3 things to inspire 1 story written in 20 minutes. #story320
The piña colada had already melted. What sat in front of me now was a yellowish soup with foam quickly coagulating into slime.
In the shade it must have been 100 degrees Fahrenheit. I was the only one on the beach. The only person even outside, even in the shade.
Sweat kept trickling into my eye and leaving salt to sting. I blinked the drops away but once a trail of sweat is formed it keeps its integrity, sending my own coolant in thicker streams.
I wiped my head with one of the rags left on the counter. It smelled like beer and stuck to my forehead but served its purpose.
The bartender had stepped away to get more ice. She hadn’t anticipated many people that day. A few of us had trickled in from the afternoon train. I was the only one left now. I had no one waiting and no ride to pick me up.
I grabbed the stem of my glass and stared down at my pineapple gazpacho. The phone at the bar rang. Its sound almost sent ripples of heat waves from its spot by the glasses all the way to where I sat.
The bartender had not returned.
I imagined an ice shortage. Local news covering the story first, then national interest in the story gaining as New Yorkers couldn’t drink their libations on the rocks.
The phone kept ringing and I kept ignoring it, entranced by my day dream.
Pretty soon Londoners, Parisians, Moscowans, Bogotans, etc. all the peoples of major cities didn’t have ice. How could this be if there was water?
The answer, according to scientists was that something odd was happening at the molecular level of all H2O. It was heating all by itself, no matter how cold the external temperatures.
The phone blared, it hadn’t taken a break and was no sounding quite aggressive in its insistence.
Perhaps there was an ice emergency. The idea was ridiculous but the heat coupled with my boredom entertained the thought.
The water seemed to be fermenting. Somehow, a type of alcohol, it couldn’t be frozen in most freezers and refrigerators with freezers. Water started taking on the sharp smell of alcohol.
The phone kept ringing. My mind kept racing.
It wasn’t just the water from the tap or in bottles that was changing, it was all water. Water in soft drinks, water in juice, water in fruits and vegetables themselves, water that collected from dew in the mornings, the waves of the ocean crashing with a 100 proof spray, the water in beer and liquor, raising the level of alcohol in all drinks.
A fascinating scientific quandary but with no ability to comprehend. If all water were turning to alcohol, there would be nothing to drink. That would also mean that all water in our blood streams would turn us drunk, blackout drunk, wake up in the drunk tank drunk. If our blood turned to alcohol, there would be no waking up.
The phone was now an air raid siren in the background of my daydream. Every man, woman, child, animal and plant would dry up, dehydrate and die.
With a fit of the giggles, some loud snoring, a few fights, we’d all slip from deep sleep into nothingness.
My mind distracted, I took an absent-minded sip of the warm piña colada. The sensation brought me out of my daze and back to the bar, where I realized I was surrounded by alcohol.
The phone still rang and now all of my attention focused on it. There had been no sign of the bartender. I also realized I was quite thirsty, I needed some water.
I remembered a short clip from a movie I’d seen where a drop of fresh dew ran down the spine of a fern branch, wavered at the tip and plopped onto the parched tongue of a cartoon dinosaur.
I don’t remember the movie, but my brain was trying to tell me from its deepest darkest recesses that I needed water. Whoever was on the other side of the phone needed something as well.
Me first, buddy!
I tried the faucet, nothing. I walked around behind the bar, opening the ice chest, hoping the bartender was only being proactive. Nope. I tried the gas water and tonic hoses, nothing.
I grabbed a beer from the fridge and slammed the cap next to my piña colada to remember it on my tab. I sucked that beer down and let out a wet belch. I grabbed another two beers from the fridge and put their caps on the counter.
I approached the phone after draining the second beer, still quite thirsty.
“Hello?” The voice on the other side was non-existent. I hung up, starting on the third beer.
The phone rang again and I picked up. Before I could say anything, a smacking noise preluded a question, “Do you have any ice?”
“No, the bartender went to go find come.”
“Oh, do you know where he went?”
“No, I don’t know where she went. I’m just a customer at this bar. Are you guys out of ice?”
“It’s been so hot.”
He sounded like a smoker, his throat vibrating at a low frequency. He cleared his through before continuing.
“Thanks, I gotta go.”
He hung up and I finished my third beer, thinking about leaving. I should find a room and just let myself pass out.
“Sir, sir, wake up sir, you are in the hospital. You passed out from heat stroke and are severely dehydrated. You were found by the bartender behind the bar. You’re stable but you’ll need to spend the night. Sir, sir, do you remember your name sir?