Since August of 2012, I’ve been working on a novel about an up-and-coming American rock band, fronted by Daisy Carter. The trilogy (gee, I’m not at all ambitious for a first-time author, am I?) will tell the story of the band over the course of five years: their ups and downs, loves and losses, triumphs and letdowns.
Daisy’s bandmates are Pete (guitar), John (drums), and Beth (bass and keyboards.) They are touring with an English rock band whose members are named Noel (lead singer), Reg (guitar), Dev (drums), and Paul (bass). If you’re visiting my site to read my story and are unfamiliar with my novel’s storyline, I wanted to inform you about some of the characters before you began reading. Otherwise, you’ll have no idea who these people are
Chuck Wendig’s flash fiction challenge for this week fit nicely into my work in progress. We have been asked to 1) Invent a cocktail AND 2) write a story around this cocktail.
John and Paul staggered into Noel’s hotel suite, their arms around each other’s shoulders, both of them grinning with amusement. In each of their free hands, they held an ice bucket, which held full bottles of different kinds of liquor. Beth trailed in a few steps behind them, grinning and shaking her head. She walked over to the sofa where Daisy and Noel were seated, then perched herself on the arm of the sofa next to Daisy.
“We have an announcement to make,” Paul’s voice rang out over the laughter and conversations of the groupies and hangers-on who had congregated in the room. “We’d like to introduce you all to our little bundle of joy.” John snickered as Paul produced a sleeve of cups from his ice bucket. The two men started pouring five different liquids into the cup, eyeing with precision the amount going into the cups each time they poured.
“Ladies first,” John walked over with two cups in his hand and gave one to Daisy and one to Beth. Paul handed a cup to Noel and one to John. “We call her the Titanic,” he raised his cup in salute to the new addition to the rock family.
“Yeah,” Paul added, “because this shit will sink your ass if you drink too much of it.” He and John laughed as though that was the funniest thing they had ever heard.
After a wide-eyed stare at the constant laughter from two otherwise quiet men, Daisy looked up at Beth on the sofa arm above her. “Should we tell them that there’s already a cocktail with that name?”
“Don’t bother,” she replied. “I already tried to tell them, but they were too busy shouting over each other about what should go in the drink.” She looked around the room. “Where’s Pete?”
“He said he was going somewhere with Reg.” Daisy sniffed the drink and immediately recoiled. “Jesus, what’s in this, John? It smells strong.”
“Says the woman who drinks a bottle of whiskey in one sitting,” Beth remarked under her breath. Hearing that, Daisy punched Beth’s side in response.
“Let’s see,” John thought, ticking a finger off each time he named an ingredient, “tequila, vodka, dark rum, bourbon, and Irish whiskey.” He smiled down at Daisy. “The whiskey’s in your honor.” Paul had said something to John that only the two of them understood, causing John to fall to his knees in front of her. For a moment, she thought he was bowing down to her as a joke, but she realized he was still laughing hysterically about whatever Paul said.
“Why don’t you guys…” Daisy began, but Paul pulled John to his feet and they were both shouting “Whiskeeey, WHISKEEEEEEY” over and over, drowning her words out.
She got up and walked over to John, waving her hands up and down, back and forth in John’s face until he looked down at her. “Why don’t you guys give it more of a rock name, since you invented it on a rock and roll tour?”
John’s eyes filled with wonder and he stared at Daisy as though she were the most brilliant person in the world. He kissed her on top of her head and said “Perfect.”
“Let’s call it ‘Rockin’ Titanic’,” Paul shouted in triumph. He and John now started shouting ‘rockin’ Titanic’ repeatedly until it became a competition to see who could shout it the loudest.
“Well, you tried,” Beth walked past Daisy to mingle with the other people in the room.
Daisy returned to her seat next to Noel, a stunned expression on her face. “I’ve known John for almost ten years. I have never seen him like this.”
Noel shrugged in between sniffing and tasting the drink. “So what? He’s happy.”
“No, no. I’ve seen him happy before and he didn’t act like this. Now he’s…I don’t know. Giddy. And boisterous. Well, he’s boisterous for John.”
Noel didn’t respond, but continued drinking. “Paul’s right, this will put you on your ass. But it tastes pretty good.”
“Yeah,” Daisy agreed, taking large gulps, “it’s like if a Long Island Iced Tea was cranked up to eleven.”
Within an hour, the effects of the invented beverage began to sink in. Two girls fought over who was the better dancer and then began an impromptu dance-off just to show the room who really was the best. In one corner of the room, people started having a loud sing-along, even though no one knew all the words to the song they were singing. Others started making out with whoever sat next to them, not bothering to leave the room when things began to heat up.
John sat on the floor by himself, looking around the room and admiring the outcome of his handiwork. Daisy left her seat where she and Noel were quietly watching everyone and sat down next to John, tucking her legs up under her so that she was resting her butt on her feet. “You okay, John?”
He turned and smiled at her, his eyes showing her that he had sampled quite a bit of his own creation. “I’m good, Daiz. You?”
She returned his smile and said, “Yeah, I’m good.” She leaned to one side so that she was now slanted and seated on her hip. “You know, I tell people that when you first joined the Tragedy, it was a good six months before you started speaking in full sentences around us. Before that, it was always ‘cool, man’ and ‘yeah, sounds good.’ But tonight…” she trailed off and shook her head as though she still couldn’t believe the version of John she had witnessed.
A brief smile flashed across John’s face, but then he was quiet for a few moments, staring into space. “It’s because I was scared,” he said finally.
“Scared?” Daisy repeated. John was typically a quiet man, very shy until he became more comfortable around people, but scared was not something she would ever attribute to him. “Scared of what?”
“Losing my spot in the band.”
“What?!” She was incredulous. How could he think he would lose his spot? Why had he never said anything before?
“It’s true. I walked in that first day for my audition with you guys and I listened to Pete’s guitar playing and your voice…” he trailed off, thinking for a moment. “I’d played drums in bands before where it seemed like it was working and next thing I knew, they were looking for someone else. There was just something with the Tragedy, I felt it right away. Beth and I played so perfectly, like we had always played together. I was scared it was just a matter of time before one of you decided I didn’t fit in with the band. So I kept my mouth shut until I felt like the probation period was over.”
Daisy didn’t know what to say. She wished she had known back then that John was feeling that way. She would have done everything in her power to make him feel at ease and make him understand that they wanted him. She got up on her knees and put her arms around his neck. “John, you’re one of the best drummers I’ve ever seen. No one else brings the drive and passion to our rhythm the way you do. You were irreplaceable back then and it’s even truer now than it was before.” She gave him a smacking kiss on the cheek. “Sorry, dude, you’re stuck with us.”
“Thanks,” he laughed, rubbing her saliva off his face.
She returned to her seated position and peered at John. “So…what happened tonight? I mean, I’m not complaining about the way you’ve been tonight. It’s been great. I’ve just never seen that side of you before now.”
“Daiz, don’t you get it?” He looked at her and his eyes were shining with a brilliance she had never seen. “We’re here, we did it! We’re on tour opening for one of the biggest rock bands in the world. All our hard work and living through shit pay and shit gigs finally paid off. It’s the Promised Land.” A contented smile spread across John’s face, like someone bathing in sunlight on a chilly day. “And it’s better than I could have imagined.”