SHORT STORY: The Adventures of Ricky Nolan – Meet Alicia

short story

The following is one of many adventures in the life of Ricky Nolan, a charismatic young stoner virtually incapable of worry…


Janelle Davis

Ricky stared down the transparent, inviting doors of Rover’s. A lengthy debate raged on in his mind. After some time, he finally pushed through and entered the local watering hole. Strolling in casually, the way Ricky would enter any damn building, he analyzed and absorbed everything happening at once.

Young, troublesome men played darts while their ladies sat along the sidelines chattering and giggling. Women with teased hair in leather jackets and stilettos angled pool sticks along the billiards tables, aiming their shots just right, while their opponents could only focus on the curves of the leaned over bodies rather than the analytics of the game.

Round, jowly men with mustaches bellowed hearty laughs and clinked large beer mugs all together, cheeks pink and full of all the happiness in life. Lone, slender men sat alone in the corners, smoking cigars and staring longingly out the windows, hoping she’ll come back to them one day.

While all of this action played out at once, and Ricky – being the surprisingly observant bastard we know him to be – took it all in. He was still drawn to one particular area. About thirty feet directly in front of him, all the way on the opposite end of the room from the entrance where he stood, was the bar itself. Ricky isn’t much of a drinker, but he was drawn to her: the bartender.

Something about her caught his eye, which is something special considering Ricky is very particular about his women. Can you believe that picky son-of-a-bitch never had a girlfriend? Of course it’s believable, remember his description.

She was mesmerizing though. Hunched over a sink behind the bar, long strands of straight brown hair of all different shades partially covered her face as she quickly scrubbed down some glasses. She didn’t appear very tall, she couldn’t have been wearing the proper shoes to boost her tips for the night.

She wore a silky black polo shirt with three buttons at the top and red font on the left breast, just above the pocket, reading the name of the bar of her employment, and dark denim skin-tight jeans. Her shirt was poorly tucked in and revealed a thick chocolate coloured belt to keep the whole attire together.

Her hypnotic, multi-shaded strands of brown hair danced along her fair-skinned arms as she shifted around her small space behind the bar. Ricky didn’t know why she was working so hard, as there was only one customer sitting at the bar.

A big, well-dressed man who looked a little too serious; basically the exact opposite of everything that Ricky Nolan is comprised of. She was too captivating, and before he knew it, Ricky was floating over there, closer and closer towards her.

He reached the bar and took one seat in from the opposite end of the counter from the other customer. The other customer took a side glance at Ricky Nolan; seeing a disheveled, young stoner across from him must have been a spectacle for a man of such importance. The bartender took a while to get to Ricky, as she was devotedly focused on finishing the polishing of the glasses before returning to her customers.

Ricky didn’t care though, it allowed for more time to gawk. Sometimes she would duck down for a moment, as if to reach for something in a lower cabinet, but then pop back up empty handed and continue glossing the mugs and glasses.

At one point when she dropped down, Ricky couldn’t help but lean over the bar a little to see what she was doing down there so frequently. At the edge of the inside of the bar sat a large glass of rosé, sitting on a small metal shelf discretely hidden off to the side so that anyone on the other side of the counter couldn’t see.

It was in the open, but hidden just enough for her to achieve the right amount of intoxication to get her through the shift. Ricky admired how sneaky she was. When he leaned over just an inch more, he also admired her bowling shoes that she wore. Odd choice, but that only captivated him even more.

Finally, the bartender stacked up the glasses and approached Ricky, who had at this point already sank back into place. 

“What’ll it be tonight, sir,” she asked.

Her voice was deep and soothing, just the right amount of feminine touch without sounding overbearingly squeaky. Ricky, wanting so bad to order a man’s drink, simply asked for a glass of water, remembering how empty his wallet is.

The sound of a scoff, followed by muffled chuckling caught Ricky’s attention, and immediately his eyes were averted towards the other customer, who used his wrist to cover his lips as he scrolled through his phone. We know Ricky didn’t give two shits about that man’s opinion.

For a brief moment, his attention was quickly drawn back to her as she replied, “sure, coming right up” and then turned around to fix it up for him. Ricky took this time to analyze the other customer rather than analyze her backside.

