I purposely sashayed my hips as I walked away to put in his order. I knew Brendon was probably watching. I didn’t care. I was glad to be rid of him, if only for a few minutes. I purposely delayed giving his order to the kitchen, and then decided to wait before going up front to the bar again. Leaning against the frame of the small porch behind the restaurant, I pulled out my cell phone and tried perusing S’moogle to translate some of the phrases he used. Several of the servers and chefs walked in and out of the kitchen carrying hot trays of food. When I did return, he flashed his smile and ordered another double shot of tequila before wandering off into the party, much to be relief.
Several party guests came and ordered drinks, leaving generous tips but without the abundance of snide remarks. I fixed two trays of favorites after Benny, the senior bartender, made a comment. He was manning the bar on the patio, leaving me to cover the front door. I sat a tray of triple shot tequila on the bar and mixed mango liqueur, lime juice, and coconut rum into fancy drink glasses with little purple star swizzle sticks as a finishing touch. I was hunting for more limes to slice beneath the bar when Brendon returned.
“I think I’ll try this,” he remarked, lifting up a glass.
I rocked back on my ankles and bolted upward. “Those drinks are for party guests.”
“Which I am now since I bought my way in,” Brendon smirked. “I’ve just been talking to Miguel, is it? Nice fellow. It’s his birthday.”
“I know,” I glared at him.
“He told me wonderful things about you,” Brendon continued. “That you and your dad are staying here in Mexsimco to help out around Casa de la Esperanza and you’re from Califorsimia and you’ve accepted guitar lessons from him.”
“Wow, he was that chatty,” I said, sarcastically, locating the citrus fruit I needed.
“Oh yes,” Brendon slid onto the bar stool, still holding his mixed drink glass by the stem. “I was just wondering why a hermosa chica such as yourself is doing all the way out here in Desierto Rojo if you are from Califorsimia.”
“It’s none of your business,” I said, punctuating each word in time with the slices my knife was making on the cutting board.
“I’m going to figure you out in three guesses,” he replied.
“Oh really?” I glanced up at him, staring him square in the eye.
He met my gaze with an equally potent stare. I hoped I didn’t flush as I looked away. His eyes were almost hypnotic, an unparalleled color – a dark heliotrope, but they held a bemused look that irked me. I continued slicing fruit, wishing and praying this obnoxious stranger would go away.
“Let’s see,” he said, almost excitedly. “You’re young so… you’re a student at La Fiesta Tech, paying your way through college by tending bar and your dad came to visit you early for the holidays?”
“Wrong,” I shook my head, as I pulled out the salt to line margarita glasses.
Benny picked up two of the Mango Madness drinks to deliver to party guests, smiling as he interjected a quick “sorry.” I smiled and said he wasn’t interrupting anything. Brendon stood up.
“What are you doing?” I asked. Dare I say leaving?
“I think better on my feet,” he replied, swaying a little. “Though the alcohol might be inhibiting my senses a little.”
“You think?” I remarked sarcastically.
“Okay…” Brendon leaned forward over the bar, smiling more to himself than anyone. “…you are escaping the law of the SimNation because you committed a heinous crime and your father was the getaway driver and now you’re in Mexsimco trying to figure out your next move.”
My brow furrowed as I suppressed a smile. “Wow… really? You think I’m a criminal? What crime did I commit?”
“Horrendously overdue library books,” he said in mock seriousness.
I laughed. “No… but I could see that happening… the overdue books… not committing crimes… I hear they take away your right to vote,” I played along. “…if your books are more than a year overdue.”
“Really?” he leaned closer to me, his hand brushing mine as I moved to add a lime to the edge of the glass. “I heard they just make you pay for the books.”
We both laughed.
“Okay, not a student and not a criminal.”
“Right, because those are the only two logical choices.”
“Well, you’re here with your dad, no mom… so I’m guessing divorced parents?”
“Your skin isn’t weathered from the Mexsimican sun so you’re new to this part of the world.”
“Well that’s mostly true.”
“Your hair is perfectly twisted back and your makeup is flawless so you’re a perfectionist.”
“…but no nail polish or loud bling and conservative attire so a modest lady who likes to fit in more than stand out…”
I nearly dropped the glass I was cleaning.
“…but with your gorgeous figure, you shouldn’t cover up so much, and you should trust yourself more,” he added. “In fashion choices, in love, and in life.”
I felt a hot flush creep into my cheeks, suddenly feeling uncomfortable under the scrutiny.
“You’re here with your father and I don’t know many girls who travel with their dads so I’m guessing doting father, loving daughter… which means you’re loyal, but you don’t strike me as a girl with daddy issues,” he continued. “I know you have a kind heart because you were kind to the other bartender and you pay attention to a guy like…” he pointed off into the crowd. “Miguel.”
The birthday guy was awkwardly trying to start a conga line with two elderly women wearing too much ruffle and fluff for their age, a sleepy-looking Juanita, and two teenage boys who were on their electronic devices. He looked like he was trying to demonstrate the chicken dance with the way his elbows flapped at his sides in his over-sized blue sweatshirt.
