A Tale from The Leviathan Theatre
Very few national landmarks as old as the Leviathan Theatre have survived the waves of gentrification in Sono, Georgia. Those still around have to compete with more modern venues. Always under the threat of closing which only adds to the stress of the aging institutions. For the Leviathan there was all this and more; systems failing, equipment breaking, constant leaks, fires, and culture of miscommunication.
The theatre is dark and likely haunted. Out of the three hundred active employees, approximately one and one-half die on average each year. This combined with the working conditions equates to a high turnover rate. Many faces in and out, flowing like leaves on a river, if that river had a one and one-half out three hundred chance of leading to death.
The crux of operations at the Leviathan is the Food and Beverage department. When shit rolls down the hill, it lands on Food and Bev. F&B has had many managers over the its long run, but one has stayed for nearly 15 years, that man is Ben Wynters. Now Assistant Director, he attempts to steer the dept where it ought to go with everything trying to throw him off course. Along with Ben, there are five managers to help the theatre along: Allie, Carter, Fergus, Doug and Lyle.
Allie was one of ten black people in her small town of Gena, (Guh-Ay-Nuh) Washington; she got a scholarship for competitive marching band and left. Allie had always led a menial existence, never flashy or obnoxious; now she wants to be bold and adventurous in love and in life. She’s not doing a very good job at it.
Carter escaped a cult of rabid Latter-Day Saints in Peninsula, Ohio. The cult was active in the remote red-state town and had the goal of ‘converting’ sinners, adulterers, and homosexuals by praying the sins away with vicious beatings. Carter escaped by night, he convinced a guard that a girl was asking for him before bashing his head in with a rock and stealing his belongings. Carter is constantly falling asleep on the job due to working two other jobs and the nightmares.
Fergus is a thin man, with tattoos up and down, from West Brimwich, England; it’s next to Birmingham he says. Fergus fled to the Americas after an unfortunate night hosting a pikey wedding at his banquet hall. There were broken windows and tables, vomit and fluids everywhere, and worst of all: shit smeared on the ceiling of the women’s restroom. Enough was enough he told himself, but he would later end up at the Leviathan.
Not much is known about Doug despite working for the Leviathan for 4 years. It slipped that he has a sister and that his family traveled a lot. Coincidentally he’s lived in the hometowns of all the managers. Locales are often one of two things Doug talks about, the other is obscure music. His favorite genre is Mongolian throat singing.
Lyle was the only native on the team, having lived in Georgia his whole life. Lyle is the least decisive of all the managers, he constantly faces paralysis by analysis, a common thread his whole life. At University, he switched his major twelve times before having enough credits to graduate with a degree in Statistical Analysis. Lyle formerly worked for a telecommunications customer service department where he was yelled at everyday for months before he developed the anxiety of a Woody Allen character and being fired. If he is standing still at work, the world caves in.
The bartenders at the Leviathan usually have never bartended before. But most can get by. Customers ask for drinks such as gin and tonics or whiskey gingers but even some bartenders struggle with those requests. Among the bar staff there’s an air of entitlement, either from seniority or a cushy lifestyle. There are always exceptions though, mostly younger people who need the job to survive, kissing the ass to get paid the cash.
Names are not unique at the theatre. Among the staff their is five Aaron’s; A, C, H, R, and F. Four Joe’s; A, D, C, and X. An unknown amount of Mike’s but four had been accounted for; Mike M, W, M, G and Mike from Maintenance. A Ken, Kendrick, Kendall. There’s two Ashley’s, one female and one male. Then there’s the typical Gwen’s and Rachel’s, Caitlyn’s and Catherine’s. The staff constantly disappears from their bars and for obvious reasons, is very hard to keep track of.
The all departments and even the building itself were recovering from the annual New Year’s concert known as ‘Rockfest.’ Rockfest is a three-day nonstop concert performed by a Grateful Dead cover band that plays from the start of the festival to the end. This miracle of constant music is brought to you by large amounts of steroids and other uppers administered with IV’s. Hydration is a prioritization. Opening acts also play a small part.
The concert was long, bartenders and events staff slept behind the bars in shifts, never leaving the hordes of customers unattended or even worse: sober. Scary. Jobs, lives, and pants were lost. The end of Rockfest also marked the beginning of the Broadway season. Psyches were fragile and ripe to be broken by the beast called Broadway.
Conveniently the Leviathan is located under an abundance of powerlines, in between two converging cell towers. Due to the high levels of electromagnetic radiation; nose bleeds, severe headaches and hallucinations are commonplace. One hallucination that everyone shares is a tall bearded bartender, Eric, who died in the boiler room 7 years ago from heart attack. Another unforeseen consequence of the microwave sea is that cell phones dies within minutes. One bartender, Aaron Haynes (or Aaron H) is an insatiable technophile. Naturally being unplugged for hours at a time leaves him disturbed.
By the powers that be, a fear of missing out, and an unlimited credit card limit Aaron H bought the latest phone on the market. Aaron H bought one before work and was ready for his first shift linked up. The P3000AmH Giga or ‘GIGA’ for brevity, from Nonspecific Electric Corporation. The Giga is the first phone exclusively from a battery company. The phone, which looked more akin to a hefty block, is said to last a week and a half on a single charge with constant 5K HD use.
