Things were going amazingly well for Crazy Angie and me that I could hardly believe it. I kept waiting for something to go wrong. Our liquor license wasn’t completely established yet, so that was foremost in my mind. I must admit that it had occurred to me that Judge Larson might have agreed to help us simply in a drunken stupor. This may well have been the case, and then we would quite frankly be in a bar without a license. You can’t have a bar without a license! That’s the simple truth of it! I tried not to worry about it. If nothing else, I would simply head over to Bill’s Bar and Grill and seek the judge out myself, and demand that keep up his end of the bargain. Of course, if he refused, there was nothing I could do, but I wasn’t about to let that get in my way. We had come this far. I wasn’t about to give up so easily now.
Aside from the liquor license, Crazy Angie and I had other things to deal with. We’d gotten the blueprints back from Tuanna and we were expecting the construction workers to show up at any time.
The foreman of our job was a Mr. Limony. He was apparently a very experienced construction worker and came highly recommended to us by Tuanna. I couldn’t wait to meet him. I had gotten along so well with her that I thought anyone she approved of must be quite likeable.
He finally showed up one day after school. Crazy Angie and I were waiting for him at the bar. She was inside practicing the phone. We’d just had it hooked up and she was eager to get a few calls in before the construction started. While she was inside, I was surveying the grounds. (I say that as if we had an immense piece of property.) I was walking around the rear of the building when I heard voices.
“Oh yeah, this will all have to come down. No, there’s no way we can keep it up.”
“It’s really a shame.”
“Yeah, you don’t see artistry like this anymore.” I followed the voices to the front of the building; curious as to whom they belonged. What I found before me was quite possibly the strangest sight I’ve ever beheld—well, except for perhaps the authentic lunatic.
There was a man bent over next to one of our walls with a tape measure. A woman was standing next to him, watching. They both had their backs to me. The man, I could see, looked like a construction worker. You know the type—long hair on the sides, no hair on the top, plumbers butt—typical construction worker. However, their dialogue concerned me. Tearing things down? That would never do. I decided to interrupt.
“’Scuse me. Can I help you?” They both turned around, startled by my voice.
“Yes, we were sent over by Zinger, Stringer, and Carpet-Bringer,” the man said.
“Oh, you’re the construction team!”
“Well, part of it. I’m Al Limony. This is my wife Sarah.”
“Did you say Al?”
I was a little taken aback. Al Limony—that was an interesting name. Unfortuante, too. I overlooked it.
“Nice to meet you. I’m Robin, the owner.” Now it was their turn to be taken aback.
“Yes. Well, co-owner really. My partner, Cr—, uh, I mean Angie is inside working with the phone system.” I didn’t think it would be wise to alert them to the mental instability of my partner.
We stood there in an awkward silence for a few moments before I asked,
“So, what’s all of this about tearing things down?”
“Oh, well, your outer walls aren’t in great shape. It would be a good idea to tear them down and start with fresh materials.”
I frowned. “Wait a second—are you telling me that basically you’re going to tear down the walls and build new ones?”
“Uh, yeah, that’s pretty much it.”
“No no. I don’t think that’s going to work at all.”
Now, Al and Sarah were frowning. “Why not?”
“Well, I asked for renovations—not a new building. If you take down the walls I won’t have a building anymore.”
“That’s true, but it’s just not a good idea to have walls like these. They’re not in great shape.”
“Not in great shape, you say? Are they going to fall down?”
“Well, no, but it’s just not a good idea…”
“Al, Sarah, let me fill you in on a few things. My partner and I are fifteen and we own a bar. We’re not really concerned about what is or is not a good idea. Also, being such young women, we are not as stupid as we may look. Well, I’m not anyway. I’m not about to pay for you to tear down my walls and build new ones. Let’s just work with what we have.” I was proud of myself for being so direct. I was quickly learning that in my situation, I had to be aggressive and confident. Everyone would be skeptical of my business abilities, and therefore, try to take advantage of me. I wasn’t about to let that happen.