“…and you were kind to a poor wayward soul such as myself,” Brendon said with a cheeky smile. “I’ve lost my way.”
“You’ve lost more than your way. You’ve lost your common courtesy, that’s what,” I quipped.
“Are you always this confident in your comebacks?”
“Oh, are you always this cocky?”
“Touché. May I continue?”
“Please… this is…” I closed my eyes. “….scintillating.”
“You’re not a very good bartender,” he remarked.
“I’m not a very good bartender?” I repeated in surprise.
He took a step back, nearly stumbling over the small edge between the floor and the entryway. A look of disgust crossed his face after he took another sip of my mango beverage.
“Too tart with the lime,” he explained. “And too much rum, not enough mango. It’s strong.”
“Some people like strong,” I said, defensively, hiking my chin in the air.
“Here,” he propelled himself forward a little more forcefully than he intended, shoving the drink glass in my direction. “Try it.”
“I’m on duty,” I shook my head.
“Then smell it,” he remarked.
I sniffed the glass. The alcohol did smell strong. I daintily took the glass from him and took a sip. My eyes bugged in surprise as the burning liquid hit my throat.
“Oh wow,” I coughed. “Uh… man… wow! That’s… tart…” I made a face. “…and strong…” I added as my eyes began watering and I coughed again.
Patting my chest, I wondered in dismay how many others had tried my super strong rummed-up beverage.
“You’re new to the bartending scene aren’t you?” Brendon asked.
“I had a gig in the Palms,” I said, quietly spilling the remainder of the drinks into my tiny sink.
“Yes, before here. I worked for Romon Tanner actually.”
“Impressive. So Califorsimia, the Palms, and here,” he pieced together. “Let me guess. Road trip before college?”
“Something like that,” I shrugged, giving in to his silly charades game. “Look, I should get back to work. I need to remake those… drinks… since these were a… disaster.”
“Sure thing, chica,” he grinned. “Then when you’re done maybe we can go star gazing or something.”
I hoped he would think the redness in my cheeks was because the room was warm. Did he just say that?
“I’ll be busy all night,” I answered evasively.
“Riiight,” he bobbed his head. “And I’ll pay a visit to much-older, definitely male bartender on the patio and get out of your hair so you can keep working. At least I know he won’t try and ask me out.”
“Your sarcasm is noted,” I smirked.
“Your sarcasm is appreciated,” he said, and then took off his hat and lifted it in a surprisingly gentleman-like manner. “I’ve enjoyed our verbal sparring, Kass. I’ll make my exit and go get smashed because then I’m more sane.”
“Oh really?” I laughed.
“Yes, I’m less likely to hit on a hermosa chica who is obviously not interested in me,” he replied before nearly graciously exiting.
…in theory. He tripped out the door. I had to laugh. This evening was more entertaining than most. I wondered what hermosa meant. I knew chica meant girl. I made nearly three dozen more drinks in the next two hours before Brendon returned.The party was beginning to break up, and I had even had the opportunity to mingle a little and get a plate of food. I tried not to smile as I didn’t want to encourage the older man as I saw him meandering toward me. He was right about one thing. He was definitely more intoxicated.
“Did you… get… the mix… riiiight this time, chica?” he inquired, stumbling behind the counter.
“What are you doing?” I said with a nervous laugh as I caught his arm.
“I…waaaanted to tryyyyy your newesssssssssssst mix,” he replied, giving me a semi-serious look despite his eyes rolling.
I tried to contain my smile. He dragged his “s‘s” too when drunk. It was surprisingly amusing and slightly adorable. I turned away from him so he couldn’t see my reaction as I picked up my cocktail shaker to clean. Brendon picked up my second to last drink from the tray and gulped the entire thing.
“Mmm…” he wiped his mouth and tried to set down the glass, but missed the counter. “Muuuuch betttter.”
“Oh-kay,” I dropped the shaker in the sink, my fingers brushing his, as I set took the glass from him. “You’ve had plenty.”
“But youuuuuuu’ve immmppr…immmmproved,” he remarked.
“Thank you,” I awkwardly patted him on the back like he was a friend. “Now why don’t I call you a cab?”
“Whyyyyyy… ddon’cha getttttt usssssssssss a rrroooooom?” he slurred and swayed.
I shook my head. The inn above the restaurant was full given Miguel’s out-of-town friends and guests who were sleeping off their alcohol consumption. With tonight’s full moon, any extra rooms were also occupied by the influx of EXCES patients suffering from the effects of SZV, Sim-Zombie Virus. Rosalie had explained to me how deadly the late stages of EXCES truly was, and her herbalism allowed for a safe sedative to be given to sufferers to sleep through the bulk of their symptoms, aggravated by the moon’s effect on the blood, similar to the moon’s effect on the ocean tides. The main house was filled with the “family” as we called ourselves and Dad and I were sleeping in the guest residence, typically reserved for V.I.P. guests. Despite Brendon’s obvious inebriation, I couldn’t do much for him.
“I can ssssssssssleeep overrrrrrrrr therrrrrrrrrrrrrrrre,” Brendon replied, hopping over the railing between the entry level and the sunken restaurant.
