Friday Fictioneers – Somebody Put Something In My Drink

(Author’s note: No major announcements. Still working on short story. Taking longer than I hoped. But that’s cool. Enjoy an interesting story here.)

 

PHOTO PROMPT- ©Ted Strutz

Somebody Put Something In My Drink

by Miles H. Rost

Bud Murray was the oblivious barfly.

He was always at the end of Charlie’s Bar, drinking his riches away. And no one paid mind to him. It was the 1960s, no one really cared.

A dull-colored liquid in a shotglass perched itself in front of his lips. He sniffed. Smelled normal. He took it and knocked it back.

Within a minute, his shoulder moved. Then his arm. He started staggering around the bar, out of his mind.

That was the last thing he remembered before he woke up, tied down to a bed.

He looked at a nurse, and yelled the only word on his mind.

“COINTELPRO!”

Look it up!

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Friday Fictioneers – Ten Little Bottles

(Author’s note: G’day, everyone! First classes have come and gone for the week [or at least they will as of tomorrow night at 6:30PM]. I hope to be writing a bit more, considering I am going to need some time away from writing autobiographical pieces, biographical pieces, short fiction, and scripts. So much writing, so little time. Anyhow, here’s today’s Fictioneers.)

© G.L. MacMillan.

Ten Little Bottles

by Miles H. Rost

“Big ones! Small ones!” Beano slurred, “So many different types!”

Beano looked completely hammered. and fully animated. I was merely annoyed.

“Beano! What the heck are you talking about?!”

He turned his rotund frame my direction, and smiled one of those smiles that can irritate an IRS agent. It was the smile that I knew from my time in the Army with him.

“Mexico!”

Again, flustered was I.

“What about Mexico, Private?!”

“I found all these bottles in an empty house. And I drank them all.”

“And that’s why you’re drunk now?” I asked, blinking at him.

Beano grinned.

“Permanently drunk. Not sure how!”

And now people know why I will never visit Mexico.

 

Is This Love

by Miles Rost

Legends are made, never born.

In the realm of pool halls, there have been major names that have been mentioned and legends that go with their names. New York Fats, “Machine Gun Lou” Butera, and even Karin “China Rose” Cheung all graced the legendary status notorious with pool halls, hustling and sharking, and incredible sport.

It is this status by which a legend was born in a musty pool hall in downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota.

On a Friday night, the Uptown Pool Hall was packed with young players and some veterans. It was a place for the college set from the many colleges in the Twin Cities to visit. You’d see Gophers from the U of M, Scots from across the river at Macalester, and sometimes even some Tommies from St. Thomas’s Minneapolis campus. They would mingle, get the news, and hustle each other for money while drinking cheap beer and smoking clove cigs.

A clear winter’s night brought a lot of students in for this particular night, and the crowds were having a good time. The sound of talking filled the air, while the jukebox next to the door stood lit but silent. No one except the bartender even noticed when the front door of the pool hall opened up. The bartender of the hall looked up at the newest arrival, and immediately his face bore a look of surprise.

A man around six feet tall stood, peering his eyes around the entire hall. He wore a brown leather bomber jacket, dark blue denim jeans, and wore a black homburg hat with a black band around it. His glasses shined in the front lights of the hall, contrasting the darkness of the rest of the hall.

He reached over to the bartender and dropped a note and a $20 on the bar. The bartender read the note, and started to mix. The man looked around the hall again, and his eyes fell on a table near the middle of the hall. Table #8, surrounded by almost all of the other tables, had a group of college boys that were largely joking around while playing. He smirked, as he waited for his drink.

“One Boston Breaker. Your $20 will cover 3 more,” the bartender said, as he put down the pint glass full of what looked like a liquid boston creme pie.

“Tell me,” the man said, looking at the crowd of students, “Which one of these is the best of the lot?”

“This motley crew of fools? Hell, Table 8 is about as good as yer gonna get. Red sweatshirt, goes by the name ‘Chill’. If you’re looking for a challenge, wait for Wednesday nights. That’s when the old veterans do their sharkin’.”

The man tipped his hat to the bartender, and walked over to the jukebox. Hitting a couple of buttons, he put on two songs. The first was Dire Straits’s “So Far Away”. As the song played in the background, he walked over to the rack of pool cues and took a look. After a minute of admiring the cues, he took one down and studied it for another minute. He blinked, then walked over to Table 8 and looked over the table a few times. One of the boys at the table looked up at him.

“Admiring the view?”

“Not really much to see, unless you’re a player.”

The one known as “Chill” removed his butt from the side of the table and walked over to the man. He had a pair of 80s style sunglasses and a red Wisconsin sweatshirt on.

“I’m a player. Wanna go?”

“How much?”

“20 bones?”

