I got into a pretty good grove tonight and added a little over 2000 words to the story. I admit I sat down with very little idea of how to proceed, but once I got past the first sentence, it all started to flow. You get lucky sometimes. I introduced a number of characters today and gave my protagonist something to do rather than just sit and drink coffee. That’s a good think. I managed to introduce several new characters, and build out the world a little more. Not bad for day three.


Marshall Cooper

Day Three– 5,667/50000 words

Chapter 2

When he woke up that morning, the last place Marshall expected to be spending the evening at a ten-year-old girl’s birthday party, and yet here he was. The offer had come from his neighbor, who he had only bumped into one or twice before, coming to or heading out of the building. He introduced himself as Raimundo Manolo Dominguez, but told him most people called him Rainman. “You know, after the movie?”

Marshall had barely had time to nod before Rainman asked him, “How much do you know about alcohol?”

“As much as the next guy, I guess,” Marshall had answered.

“I guess what I mean is, can you mix drinks? It’s nothing complicated, but I’m playing harp at this birthday party, and they asked if I knew anyone who could tend bar. I told them I’d find somebody, but I don’t drink, so I don’t really know a lot of people.”

Marshall went through his head a list of drinks he knew how to make. “I mean, I can do the basics. I can make rum and coke, or a margarita, or a daiquiri, if there’s mix. I’ve never tended bar before though, and I’m not really good under pressure. I get headaches.”

“No pressure buddy.” Rainman said. “Seriously, I’m playing the harp. You know how many fights break out while I’m playing the harp? None. Well, there was one, but it won’t happen this time I promise. It’s just a lot of people with money who are using a little girl’s birthday as an excuse to get together. They gave me five-hundred dollars. That has to pay for the liquor too, but I’m sure they’ll tip. These people always tip.”

Rainman was tall and thin, but with strong arms. Marshall wondered if that was from playing the harp, or maybe from carrying it around. He had straight, jet black hair that hung down his back and dark brown eyes. Both of his ears were pierced and there was a tattoo of and angel on his arm.

They spent the next couple of hours assembling a bar kit. First, they went to a liquor store, where they picked up all of the basics: white liquors, brown liquors, mixers, wines, beers, and sodas. They also bought a cooler chest and five bags of ice. Then they went to Bed, Bath, and Beyond and picked up a bar kit, and a rolling tray. Then they headed over to the Dollar Tree and picked up napkins, clear plastic cups, and stirrers. Overall, they had spent $400 on equipment. “That’s going to cut onto your money a bit, but now you’ll have that stuff for next time! If you do a good job, they’ll hire you again. I play for these people at least once a month.”

Marshall wasn’t sure that there would be a next time. He felt a headache coming on. “I need to go home,” he said.

Rainman looked at him. “You’re looking pale.”

I told you, Marshall said, “I get headaches. I need to lay down for at least an hour, and then I should be OK.”

“Yeah,” Rainman said, “We got a couple hours. You going to be OK?”

They got back to the apartment building and Marshall headed for his apartment. “I’ll knock on your door at four-thirty,” Rainman called, “I hope you feel better.”

“That should be enough time,” Marshall answered. He headed to his apartment and began his routine. He got out his ice wrap and mask from the refrigerator, undressed, and managed to collapse onto the bed. He covered his eyes with the mask and laid the ice wrap over the mask. He counted one-two-three-four as he breathed in and one-two-three as he breathed out. He tried to ignore the pressure of having to leave in just an hour and a half. He concentrated on his breath moving in and out of his body as blue steam. Voices of worry tried to creep in his head, but Marshall had been doing this routine for several months now, and he was able to quiet them.

When the knock on his door came, the headache was gone. “I can do this,” he said to himself. “This is my life. I have to live it.”

When he opened the door, Rainman was standing wearing black slacks and a fitted blue dress shirt. “Oh man,” Marshall said, “I didn’t think about the clothes.”

Rainman smiled and handed him a bag, “I figured as much. I bought you something that should match close enough. You’re a 34 waist with 32 leg. I went with a sixteen for the collar.”

“That’s going to be too small,” Marshall replied.

“No it isn’t,” Rainman said, “You think you’re bigger than you are. Trust me. I’m Rainman. I can’t count a box of toothpicks, but I can tell a guy’s size just by looking at him.”

Marshall was dubious, but he went to the bathroom and changed. Sure enough, they fit almost perfectly. Marshall combed his hair and looked in the mirror. He didn’t look too bad. The only visible scar was just at his hairline above his left eye. The others were covered by his curly brown hair. His left eyelid did droop just slightly, but he knew most people never noticed that. His eyes were still little red from the pack, but the blue in them still seemed like his most attractive feature. He looked ordinary. Ordinary was good in his book.

“Hurry up, we need to get moving.” Rainman said, then after a pause, “No pressure.”