Aaron’s new phone lasted 44 minutes at work. Among his peers, this was equivalent to winning a world record in battery life. It was not satisfactory. Angered by its performance, Aaron threw the brick at the wall, creating yet another hole that maintenance and restoration would ignore fixing but still complain about. The crash from the shattered plaster echoed throughout the whole theatre, including the mezzanine.
‘What was that?’ Lyle asked himself, setting down a crate of assorted liquor and wines at Bar 10. Lyle turned to the senior bartender Tim to see if he had heard the same echoing thrump but the man of eighty-six years appeared to hear nothing. Tim already had his bar, Bar 9, set up six hours before the other bartenders’ call time and two hours before the managers arrived. As per usual, Tim stared off into the empty space of the mezzanine ceiling. The ancient concessionaire formed this bad habit after paying off his future cremation costs, only twenty installments of $199.99. ‘A steal of a price!’ he tells everyone every shift.
Tim was the only one left from the original staff, some say he had even come with the building when it opened Christmas Day. Tim was a ticket boy who was paid in advance so he could buy his family a festive ham for Christmas 1942. It was the best Christmas Tim ever had; all others were disappointing. For a few years in the 70’s, Tim had left the Leviathan. Unsubstantiated rumors would have you believe that Tim left to go fight in Vietnam where, after the war, he stayed to be a professional wrestler known as Đấu sĩ or Gladiator. These claims are of course unsubstantiated as stated previously except for the tattoo on the lower half of his neck.
Lyle moved on from the thud and went to the next bar. The young manager had noticed a small puddle forming at the base of the beer taps on Bar 7. Lyle bent down to investigate the leak further, it was coming from the base of the beer taps. After standing up from his inspection, Lyle was startled by the sudden appearance of Mike: the maintenance worker.
“JESUS!” Lyle puffed, clutching his chest.
“Hello Kyle.” the short muscular man said, squinting his eyes in annoyance.
“Let me show you something Kyle.” The maintenance man walked around the bar to point out the leak that Lyle had just discovered. “You see this?”
“Yeah, I just saw it…”
“And you didn’t tell anyone?!”
“…I was about to call you guys.”
“Too late now.” maintenance said sternly.
“Hey, I mean it’s a pretty small leak… it must have happened overnight.”
“Yeah and now it’s leaking through the roof of the auditorium!”
“How? The floor is solid concrete.”
Maintenance Man Mike shook his head in both disappointment and disbelief, he gestured Lyle to follow him. The two walked down the extensive flight of stairs, parading around the railing to Curtain B. Maintenance pulled back the fez red curtain and pointed to the auditorium’s star filled roof. A torrent of amber liquid drowned the auditorium seats from a hole the young manager couldn’t quite discern. The whole housekeeping department was present, throwing buckets of beer on the surrounding seats. When Lyle asked about the process, Mike didn’t have a definite answer, but his theory was that housekeeping wanted all the seats to be uniformly not dry so as not to raise suspicion among the patrons.
Despite being a failed statistician, Lyle knew that the amount of beer gushing from the crevasse was more than the content of the four kegs the line was hooked up to. ‘This must be what they meant when they talk about synergy.’ Lyle thought. An idea that he didn’t know worked within the boundaries of the natural laws of physics, only in board meetings and self-help seminars. Lyle then looked past the IPA-Lager infused waterfall and saw the theatre troupe attempting to ignore the downpour. One of the dancers, the lead actress from the look of it, finally snapped and broke rehearsal.
“HOW MUCH LONGER UNTIL YOU GET THAT FIXED?!” the actress yelled across the auditorium.
“WE DON’T KNOW!” Lyle shouted back.
“WHEN ARE DOORS?!”
Lyle looked at his watch then screamed “SIX-THIRTY!”
“WHAT TIME IS IT NOW?!”
Lyle looked at his watch again, “THREE-THIRTY!”
The dancer’s head dropped, and the rest of the crew let out an audible sigh, followed by various grumbles and groans.
“Why are you yelling?” the maintenance worker asked Lyle.
“I wanted to feel included…” he replied, with weak conviction.
Maintenance Mike gestured Lyle to leave, which he did. Lyle wanted to finish setting up his bars on the mezzanine and leave housekeeping to water the seats but there was an overwhelming urge to “go.” Lyle ran to the closest restroom, located in the lower lounges, his genitals nearly exploding before making it to a urinal. Food & Beverage and Housekeeping didn’t feel all that different in this moment: Pissed.
Working upstairs setting up the bars is the most labor-intensive duty of all the managerial positions, but every manager craves it for the peace and quiet it brings before the shift. The calm before the shitstorm. The mezzanine is absent of all the clinks and clanks of exposed piping in the central office. When you play the game of rotation, you win or deal with the early arrivals. Dealing with the bartenders as they arrive is the more frowned upon position.
