The Mad Three Buy A Bar: Franco’s Night

Introduction to the Mad Three

The first part of this story: The Aftermath

I couldn’t believe how well my luck was going.

When I had first suggested the idea of opening up a bar, I hadn’t bothered putting in much thought about the process.  Both liquor and pretty girls were intimately involved in my life, and a bar seemed like the perfect place to bring those two items together.  And trust me, I’ve been to a lot of bars.  I’ve met the employees, and they don’t seem to have any more clue than I do.  How hard could it be?

Of course, I had a couple buddies who were all too willing to help out.  Manny, a regular at most of my favorite hangouts, is built like an ogre, and was more than happy to hang around the bar and lean on anyone who gave us trouble.  He also knew a guy who was just itching to make use of his bartending certification.  That was especially nice, because I wouldn’t drink anything Corkscrew hands me.

Speaking of the crazy roommate, Corkscrew managed to be useful for one time in his off-kilter life!  I don’t know how he knew about that empty building, furnished and everything, just waiting for us to make use of it.  He probably overheard about it from another person in the psych ward.  Regardless, it all was coming together!  Even more than usual, I couldn’t wait for the weekend.

Once we divvied up positions, I knew that I had to be the front man.  And despite what you think, it wasn’t just about the girls.  The first employee that the patrons meet needs to charm them, needs to keep the party atmosphere rolling (and the juices flowing).  Jack would bore our customers to sleep, and Corkscrew would burn the bar down before midnight.  The girls were really just a side perk.

As the bar opened, I was excelling at my role.  Bobbing from group to group, learning all the names I could, and being charming and welcoming to everyone.  Of course, the easiest way to be charming is to arrive with free drinks.  When we had gone shopping earlier that day, we had picked up a lot of vodka, so I made sure to greet new groups with martinis in hand.  As an added bonus, the martinis went over very well with the groups of girls coming in!

I walk up to each group of girls, drinks in hand, and announce that they’re fortunate enough to have arrived on martini night!  Seriously, I’m a marketing genius.

About halfway through the night, as I’m walking towards the back of the bar to check on the other groups of patrons, and I run into Corkscrew.  Literally.  Fortunately, the vodka bottle he’s holding doesn’t break or spill on my nice clothes.

“Hey, you might not want to go in the back room,” Corkscrew told me.  “Jack’s feeling a little hot under the collar.”  He giggled.  “And above the collar, too.”

What?  I have no idea what he’s talking about.  My face must have showed this confusion.

“There’s a thief in the bar,” Corkscrew elaborates.  “We don’t know who, but I’ve got a plan to handle it!”  He went running off towards the bar.

A thief wasn’t really for me to deal with, but the night was going amazingly and I didn’t want any big disruptions.  I made my way back to the front of the bar, and tapped Manny on the shoulder.  “Yo, Manny, I’ve heard that there’s a thief in here somewhere,” I said discreetly into his ear.  “Keep an eye out for anything suspicious, okay?”  He nodded back at me.

I turned away, but then a sudden thought popped into my mind.  “Hey, take this,” I told Manny, pulling a small tube from my pocket and passing it over to him.  I didn’t know why Corkscrew was carrying a can of pepper spray in his jacket, but I was glad I had liberated it from his pocket.

Now, back to the fun part!  Indeed, a group of ridiculously hot girls was just entering, looking around expectantly.  I hurried over to the bar, catching the eye of Manny’s bartender friend.  I held up 3 fingers, and he nodded, grabbing for martini glasses.  Drinks in hand, I spread a wide smile across my face and approached the girls.

“Hello, ladies!” I said jovially.  “Welcome to martini night!  Your first drink is on the house!”  I passed over the glasses.

Two of the girls returned my winning smile, but the third immediately took a drink and started coughing and choking.  The other girls’ smiles disappeared as they turned to their companion.

“Oh my god!” one of the girls exclaimed.  “Are these roofies?  Are you trying to roofie us?”

