|Oct/Nov 2014 Fiction|
Tapestry artwork by Susan Klebanoff
Part 1: Manhattan Project
Barrel aged cocktails were all the rage. So the bartenders purchased a ten gallon cask at the local distillery and filled it with Makers Mark, sweet and dry Dolin vermouth, and Angostura bitters—a perfect Manhattan. They named the venture The Manhattan Project. Catchy, right? They sold shares. For 50 bucks you got a certificate. It was like owning part of a cow for a share of the raw milk, only better, since the milk would be 80 proof and aged to a mellow, charred-oak perfection. All of this was probably illegal, but who really knew? Best to beg forgiveness rather than ask permission. Word got around. Certificates were flying out of the inkjet. The bartenders filled a second barrel, then a third... Months went by. The first batch was just about ready. They bought 20 cases of 750 ml Bunsen burner bottles and printed labels with images of the Nagasaki mushroom cloud. Almost everyone in their focus group dug the trendy biohazard/extinction look of what was fast becoming a real brand, an uber-fierce rallying cry for the next generation of serious imbibers. Not surprisingly, the authorities got wind of it. On the day of the first bottling, agents came with axes. Apparently there was an ordinance prohibiting the repackaging of spirits, and something about national security. The agents smashed the barrels back into the Stone Age. Booze everywhere! Then they took out their drones and made sure it would never happen again.
Part 2: Bartender Resurrection
Never send crooked bartenders to Gitmo, let alone waterboard them or destroy their religious casks. They'll get back at us. They will make fast friends with the Jihadists. They'll swear oaths, strategize, find the best Cuban lawyer. There will be a hydroplane waiting: blindfolds, hills of sand, freight elevators. Late night brainstorming over tin goblets of Johnny Walker Blue. Happy days! Back in America, they'll apply for a microdistillery license and start ordering shit—tankers of sweet Nebraska corn, charred white oak barrels, pallets of Mason jars, trendy apocalyptic labels... Facebook, Zurker, Twitter. Optimized distribution networks. The American Dream! The day after they appear on the Food Channel, they'll introduce a secret ingredient into the processing tanks. More planes, elevators, bunkers. Shit flying. Jesus Christ, what have we done?! Level the playing field. All of that. Years, decades, boredom, booze made from jet fuel. Sunlight. Finally sunlight! They'll open a place in Cairo. Things will be different, but in many ways very much the same. People will still eat, drink, love one another, dream of a better life, of a brighter future. The bartenders will eventually retire, grow old, die, go to heaven. Yes, these men, these vengeful bartenders, responsible for the death of billions, will be drinking Sazeracs and Corpse Reviver #2s in heaven. Oh, compassionate God, what will you serve to the rest of us sinners?