The hot seat is the position where you sit in the central office; assign bartenders to certain bars, dole out who does what side work, and listen to the long list of abnormal complaints of the staff as they arrive to help with set up. Assistant Director Ben Wynters is usually downstairs with the manager stationed at the desk. Ben often took the brunt of the barrage questions and critiques. The lucky manager this show was the only female manager on the team, Allie.
Where better placed would be a struggling film nerd work than in a historic theatre? The answer: in the production crew or actual on the set of a film, not in concessions. But that’s the point in life where Allie was, perpetually in between gigs. Everyone has low points in their career, hers was just lasting a bit longer.
Allie upsets a majority of the bar staff but for different reasons. Allie upsets most of the women by ignoring their complaints of hard physical labor and she upsets a lot of the men by being a stronger and more imposing woman than them. The ego of man can be fragile, emasculating is the quickest route to aggression. In addition, Allie has a general lack of tact so she’s rarely listened to, she wonders why.
Lyle, always the experimenter, noticed this absence of responsiveness to Allie’s authority. The solution: to add more masculinity to her strong, yet feminine figure in the form of a mustache. “Why don’t I just grow one right now, huh?!” Allie asked. That’s when Fergus took a fake mustache out of his jacket pocket and handed it to Allie.
“Here you go kiddo.” Fergus said calmly, handing out the ‘stache.
“Why…do you just carry around a fake mustache?” Allie asked.
“Yeah… you never know. I also have mints, an automaton turtle I made name Geoffrey, and a small American to English Dictionary and Euphemisms.”
Allie was willing to try anything and with the mustache there was no excuse. Allie would have to wait for the meeting because of desk duties: setting up all the paperwork for closing. Allie would have to keep her face glued to the screen for the time being and occasionally talk to Doug who finished his set up. Ben sat handling the staff and putting out the fires as they came. All so Allie could do her work in relative peace. That peace being relative to a chess game in a NYC park.
Tim, finally finished with the day’s existential dissociative episode, approached the desk with a voracity that was rarely seen in the aged man.
“Someone took my butter!” Tim’s lips dry and clearly dehydrated.
“Butter?!” Ben replied, uncertain of he had just heard.
“Yes, some yellow bastard took my butter right out of the cooler.”
“Tim, my first question, why would you bring butter to work?”
“I didn’t have time after work and I didn’t want it to melt in my truck.”
“Tim, it’s 24 degrees outside.”
“You never know.”
“Well Tim, why don’t you go see if security caught anything on the cameras.” Doug spurted trying not to laugh, a smile creeping up his face.
“Don’t fuck with me Doug, I’ve been working here longer than you, this place has no cameras.”
“Yeah, security has one for the hallway. You should go check. I’m real serious.”
Like a bloodhound catching a scent, Tim, shuffled off the security operations center, his mouth agape, licking his lips. Doug didn’t breathe until he had closed the door. With the ‘clug’ of the heavy metal door closing. The two younger managers began laughing uncontrollably. Ben sat in his chair, wide-eyed, trying to wrap his head around what had just happened.
“Are you fucking me?! …Butter?!” Allie shrieked.
“What just happened? Is he five years old?” Ben asked.
“I can’t stop! …Oh God!” Doug blurted.
“I gotta get the fuck outta here. I need to crunch some numbers, Ricci’s been on my ass like toilet paper about the inventory this month…” Ben said getting up, once fully erect, a roll of toilet paper hit the top of his bald head from behind and rolled over leaving a trail over him. “…Hold down the fort, guys.”
Allie and Doug just kept laughing as Ben walked to the second, more isolated safe room. A clap of hands was heard from around the corner, as a huge high five landed, Ben let out a small chuckle and ran to the office before anyone could find him. Allie and Doug sat and began assigning the night’s side work to each bartender. This was a time where the bartenders were left largely unsupervised in central. One of the shift leaders: Matt, came in and sat down after setting up his bar early. He began talking to Allie about the show and how excited he was to see it. Doug was the least excited and zoned out.
“Are you gonna watch the show at all?” Matt asked.
“Uh… Maybe. I saw most of it last season but I might peak my head in.” she replied.
“I’m definitely gonna go in after the show starts. Which song’s your favorite?”
Allie floundered, not being excessively interested in this particular play. Grabbing the programme from the desk, she scanned the following set list nonchalantly:
– What’s Inside Me?
– Opening Up My Piehole
– What Shaking Can Do
– Club I’m Def Knocked Up
– When He Sees My Pie
– A Soft Place to Kneel
– Bad Ideas Please
– I Didn’t Plan on Getting It
– You Kinda Matter to Me, Maybe
– I’d Love You on a Table
– Taking It from an Old Man
– She Used to Be Mine, and His, and His… I Think
– Opening Up Again
“This is not the play I remember…” Allie told Matt.
“How do you think selling the pies are gonna go?” Matt prodded, ignoring her response.
“I have no idea and they’re not pies they’re pastries. We had a lot of trouble trying to get people to sell them.” Allie replied.
“Who’d you get to do it?”
“JD, and Andre.”
“At least JD is doing it, isn’t he a salesman at his day job?”
