Lat weekend I competed in my 5th Flash Fiction Challenge. Yep, I keep coming back year after year to punish myself with sleep deprivation, lots of hair pulling and crying, and heart palpitations…Okay, okay, it’s not that bad. Well, it used to be when I was still figuring out how to handle this mad-dash writing contest. But after 17-rounds, I think I’ve finally figured out my process. (If you care to, you may read about my full experience here).
As a reminder, I had 48-hours to write a 1,000 word story based on these prompts:
Location: A bartending school
Thanks in advance for reading, and thanks for any feedback you might have!
By Jenna Willett
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: A millennial needs a job to handle life’s necessities, like yoga, Netflix, and Starbucks. He decides to try bartending (#thestruggleisreal).
A flashing advertisement caught Jax’s eye as he skimmed through his Facebook feed:
CALLING ALL WANNABE BARTENDERS!
Intrigued, he clicked on the ad:
Looking for a career in bartending? Bottoms Up has an EXCELLENT opportunity!
Learn the tricks of the trade, gain real-life experience, and walk away with a job.
No experience necessary. Paid training. Good work ethic a MUST.
Where: Bottoms Up, 1932 Blake St., Denver, CO
When: Every Sunday until filled
Time: 9 a.m. – Noon
Belly up to the bar and chug down this opportunity. Chug, chug, chug!
Jax snickered at the cheesy ad, but bookmarked it anyway. In less than a week he’d be a college graduate with zero job prospects. His parents had offered to let him move home, but he wanted to make it on his own. He only needed help with his phone, car, groceries, rent, and utilities. He could handle the real necessities like yoga classes, Netflix, and Starbucks. He couldn’t go a day without a green tea frappuccino with hazelnut (grande, extra whipped cream).
Inspired to bartend, Jax pulled up his Twitter app.
Found a job! Go me! #workingman #showmethemoney
The next morning, Jax arrived at Bottoms Up at nine o’clock on the dot. Well, close enough to the dot. Juggling his frap, he stepped into a dim interior and smelled stale beer, perfume, and a trace of weed. Lipstick-smeared shot glasses and empty beer bottles lined a mahogany bar; and peanut shells, glitter, and other debris littered a checkered floor.
Jax swiveled around. An older woman with ice-blonde hair, Khaleesi red lipstick, and a tight-fitting tank top emerged from the gloom. Behind her trailed a thirty-something man with bubbly green eyes. Another trainee?
“Uh, yeah. Hey.” Jax sighed. “I’m here for the bartending school—job thingy.”
The woman crossed her arms. “The ad said nine.”
“It’s almost ten, pup.”
“Hmm.” Jax sipped his frap.
The woman rolled her eyes. “That’s strike one. When you hit three, you’re outta here.” She marched over to the bar.
The thirty-something man grinned at Jax, then pranced after her. A perky poodle happy to obey its master.
Jax, however, remained rooted to the spot, shocked by the woman’s biting disapproval. He’d only been an hour late. Big deal.
He pulled out his phone and tweeted:
Someone woke up on the wrong side of the bed. #bitchboss #newjobsucks
“What’s your name, pup?”
“Jax.” He shuffled across the room, one eye on the messy floor, the other on his Twitter notifications. So many likes and retweets!
“I’m Bobby and your boss if you make it through training.”
Jax’s face fell. “The job’s not mine?” How could that be? He’d driven here. He’d walked through the door. He’d shown up! By tonight, he planned to be a bartender. By tomorrow, promoted to manager. By month’s end, part-owner. No, owner!
“As I’ve already explained to Rififi, you’ll need—”
“Rif-what?” Jax snorted.
“C’est moi!” Poodle Man beamed. “Ri-fee-fee. C’est français. It means . . . er, how you say, trooblah?”
“Oui!” He winked at Jax. The same coy wink Jax usually reserved for girls, though he refused to identify as a cisgendered straight male. He hated labels.
He smirked at his phone and tweeted:
Good news, co-worker LOVES me! #hottyalert #solit #singlelife
“Strike two.” Bobby grabbed a broom and thrust it at Jax. “Put that dang thing away, and start cleaning.”
“Cleaning?” Jax gaped at her. “I thought this was a bartending school?”
“It is. But if you wanna work here, pup, you’ve gotta start in the trenches.”
“The what?” He’d never—Why would he even—He was about to graduate college! Sure, it had taken him six years to complete a degree in University Studies, but so what? He deserved everything he wanted.
Jax’s phone dinged. A text from his mom:
How’s the new job? You’re a superstar!
He relaxed and took another sip of his frap.
“If you wanna stay, get to work.” Bobby vanished through a swinging door behind the bar.
Jax glared at his phone and tweeted.
New boss is such a hard-ass! #feelingannoyed #fuckher
“Alors.” Rififi clapped. “Zee faster we clean, poop—”
“—zen zee faster we drink!”
Jax frowned. “You mean, the faster we get to learn how to make drinks?”
“Oui, oui!” The Frenchman scooped up beer bottles. “We make zee drinks, zen we drink zee drinks. Many drinks. Oui, oui?” Another salacious wink.
“Uh, sure. Wee-wee.”
The Frenchman giggled and began sweeping random objects off the floor: a high heel, a strip of sandpaper, a pair of swimming goggles, and a feather duster.
“Tres intéressant!” Rififi flicked the feather duster at Jax’s nose. “Nudey, nudey.”
“Ah, oui, oui.”
Jax shook his head and reluctantly dragged the broom across the floor a few times. Too bored for words, he gave up and snapped a selfie holding a beer bottle.
Need a drink? I do! #workshardforthemoney #thestruggleisreal
He took a seat and admired all the likes. Five, ten, twenty . . .
“That’s strike three, pup.”
“Hmm?” Jax hardly glanced up.
“That means it’s time to go.”
“Why?” Twenty more likes. Awesome!
“Look,” Bobby sighed, “I don’t need another lazy, entitled, self-centered millen—”
“Lazy?” He looked up, dumbfounded. Hadn’t she seen him sweep? He should get a raise!
Rififi flounced past with the feather duster and a knotted trash bag.
“What about him?” Jax pointed at the buoyant Frenchman.
“He’s enjoying himself while he works. And he’s proving he wants to be a bartender. You, on the other hand…” Her eyes drifted to the front door.
Heat rushed to Jax’s cheeks. “This is bull! I can’t even—ugh! I don’t deserve this. It’s not fair!”
Bobby tilted her head.
“Screw it. I don’t need this.” He grabbed his green tea frappuccino with hazelnut and stomped to the door.
“Au revoir, poop!” Rififi waved.
Jax slammed the door shut, and tweeted:
Fuck it! #iquit #whatevs