Last Call
by Stephen D. Rogers


...... "Are you sure this is all right?"

...... "Why would I lie to you?"

...... Dana nodded and poured herself a beer, probably the hundredth she'd poured since punching in. "The last place I tended, staff couldn't drink there even on their days off."

...... "Well, now you're working here. So what did you think of your first night?"

...... "Some of those mixed drinks threw me for a loop."

...... Jake wiped down the bar. "I remember when it was all just shots and drafts. Once you memorized the location of the well bottles, you could work blindfolded." He tossed the rag into the sink. "At least those layered drinks have gone out of style."

...... "That must have been tough."

...... "The pussies from the office park would come bouncing in ten minutes past quitting time and order them by the dozen. No offense."

...... "None taken." Dana leaned against the counter and sipped her beer. "So was tonight pretty standard?"

...... Jake pulled down a bottle from the top shelf and poured several inches into a water glass. "Fewer fights than usual, not that they last long. Adam's a good bouncer. He defuses the situation, unlike some other guys who have worked here."

...... "I was surprised to see Kevin leave so early. Doesn't the manager usually close up?"

...... Jake shrugged. "We still have to check our drawers, restock, prep for tomorrow. Why should Kevin hang around twiddling his thumbs? I'll lock up, drop off the deposit, and in return treat myself to a beer on the house. Everybody's happy."

...... "Happy is good."

...... "Damn straight." Jake motioned her closer. "End of your shift, you run your reports." He turned in the key in the register to the right and hit the SALE button. The drawer popped open. "Your first report tells you how much money you should have in your drawer. Your second report is a breakdown of what you sold. Nobody looks at the second report."

...... The cash register started spitting out tape.

...... Jake sniffed. "Before you start the report, always make sure there's enough tape on the roll. I know I'm fine."

...... "Just at closing or even if you have a day shift?"

...... "Whenever you take your drawer out of the register. If Kevin asks you to fill in for half an hour, you run your reports when you're done." Jake lifted the drawer out of the register and laid it on the bar. "While that's printing, we count." He handed Dana a stack of twenties.

...... "Do we band them as we go?"

...... Jake made a face. "I don't work for the bank. The bank works for me." He handed her a deposit slip and pen. "Just jot down the totals."

...... Dana rifled through the twenties, glanced up to see Jake refilling his glass, continued.

...... Jake took the tens from the drawer. "We get paid on Tuesdays and employees can cash their checks with us. Just treat them like money. Same with these charge card slips except we subtract out the tips and take the money from the drawer."

...... Dana counted the rest of the bills and change.

...... "You're good with your hands," Jake said.

...... "I worked on an assembly line once, sorting parts."

...... "Why don't you total the cash and charges?"

...... While Dana calculated the contents of the drawer, Jake fished around for the beginning of the register tape.

...... He swallowed half his drink. "What do you have?"

...... They compared numbers.

...... Jake grinned. "Looks like we're over. Give me fifty-seven dollars."

...... Dana counted out two twenties, a ten, a five, and two ones.

...... Jake stuffed the money into the tip jar. "Sometimes if you're rushed, you don't spread the bills carefully enough. Someone owes you five, you see five ones, and you miss the sixth one that they meant as the tip. We catch it at the end though."

...... "I suppose you could forget to ring up the drinks, too."

...... "What do you mean?"

...... "A customer orders a round of four beers. You only hit the button three times but collect the right amount because you've done it a million times. The drawer would be over then, too."

...... "Yeah." Jake finished his drink. "You want another?"

...... "No thanks. I'll stick with this one." Dana lifted the mug. "I still have three quarters of it left."

...... "You got someone waiting for you at home? Afraid what will happen if you're walking a little unevenly?"

...... Dana shook her head. "I'm just trying to pay attention, soak everything up. Anyway, I'm not much of a drinker."

...... "What are you doing working in a bar?"

...... She smiled. "I've got nothing against people who drink. It just makes me lightheaded. Think of all the money I'm saving."

...... "Sure." Jake wiped his mouth. "So after you take care of your drawers, it's time to restock. We replace the bottles we emptied and fill the beer coolers."

...... "And the liquor is stored downstairs, right?"

...... "Glad you've been paying attention." Jake pulled an empty box from beneath the bar. "We bring the bottles down with us."

...... Dana gathered the empty bottles that stood along the floor, conscious of Jake watching the front of her shirt as she worked. "What do we do about the empty beer bottles?"

...... "They stay out back where we put them."

...... She stood. "That's it."

...... "Let's go."

...... Jake took the box and led Dana through the kitchen to a padlocked door. "You'll get your own key." He unlocked the door and flicked on the switch before leading her downstairs. "Every so often we have trouble with rats or mice. Just don't get your panties in an uproar."

...... "I'll try to remember that."

...... "Hard liquor is stored on these shelves over here. You'll notice the bottles are in rows by type and brand with a row of empty bottles between them. The first thing Kevin does when he comes in is count all the bottles."

...... Jake placed the box on the floor and pulled out a bottle. The empty went on a shelf and a full one replaced it in the box.

...... "What if a bottle gets thrown out by accident?"