“Yeah, it should be easy for him.” Doug added, staring at the assignment sheet.”
“Have you guys tried the pies? They look …meager.”
“No, Chef said we can’t try them, it’ll cut into the bottom line he said.” Allie uttered in a sad tone.
“Gotcha, I’m not gonna have to do it am I?”
“Hope not. We kinda need you to bartend.” Doug said, returning from nowhere.
“JD and Andre are good bartenders too though.”
“They’re alright, JD can be a little emotional at time and Andre can be sassy.” Allie remarked.
As they were talking and engaged in the small talk, the silver fox Tim returned, slipping in unnoticed, he waited until he was noticed, unwilling to interrupt a conversation he was not involved in. Another of the managers, Carter, had finished helping set up and moved right past Tim who was standing in the middle of the concrete floor. The employees all realized simultaneously that Tim was standing at attention, a soldier waiting to report.
“Yes, Tim?” Doug asked.
“Matt can you uh…uh… step out for a minute please.” Tim asked.
“Uh… sure.” Matt said hesitantly. Matt got up and walked through the office doors which Tim shut behind him and turning the lock.
“I… I… I…” Tim stops to lick his lips, “I got the motherfucker!”
“Who?” Doug asked.
“That chef with the limp! I went to the security office like you said and we looked back at the hallway camera, thank God it’s there! So, we… we… looked at it and the older chef, the one with a limp had…had… had it in his hands and that fucker had a big smile on his face. Security wants him fired for stealing and I agree. Where’s Ben?” Tim was now out of breath from the long monologue he just gave, holding on to one of the metal shelves for support.
“He’s upstairs doing paperwork, sit down Tim. You look all riled up, that’s not good for your heart.” Allie.
Tim sat down, “Can… can… you grab Ben?” patiently waiting for justice to be exacted.
“Can you give us a minute? We’re doing something important right now?” Allie replied.
“Oh, sure.” Allie turned to Doug and whispered, “I thought you were joking about the camera.”
“I was.” Doug whispered.
“What do we do now? Ben just went up.”
“Hold on…” Doug turned to Tim “Hey Tim, Ben’s busy right now. Can we handle this?”
“Nope, it has got to be Ben.”
“Ok…I’ll go talk to him.”
“What’s going on?” Carter asked confused.
“We’ll tell you later.” Allie responded.
Carter pursed his lips and nodded.
Doug got up; Allie’s eyes screamed ‘Don’t leave me here alone!’ but that’s exactly what he did. While walking away, Doug overheard Tim asking again if Allie had heard the story about how he won $100 in Vegas. Regardless of her answer, Tim was going to tell the story again. Doug imagined Allie’s head dropping on the keyboard as he left. Doug headed up to the safe room where Ben had shut himself out from the rest of the staff. Doug startled Ben when he had made it to the bullet resistance window.
“Hey man, you almost made me shit myself.” Ben swore.
“Sorry, uh…. we got a problem.”
“Already? They’ve only been here for 20 minutes.”
“Yeah, it’s Tim, with the… heh… butter situation.” Doug couldn’t help but laugh at the thought.
“Are you fucking kidding me? We’re on this again? Who the fuck brings butter to work? … you a bartender.”
“Tim, apparently. He said the chef with a limp took it”
“Who? Emmanuel? They probably ran out of butter upstairs and when he went looking for it and found it, he must of thought it was a gift from God. Jesus Christ… alright I’ll be down there in a minute.”
As Ben stood up, the phone rang, the caller ID said Williams. ‘Ah shit.’ Ben thought picking up the phone.
“Hey Williams, I was just doing the transfers, but something with one of my staff just popped up and its gonna be another few minutes.”
“The paperwork is already late Ben, I need it within the hour.”
“I’ll get it to you before then. I’ll bring it by myself. The situation shouldn’t take too long.”
“It better not.” Williams hung up the phone with immediacy.
“FUCKIN’ ASSHOLE!” Ben shouted into the phone.
Grabbing the paperwork, he hurried downstairs to the office. Once Tim saw him he began ranting incessantly about the whole situation as if Ben was unaware. Ben told him one minute but Tim’s selective hearing kicked in and he kept talking.
“Alright kiddo, remember what I showed you with the inventory. Could you finish the rest of these while I take care of this?” Ben asked Allie.
“Uh yeah, got it.” Allie began typing away.
“You’re the best.” He turned to Tim, “Okay, what’s going on?”
Tim who never stopped talking then stopped and repeated his rant once more:
“I… I… I got the motherfucker!” Tim exclaimed once more.
“The limpy chef.”
“You mean Emmanuel?”
“I think so, he… he… had a big smile on his face when he had my butter in his hands. Security wants to fire him, and I agree but it’s your decision Ben.”
“Hold on, I’ll talk to him.”
Ben went upstairs to the kitchen to search for Chef Emmanuel, a very short endeavor, he was basting and broiling lobster tails.
“Emmanuel, can I talk to you for a minute?”
“Sure.” Chef muttered to another chef in Spanish and they took his spot.
After secluded Emmanuel asked what’s up.