“Per ball.”

Chill’s eyes widened, then sharpened into a glare, with a dripping smile appearing on his face.

“9 ball?”

The man stood stony, and stared into Chill’s eyes through his own shiny glasses.

“Agreed. Rack ’em.”

Chill nodded, and he started to bring the 9 balls back up onto the table. The man chalked up the end of his cue and looked back over at Chill, who had everything set and ready.

“Shall we start?” Chill asked the man.

“One moment,” the man replied, pulling a coin out of his jeans.

He turned around and flicked the coin hard towards the jukebox. The coin whapped into the jukebox and careened into a corner. The sound of Dire Straits suddenly was interrupted. The sound died down in the entire pool hall. It got so silent for a second that you could hear a pin drop. Suddenly, after a moment, his second desired song started to course from the speakers in the hall.

Everyone knew that something big was about to happen, and the action now focused on Table 8.

The man walked to the stage of Table 8, and positioned his cue. The smell of the felt, the mustiness of the hall, and the dusty chalk combined in the air around the man’s nostrils. He took in a breath as he drew the cue back. At the first crack of the snare on the song, his cue bolted forward. The cueball smacked hard into the 9 balls in the middle of the table, spreading them out to all different parts. A good break, with none going in the pockets.

The man nodded to Chill, and he moved out of the way.

Chill walked to one of the corners of the table.

“I’m gonna put you away with this one,” he said smugly, as he positioned his cue in a higher stage.

After a few seconds, he hit the cue towards the #1 ball in the corner. The yellow ball took the strike from the cueball like a runner and sprinted into the corner pocket. The smugness oozed from Chill’s entire being, as he moved himself around for a second strike, aiming for the blue #2 ball. He readied himself and hit the cueball. The cue missed the 2 by a hair and ended up in a corner, nearly surrounded by other balls.

“I’d like to see you get out of that one,” Chill said, chuckling to himself.

As David Coverdale started into the second verse of the song, the man whipped off his leather jacket. He walked over to the corner where the cue ball was and positioned his cue almost vertical. He took aim and fired the cue. The cueball flew straight up in the air and landed right next to the 2, sinking it into the side pocket.

Chill’s mouth dropped open. The other boys in the hall were starting to wonder.

As the song continued, the man dispatched with balls 3 through 7. As the guitar bridge of the song started to blare through the speakers, he surveyed the table. The 8 and the 9 were at opposite ends, but nowhere near holes. He studied for a moment, and positioned himself in a spot that seemed to contradict his needed goals. As he was able to fire the cueball, Chill sneered.

This guy ain’t gonna make it.

The man fired the cueball, where it zigzagged quickly across the table.

Thump, thump, crack!

The 8 ball was smacked and went into the corner pocket, like was expected. However, the ball started to swirl around like a tornado, heading back down the table.

Chill’s face went from smug to shock, seeing the ball swirling down towards the opposite end of the table. The swirling ball continued to jump it’s way down until it hit the 9. The nine slowly bounced off one rail, off another, and slowly sank into the corner pocket as the song proceeded to fade out.

“That’s $180. Pay up.”

Chill, mouth still open, forked over the cash quickly. He then bolted out of the pool hall, his friends in tow.

After that night, the man would continue to show up on Friday nights, taking the earnings of many a college student, and showing them that humility breeds the potential for greatness.

After a year or so, he left the Uptown. His legend, born on a cold January night, bore out in the renaming of his favorite drink and the legendary nickname bestowed upon him by those who got to know him.

That night, the legend of “The Whitesnake” was born.

Long Tall Glasses (I Can Dance)

by Miles Rost

The day of reckoning had come.

In a gigantic building just off the main drag in downtown Portland, Oregon, nearly 700 people milled around the ground floor. On the 4th floor of the building, it was announced that there would be a major banquet occurring. The announcement of the 15 new dancers of the Portland Ballet would happen at the same time as the banquet.

For half of the dancers, this was a happy occasion for them. For the other half, it meant certain doom as they couldn’t even gain a pound. And for one man, it was an opportunity to not only get a chance at a possible paying gig, but a chance to eat. It would sure beat eating ramen and cream of mushroom soup every night.

Larry Burnell’s admission to the audition was a complete accident. A street person, he was not someone people would think as having any sort of talent. In fact, most people thought of him as a complete bum.

The day before the audition, he was walking from his claimed piece of a sidewalk down 1st Street close to the Morrison Bridge, walking towards the Union Gospel Mission to get a blanket. He saw a red envelope on the ground and looked at it carefully. The name on the envelope was close to his: Lawrence Burnett, and it was addressed to someone at Portland State University. He looked inside and saw his ticket.