“Of course not!  I’m not sure what happened to your friend, but we just want to make sure you have a wonderful time at our bar tonight!” I said.  Or at least, that’s what I was intending to say.  I was interrupted at the third word by the choking girl hurling her drink into my face.

This time, I was the one choking out, “Oh my god!”  I don’t know what was in that drink, but my entire face was on fire.  I could barely see and I felt like someone had just seared me with a flamethrower.  Abandoning the girls, I stumbled to the back room, where I vaguely remembered seeing a sink.

I made it to the back room, only knocking a couple people out of the way, and forced as much of my face under the faucet as possible.  After a minute or two, the pain had subsided slightly, and I stepped out into the back room.  As I moaned, I saw something move out of the corner of my tear-stained eyes.  Someone was laying on the couch.

Through a veil of tears, I could make out Jack, also clutching his eyes.  “What happened to you?” I asked.

“Corkscrew,” he replied simply.  “And you?”

“Not sure,” I said, but I had a sneaking suspicion that Corkscrew was also to blame.  Somehow.

Dropping into a chair, I sat with my roommate in shared companionable pain.  As we waited for the burning to decrease, however, we could hear the sound level from the front room rising.  And the voices didn’t sound happy…

What’s going on? Maybe Corkscrew’s perspective will illuminate the situation…

The Mad Three Buy A Bar: Jack’s Night

Introduction to the Mad Three

The first part of this story: The Aftermath

Sitting in the back, staring down at the sheets of numbers and the piles of receipts, I felt like it was all going wrong.

Although I had put up the token protest that I knew my roommates would expect, I had initially been happy to be given back room duty.  Franco, of course, wanted to be out in the front, not doing any real work.  Corkscrew, the mad scientist, had elected to work at the bar, mixing up drinks alongside Franco’s bartender friend.  Neither of them had really wanted to handle the real stuff, the finances.

Now, that meant that I was in the back room of our makeshift bar, sitting next to a huge crate of booze that would, hopefully, last us through the night, staring down at the disturbingly high piles of receipts.  Every few minutes, I would be interrupted by either Corkscrew or the other bartender, whose name I hadn’t learned before the chaos of the night began.  The intruder would barge in, grab a bottle or two of the alcohol, and go rushing back out, into the fray of bar patrons.

At first, I had enjoyed being out of the way.  To be honest, I couldn’t believe that I’d gone along with Franco’s madcap idea in the first place.  Wasn’t I supposed to be the voice of reason?  Perhaps not believing that I had accepted a role in this crazy venture had led me to want to stay in back, not mingling among our drunk customers.

Of course, even though neither of my roommates wanted to deal with the finances, they had both tried to convince me to come out into the front room.  Franco, of course, had obvious intentions.  He had set the whole thing up as a way to meet drunk girls, and what would be a more perfect component of that plan than a private back office?  I shuddered to think of the mess he would have caused, had this room been given to him.

As for Corkscrew, he had also wanted the back office as his own.  Why?  I honestly haven’t the slightest clue.  The guy’s unreadable, like playing the Joker at poker.  He’s got plenty of expression, but such crazy thoughts that it’s impossible to predict what’s going on beneath that wild shock of blonde hair on his head.

Franco had landed a stinging insult on Corkscrew when he made his office request, of course.  “Why in the world would you need a back office?” he had sniped.  “The only company you’ve got any shot of entertaining tonight are the voices in your own head.”  With this, Franco strode out to the front, leaving Corkscrew sputtering in impotent anger behind.

I had listened to this with a half-smile on my face, but now, three hours into our six-hour night, there was trouble, and the smile had long since disappeared.  I did another count of the bottles, trying to be certain, but there was no denying it.  Even as I finished my count, Corkscrew ducked into the back office to pick up another bottle of vodka.

“Corkscrew,” I shouted at him, grabbing his arm.  “Dude, we have a problem.”