“So, weird question, did you take some butter from the downstairs cooler?”
“Yes, I did.” Chef answered.
“Okay, can you come with me downstairs?”
“No problem.” Chef promptly yelled at the others in Spanish. It sounded violent.
As the two got down to the office with the other managers, Ben asked what had happened.
“Let me tell you Ben, it was a miracle. We ran out of butter up here and so I went looking all over and low and behold: my prayers were answered. There was a full pack of pristine unsalted butter right there in the cooler.” Chef said all with a smile on his face, the phosphorescent lights reflecting off certain gold teeth.
“Okay, Chef that butter was one of the bartender’s.”
“Why does a bartender need butter? And why was it in the regular cooler and not the employee fridge?”
“I don’t know. I have no clue, but you took a man’s butter.”
Diana, one of the older bartenders barged through the door. “I heard everything; Chef didn’t do anything wrong.”
“Why were you listening? This was supposed to be a private conversation.” Ben asked.
Diana ignored the question, “Any man that has true faith in the Lord can do no wrong in this world.”
“Amen to that sister.” Chef said.
The two devout believers each took out a golden cross hanging around their necks and clanked them together. Ben looked confused at the odd ritualistic gesture of Christian solidarity but was thrown off by the smell of liquor.
“Wait, what’s that smell? Are you drunk?”
The composed Dianna belched on accident “No…” and then quickly evacuated the office.
A disembodied voice answered Ben’s question with an “I am!”
“Who said that?! Was that Saraiya?” but when Ben looked there was nothing but a shadow moving across the wall.
“Can I go now?” Chef asked.
“Yeah Emmanuel, you can go. I’ll figure out what to do about the butter and let you know.”
“You know, I got some left-over lobster that I used the butter for.”
“Can you bring in some butter tomorrow to replace what you took?”
“No, I don’t have the money.”
“You don’t have enough money to buy a package of butter? It’s a buck fifty.”
“Right, see, I got into a little spat with the Jewish mafia and well I owe them some. So right now, I ain’t got it.”
“Alright, thank you Emmanuel, I’ll let you know.” Ben’s faced nuzzled into his hand out of frustration. With a smug grin on his face Chef Emmanuel said “Alright!” and returned to the kitchen.
Ben sat in one of the many rolley chairs that littered the office space and plopped down in it.
“Please, one of you, just put me out of my misery.” he asked.
“Done!” Allie shouted.
“Done with what?” Ben asked.
“Ah shit, that’s right. Time?”
“Print that out right now, I got seven minutes to get this to accounting.”
“Six minutes.” Allie said handing him a hot, stack of fresh printed papers.
“Thanks, kiddo. You really saved my ass.”
“No problem, Ben.”
Ben sprinted through the theatre, across the lengthy building, to the administration offices. He started to sweat as he approached the office of Red Williams, Vice Director of Accounting and Finance. It was a very large and intimidating plaque mounted on the wall next to the office door. Ben wiped the sweat from his forehead before walking in, attempting to act casual.
“Alright, Williams. Here are the numbers.” Ben gasped.
“Just on time. I was about to have Ricci fire you for being late, but you had three minutes till the top of the hour.”
“Well thank God.”
Williams didn’t respond, only looking at the numbers Ben provided him and cross referencing it with his own.
“Speaking of the Lord. Ben, do you go to church often?” Williams broke the silence.
“No, not since I was a child.”
“That explains it.”
“You have no integrity.”
“I’m sorry what?”
“You have no integrity.” Williams repeated.
“I heard you the first time, but what does that mean?”
“You lack the fundamental characteristic known as integrity.”
Ben could only gasp at the vague claim.
“You’re $20,000 under by the way.” Williams said after dropping the paper concluding his examination of the numbers.
“Yes, you heard me the first time, right? Or is this whole meeting going to be me repeating myself?”
“By my numbers I’m only under $900, which is within the 3%”
“By my count it’s around $20,000.”
“Okay, well can you show me where you got that number?”
“It’s not that simple.”
“Why can’t you just show me? I’ve got $900 and you got $20,000.” Ben held out his counts, showing his work.
“It’s not that simple Ben. I’ll talk to Ricci about it. You can leave now.”
“I just don’t understand…”
“I said you can leave now, so get out, shoo, begone sinner.”
Ben knew this was no fight he could win and left flabbergasted. Ben had made it back to the central office just in time for the meeting. Which was being led by Allie.
“Alright guys were using this trail mix instead of chips since we ran out of chips.”
“What kinds of trail mix?” One bartender, Germaine, asked.
“It’s called Deez Sweet Carolina mix. It’s got dried banana, sesame sticks, cashews, peanuts, and almonds.”
“Excuse me Tina could you please move? I can’t see the manager and you’re in the way.” Germaine asked.
“You don’t need to see the manager to listen to her.” Tina retorted.
“I can’t hear well and so I have to read lips and all I can read is that sagging ass.”
“Bitch you wanna go?”
Allie stepped to the side, “Uh hey guys, It’s called Deez Sweet Carolina mix. It’s got dried banana, sesame sticks, cashews, peanuts, and almonds.”
