“King of the world!” Echoed through the bar.
Charlii faced the entrance where a young man in dark jeans and a black jacket stood with his hands raised. His narrow tie hung long and loose around the open neck of a white, button-down shirt with too many pockets. Long, black hair curled behind his ears.
“It’s stopped raining,” Charlii said to Balder, as walked to the end of the bar closest to the entrance.
The young man leapt down the three steps with a swoosh, landing sure-footed and turned to his friend closing the front door. The friend shook his head and scratched the stubble on his chin. “Someone might think you’re celebrating or something.”
“I am,” exclaimed the young man. “Come on, Michael. Let’s celebrate in style.”
Michael hung his dry coat on the hall tree next to the front door and walked down the stairs. “That’s what we’re here for, Josh.” he said putting his hand on his friend’s shoulder and leading him to the bar.
Josh slapped his hand on the bar. “Barkeep!” he exclaimed, lifting his hand with two fingers extended. “Dos mezcal, por favor.”
“You got it,” replied Balder.
“And the gold label. We want good stuff,” said Josh.
At that, Balder turned around and put his hands on his hips and bent his head down to glare at the young man. “You don’t look like college boys. Am I mistaken?”
Josh’s chin dropped, and his eyes widened. “What,” he asked.
Balder lifted the palm of his hand to interrupt him. “You won’t find any worms in any glass at this establishment. If that’s what you’re looking for, you can leave now.”
“Come on,” chided Josh. “I know the good stuff, and there’s always a worm in the good stuff.”
Balder took a bottle of down from the shelf behind him. He poured two glasses of a clear, amber liquid into each. “Now,” he said placing the glasses in front of the young men. “Mezcal is for sipping. Taste the history in this Elixir of the Gods. Honest men hacked leaves of the agave until hearts rested in their hands. They roasted them with no hurry in the same pits their fathers used. And when the hearts were ready, they distilled with age. This liquid, pure and flavored by the gods, reminds us who we are, where we come from, and where we may go. Sip, gentlemen, and let me hear no more of worms. Don’t cheapen the labor of ages and the hearts of good men with youthful folly. Sip and be.”
Michael smiled and held the glass to his lips. He sniffed and nodded to Josh. “Happy twenty-first, little brother.”