Mixology by Michael C Keith

Tuesday, February 25, 2014
Sheila tries to drown his sorrows, but barman Scotty is concerned for her welfare in Michael C Keith's quick story.

There is something that excites compassion.
- Sydney Smith

Sheila strutted into Mac's gin mill, her musty fox stole hanging from her shoulder.

"Hey, Sheila, where you been? Haven't seen you in a few," said Scotty, the barkeep.

"Oh, you know, here and there. A girl's got to stay busy."

"Doin' what, hon?" asked Scotty, with a knowing wink.

"Never you mind. It's not that interesting after you've done it a while."

Scotty placed Sheila's regular before her, and she emptied the glass of her favorite 100 proof Scotch in one swift gulp.

"Well, you sure ain't lost your taste for it. You can hammer 'em back. I'll give you that."

"You've never seen anyone like ol' Sheila, eh? So hit me again, Scotty. Had a hard night."

"You keep this up and you're gonna have a harder day."

Scotty refilled Sheila's shot glass and noticed a black and blue mark under a layer of makeup next to her left eye.

"Looks like you came up short in the ring," he said, pointing to Sheila's face.

Sheila downed her drink and pushed her empty glass in Scotty's direction.

"Really? You got to be kidding me. Another one of those and you'll have a matching bruise after you hit the floor."

"Just do what you're paid to do, Scotty... okay?"

"I ain't paid to kill people, but it's your funeral, lady," said Scotty, refilling Sheila's glass.

"I'm fine. Don't feel a damn thing. You watering down this stuff?"

"Just a little, but not enough to make a real difference," admitted Scotty, with a cagy grin.

"Mac is such a freaking skinflint. Charges more than he should for drinks and then dilutes them. That's low."

"Hey, you know Mac. If he can squeeze a penny more out of something, he'll do it."

"Why do you work for the cheap bastard?"

"Mac's okay. Just tight with a buck."

"Yeah, I like the jerk, too. By the way, where the hell is he?"

"Goes to noon Mass every day."

"That's right. I forgot he's a Jesus freak."

Sheila swallowed the contents of her glass and again slid it over to Scotty.

"After this one, I'm cutting you off."

"Yeah, right. I'm touched by your concern for my welfare. Keep 'em coming, sonny."

"Look, if you get hurt or someone else because you got all liquored up here, it's big trouble for us. I should have cut you off after your second drink. Never seen anybody slam back four of these and still stay standing."

"You live a sheltered life, Scotty," said Sheila, polishing off her fourth drink.

"Yeah, I never get out of this cave."

"Mac's got you by the balls, hon. You can do better than this joint. How come you gave up the magic act? I remember seeing you over at Ruby's Place a few years back. You were pretty good."

"Got tired of fooling people with cheap tricks. And Ruby got tired of me doing them and dumped me. Couldn't find any work doing old sleight-of-hand routines."

"So now you serve watered-down drinks for Mac. Good career move."

"Hey, it's a living."

"One more, Scotty, and I'll leave. Promise," said Sheila, holding up her empty glass.

"You're crazy. This stuff would knock Godzilla on his ass. Christ, you have a high threshold for booze. You are something."

"I am... ain't I? Never underestimate the power of a real lady, Scotty."

"Okay, this is it! I mean it"

"Ahh..." mumbled Sheila slamming back her final drink. "Okay, I'm going to my next john... er, job."

As Sheila climbed from her stool, she weaved and had to clutch the bar for support.

"Whoa! Okay, maybe I do feel a little bit woozy, but not enough to keep me from doing what I got to. Take more than the swill you serve to put ol' Sheila on her back. At least, 100 bucks," she chuckled and winked.

After she left the bar, a patron who had observed what had occurred questioned the bartender.

"Why'd you keep feeding her drinks? I never saw anybody down that much alcohol in thirty minutes and still be able to walk... or move, for that matter."

Scotty began to laugh. "She's fine. Didn't drink what she thought."


"Gave her ArKay Scotch."

"What's that?"

"It's non-alcoholic booze."

"Why'd you do that, buddy?"

"Keep her from getting in trouble. You got to look out for a gal like Sheila. Besides, she paid a wad for a sawbuck's worth of drinks."

"You're a real saint."

"No, just a former magician."


  1. I like the little quotes at the beginning of each of your stories. In this case it helped set the stage and got me reading. The well written dialogue kept me involved and I ejoyed the light "twist," if you will, at the end that plays back to the quote with a "sleight of hand". ;-)

  2. That was a fun turn at the end. The banter was amusing and I'm glad my liking for Scotty paid off.

    --Wendy Hammer

  3. as above nice verbal exchanges, barman with a heart of Gold
    Michael McCarthy

  4. I read this with joy, fun and an ear for the lively dialogue, and like a good drink, enjoyed the last drop.

  5. Very strong dialogue throughout. I had to really stop and consider whether I liked the barkeep at the end--the best characters walk the line. Well done.

  6. Agreed that the dialog is great! It's something that I struggle with myself, so lots of admiration your way :)