Time to grab a book and get tipsy!
Back by popular demand, Books & Booze, originally a mini-series of sorts here on TNBBC challenges participating authors to make up their own drinks, name and all, or create a drink list for their characters and/or readers using drinks that already exist.
Today, Chris Wesley shares a never-before-published prequel peek into the lives of the four main characters from his novel “The Gospel of Wolves, Episode One”.
Have you ever been in a predicament and realized that you could trace the roots of your troubles back to a single event?
These flash fictions are an exclusive look into the events that set each of the four main characters of my book, “The Gospel of Wolves, Episode One” on their own private roads to hell while searching for their versions of heaven.
Each flash fiction would be the character’s answer if you had asked them, “What’s the most important drink in your life, and why?” the day before “The Gospel of Wolves, Episode One” begins. Yes, a prequel of sorts.
Next to each name is the mythology behind their decisions in my books about them. Consider it a hint that won’t be uttered in the books.
Andros Koresh (The Daylight Dreamer)
What most call liquid courage, I call an emotional amplifier because it dials whatever I'm feeling up until it distorts. That sounds harsh. I know. But as any electric guitarist will tell you, it’s when you push your signal so hard, that the tubes overdrive into distortion that the real fun begins.
It was the Long Island version of Ice Tea that taught me this wisdom after going three glassfuls deep at a friend’s wedding reception. I met a girl that evening who almost caught the bouquet. I made her laugh with a snide comment about the woman who did catch it.
Our chemistry survived the sobering process and the reappearance of clothes into the equation. We were inseparable for the next 33 hours.
“I’ll see you on the other side.” She told me dreamily just before I left her in bed for work. Those were the last words I ever heard her utter.
She was gone when I returned home. She left no way to get in touch with her, but she also left all of my things, so it was a little hard to get too mad at her.
I guess that’s why my needle goes into the red emotionally whenever I have a Long Island Ice Tea or two in me. I’m still trying to get to the other side and find her again.
Lindsey Falco (The Elusive Master)
Control is an illusion. Especially when a man is trying to pick up a woman.
Most men actually think they chose me instead of the other way around.
Influence though, is another matter.
It was during the intermission of a dance performance when a man of influence ordered a Chardonnay for me. It was my first time trying it, but when I heard the husk in his voice after he put his mouth next to my ear, whispering how the wine tasted off my lips, I lost all interest in whatever else any bar had to offer.
I gave him the go ahead, but he was a tease and stretched the night out with a walk after the performance before we returned to his car.
Circumstances precluded a night spent together though and he wore the saddest puppy dog eyes I'd ever seen when he asked to make it up to me.
I could tell right then and there what he was after. My answer was, "No".
It’s just…better this way for the both of us because I’m not here to find the love of my life. My mother did and I saw what it did to her.
I can’t let that be me.
Lucien Karr (The Wave Maker)
"You can't be part of a conversation if you add nothing to it," my mentor and paint instructor Milford Aimes advised me. The coffee cup he was gesturing in my direction with, spilled some of its contents onto the table between us. He cursed, dipped his finger into the spill and put it in his mouth. "Good coffee, by the way."
I smiled, proud that I had finally found the right proportions of coffee and bourbon to keep what he called 'heat in his bones' and 'taste on his buds' at the same time. The assisted living place he now lived at, frowned upon their residents drinking alcohol like this, so I always added the bourbon to the coffee I bought him from a gas station up the street before pulling up into the Majestic Palms parking lot.
I had caught him on one of the good days where the Alzheimer’s disease he suffered from didn't have such a strong grip on his memory. He was helping me find a theme for my upcoming first solo exhibition of my watercolor paintings. We had ruled out every one of my ideas.
Just then, one of the staff entered the common room we were sitting in and greeted us both.
"Hey Charlie," Milford turned in his chair to face him, "when you hear the words watercolor paintings, what kinds of things do you think the artist painted?"
Charlie continued laying out the snacks for the residents as he said, "I suppose flowers, girls in bright dresses, maybe a pretty landscape. I'm not into that stuff, so I don't know."
"There you have it." Milford said.
"There I have what?"
"War," Milford answered. "The general perception is that you use pansy paints to express yourself. Defy what people expect from you and your medium and reach deep. Your roots are military. Be brave enough to honor them while joining the artistic conversation."
While I didn't see taking his suggestion as being brave, I felt deep inside that the theme I chose would drastically change at least one life somehow.
I lifted my own bourbon-coffee concoction to my lips, wondering if that change would be for the better and felt the heat creep deeper into my bones.
Aristotle Troublefield (The Road Scholar)
The first time my pops ever got drunk with me, I was seven years old. He grabbed himself a beer and pulled a Sarsaparilla out of the fridge for me.
He told me that it was the drink they drunk in the Old West.
“The gunslinger would ride into town and take the parch out his throat with one or two of these,” he said, handing me the bottle. “This ain’t the kind of drink you take from a glass, you always use the bottle, ya hear?”
I told him what he wanted and we kept drinking while practicing our form for the game horseshoes.
As the empty bottles collected on the window seal, I imitated the way his speech slurred and every now and then, teetered before falling to the floor like he did. We cackled like hyenas. It was one of the last happy times we had together as father and son.
My moms came in soppin’ mad from her double shift at the sprinkler factory after she saw what we had got up to. Pops couldn’t keep another lick of beer in the house again. Because of this, he saw no need for the Sarsaparilla either.
A local bar gave him what he couldn’t get at home anymore and that’s when he learned to be mean with his drinking, at least towards me.
At first, Sarsaparilla carried the memory of that one night together, now I order the drink because they say addiction is hereditary.
I travel a lot and while I don’t have trail dust to contend with, I still like the idea of using it to take the parch out of my throat when I come into a new town. Silently, I always raise the bottle and give a toast to that night, never touching the glass when they give me one.
Chris Wesley is an award winning fiction author, poet, songwriter, fine art photographer and a smart-ass-mouthed romantic. His fiction books “The Gospel of Wolves” and “Regret in Triptych” feature perfectly flawed protagonists and are available through major online retailers. You can learn more, grab swag and go behind the scenes on his website chriswesley.com.