A Twelve Cities Christmas: The Family Tab

How does the owner of the Roo handle the after hours of a long winter’s night? Read on to find out. Featuring characters from T.J. Lockwood’s Gunmetal Greys.

IT’S ALWAYS LIKE THIS. Someone has a little too much and then gets the bright idea that it would be fucking hilarious to spill a drink on my bar just so they can watch me clean it up. It’s disgusting and I have no tolerance for it. I am a lot of things, but I am no one’s entertainment. Period.

The Roo is quiet as I lock the front door and start stacking chairs. This calm is temporary, especially with Asher and Ezra tinkering with some new find in one of the booths. I want to go to bed, but if I know if I leave them to their own devices something will have been messed with by the time I get up. Last time I left Asher I was finding spoons hidden around my bar for days.

So, what do you think they were used for? Looks like this is some kind of mini-motor.” Ezra sits by the window with a pile of tarps on the seat next to him. He looks focused with a hint of excitement.

Eh? I mean yeah there’s a motor, but it’s not strong enough to power anything substantial.” Asher leans back in the seat across from him with three small plastic boxes spewed out on the table between. “Maybe a light or a fan?”

Wine. I definitely need wine.

Ezra shakes his head. “The LED is too small to be for light.”

Asher rolls his eyes. “The whole thing is too small to be of any consequence.”

Ezra sighs. “My gut is telling me that this was for something important.”

Mine is telling me I need more beer.” He shrugs and looks over to me behind the bar. “Wanna get me another?”

I shake my head and pour myself a glass of Riesling. “No, not really.”

He pouts. “You’re going to make me get up aren’t you?”

I take a drink then top off the glass. “It’s not wise to disturb me in my happy place.”

There’s a faint echo of singing coming from outside. I grab my glass of wine and head into the kitchen. On the counter is a plate of chicken wings I made just before wiping down. I pick them up and head back out to the bar.

Ezra is on his feet now with one of the plastic boxes in his hand. “I think it’s a balloon.”

Asher pops the cap off a beer and starts eyeing my food. “So it’s a pump then?”

Ezra picks up one of the tarps. “A fan pump?”

I sigh. “Exactly how much history are you guys hoping to learn about this thing?”

Asher smiles and reaches for a wing. “Oh absolutely nothing. I can tell this isn’t going to amount to anything productive.”

I swat his hand away. “No, you’ve had your food. This is mine.”

He chuckles. “I seem to remember you being much more generous during the holidays.”

I shrug. “There’s dessert in the kitchen.”

He holds up his beer. “No, this’ll do just fine.”

Suit yourself.”

Ezra starts talking to himself. I don’t even think he’s noticed that we’re at the bar. Asher sits himself down across from the beer tap. The singing is getting louder.

Did you have any trouble with the package?” Asher sighs. The tone of his voice is much more serious.

I take another drink. “No, it was just a pain going all the way out to Motano for it. Delicacies aren’t cheap.”

He nods. “For sure. Let me know what my share is and I’ll get you the money.”

It’s fine. I don’t mind hosting, just pay your drink tab and we’ll call it even.”

He pauses and looks mildly shocked. “I have a tab?”

You’re my brother and I love you, but I can’t give everything away for free.”

Aha!” Ezra picks up a tarp and starts to fasten it to one of the small plastic boxes. “That’s actually pretty clever.”

The look in his eye, the excitement in his posture, he’s like a kid playing with a toy. I quickly refill my glass. “Having a breakthrough?”

He flips a small switch and the small box begins to hum. Within seconds the tarp begins to take shape. “I think it’s a costume. There’s a zipper on the side—”

Asher sets his beer down and is next to him within seconds. “It’s a dinosaur!”

Hey, slow down. I thought this wasn’t anything of consequence?” Ezra pulls down the zipper and starts stepping into the dino-shaped tarp like he is putting on a pair of pants.

Asher grabs another tarp, one of the plastic boxes and begins trying to put it together. “I take it back. This looks like it’s going to be awesome.”

Dinosaurs… maybe it’s the wine talking, but I am not surprised that my adult brothers are excited about the prospect of becoming balloon dinos. It fits actually, and as I sit here eating my chicken wings with a glass of wine at my side I am happy.

Now to get ready for the family dinner next week.