Corkscrew glanced over at me.  He had managed to find a black apron somewhere, but his gangly frame and wild blonde hair made him seem like a teenager playing dress-up.  “Yeah, no one’s ordering anything interesting!” he responded.  “I made up a whole custom drink menu, but no one wants to give it a shot!”

What?  I forced myself to stay on topic, a surprisingly difficult task around Corkscrew.  “No, we have a real problem!” I insisted.  “Look, as we ring up people, the receipts show up on my laptop back here.  And I’ve been counting the bottles of liquor as they go out to the front.  But we’re sending way more out to the front than we’re ringing up!  Somehow, some of the alcohol is disappearing without being purchased!”

Corkscrew’s eyes went wide.  “Someone’s stealing from us?” he gasped.  “No way!  I didn’t think we’d have to deal with this on the very first night!”

“This could be our last night!” I replied.  I didn’t know what to do, and felt a rising sense of helplessness.  We didn’t have cameras in place to look for thieves, due mainly to our inability to either afford or wire cameras.

Suddenly, Corkscrew opened his eyes wide; I had learned to recognize this as a worrying sign that an idea had entered his head.  “I know how to catch the thief!” he shouted.  “Watch this!”

Torn between trepidation and curiosity, I watched as Corkscrew retrieved an empty Grey Goose bottle, as well as his jacket that had been hanging over one of the chairs in the back room.  Lifting up a bottle of cheap bottom-shelf vodka, he poured it into the Grey Goose bottle, filling it about two-thirds of the way.  He then reached into his jacket pocket and, with a flourish, pulled out a small canister.

“Wait a minute.  Is that pepper spray?” I asked, taking a step back.  Corkscrew was dangerous enough by himself.  Corkscrew with a weapon?  Get ready to run.

“Oh, relax,” he responded.  “I’m not going to use it on you, just put some in the bottle!”  He aimed the nozzle into the neck of the Grey Goose bottle and pushed down, spraying the capsaicin down into the cheap vodka.  He held down the plunger for several seconds, until the flow trickled to a stop.

Corkscrew tossed the can of pepper spray carelessly onto the table beside the bottle.  “Huh,” he commented, patting down his pockets.  “I was sure that I had a second bottle of the stuff.  I guess one can will have to do.”  He put the cap on the bottle of capsaicin-laced vodka, giving it several shakes to mix the pepper spray with the alcohol.

I pointed at the discarded pepper spray.  “Look, I don’t think this is such a good idea,” I spoke up.  Yes, voice of reason has returned!

“Oh please, this will work perfectly,” said Corkscrew, his tone dismissive.  “And don’t worry, this canister’s all empty!”  He scooped it up, slamming his thumb down on the top of the can.  “See?”

Unfortunately for me, the canister was not quite empty, and one last spurt of mace burst from the nozzle, hitting me directly in the face.  I screamed as my vision faded into a white-hot blur, my hands flying up to my damaged eyes.

“Oh,” commented Corkscrew as I stumbled towards the small bathroom branching off the back office.  “I guess it wasn’t quite empty yet.  But don’t worry!” he called after me.  “I’ll take this out and catch our thief with it!”

Even though I knew that Corkscrew’s idea was not one of his better ones, there was no way that I could do anything to protest.  I spent at least fifteen minutes standing in the bathroom, flushing my eyes with water and doing my best to take deep, calming breaths.  Finally, when the pain had subsided to a deep and persistent throb, and I had regained some blurry semblance of vision, I stumbled back out to the office, half-collapsing onto the small couch against one wall.

I hadn’t been sitting long, still focusing on trying to breathe through the pain, when the back door opened.  I looked up, expecting to see either Corkscrew or the other bartender, returning for more liquor.

Much to my surprise, however, the intruder was none other than Franco.  Even more to my surprise, he was making small pained noises and holding his face.  Wait a minute.  Had he been maced as well?

Find out who the intruder is from Franco’s perspective!

The Mad Three Buy A Bar: The Aftermath

Don’t recognize these characters?  Start here!