“That’s not trail mix!” Germaine shouted.
“Yes, it is, it says it right here: TRAILMIX.” Allie pointed to the words on the container.
“Well it’s wrong.”
“Why is it wrong… Germaine?”
“Trail mix isn’t sweet.”
“Okay so it is trail mix. Any other questions?”
“Did you consider my suggestion about the pulley system?” Germaine added.
The other twenty bartenders rolled their eyes and some grunted. Germaine was oblivious.
“Yes, Germaine and it’s a terrible idea, not happening.”
“It’s a great idea, it should happen.”
“No. We are not going to make a hole in the wall of the women’s locker room to shuttle product to the women’s lounge.
“Okay and just so everyone’s on the same page JD and Andre are selling the pastries if a customer asks, they have them and if a customer is asking ‘Where are the pies?’ tell them we don’t have pies, we have sweet almond puff pastries. Any questions from anyone that’s not Germaine? No? Okay cool, go team!”
One of the Joe’s screamed out: “Woo!” He was the only one and was immediately embarrassed. The rest of the bartenders shuffled about; some went to their bar’s; others had their own business to take care of before the doors opened.
“Way to go with the meeting Kiddo, you did great.” Ben said.
“Thanks. I just wish Germaine would stop talking.” Allie replied.
“You know, I think everyone wishes that.”
Before anything else could happen, Tim walked up to the managers. There was a hunger in his eyes. “Did you get my butter back guys?” Tim asked.
“No, Tim. They used your butter to cook lobster. They offered some as compensation.”
“I don’t want anything made from a thief like that!”
“Alright Tom, here’s $5 for the butter.” Ben held out a bill trying to pass it of as Chef’s.
“I don’t want money; I want… I want… my dang butter.”
“I don’t know what to tell you then Tim.”
“Ben have you given thought to my pulley system idea?” Germaine stuck her head through the door.
“Oh God, not you again.” Ben cried.
“We were talking about something important here.” Tim said.
“This IS important.” Germaine fired back.
“Okay, everyone STOP. Tim if you’re not gonna take the lobster or the money, you get nothing. Germaine we aren’t doing the pulley system. It’s a terrible idea.”
“It’s a great idea, it should happen, I even brought my own sledgehammer from home so we can get started today.” she argued while holding up an sturdy-looking hammer. Tim walked away angrily.
“Where’d you?… How’d you?… How’d you get that past security?!” Ben replied.
“I’m a journalist. See this is what’s wrong with y’all: you don’t care about making our lives easier. It’s about time we bartenders took the reins from you ‘managers.’” Germaine air quoted.
“I don’t even know what that means Germaine but please just go to your bar, put the hammer away and PLEASE forget about the pulley system.”
“No!” Germaine huffed as she left the room.
The nightmare was finally over, or so they thought. Germaine was the most combative of all the bartenders, maybe even of all departments. Germaine was still demanding despite her being on final notice. On two separate occasions she had been given warnings for being entirely too loud during other Broadway shows. The first occurrence she was talking to a bar mate about how children are inherently the devil and it’s the duty of a teacher to ‘beat Satan out of the child.’ An usher heard her rant echo across the mezzanine and asked her to be quiet. The frail substitute teacher somehow managed to pick up a hundred-pound popcorn machine and threw it at the usher. Her reasoning was she was trying ‘hush her.’
The second incident happened when one of the managers explained she could not play gospel music at the bar. The argument was overheard by president of the theatre who was sitting in on the show. When the president came up to investigate the manager partially froze and could only utter the statement ‘Great acoustics we have up here, don’t we?” The president only uttered ‘No we don’t, stop it now.’ Germaine was removed from the bar with help from 2 bartenders and Carter, by force. They had to shove bar towels in her mouth to keep her from shouting.
“Can we fire her already?” Allie asked Ben.
“No, aside from being a pain in the ass, she hasn’t gotten a third strike.” Ben answered.
“Isn’t this a right to work state?”
“Yeah it is but there’s something we also got to consider called spontaneous personal discrimination.”
“She can claim we were discriminating against her personally.”
“Isn’t that the only basis to do so down here?”
“Yeah, not anymore.”
“Then what’s the point?”
“What’s the point of anything? I don’t know.”
Ben had been staring off with a delayed response “Oh…sorry…What’s up?” Before she could answer the Assistant Assistant Director, Brad, dropped in.
“Hey, we’re trying to get rid of this Los Lobos Chilean Merlot. I need you to give this to Bar 6 and put it in the system.”
“We just had the meeting; the doors are opening in 10 minutes. Why couldn’t you tell us this earlier?” Allie questioned.
“Because I was caught up in an intense game of intermural kickball. My team crushed it.”
“What are you 16?”
“No, I’m 34 and team sports are the shit. Maybe you should try them, and you’d have some friends outside of work.”
Allie stared judgmentally with squinted eyes, a lowered head, and raised shoulders.
“Ok, well put this in as eight dollars. I’ll be in my office, don’t call me.”
