The Lion, The Mix and the Wardrobe

Flash Fiction Month 2018, Day 7

Challenge #4*: Write story that opens with the final sentence of a story written by another author this month, and that features a character undergoing a change as part of the plot. It must also include the names of ten or more cocktails and two things that do not ordinarily go together. The total word count must be exactly 377, 610 or 987.

The opening sentence of this story is the final sentence of G. Deyke‘s What Remains After Burning.

“Let’s find another place to sit.” The two barbarians stared with surprise at the heaving cocktail lounge of The Walk-in Wardrobe. It was incredibly busy, and it wasn’t even happy hour. Standing room only. There were some little shelf type things where you could rest your drink, but it just wouldn’t be the same.

“If you’d care to book a seat at the bar, I can get you one in two weeks,” said Alsan, expertly pouring grenadine over a spoon to form a perfectly layered tequila sunrise. Despite not having any thumbs, he was really quite dextrous, and despite being a gigantic lion he was really quite charming. He slid the drink smoothly across the bar to the orc who’d ordered it.

The orc took a sip. “Wow!” he exclaimed. “By the three fingers of Crognar the Clumsy, that was worth the wait!”

Alsan gave a little bow, sweeping up a cocktail shaker from beneath the bar in the same motion. He scooped up some ice, sloshed in the appropriate measures of pineapple juice, coconut cream and rum, and began to shake it in spectacular fashion. He shook it high and low, and behind his back, and threw in several flips just to round out the performance. When you ran a bar near a competing establishment, it took a certain amount of flair to keep drawing in customers. When you ran a bar in a wardrobe inside that competing establishment’s cloakroom, that amount was absolutely shit-tons.

“Wow,” said the elf who had ordered the piña colada. “You must be a real hit with the ladies!”

“Haha!” Alsan poured the contents of the shaker into an elegant stem glass and added a pineapple slice and cherry. “Yeah.” The cherry seemed a little off-centre, but the place was so busy he had to let it slide.

“Hey, could I get a cosmopolitan over here?” asked a woodcutter at the other end of the bar, his arm around the shoulders of the dryad next to him. They were an odd sort of couple. Alsan wondered how long the relationship would last. “And a strawberry daiquiry for the lady.”

“Actually,” said the dryad, “make mine a sea breeze.”

“Chicks love fancy cocktails,” said the woodcutter, giving Alsan a knowing wink.

“Who doesn’t?” said Alsan, trying to remember where he kept the cranberry juice.

If he had cranberry juice.

Had Unicornelius taken the delivery that morning or had it just never shown up – again? Sure the address was a little unusual, but the Walk-in Wardrobe wasn’t a new establishment. It was, in fact, absurdly popular. And yet this sort of thing seemed to happen every other week. It was hard enough worrying about keeping up the bar’s appearance, let alone…

“Hey, handsome. Can I get a mojito?”

“Can you wait your turn?” Wait, no. That was not a particularly professional thing to say.

The sorceress who’d asked looked kind of upset. Alsan felt bad: she was one of his regulars and she’d once teleported a big puddle of ogre vomit into a parallel dimension so he wouldn’t have to clean it up. That sort of thing tended to earn a person some serious brownie points.

“You can’t rush art!” he added, more diplomatically, doing unenthusiastic jazz hands for good measure.

It didn’t really come off as cheery as he’d hoped. Maybe if he had thumbs…

“Hey, man,” said the orc, setting down his almost-empty tequila sunrise. “What’s bothering you? You seem a little bit off today.”

“Nothing, really!” Alsan waved a hand dismissively.

“Come on, you can tell me!” The orc switched into a sort of sing-song voice that probably would have been more effective at convincing Alsan if it hadn’t come from someone wearing an outfit that consisted primarily of spikes on skulls on spikes. “You’ll feel better!”

Alsan looked at the orc. He’d been here before. Several times. Usually in that same outfit, which was probably his best. A quick check of the room revealed plenty more familiar faces. Some of them had been customers since the beginning.

Alsan took a deep breath. He tinged a spoon against a glass. If he was going to tell anybody here, he might as well tell them all.

“Hello everyone,” he started, somewhat awkwardly. “I’ve got something to say. I’m, uh, coming out of the closet.”

“Where’s the new venue gonna be?” shouted a fairy godmother from the back of the room.

“What?” said Alsan. “No! I mean the other thing. The bar’s staying here. I’m gay.”

“Oh,” shouted the same fairy godmother. “Okay.”

There were some whoops and a round of polite applause. A few patrons shouted “Yeah!” or “Go you!” or other similarly supportive but ultimately quite generic things.

Alsan had somehow expected more of a reaction. He found the cranberry juice and got started on the drinks.

“It may not be such a big deal these days,” said a pirate who’d approached the bar, “but I thought that very brave.”

“Thanks,” said Alsan. “I guess I was mostly just worried that everyone was getting the wrong impression of me. I mean, some of the beavers around here are kind of old fashioned, but people are generally alright. Looking back, I don’t know why I expected anybody to care all that much. Silly, really.”

The pirate pressed a finger to the bar. “If you care, that’s all that matters.”

“Huh.” Alsan set down the cranberry juice. “I guess you’re right.”

“And if you fancy getting together at all later on, the Mary Pickford is moored at the quay just down the road.”

“Oh,” said Alsan. “Oh! I, uh…I have a boyfriend.”

“That makes sense.” The pirate coughed into his hand. “Yarr.”

“Yeah. That was actually part of the reason for…”

There was an awkward pause.

“Could I just trouble you for a Manhattan then?”

“Sorry.” Alsan poured a perfect measure of vodka into the sea breeze. “I’m booked up for weeks.”

If you’ve enjoyed this story, you can find my work from previous Flash Fiction Months collected in these books:

OCR is Not the Only Font Cover REDESIGN (Barbecued Iguana)Red Herring Cover (Barbecued Iguana design)Bionic Punchline eBook CoverOsiris Likes This Cover

Click any cover to find that book in your choice of format.

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