Jack moaned, trying to fight the urge to rub his streaming, painful eyes.  “I can’t believe it hurts this much,” he choked out, his voice hoarse.  “Seriously, how can any mugger even consider sticking with his career after he’s been shot by one of these?”

Beside him, Franco tried to laugh, but it turned into a hacking cough.  “You know, it fades after a couple hours,” he said.  “And at least pepper spray doesn’t leave any lasting damage, unlike a gun or something.”

“Figures that you would know how it feels to be maced,” Corkscrew gasped from his seat on the other side of the small office.

“Oh, shut up, you!” Franco retorted.  “Seriously, why do you have so much of this stuff, anyway?  I’m sure that this is all your fault somehow.”

“It’s for protection!” Corkscrew insisted back at him.  “Now that we’ve opened up a bar, we’re going to need to be safe, in case we have some unruly drunks accost us!”

Jack groaned, forcing his hands to stay on his head instead of clawing at his face as he half-listened to his two roommates argue.  From the onset of this idea, when Franco had walked into the living room and declared, “We need to open a bar!”, he had known that there would be trouble.

Surprisingly, things had seemed to go incredibly smoothly at first.  Franco had known a bouncer, as well as a bartender who was willing to pitch in on an untested project.  Naturally, Franco had all the connections necessary to set up a semi-legal enterprise.

Perhaps the most surprising fact, however, was that Corkscrew had provided the bar’s physical space.  One of his friends was a realtor, and he had been sitting on a commercial rental property that he’d been trying to move for months.  Ignoring jibes from Franco about actually providing something constructive for once, he had talked the realtor into letting the three roommates borrow the property for a few nights.

After that, it had been a pretty simple matter to order up some alcohol, pick up some signs, and get the bar set for opening night.  But somehow, somewhere during the night, things had taken a nasty left turn.  Now, all three of them were in the back room of the bar, in pain, incapable of going out, and worst of all, Jack had no idea quite how things went wrong.

First, let’s find out how Jack’s night went!

The Mad Three: Cast of Characters

Since I don’t know how to introduce these three roommates, I decided that I would simply let them introduce each other.  Pay close attention, as these three will be featured in the next few updates as they go on an amazing adventure together!

Jack on Franco: “Look, he’s a pretty decent guy at heart. But it’s all buried under this thick layer of, I guess, sleaze? Is that the right term? He’s always obsessed with schmoozing and meeting people, especially when there are any girls around. I mean, he’s like a cat in heat, all the time. As soon as any attractive girl walks into the room, he immediately loses all focus and can’t do anything but go and hit on her. It’s like a disease. He’s smart, and he’d be talented if he applied himself, but his only focus is on his next conquest.”
Franco on Corkscrew:“Look, this is simple: Corkscrew is crazy. I met him when we were assigned to be roommates, along with Jack. And he wasn’t a bad roommate. But that doesn’t change the fact that he’s insane. About three-quarters of the time he’ll be normal, he’ll be cool, and then, all of a sudden, he decides to do something that’s totally off the wall. He’ll be holding a great conversation with some girls, and then he suddenly decides that the conversation should shift over to which orifices would hurt the most if a jalapeno was inserted in them. I’m not even exaggerating here. I’ve given up on him as a wingman. And I don’t trust him around sharp objects.”
Corkscrew on Jack:“Jack’s an okay guy, I suppose. Levelheaded. Calm. No, not calm. He gets worked up about all the little stuff. I mean, he’s dull, boring, and whenever he’s faced with a possibility of excitement, he panics! Take me, for example. When things are boring, I like to liven them up a little. Nothing out of control, just trying to make sure we’re all having fun! But Jack, he’s like a mother hen, protesting the slightest little thing, because it might have a hint of danger. Of course there’s a hint of danger! That’s what makes it fun!”
Jack on Corkscrew: “Franco probably said that he’s crazy, right? Those two have never gotten along. But I’ll admit, Corkscrew has a tendency to not really think his actions through. He’s got a brilliant mind, but it goes in the weirdest directions, sometimes. He’ll come up with totally off-the-wall suggestions for a problem. The oddest part is, though, that his ideas work out about half the time! He’s like a mad scientist, cackling away and yanking out his hair, but still somehow managing to discover things that no one else has stumbled upon before.”
Franco on Jack: “Jack is way saner than Corkscrew, I’ll tell you that much! And he’s got decent game. He is great at listening, and girls totally dig that sort of stuff. And he actually remembers, which I still don’t understand. The next morning, he’ll be telling me about how some girl Marissa was a world champion dog trainer, or something like that. But that’s his flaw, too. He boxes himself into a corner, just acts too friendly without ever going for it. He’s got trigger anxiety, that’s what I think it is. He ends up with lots of friends, but not a lot of dates. I kind of feel bad, so I try to hook him up when I can.”
Corkscrew on Franco: “Man, that guy’s an asshole. No, don’t give me that look, I don’t know what else to call it! He only cares about girls, and the only thing about girls he cares about is how they look naked. He’d push the Dalai Lama under a bus if a pretty Tibetan girl was watching. Are there even pretty Tibetan girls? Or are they all monks and seventy years old? But yeah, he’s a jerk. A smart one, though. People like him, for some reason, so they tend to do whatever he asks. Of course, that just feeds his ego, and he gets even more puffed-up. Someone needs to be the person to deflate him a little every now and then.”

