since I have to show the new girl the ropes.” With that she exited her stool and gestured to Alice.

“Come on, I’ll introduce you to the other bartenders. They’ll hit on you relentlessly, but I wouldn’t recommend taking any of them home.”

“Right, bad idea to date co-workers,” Alice said.

“Oh. Yeah, sure, that too. But mostly because the only cute one is awful in bed.” Angela turned around and threw the boys a coy grin. “Good luck tonight, you two. Holler if you need anything.”

“Will do,” Roy called back.

Chad merely gave a wave instead of a verbal goodbye. His attention was occupied, trying to process the strange feeling in his stomach that Angela’s words had suddenly given him. There was nothing wrong with the stomach itself, he could have righted that easily, yet the heavy sense persisted all the same. He’d have to tinker with his brain chemistry when he had more time. For now there was prep work to do.