His eyes fixed on the glass on that side of the bar, pleased to remember how badass she was for drinking on the job. Suddenly, the other customer’s hand came into his line of vision, and Ricky was redrawn to him.

He reached his arm across the countertop, eyes locked on her, and sprinkled something into her glass quickly enough for him to return to his seat before she turned back around with Ricky’s water. He darted his eyes at Ricky, who pretended to have not witnessed a thing. Ricky may be a total stoner, but he’s aware: that man was trying to drug the bartender.

She placed the iced glass of water not so gently in front of Ricky, reclaiming his attention. 

“Here you go. You can just call me over if you need anything else. I’m not going anywhere,” she joked, and then turned around towards the other end of the bar.

Ricky, being a good man at heart, knew he had to have her back somehow. He had to act smart && fast.

“Uh, excuse me, miss?”

She twirled around and made her way back over to Ricky. He signaled for her to lean in a little bit. The other customer’s eyes were on him the entire time.

“What’s up,” she asked in a polite tone.

“I, uh, I couldn’t help but notice you’re little beverage over there,” Ricky whispered back, pointing out her drink with the simple motion of his eyes. “You know, that’s pretty illegal. But I’m willing to offer you a deal.”

With a worried look on her face, knowing her job is at stake, she told him she was listening and asked him to continue.

“Well, my wallet is kinda thin at the moment, and I’m really thirsty. Maybe we could trade drinks, and management doesn’t have to hear a word of any of this?”

After a beat or two of consideration, the bartender let out a sigh and muttered, “coming right up”. She walked to the other end of the bar, grabbed her glass, and brought it over to Ricky. She unwillingly switched drinks, and reminded him to call her over if he needed anything. The bartender rolled her eyes, took a sip of the water in her hands, and proceeded over to the other customer. The other customer kept his eyes on Ricky with an aggressive glare as his face turned red.

Ricky and him make eye contact.

“Ah, yes, a cute glass of rosé to end a long workday? Must be tough being the office secretary,” he harshly joked.

Of course Ricky wouldn’t give two shits about this comment. He’s Ricky after all, there’s nothing that can bust his halls or break him down. Ricky merely just smiled and agreed, joking back. The other customer was obviously displeased, but had to hide it. Can’t get caught spiking young bartenders’ drinks.

“I’m just pulling your leg, little man. Cheers to that, yeah?” the other customer vibrantly asked, deliberately trying to get Ricky drugged out of spite.

To avoid any further suspicion, and a little because Ricky does thoroughly enjoy altering his state of mind, he played along. He raised his glass, called back a quick “cheers”, and takes a gulp of the spiked wine. The surprise on the other customer’s face that Ricky actually went for it was plain as day, whether he knew Ricky witnessed his act or not. Ricky placed down his beverage and calmly waited for the unfortunate smack that was to hit him sooner than later.

The bartender returned to the other customer. As the effects slowly kicked in, he watched her and the man hold an extensive conversation. Sometimes she would laugh, but there was still a weird feeling in the air in Ricky’s mind. He wondered who the man was to her. A regular customer, or perhaps a lover? A family member? The mystery to Ricky was too much for his simple self to bear; he had to find out. He interrupted their conversation and called the bartender back over.

As she approached Ricky, she asked, almost insolently, “Everything okay? You ready to switch back?”

Ricky was stumped. He had no clue what his excuse for calling her over would be. He held out a long “um”, and before she got too impatient, blurted out the first idea he could come up with.

“Do you have a pen?”

Without any words, she pulled one out from her back pocket, and reminded Ricky she’ll be there if he needed anything else. But Ricky needed answers, he didn’t let her walk away. He proceeded with more words.

“So that guy over there, he’s a funny dude. He uh… he smokes pot?”

Oh of course, the one thing Ricky knows.

“Why should I know the answer to this,” the bartender impudently asked.

“You two seem close,” Ricky replied, standing his ground against the cold shoulder.

The bartender relaxed a little after this. She spoke to Ricky, explaining everything ever so vaguely. She told Ricky that she is seeing this man, although there was no ring to Ricky’s delight. As she tells him about the man, she leaned on the inner edge of the bar; that’s when Ricky looked down at her arms. No tattoos, but discoloration was apparent. He bravely asked.

