311 - Bloody Mary

This is an ASIST Annual. I randomly rolled Bodark, Jaycee, and Aria. How will they interact?

It was in the last days of Has Beans that Bodark, the Russian werewolf, walked through the door.

Jaycee was at the counter. Since the cafe was otherwise empty, she was able to get cleaning and restocking done in her free time. Given how business had been after news of the closure was announced, the counter area of Has Beans had never been cleaner or more restocked.

“We’re not closed, but we’re closing,” Jaycee called to the newcomer.

Bodark shrugged and approached the counter anyway. “Give me Bloody Mary.”

“This isn’t a bar,” Jaycee countered evenly. “We serve coffee, espresso, and similar drinks.”

Bodark eyed the girl. “I have seen people who come in here. I am working for Charlotte Palmer. She is opening–”

“Half and Half, I know,” Jaycee sighed. “So you’re one of the new staff there, great. This is still a cafe.”

Bodark was undeterred. “Your customers are old grizzled soldiers. They do not wield weapons but I see it in their faces. They are not the sort to settle for coffee. They will ask for other things. To drive away the memories.”

Jaycee paused a moment, then produced a glass and started piling ingredients onto the countertop. The tomato juice and celery came from her veggie smoothie collection, used for William Eddison. The Worcestershire sauce was rare flavor for the salads. The vodka belonged to her dad.

While she mixed, Bodark caught a glimpse of someone coming down the stairs from the second floor. He raised an eyebrow. “Summer Newman. You are visiting here too?”

The girl snorted, shook her head, and continued the descent. Bodark could immediately tell this wasn’t Summer. “She’s my sister,” the girl explained.

“Was dad able to help?” Jaycee asked, aiming the question at Aria Newman.

“Yes. He was quite helpful,” Aria smiled. She glanced at the alcohol being mixed on the countertop. “Jaycee, I’m shocked. A respectable barista like yourself serving this stuff without a liquor license.”

“Consider it a professional courtesy for a fellow cafe worker,” Jaycee growled. “Aria, this is uh, Bodark? He’s working with Charlotte on Half & Half.”

“Nice to meet you,” Aria smiled. “Aria Newman.”

Bodark nodded politely. “I come here to be friendly. Also because I do not have American photo ID. Bars will not serve me.”

Aria turned to Jaycee. “I’m actually interested in what kind of mixologist you are. Mind making me one of those?”

Jaycee arched a critical eyebrow. “Expectant mothers shouldn’t be drinking.”

Aria just laughed. “I think I’ll be okay.” She turned her attention to Bodark. “How about it? Have a drink with me, and tell me what it’s like working with my sister.”

The werewolf nodded with an uncertain smile.

Jaycee pushed two Bloody Marys forward, and Bodark took hold of them. He led Aria to a table and sat down, offering her a drink. Together they took their first sips.

Jaycee, despite her pose of confidence, watched their reactions carefully.

“Is not bad,” Bodark announced, after careful consideration. “What brand is that?”

Jaycee had to check the bottle to be sure. “Chopin.”

“Ah!” The Russian pounded on the table. “That is good. Made from potatoes. Is important.”

“Why is that important?” Aria asked curiously.

Bodark turned back to her and gestured at her glass. “What do you taste?”

Aria took another sip. “It’s… salty,” she said. “Hmm. I don’t think I have words for this taste. It’s like… The saltiness isn’t the main flavor. It’s sweet, but it’s like… fresh vegetables with dew still on the leaves, some time in the early morning. There’s a spiciness but it’s not dominant.”

“Many words,” Bodark grinned. “Many emotions. It is a drink to be drunk. Not an accessory to something else.”

“I see what you mean,” Aria conceded. “But again, why potatoes?”

Bodark sat back, and swirled his Bloody Mary in its glass with gentle motions of his hand. “Bartender, do you know?”

“Not really,” Jaycee admitted. “But there’s a lot of natural ingredients in here. Worcestershire sauce is sometimes used for salads. I think I remember reading that vodka could be made of different materials, but that’s it.”

The stocky Russian leaned forward, a sly smile on his face. “Potatoes come from South America. They move across Europe. Alcohol comes from Egypt. Vodka comes from Poland, but it is perfected in Russia. Name comes from English queen. Three continents and many centuries come together to give us this drink.”

He held up his glass, and again swirled the ingredients slowly. “This did not happen peacefully. It was men with swords and guns who took it. My grandmother tells us the Europeans did not appreciate it at first. They say potatoes are food for workers and slaves. They fear it, and say it is made by witches.”

Jaycee laughed. Bodark turned in surprise at the sound, but she held up her hands. “Oh no, I believe you. But it’s so funny because that’s so true. My dad tells a joke that the British conquered every country in the world for their spices, then refuse to use any of them.”

The werewolf barked out a laugh at this remark.

Aria smiled, and took another gulp of the drink. “Your family are farmers, I take it?”

Bodark nodded, and a wave of melancholy passed over his rough face.

“I’m sorry if I said something painful,” Aria said immediately, but the man shook his head.

“Hah, it is okay. So the robot girl is your sister, eh?” Bodark sat up in his chair and set his glass down for the moment. “You are robot too, yes?”

“That’s right.”

“I do not understand this,” the man admitted. “I know machines. Farm equipment. Vehicles. But Summer is woman. Machine rather than flesh, maybe.”

He raised his glass again. “If you are made like machine, people treat you like machine, eh? Then potato is for you to eat. And vodka is for you to drink. Because vodka is the reward for workers who must endure their hardships.”

Aria took that in, and smiled, and drained her glass.