I wanted to join in the fun of one of Chuck Wendig’s famous flash fiction challenges, and this one is a doozy. Or should I say boozy. We were charged with writing a quick story, where the title is given to us by a random cocktail-name generator. (Which, frankly, has to be one of the best name generators out there besides the Benedict Cumberbatch one...)
My randomly-assigned cocktail was “Irish Shockwave” – 1/3 gin, 1/3 Irish whisky, 1/3 tequila, lime. Quite the cocktail eh? I thought I would write about who might drink such a concoction, and why.
When I saw her come in through the door, I reached for the bottle.
Jameson’s. It was always Jameson’s for her.
“It was my Dad’s favorite you know,” she always said.
“You told me,” I always replied.
But this time she didn’t speak. Didn’t even look at me as she slid onto the bar stool, dropping her bag next to her. I started pouring, but she reached over the bar and grabbed my arm.
“Wait. Add a third of Gordon’s.”
I frowned. “Gordon’s? To the Jameson’s?”
I glanced at Old Man Sedgewick further down the bar, who was deep into his third pint. He shrugged at me. I shrugged back, and reached for Gordy.
“Wait,” she said again. “And a third of Jose.”
“Just do it.”
Those damn eyes. They got me every time. Green and blue and hard, like the ocean in the depths of winter. There was power in her sea-glass gaze and she knew it.
“Don’t forget the lime.”
I poured the drink and handed it to her. She slugged it back. The glass hit the polished wood.
“Why not just the usual Jameson’s?”
Her eyes swiveled towards the window. “Because I’m not mourning just my Dad anymore.”
“My Mum loved Gordon’s,” she sighed. “More than she loved my Dad…”
Old Man Sedgewick choked on his last gulp. I reached for the bottle of Gordon’s.
“Well I’ll drink one for her then.”
“Pour me one too,” Sedgewick grumbled.
She watched the clear spirit splash into the glasses, then her hand clasped my wrist. Her red nails bit into my skin, and I didn’t want her to let go. But she did – to reach out for Jameson and Jose. I let her pour another of that strange blend of burning spirits and departed souls.
“Don’t forget the lime,” I whispered, dropping it next to her glass.
The seas grew calmer, lit by the sunbeam of her quick smile. “Thanks.”
I lifted my glass in a toast. “To your Mum.”
I drank, watching her out of the corner of my eye. She set her empty glass down with another authoritative thud, and I wondered if she would ask for one more. She glanced out the window again.
“When my Dad died, we said the Lord’s Prayer at his funeral. Do you know the words?”
“Er,” I mumbled, struggling to recall them from my long-repressed memories of Sunday school. “‘Our Father, who art in heaven?'”
She nodded, brushing her thick hair behind her ear. “It certainly took on a new meaning for me then…And now we’ll say it again at Mum’s. I’m just wondering if they’re up there together. Or if they’re up there at all…”
I leaned back against the wall of bottles. A Van Morrison song on the radio filled the silence. Old Man Sedgewick paid his tab and left, letting the door bang behind him.
“Who is the Jose for?”
She frowned. “Hmm?”
“Jameson’s for your Dad. Gordon’s for your Mum. Who’s the tequila for?”
“Oh. It’s not for anyone.” The seas grew dark again, as though a curtain of rain was passing over them. “Well, it’s for me. To help me forget.”
She paid with crisp bank notes, then tipped her glass back once more to get the last drop.
“Or at least try to,” she whispered, more to herself than to me.
Then she was gone. I glanced down – the bottle was still in my hand.