Al and Sarah seemed unsure of my response, but in the end, I think they realized that they really didn’t have anything to say in the matter. It was, after all, my building. Besides that, I knew that Jim Silo would never have sold us a building that was in any danger of falling apart. If he had, Ned would be after him. I was confident in my decision.
The Limonys and I went over the plans that Tuanna had drawn up (which, by the way, did not include knocking the walls down) and worked out a tentative schedule. They would be building us a bar, a stage, a lab, storage room, tables and chairs, bar stools, and a nice glass cabinet in which to keep our glassware. It was all very exciting.
Within a day or two, an entire team of construction workers swarmed around the inside of the bar. The banging and drilling was enough to drive me insane, but given that we already had one crazy owner, I did my best to stay away from the noise. Crazy Angie, Tuanna, and I worked on the details of the lab.
“We’re going to need some kind of secret entrance. I think the best place for it would be behind the storage room. No one but employees would be going into the storage room anyway, and we could put the door somewhere conspicuous.” My suggestions were welcomed but we were running out of space. The storage room would take up most of what was left of our little building. We would need a rather extensive lab to do the kind of work Crazy Angie was planning.
As we toiled over designs, we were suddenly interrupted by a loud scream.
“Aahhhh!” The three of us turned toward the sound, startled.
“What was that?” I asked. Al came running over a few seconds later.
“Uh, slight problem. Aparently the floor isn’t too stable—atleast not under the storage area. I had a man fall through.”
“Fall through? You mean there’s no ground under this building?”
“No, seems to be some kind of basement or something.”
“And you say he fell through the floor?”
“Wow!” Crazy Angie added. “That’s great!”
“Great?! Whaddaya mean great? A man has fallen through the floor!”
“Yeah! And we have a basement! That’s perfect for the lab!”
I opened my mouth to scold, but then thought better of it. She was right. This meant more room. “Quite right! Let’s move the lab to the basement. Can we do that Al?”
“Yeah. Shouldn’t be too much trouble. We’re gonna need to fix this floor though.”
“Naturally,” I said sarcastically. What kind of a construction worker was this Al Limony anyway? Of course you’re going to have to fix the floor first!
Tuanna, Crazy Angie and I got back to our plans for the lab. This would change everything. After further inspection of the basement, we discovered that indeed we did have quite a bit more room. We planned to have an extensive kitchen for all of Crazy Angie’s creations. She also insisted on something akin to an industrial sized chemistry set.
“I need it! You wouldn’t want to stifle my creativity would you?” She sounded like a two year old.
“Well, no, I suppose not. But you’d better have some pretty good stuff in that head of yours or all of this is going to put us out of business.”
The lab was the most involved part of the reconstruction of the bar. As such, we left it for last. The Limonys had done a great job on the interior of the bar. Their work was very professional and thorough. Aside from my first impression of them, I liked them very much. They seemed quite interested in our little project, and, I suspected, would become patrons once everything was finished.
One evening, while the construction team was working on the lab, Crazy Angie and I stood behind our bar, looking at what we had created.
"I like it, " Crazy Angie said. "It looks much better than when we started."
"Well, yeah, but it still needs something. What makes it original? What makes it ours? What makes it not boring?" We both thought for a few moments. It really was boring. This was terrible! Here we were, creating an atmosphere that was supposed to cure any and all boredom, and we were bored looking at the place.
"You're right. It is boring."
"We need to decorate. We need someone who can come in here and decorate the place."
"Yes," Crazy Angie said. "A real arteest!"
"An Arteest. You know, one of those French people."
"You mean an artist?"
"Well, that's not what they call them in France."
I shook my head in frustration. In reality, she had the right idea. We did need a decorator of some type. We needed someone with great artistic vision, and extensive experience in decorating bars--and it needed to be cheap. We didn't have much money left. The construction of the lab was pretty expensive. I really wanted to avoid unleashing the Authentic Lunatic if I could. But where to find such an arteest, as Crazy Angie put it? I supposed we could advertise for one, but that would cost more money. That would mean another show for the Authentic Luantic. I wanted to keep that as my last resort. I decided to sleep on it.
“Let’s call it a day, Crazy Angie. We can worry about decorating tomorrow.” Maybe by then I’d have an idea about it.