I gasped, grateful the man didn’t pull any muscles doing that stunt. I followed the railing, running down the stairs into the banquet area. The tables had been cleared of food, but the decorations remained. Brendon leaned in and inspected the roses. He sneezed three times.
“Bless you,” I said. “Look Mr. Shore…”
“Ttthaaaankkkk you,” he said, his nose looking a little red. “I am alllllerrrrgic to roooossssess.”
“Oh, okay,” I didn’t know what else to say, and tried to steer him away from the buffet tables. “We’re full up tonight. Is there someone I can call? Where are you staying?”
“Sssstaaaaaying?” he looked confused, but leaned forward and grinned. “You’re preeettty, mi guapa reina.”
I smiled awkwardly. “Thank you. But is there… someone… who I can call?” I tried enunciating as if that would help. “Where are you staying? Where’s your hotel?”
“Ssstaaaaaying? No…I am…a…nooooomaddddd… I don’tttttt haaaave a placccccce.”
“You don’t have a hotel here in Mexsimco?” I asked.
He shook his head.
“A roadside inn?”
He shook his head more vigorously.
“Friends? Family? Someone you’re staying with?”
“Noooo…” he sounded almost whiny. “I really… didddddn’ttttt pppplan that farrrrr aheaddd whennnn I decided to co…” he hiccuped. “…come on down herrreee to Mex…” he hiccuped again. “…sssssssimmmmmmcoooo. I jus…jussssssssst wantedddddd to be ssssssssomewhere neeeeewwww for my birthddddddddddday week.”
“Oh so it’s your birthday?” I said, almost amused.
“Yessssss…. thisssssss weeekkkkkk’ssssssssss my birrrrthddday…” he nodded emphatically. “I wanted to get ssssssssssommee…” he lifted his fingers to make a signed gesture. “….peace… you know?”
“Oh I see,” I slid underneath his arm to support his weight, and he dropped his arm heavily onto my shoulder. “Okay… can you walk?”
“Caaaaaan I wallllllkkkk?” he gave me a sloppy grin. “Yes… mi guapa reina with you herrrrree.”
I chuckled. “Great! Your Simspani is impeccable when you’re drunk!”
“Isssssss thatttttt funnnnyyy?” he inquired, his alcohol-laced breath blowing on my cheek.
“Yes, hilarious,” I rolled my eyes and stepped forward.
“You’re sssssssssstrooonnnngggg,” he remarked.
I realized I could’ve called for assistance, but I was pretty sure wait staff was cleaning up in the kitchen, Noel had retired with Rosalie, Brad was driving some of the company home, and firefighter Sonia had been called to a job. My dad wouldn’t have been any help either with his weakened muscles.
Clearly, Brendon Shore couldn’t drive home, wherever that was, and if he was telling the truth, he didn’t have any place to stay. The only other hotel in town closed their front desk admittance around nine-thirty and it was a quarter-to-twelve. We stumbled up the steps and into the courtyard. I left him briefly on a bench while I ran to grab my purse. We hobbled to the truck and I managed to slide him into the vehicle and buckle his seat belt all the while he was babbling about birthdays and vacations and other nonsense like the famed Bella Goth being found.
I ran around to the other side of the cab and slid behind the driver’s seat, hoping he wouldn’t puke in the vehicle. I drove the deserted sandy streets to the trailer park a few blocks away, and managed to get the man out of the car and upright. His arm weighed heavily on my shoulders and from the number of times he elbowed me, I was sure to have bruises in the morning.
Afraid I couldn’t take another step, I helped him duck and climb onto my lower bunk bed instead of taking him to dad’s bed. He crash landed and immediately began snoozing on my pillow without any warning. I sighed heavily.
Scribbling him a note, I taped it to the door so he would see it on his way out in the morning. I figured he would be safe here and he could enjoy his alcohol-induced slumber. I wrinkled my nose as the man snorted. I would be purging my sheets in the hottest water I could find. I softly called over my shoulder, “Sleep well, Mr. Shore.”
I was about to leave when I heard his faint response as he stirred in the bed.
“Buenas noches, mi hermosa reina.”
Author Note: And Brendon Shore makes another appearance, though technically this is still attached to the first appearance in I&S. The Mango Madness drink is pulled from a Pinterest recipe. I am not a bartender. Lol. And yes, La Fiesta Tech was originally located in Strangetown, or outside of Strangetown in Sims 2. In my Simworld, La Fiesta Tech is a university in Mexsimco on the outskirts of Desierto Rojo. Everything happened in this chapter in game, including Brendon’s incessant compliments, Brendon getting drunk (thanks to a mod), Kass making a horrible set of drinks, Brendon autonomously walking around the bar to help himself, Brendon relocating the conversation to the buffet area, and Brendon giving the peace sign. The zombies appeared on the grounds due to a full moon. Given the nature of Casa de la Esperanza and in-world context, I “cheated” and added them to the family and sent them to sleep upstairs in the inn bedrooms.
Alright, more definitions…
- S’moogle – short for Sim Google.
- Hermosa Chica – beautiful girl
- Buenas noches – good night
- Mi hermosa reina – my beautiful queen