Monday, September 25, 2006

Opening Night

I was jittery on opening night. This could be the moment to make or break us. How we did tonight would determine the success or failure of our plan to cure boredom. I didn’t expect to wipe it out in one night, but a disaster on our first night would mean we’d wasted our time. At least that’s what I thought.
Crazy Angie was not so pessimistic. She was jubilantly sweeping the floor.
“I think I’ve finally got this down, Robin. Take a look at all of my piles!”
She was so proud, I hated to burst her bubble. “That’s great, Angie. Now, if you can sweep them together into one big pile, we can put them in the trash.”
She frowned. “Why would I do that? If I got rid of the dirt, I’d have nothing to sweep up tomorrow.” She went on sweeping. I decided not to respond. I didn’t want to ruin her good mood.
Nick seemed equally in good spirits. Why shouldn’t he be? It wasn’t his business on the line.
“Stop worrying. We’ll be fine,” he said.
“I hope so. I just keep thinking no one will come. I mean, we can’t advertise. How will anyone know we’re here?”
“Oh, didn’t I tell you? Crazy Angie and I took care of that.”
“You did? Wait—what exactly did the two of you do?”
“Coupons.” Crazy Angie butted in.
“Coupons?”
“Yeah, last drink is free.”
“What?”
“Don’t you see? It’s brilliant! No one really knows when their last drink will be, so they’ll most likely not use the coupon.”
“Ok. And just how did you distribute these coupons?”
“We handed them out to people on the street.”
“Great.”
“What’s the problem?” Nick asked.
“Hopefully nothing. I’m probably making a big deal over nothing. I trust you. You’re the expert. If you thought the coupons were a good idea, then it’s fine by me.” But a whole list of problems kept popping up in my head.
“What if we don’t have enough glasses?”
“We will.” Nick said.
“What if we run out of liquor?”
“We won’t.”
“What if no one comes—even with the coupons?”
“Well, then we’ll just have to open all over again tomorrow.”
I frowned.
“Come on,” Nick said. “You’re worrying for nothing. It’s gonna be fine. We can handle this.”
“Ok. Yeah. You’re right I guess. I’m going a little nuts.”
“And we have enough nuts around here.”
I laughed. That was certainly true. “Speaking of nuts,” I said, looking around. “Where is Crazy Angie.”
“I dunno. Maybe she finished sweeping and went down to the lab. She said something about having a special drink for tonight.”
“I’ll go check on her. It will give me something to do.”
Heading down to the lab, I heard glass clinking and what sounded like bubbling.
“Angie? Are you down here?”
“Eh? Hoooo izit?”
“It’s me!”
“Me? I thought I was already here. Oh no! I’m talkin’ to myself!”
“What?”
“Oh! Thank gooness. Iz onlee yooo.”
“What’s wrong with you?”
“Nothin’. I’m workin’.”
She was acting strange. Her speech was slurred and her movements were slow and rocky.
“Working on what?”
“Shhhh!” She put a finger to her lips and sprayed me with saliva. “Iz a secret!”
With my spit shower, all of my questions were answered. She’d been drinking.
“Are you drunk?”
“Well, I hadda taste every version. How else uz I ‘posta make this stuff? Sheesh!”
“Great. Well, you’re done now, right?”
“Yep! All done.” She said, holding up her drink triumphantly.
“Good, then you need coffee or something. Isn’t that what cures drunkenness?”
“Nooooo! I doneed it. I’m jus fine.”
“Well, no more drinks for you. You’re underage.”
“Right. We might get arrested!”
“You have about two hours to sober up. I need you normal for tonight.”
“Oh, I dunno if I kin do normal in just two hours. I been workin’ onat for years!”
“Normal Angie, I mean. Got it?”
She gave me a mock salute and we went upstairs.
“What’s wrong with her?” Nick asked.
“Just a little tipsy.”
“Really?”
I nodded helping her to a spot on the floor where she promptly fell asleep. “She’s been tasting the new drink.”
“Oh. Is it any good?” “No idea. I guess we’ll see. She’s the only one who knows what it is or what’s in it. I hope she’s sober enough to remember. She and I certainly can’t be the ones serving or mixing.”
“What? Why not? I can’t do it all—well, unless it’s a total flop.”
“Nick! We’re only sixteen! It’s illegal!”
“I think you need a little reality check. You own a BAR! That’s not exactly within legal limits. If you’re worried about breaking a law, it’s too late. You’ve done it.”
He was right. Still, I felt odd about it. “Well, ok. If you need help, we’ll be here, but I’d like to avoid it if possible. I’d better go check on Angie.”
She was no longer unconscious on the floor, but rather was laughing fiercely.
“What’s so funny?” I asked.
“Oh, nothin’ really. I was just remembering somethin’. Ever doothat? Like the time yoo came over ta my ‘ouse wearin’ those glasses? Yoo looked soooo funny.”
I frowned. “That never happened.”
“Yeah, but woudn’ it bee funny ifit ‘appened?”
“I guess. Are you drinking your coffee?”
“Yup.” She turned the coffee cup upside down to show me, but it wasn’t empty, so her lap was now doused in the brown liquid. “Ouch! That’s hot!”
“Let me get you some more. You’d better get cleaned up.” She staggered off and I went to put on another pot of coffee. I just hoped she would sober up in time for the opening. I checked my watch. Just one more hour. Were we ready? As we were going to be, I supposed.

As the hour arrived, I had calmed down somewhat. Nick seemed perfectly at ease, and when our first customer walked in, he knew just what to do.
“What’ll ya have?”
“Whatever you have in a shot glass.” This guy wasn’t picky. Nick pulled a bottle from behind the bar and filled a tiny glass with the brown liquid. The man downed the contents and said, “Keep ‘em commin’.”
Well, ok! I thought. If we had more like this, we were in for a profitable night at least. Slowly, people walked in. As the night grew later, the crowds grew larger. Nothing huge—Nick was able to handle all of the serving. I mostly walked around, looking for something to do, but not really finding anything.
As the night wore on, a steady stream of customers came and went without incident. It was a perfectly acceptable opening night as far as I was concerned. Crazy Angie and I had a lot to be proud of. But where was she? I hadn’t seen her since her strange giggle fit. Surely she was sober by now and as presentable as possible. I went in search of her.
“Crazy Angie?” I called to her, heading down to the lab. “Hello? Are you down here?” Nothing. I searched the entire space, thinking she might have dozed off, but she wasn’t there. Suddenly I heard loud cheers and whistles coming from upstairs. What was going on? Racing back up the stairs, I was in no way prepared for what I found. The crowd had gotten suddenly rowdy. Everyone was gathered in a circle in the middle of the bar. As I got closer, I saw just what had them so excited. Crazy Angie was doing her Authentic Lunatic routine—in the nude!

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