For Ben Wynters, the task of managing staff is never ending. As quickly as he came, Brad was gone but was then replaced by a bartender named Chanel who was incapable of not crying. Chanel was always a bit of a diva but never had she genuinely cried at work. The sight was quite alarming.
“Chanel, what’s wrong?” Ben asked.
“I want to file a… uh… a sexual harassment claim…” she muttered.
“Oh my God, what happened?! Are you okay?!”
“Okay, so, I was giving Aaron head in…”
“Which Aaron?” Ben interrupted.
“Aaron F. Anyways, so I was sucking his dick in the bathroom and…”
“Why the bathroom?”
“Well I wanted to and we couldn’t do it out here. Ben can you stop interrupting and let me talk.” Chanel’s tone shifted from frail to sharply aggravated.
“Okay, sorry, go ahead.” Ben apologized.
“So, I was giving head and I got my way to his balls and… and…”
“… and he farted. My mouth was open and everything.”
“WHAT?!” Ben nearly shouted.
“I know… it’s so fucked up.” Chanel began to tear up again at the injustice that had befallen her.
“Is Aaron F. still in the bathroom?”
“I think so.”
“Okay, I’ll go talk to him.” Ben turned to Allie, “Did you get all that kiddo?”
“Yeah, Ben.” Allie replied.
“Can you make sure she’s alright?”
Allie sat there talking to Chanel trying to comfort her as Ben went to investigate. Ben went through the labyrinthine hallways, ducking and weaving between the low ceiling beams. On the way to the bathroom Ben found another bartender crying this time it was Ruby. Naturally at this time Ben automatically assumed the worst. Ruby was entranced, consumed by an unknown grief. Ben tapped her on the shoulder.
“Ruby, what happened? Did Aaron F. fart on you too? That boy is out of line!” Ben reasoned.
“What?! No!” Ruby choked through the tears.
“Then what’s wrong?”
“Allie put me on Bar 12!”
“What’s wrong with that? Bar 12 is the 2nd best bar, you’re gonna make good money.”
“That’s just it! It’s the second best, not the first! It’s not Bar 6! I hate coffee!”
Ben, unsure of what he could say to remedy Ruby’s situation, simply slapped her on the upper part of her arm, told her that she’d be fine and went on his way. Ruby let out a guttural howl of despair. Oddly enough, the door to the woman’s employee restroom, which was on the way to the men’s, was wide open. Ben peeked in and saw Germaine winding back the hammer for a swing. The institutional white brick wall already had a few cracks and chips in it from previous strikes. Sprinklings of concrete dusted the floor.
“WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!” Ben shouted, running in and grabbing the hammer.
A group of half-naked bartenders shrieked and threw shirts, shoes, and tampons (luckily unused) at Ben who quickly backed out with hammer in hand. After exiting the door way, the door closed violently on Ben, he swiveled around carelessly; the hammer and Ben had found Aaron F. Before Ben knew it Aaron was on the ground clutching his genitals and grinding his teeth in pain. It was decided then that there’d be no investigation of Aaron F. Ben apologized and helped the man to his feet, they made a deal.
Ben returned to the office, Allie was still typing away furiously, she paused. Allie let Ben know that Ricci called looking for him, the numbers were off and to call him immediately.
“Alright, kiddo hand me the phone.” Ben commanded, he had Allie dial 4110 for him.
“Hello?” Ricci asked.
“Hey Ricci, it’s Ben.”
“Ben, come to my office immediately, we have numbers to discuss.”
“Alright, on the way.”
Ben handed back the phone and told Allie to ‘hold down the fort,’ she just grunted in acknowledgement and kept typing. At this time, the lobby of the theatre was flooded with hordes of patrons all trying to buy drinks and potentially pastries. Ben looked over to see Andre standing silent among the crowd, making little effort to sell. JD on the other hand was vibrant and lively despite his hatred of the task given to him. JD, the natural salesman, would scream out ‘Hot delicious sweet almond puff pastries!’ or ‘Can’t you just smell the cinnamon, the nutmeg, delicious sweet almond puff pastries!” JD would go on to sell 243 sweet almond puff pastries by the end of intermission, Andre sold 14.
Ben had made it to the administration offices of the theatre, the golden plague of Michelangelo Ricci’s office had always given Ben an air of anxiety, not knowing whether it was the day that Ben would be terminated. The intensity of this anxiety became common place and was made inseparable from Ben’s work persona, at this point, six years into their relationship, the feeling was nearly undetectable.
The assistant director walked through the door to find Ricci posing in a classically European swimsuit in front of a mirror.
“Oh Ricci, I can come back later.” Ben uttered while shielding his eyes.
“Oh no, that’s quite alright. I was just getting ready for the convention trip to South Beach next weekend.”
“So, you needed to talk about the numbers?”
“Yes, right. Williams called me and told me that we were off by $20,000 is this true?” Michelangelo began to pose to parallel the same statue his parents named him after. He was not as perfect.
“Well from what I gathered we’re only off by $900 not $20,000. Williams won’t show me where he got that number, so I have no way of verifying it on my end. He says it’s not that simple.” Ben started staring at the top corner of the room to avoid seeing his eccentric boss in all his glory.