He went back to his small camp and rummaged through his stuff, picking up a small harmonica case. He pulled the harmonica out and picked out two $100 bills. It was all he had left, and he was going to use it to try and take advantage of this situation. He went to the local YMCA and took a shower, cleaning himself really well. He even was able to use some floral shampoo that someone left in the showers. After changing into some semi-nice clothes that he used for interviews, he went to a barber to get a shave and a haircut.

He went into the shop looking like a bedraggled 45 year old, and came out looking like a university student. The most important part was complete. He took a dollar and made a call to his mother, who lived in North Portland. While they were estranged, he still  had some stuff there at her place. He asked her if he could come up and pick up a couple items from his boxes. She agreed, and that evening, he had his dancing clothes in his hands and ready to go. He went back down to his pad, and had one of his neighbors watch his stuff for the night. He would return the next night.

He slept at a cheap motel that night, so he could have a great night’s rest. He knew that would be important.

He went to the information desk at the gigantic building that day, refreshed and looking nothing like his bedraggled self the night before.

“Can I help you?” the lady at the counter asked.

“Yes, I am here for the audition.”

“Name?”

“The envelope says Lawrence Burnett. I’m afraid that they got my name wrong.”

“What’s your actual name?”

“Lawrence Burnell.”

After a little shifting, she gave him his numbers, and told him to go to the third floor to wait. He did as they said, and waited. He waited for nearly 3 hours, and his number was finally called.

“Number 699!”

“Right here!”

“Come with me, please.”

He was led to a large ballroom and a long set of tables with 7 judges behind it.

“You are,” the head judge started to say, flipping his chart up, “Lawrence Burnell?”

“That is my name, yes.”

“What do you do for a living.”

“I am a man of the road, most times. I’m a student at this time, though.”

A man of the road?”

A hobo, by name.”

“You….are a….hobo?”

“I hope that I don’t have to repeat myself…”

The head judge just sighed, and put on his best air.

“Are you here for the food, by perchance?”

“Actually, I have been trained in the arts in prior years and I believe that I can do a great job with the Portland Ballet.”

Well, before you can eat, you gotta dance like Fred Astaire.”

“Wouldn’t Mikhail Baryshnikov be more like what I’m going for?”

The other judges bust out laughing at the head judge for such a mixup.

“Can you dance?”

Of course I can dance. You bet I can dance.

The judges gave him the piece of music. It was one that Larry recognized very well, as he danced it in the 1980s with the Sydney Ballet in Australia. Dancing to the song “No Promises” by Icehouse, he did his moves. All of the members of the judging team were shocked that a man of the road would be so good at this.

He ended the performance, and the judges looked stunned. The head judge then cleared his throat.

“Alright, we’ll tally up the score and at the banquet, you’ll find out the results. Please go to the door on your left and proceed to the banquet hall.”

He did, and when he got to the banquet hall, he looked around at the food that was set up. Being one of the last dancers, he got there just as they opened things up. A young lady approached him and smiled.

“Admiring the food aren’t ya?”

Is there water coming from my eyes?”

She laughed, and put out her hand.

“Jenny Carazzo.”

“Larry Burnell.”

He was so astonished by what he saw in the food, he didn’t pay much attention to Jenny.

“Oh my, they got ham. They have turkey. And…is that caviar?!?!”

Jenny seemed to be willing to finish his sentence for him.

They also have long tall glasses of wine up to…YAR!”

She made a big motion with her hands.

He smiled, and asked her if he could join her for the evening’s proceedings. She agreed, and they both filled up on food and drink. They had a great time, while some others were worried about their figures. After a couple hours, the head judge from Larry’s tryout came up to the podium and cleared his throat again.

“We are going to announce the lucky people who will have a position with the Portland Ballet this year. When your name is called, please assemble in a line at the front of the podium.”

5 names were announced, and the winners went up to the front and waved.

“The 6th member of this year’s troupe is Jenny Carazzo.”

Jenny jumped up and gave a hoot. She gave Larry a hug and bolted up to the front. To say that she was happy would have been a great understatement.

8 more members were called, and Larry just kept eating and drinking.

‘The last name on our list is a surprise, as it was someone that we didn’t know had prior experience. We have a former member of the Sydney Ballet in our midst, and I’d like to welcome the last person who will dance for the Portland Ballet this year. Mr. Larry Burnell.”

Larry’s eyes popped out of his head at this, and after swallowing the food that he was eating, he wiped off his mouth and went to the front. He stood next to Jenny as he heard the applause.

Jenny looked at him in shock.

“You actually had to audition, when you were a member of a troupe before?”

“Jenny, that was almost 25 years ago. Another place, another time. I’ve been homeless since ’99. I’m just happy to be able to do this now, and rebuild my life.”

“Me too, Larry. Me too.”