...... "Kevin has a heart attack. Honestly, if you break a bottle, send a customer to the liquor store for a replacement and pour the booze down the drain. It's worth the expense to keep Kevin off your back."

...... "Is he hard to work for?"

...... "He's an idiot." Jake lifted the box now filled with full bottles. "Do you think you can carry this upstairs?"

...... Dana took the box from him. "I'm stronger than I look."

...... "I'll get a couple cases of beer. They're over on those pallets."

...... Jake motioned Dana up the stairs before him. "After you."

...... Back behind the bar, Jake told her to start restocking while he went downstairs for more beer.

...... Dana placed the hard liquor in the cabinets under the bar, stacked beers in the coolers. She straightened the bottles on the shelves, facing the labels.

...... Jake returned with two more cases of beer and she put them away too.

...... He picked up his drink. "Some people bring a change of clothes. You know, once the last customer leaves, you can slip into something a little more comfortable."

...... "The uniform is just fine."

...... Jake snorted. "Sometimes it gets wet, smelly. Wait until your first customer pukes on you. You'll wish you'd thrown a nice little halter top into your bag."

...... "So now what do we do?"

...... "You put the chairs on the tables and I'll put the deposit together. That's the slip, the money, and any payroll checks. Bottom copy of the deposit slip goes in the empty register drawer along with the two reports and the charge card slips."

...... Dana started putting up chairs. "Do we sweep or anything?"

...... "There's a young hottie comes in to do that kind of stuff in the morning. I saw her once on my way out."

...... "Couldn't get the drawer to balance?"

...... Jake grinned. "Couldn't decide which was better, ten-year old Scotch or fifty-year old whiskey."

...... "I hope Kevin didn't catch you."

...... "He couldn't catch venereal disease. Kevin gets shot down trying to masturbate." Jake laughed. "I've seen him approach women I've been pouring drinks into all night. He'd have trouble picking up a ten dollar whore."

...... "Maybe he's not trying to hit on them. Maybe he's just checking to see if the customers are satisfied."

...... "Then how come he never talks to the guys?"

...... "Maybe because you don't give the guys free drinks." Dana winked at him.

...... "No flies on you." Jake toasted her with his glass.

...... "That's it for the chairs."

...... "Last call. You ready for another drink?"

...... "No thanks."

...... "Why don't you come back here and we'll figure out what we're going to do about the tips."

...... Dana rejoined him behind the bar.

...... Jake emptied the tip jar. "You probably noticed during the night that whenever I had a free second, I was going through the tip jar and exchanging silver and small bills for tens and twenties. That way the drawer always has enough to make change and I'm not going home with a four-inch wallet and a pocket hanging down to my knees."

...... "Yes, I did see that."

...... "Call you Eagle Eye." Jake sorted the bills. "Now, this was a training shift for you which means no tips."

...... "Okay."

...... "I don't feel so good about it myself. I mean, were you working here tonight or were you working?"

...... "I was working."

...... "Damn straight. Here's a hundred dollars."

...... "Thanks." Dana folded the money into her pocket.

...... "Don't tell Kevin I gave it to you."

...... "It's our little secret."

...... "You sure you don't want another drink? You did real good tonight."

...... "I'd doze off on the way home."

...... "You can't go home just yet."

...... "I thought we were done."

...... Jake reached up and started killing the lights until the only illumination came from neon signs. "Done working maybe."

...... "No, it's late. I've got to be going."

...... "Why rush home to an empty bed? Kevin's going to ask how you did tonight. I'd rather not disappoint him."

...... "Sorry. Not interested."

...... "I think you will be. That hundred in your pocket, it belongs in the deposit bag. The bank's gonna want to know why the amount doesn't match what you wrote on the slip."

...... "You're making a mistake."

...... "Didn't I see you shortchange two customers? The bar might have to press charges to protect our good name." Jake stepped closer to Dana, placed his hand on her arm.

...... He spun her around, pushing her head down onto the bar, pressing himself against her. "The way I see this, you've got two choices. You get to pick which one I use."

...... Dana reached back, grabbed his balls, and squeezed.

...... As Jake screamed, Dana turned and punched him in the throat.

...... "Let's end this now before I have to hurt you."

...... Jake gurgled, staggered, and dropped to the floor.

...... "You misjudge Kevin. He looks at those second reports and compares them to liquor levels. He talks to customers you ply with free drinks and pressure for sex. He notices the shortages." Dana stepped over Jake and flipped on the lights again. "He'll be here in a few minutes to call the police. You can apologize then."

...... Jake dragged himself to a sitting position. "You a cop?"

...... "Private investigator."

...... "Oh, shit."

...... "I'm also an experienced witness. Even if your lawyer blocks the video gathered by the cameras I installed, you probably want to confess and plead out because I'll bury you on the stand."

...... At the sound of the front door opening, Dana smiled. "Here's Kevin now."

Copyright (c) 2006 by Stephen D. Rogers.


Over three hundred of Stephen's stories and poems have been selected to appear in more than a hundred publications. His website, www.stephendrogers.com, includes a list of new and upcoming titles as well as other timely information.

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