“Is that so? Williams is like that. If he won’t show us then we can’t do anything about it.” Ricci’s words were aloof, more concerned with his precious self-image.
“Here’s a copy of my numbers Ricci if you need me for anything else just call.”
“Oh yes, you’ll have to assume my position while I’m gone next week.”
“Thank you, and what do you think of the swimsuit?”
Ben fumbled over his words from the discomfort “Looks good sir…”
“Thanks, its Versace.”
“Can I go now sir?”
“Yes, yes, back to the potty-mouths and degenerates, if you can’t handle them Ben, no one can.”
Ben exited the office and could not shake off the ocular genocide that was just committed. Instead of going back to the offices, he walked out of the building to the employee smoking section. He noticed Rose, one of the skinniest bartenders, smoking a cigarette and playing on her phone under the awning. Rose was known for disappearing for long periods and giving ridiculous excuses.
“Rose, why aren’t you at your bar? Doors opened 20 minutes ago.” Ben asked.
“Oh! Uh… I had feminine problems. And then… wanted a cigarette.” Rose answered in fear.
“How long have you been out here Rose?”
Ben knew this was a lie because he saw the pile of cigarette butts piled up next to her foot. “Get back to your bar Rose.”
“Can I finish my cigarette first?”
“No Rose, go now.”
The perpetually confused girl dropped her cigarette without putting it out and ran inside. Ben was no smoker, but he picked up the half-smoked cigarette and killed it in a single drag before stomping it out. Finally, with silence, Ben stared up at the clouds that poured rain down onto the theatre. A simulation of his life he believed. There was a break in the clouds that revealed a few bright stars whose radiance bounced off the dull grey specters. Ben mused life, the distractions of busy work no longer occupying his mind, he thought of the banality of life and its meaninglessness. Ben didn’t make it far in that train of thought before his radio spoke out to break his meditation.
“This is Allie to Ben.” the radio barked.
“This is Ben, go ahead.”
“What’s your twenty?”
“I’m outside sitting down, my ass is wet, and I’m thinking about the meaning of life.”
“Uh… I have a question.”
“There’s just a glass of vodka on the table.
The wind outside is crying.
The shouts of this young moon.
Are echoing in me with a faint pain.” Ben sang in outburst.
“Are you okay?”
“Yeah, I’ll be there in a minute.”
“Copy…” Allie radioed with guilt.
The rest of the show went on as most did, full of problems and questions, all of which fell on Ben to solve and answer. The POS systems didn’t record all the sales transactions made, so the amount of money the managers got back from the bartenders was more than what was shown to be sold. A recurring problem. Some bartenders stole money. Leaks sprang up from the beer lines, from the soda guns, from the wooden computer desks covering everything in thick, sticky goop. The assistant managers had all fallen in asleep in their rolley chairs. All the paperwork was finished around 3 A.M. Ben got home at four and had to be back at ten-thirty.
This ritual was all too familiar to the Assistant Director. Ben would sit in the recliner situated in the middle of his living room and stare at the noose he crafted himself. Next to the rope is a brightly calligraphed sign stating: “For Encouragement.” Ben’s own memento mori. Tonight though, it spoke to him of practicality and a utilitarian use. Ben pushed his recliner to the wall where It hung and tightened it around his neck. He pushed the la-z-boy away and dropped.
Vision went black within seconds. Ben fell unconscious as he hoped before taking his own life. There was a familiar ring of a phone in the afterlife. Ben who still saw nothing wondered if phones were as mainstream in death as they were in life. Spots of vision burned back into Ben’s sight until he saw the roof of his living room and wondered if this was also a part of the great beyond. The revelation came when he noticed the rope hanging from the ceiling was torn and frayed. Ben felt around his neck, followed the rope to its end and stared.
The phone continued to ring. Ben pulled it out of his pocket. The time read 7:43 A.M. The caller I.D. read Michelangelo Ricci (The Leviathan). Ben stared at it hoping it would stop ringing. It did for nearly a second, but Ricci called again. Ben answered reluctantly.
“Hello?” Ben answered; his voice hoarse from asphyxiation.
“Oh, Ben you sound terrible! Did you come down with something last night?” Ricci asked.
“Yeah but I’m fine now, what’s up Ricci?”
“So, the trip to South Beach is starting a little early and I’m gonna need you to take over my role immediately and there’s a meeting at ten that you need to make.”
“Alright, I’ll be there.”
“Thanks Ben! Feel better.”
The call ended, his arm dropped, the phone crashed and slid across the floor. Ben laid sprawled on the floor for a few more minutes before talking to himself.
“I’m too fat for this shit apparently but that was the best sleep I’ve gotten in months.” he said aloud before laughing uncontrollably before coughing.
Ben Wynters got up and prepped himself for the day. In the shower he finally understood the saying: ‘One must imagine Sisyphus happy.’ Ben got into his bucket of a car and headed back to the all-consuming Leviathan. Another day, same preposterous problems but a new and refreshed Ben Wynters ready conquer the day.