“How’d you get those bruises?”

She was hesitant to reply, but came up with a rushed answer regardless. “Oh, I bang my arms on things here a lot. Sometimes I’ll trip a little and hit my arm on the counter. Sucks, but that’s what you get when you’re a clumsy woman.”

Ricky, while his head is usually in the clouds, is no idiot. He was already aware that she was straying away from admitting the abuse she receives, and who it’s from. He felt obligated, in this moment more than before, to rescue the poor woman.

The other customer called her back over, and she eagerly excused herself from their conversation to tend to her supposed boyfriend. The drugs were kicking in, and Ricky didn’t know what to do. He frantically opened up the pen and began to scribble on the napkin his drink came on.

A quick but simple note: “HE SPIKED YOUR DRINK, I HAVE YOUR BACK”.

After allowing the two to converse some more, he called her back over before the intoxication fully kicked in. The more often she came back to Ricky, the less annoyed by his presence she seemed. She briskly walked over to him and asked if there’s anything she could get him. Ricky did what he thought was the best way to go about it, fumbling with the note in his hands.

“You can have your pen back. This is my number, feel free to call me anytime. Maybe we can… chill,” he blurted out, passing over the note.

She took the note into her hands with a confused look on her face, after just explaining she was taken. But she couldn’t even fit in a word. At this point, the other customer was enraged, his face painted a bright red. He aggressively pushed his chair back and stood proud and tall.

“Hey, buddy. You need to lay off,” he said as he took violent steps towards Ricky Nolan. Ricky could barely focus on the big man walking towards him; there were twenty other version of the guy walking in all different directions. The room was spinning and Ricky isn’t one for arguments. Whether it was an act or not, he outwardly expressed oblivion towards the man’s rage.

“Lay off?” Ricky asked, slightly slurred.

“You don’t go around giving pretty young ladies like that. You stumble in here, looking like you’re fresh out of a time machine from the 70′s, wallet completely empty. And like the faggot you are, demand the girliest drink on the menu. And now you have the nerve to make a move?”

Ricky is taken completely aback, as well as the bartender. She stood there completely still, holding the unopened note with both hands, witnessing the entire show go down. The best Ricky can do is let out the word “uhh”, which must have triggered the other customer. He grabbed Ricky by his simple T-shirt, and picks him up to his feet.

Ricky could barely stand at this point, and realized he is much smaller than the angered beast that stood before him. It had gotten to a point where the atmosphere had changed on them: the games being played came to a halt, there were no more sounds of clinking glasses or hearty laughter.

All eyes were on Ricky and the big man in front of him. Even the lone men smoking cigars were paying attention. Everyone was anticipating a bar fight.

“Patrick, please,” the bartender had begun. But at the dart of his eyes at her, she immediately sealed her lips and continued watching.

Patrick returned his aggressive glare at Ricky, muttered “some nerve” and gave Ricky a good shove. The type of shove where Ricky needed to grab one of the bar stools to regain balance, and to keep him up.

Now, we all know Ricky. He is a simple man; a peaceful stoner. Ricky would never start a fight, let alone want to be involved in one. He didn’t give a verbal fight back at all. Especially now that the drugs were in full blown effect. Ricky couldn’t see straight, Ricky could barely understand his own thoughts. He could barely comprehend that he ticked off a rich, burly man, who was shoving him around aggressively. It seemed as though Ricky could only rely on his instincts at this point.

“Pathetic,” Patrick muttered. He scoffed and looked around the room for laughter or approval. He wanted to get the room to favor him. But he never walked away from Ricky, he stood there waiting to dodge some sort of hit.

Ricky wasn’t necessarily angered, but knew he couldn’t just hang on to the stool the rest of the time. Ricky had to act.

“Gentlemen don’t hit and tell,” Ricky blurted out incoherently, and pushed himself off the stool with all his force to take a swing at the big man in front of him.

Ricky punched with what would have been all his possible might in that moment. He lunged himself forward, swung his fist in Patrick’s direction, and… completely missed.

The swing, however, was hard enough to knock Ricky off his balance, causing him to topple over, slam the side of his head against the bar counter, and collapse to the floor unconscious.

Everything went black…

(Ricky Will Return)