Okay, I think that’s everyone! Now that we’re all caught up, let’s dive into the story!

100 Word Challenge: Teeth

100 words, all the transmission can handle.  Gotta remember that.


Initial landing successful.  Perfect touchdown, base deployed.  Couple broken struts, nothing major.  Landed on plain between mountain ranges.

Drill started smoothly.  Quarter mile down in hours.  Three gas pockets, all safely vented.

Noises at night, rasping.  Sensors showed nothing.  Lifeless.

Over halfway gone.

Four cycles before we noticed.  Ranges were moving.  Mountains were miles closer.

Confirmed by measurements.  Calculations gave three more cycles.

Two cycles later, pod launched.  Barely escaped.  Watched, above, as mountains crushed our base.

Like teeth.

Adrift now.  Awaiting rescue.  Hope someone hears.

Do not land.

Making It

Recently, I went home, where I saw many doctors and friends of my parents.  The question that I received the most, of course, is:

“What are you doing with your life now?”

Now, if I was properly alpha and secure about myself, I probably would have responded simply with “Making it.”  Or “Living.”  Or something clever like that.

However, I’m not as clever as I wish I was (or perhaps I simply still have a few shreds of self-control and self-preservation), and so I instead regaled all these successful people with my plans to head off to graduate school, to hopefully discover something new that will convince people of importance to pay me money to continue poking at little bits of life.

Yay, science.

I do like science, I do.  If I didn’t like science, then why would I write so much science fiction?  You see?  You can’t explain that.  Insert face of Bill O’Reilly here.

Oh god, that was a mistake.

But on the other hand, there is a definitive reason why I keep on writing.  As long as I could remember, even back when I wanted to be a space ship designer and was convinced that the proper orientation of magnets would be the answer to traveling faster than the speed of light, I still wanted to be a writer at the same time.

And I’m not just talking science papers.  No, I wanted to write fiction!  I wanted to see my name on a book at Barnes and Noble, at the library, sign the front covers and know that people would be struggling to pronounce my name long after I’m dead.

And that’s why I keep writing.  No, I don’t always submit, edit, or even go back and reread what I’ve written, but at least I’m still writing.  I do submit a piece, occasionally.  And the rejection only crushes my spirit for a few weeks before I’m ready to try again.

And hopefully, hopefully, some day I will be able to call myself a writer.

I’ll have made it.

P.S. I know, that’s so uplifting.  Ladies, try to hold back your feelings of gushing, awkward, over-the-top love.

P.P.S. Looking at this post, all I can see is Bill O’Reilly.  I really need a second image, to distract from the middle-aged upper class white dude.

Oh god, I made it so much worse.