They headed out. Nothing in Santa Creda was too far, but the house they were going too wasn’t quite in town. It was one a tarmac road that climbed into the first low, stony mountain to the north of Santa Creda. It was only about ten minutes before they reached the place. It was large, certainly larger than his sister’s house, and was made of several connecting circular segments. The largest room, on the west side of the house, had several floor to ceiling windows that overlooked the ocean. That was their destination.

Marshall and Rainman unloaded Rainman’s van, bringing both the harp and the rolling drink cart into the house. There was, luckily, an existing unstocked wet bar where Marshall set up. Marshall had been willing to work out of the cart, but this was much better. If I keep this up though, I’m going to need a mobile bar. He wiped that thought back out of his head though. Standing here for four hours was dicey proposition. He could get hit with a headache at any time, and the idea of powering through one of those to keep working had an air of impossibility to it.

The party wasn’t officially due to start until six, and he was entirely set up and as ready to go as he knew how to be by five thirty, so he spent the next few minutes perusing the bartending guide he had picked up. A part of him wanted to worry about whether they were well-stocked enough, but he reminded himself that the real problems are the ones you can’t anticipate. You don’t even see the truck that hits you.

In addition to Rainman on harp and himself at the bar, there was a caterer and a server. The server was a cute blond girl who wore her hair in a ponytail. She looked to be in her early twenties. He would think she was a college student, but he wasn’t sure if there was a college in this town. He told himself he should check on that. She moved quickly though, and seemed to stay on task. She eventually came over and introduced herself.

“I’m Catrin” she said, and when she saw the look on his face she spelled it. “It’s Welsh,” she said, “I’m not like that.”

Marshall was unsure what it meant to be “like that” but he introduced himself. “I’m Marshall Cooper,” he said, “and I’m not an old west lawman.”

She gave him a funny look. “Anyway,” she said, “Is it okay if I take drink orders or not? Some bartenders get funny about that. They think I’m costing them tips.”

“No problem,” he said, “Just write down anything complicated.”

She laughed. Marshall wasn’t sure if she was laughing with him or at him. He wanted to think it was with him. “I’ll try not to break you.” She said and moved on.

At six on the dot, Rainman began playing his harp. At first, all marshal noted was that he seemed to be quite good at it, but then he realized that Rainman was playing Metallica’s One. The room was still all but empty. A woman about Marshall’s age walked quickly into the room, looked around as if she was trying to find someone, and then walked out again. She wore a blue strapless dress with small flowers aligned across the top. It looked a little young for her, but fit nicely.

It was at least fifteen minutes later before someone finally came up and ordered a drink. It was an older man, probably in his seventies, with steel gray hair and a thick mustache. He was wearing cowboy boots and a bolo tie with a five-pointed turquoise star as the side-clip. “What brand of vodka are you pouring” he asked.

“Tito’s” Marshall answered.

The man raised an eyebrow. “Better than I expected. I guess I won’t have to sneak back to my office after all. On the rocks son,” He said, “with a squirt of lime.” Marshall obliged. They were small plastic glasses, so he didn’t bother using a jigger. The man smiled when he saw that, and tipped him a five. “I’ll be back,” he said. Slowly but surely guests began to trickle in, although Marshall never saw the birthday girl. He realized at some point that the girl was probably having her real party in another room. It wasn’t until after eight that she got trotted out to this room, to open up a series of gifts that revolved around jewelry. At one point she opened up a tiara. She put it on her head and that seemed to be a cue for the cake to come out. Everybody sang happy birthday then. Within another ten minutes, she was gone again.

The old man was true to his word. Every half hour or so he came back and ordered the same thing. Marshall was a little worried now that he would run out, but when he came to order his fourth, the woman in the blue dress came over to intercept. “Love,” she said, “Can we slow down a little? The mayor is watching.” She looked over at a small man in a gray suit. He was balding, and wore circular glasses that made him look like a cross between a mousy accountant and a Bond villain.

“I’ve already talked to Jimmy three times. I don’t have anything else to say to him. He’s already got my money. He’ll get re-elected. I’ll get re-elected. I don’t need to hover over the man.” Nonetheless, the older man complied with her request and turned away from the bar. The woman turned and looked at Marshall. “What’s your name?” She asked curtly.

“Marshall Cooper.” He said lightly, “And what is yours?”

The question seemed to throw her off her game a little. Marshall wasn’t sure if she was surprised he would ask, or shocked that he didn’t know her. Whatever the case, she seemed took a moment, and then she smiled.

“I’m sorry. I get ahead of myself sometimes. I’m Selby Weatherly, nice to meet you. She extended a hand and he shook it lightly. “That is my husband, Sheriff Dwight Weatherly. I’m afraid he’s been to one too many parties lately. We have an election coming up.”

“Is the park named after him?” Marshall asked.

“No,” she said, “The park is named after his grandfather, but I can understand the confusion.

“Sorry” Marshall said, “I’m new to town.”

“If he comes back again, please try to stall him. I’ll run interference. Deal?”

“Deal.” Marshall answered.

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