600 words –
“I’ll have a scotch on the rocks when your done serving those sissies at the end of the bar!” a belligerent customer bellowed.
Willie the bartender glanced over his shoulder at the loudmouth on the other end of the bar while continuing to serve the two men beer and pretzels.
He’d seen his type before. A mean drunk. Rather than violently kick him out, which he had every right to do, Willie walked over to him and looked him straight in the eye. Something in his stare caused the rowdy customer to instantly calm down.
“You sure you haven’t had enough for the night buddy?” he asked. The would-be customer slid off the bar stool and muttered that he was taking his business elsewhere as his unsteady legs propelled him towards the door.
In Willie’s world, the bar was a waiting room for restless souls, not yet gone on to any reward, and not likely too either. The tortured souls who sat at his bar looked for advise and solace. They were confused and he found that most were looking for heaven. They came to the bar to learn about their next step in the process of passing from one life to another.
They told him their life stories over shots of tequila and whiskey; wondering why their drinks didn’t make the misery of this alcoholic purgatory disappear.
Then there were those carefree souls who laughed and partied through the endless nights, calling Willie, “St. Peter,” and begging him to escort them through invisible Pearly Gates. But it wasn’t Willie’s job. All he was supposed to do was listen and offer his two-cents worth while serving endless alcoholic drinks.
Long ago Willie realized his karma was damaged beyond repair. That was why the gods (there had to be more than one) put him where he was. A lifelong alcoholic who drank himself to death and was resurrected as a messenger between worlds. What irony. The gods sense of humor was impossible for Willie to understand. He was a hostage for eternity.
One day all that changed.
The god of chaos sent other deities spinning through dimensions and worlds unborn, in a burst of cosmic energy that tore souls loose from the places they were stuck. Adrift, the souls turned to space, eagerly looking for new landings. New starts.
Willie found himself on earth again. It was 1923 and he owned a whiskey distillery that supplied gangsters from Chicago to New York. As he watched the last truck pull out, packed with crates of his signature booze, Willie had a nagging feeling that the good times weren’t going to last. He was rich beyond his wildest dreams, but business was just too good to walk away from. Besides, he felt alcohol was part of his destiny. His rise to glory.
Willie was on to something. He just didn’t realize it then.
When the mobsters attacked his distillery one night he was killed playing a game of poker with his two bodyguards. His suddenly rich wife buried him quietly.
Dimensions shifted. Alternate universes collided. The gods fought for time and space. New worlds were springing up in far away solar systems. Galaxies groaned as solar systems stretched and contracted, collecting stars like seashells on earth’s beaches.
And Willie found himself pouring a beer from behind a long mahogany bar while listening to a sad soul’s story. He sighed because he knew it was going to take a very long time.
The gods shrill laughter echoed throughout the heavens, and meteors continued to scream through outer space on a mission to mock mankind.