So I got a larger viewship for the first chapter of Dorian McFarland’s story than usual, so I am using this blog to apply pressure on myself to complete the story I have already outlined.
Please find the second chapter:
Alise could not understand how her father could hire someone without consulting her. It was not that she doubted his judgement, particularly, it was just that he tended to gloss over all the necessary details that kept a pub in business.
Case in point, she was looking at an incomplete employee form without even a photocopy of his driver’s license. And now she was expecting some Dorian somebody with no ID or references to check, not even a home address… and come to think of it, he was due in 30 minutes.
Alise was not like her father. She realized the need to pay attention to the finer points especially in a regulated and inherently risky business like a bar; it was why, at nineteen, she could only handle the administrative end of the business despite the fact that she had knowledge on how to mix up cocktails before she started wearing a bra. Ever since her mother had walked out on them, when she was still in fifth grade, she had devoted herself to her father and by extension the bar. She had gotten her GED early and signed up for accounting and business management courses at the local community college so that she could help out with the paperwork; paying her way through by babysitting, waiting tables and other odd jobs.
Even though her dad was satisfied to just take care of his customers and pay the bills, Alise wanted to grow McLarren’s into a successful chain- proving to her mother that she had been wrong to abandon them.
This was why she was cautious with who her father let into her secret ambition.
“Hey Alise, honey, you’re going to stare right through that paper. Come tell Aunt Glenda what has got you all morose.” an elderly woman in the corner booth teased.
“I’m not sulky or surly.” Alise said as she started walking towards the corner booth. She greeted some of the other patrons as she made her way to Aunt Glenda, knowing full well that everyone would be listen to the conversation if she didn’t bridge the distance. Alise continued, “I am just showing the right amount of thoughtfulness for the present situation.”
“And what is the present situation?” Aunt Glenda responded.
“Just another example of how men should leave women to handle everything that doesn’t require heavy lifting.” Alise said as she arrived at Aunt Glenda’s table. “Well why don’t you pull up a chair and tell Aunt Glenda everything.” Aunt Glenda said.
As Alise moved to sit, the door of the bar opened and Dorian walked in. Alise knew instinctively this was the new hire. He had neat brown hair more suited to a prep school boy but he was beginning to let it go. He had the lean attractive build of a young man who missed a couple meals unintentionally but exercised because he was supposed to; however there were dark circles under his eyes like he was not sleeping well. She could admit to herself he was attractive but she was more concerned on what his dark green eyes with the circles could be hiding. She said to Aunt Glenda in a low voice, “Dad hired a new bartender without my knowledge and I think there he is at the door.” Alise began trying to reverse her movement but Aunt Glenda grabbed her hand and said, “Sit down sugar let’s see what he does.” Alise sat back down and noticed Dorian making his way to Aunt Glenda’s table. Alise was surprised at how casually he moved through the bar such that most of the patrons did not register that he was joining her at Aunt Glenda’s table.
“Good evening madam. Good evening miss. You must be Alise. I am Dorian. I was hoping you could show me the ropes or if you are busy, tell me where your father is.”
“How did you know I am Alise?” “Why are you asking her to show you around if you can see she is busy?” Both ladies spoke over each other.
Dorian smiled, although Aunt Glenda noticed it didn’t quite reach his eyes, it was still very attractive. He answered, “You resemble your father but I noticed you react when I came in. It is because of this and what followed that I assumed I could persuade you to cut your conversation short. My apologies for interrupting…I can wait at the bar.”
Aunt Glenda knew that Alise had always been proud of her resemblance to Bob so the boy had properly gone some ways in assuaging the girl’s fears but for herself, she decided the boy needed further watching. This level of insight was unusual for someone so young. “Well aren’t you observant…and you have a sharp mind too…hmm…what did say your name is again?” Aunt Glenda asked.
“Dorian. Dorian McFarland. And to whom do I owe the pleasure?” he responded.
Alise sat watching the exchange between Dorian and Aunt Glenda thoroughly examining the new hire. He was really a very attractive young man with a youthful look that made you doubt he was 21. But there was something knowing about his mannerism and a certain level of understanding in his eyes that screamed the experience of age- far beyond what was writing on his form even. Alise tuned back in to listen to their conversation.
“Ha ha. This one is trouble. Glenda Townsend but everyone calls me Aunt Glenda. Alright Alise why don’t you call your dad from the back room while Dorian here entertains me.”
Alise would have liked to watch Aunt Glenda run circles around this quick-witted new hire as she could not imagine anyone ever besting Aunt Glenda. But nobody opposed Aunt Glenda either; so she hurried to the back room, where the store, employee locker rooms and office were situated, hoping to return quickly enough to catch the end of their verbal tussle. Alise knew to go left rather than to the office, and found her father sorting through his new collection of Scotchs and Whiskeys. Bob always prided himself on carrying the finest brands even if they weren’t the priciest.
“Paps, the new guy is here and Aunt Glenda’s got him on the grind.” Alise said after a minute of quietly admiring her father’s obsession.
“Hmm…good…good. Did you say Old Glenda’s got him; better go rescue the kid.” Bob said as he dropped the new shipments he was examining and turned to face Alise. “So what do you think of Dorian.”
“Doesn’t look like he knows which way is up on a bottle not to talk of being a bartender. Kind of young isn’t he?” Alise returned.
“Ha, look who is talking. You would be behind the bar right now if it wasn’t against the law. But you have mentioned the age thing, a tad bit I might add and we have discussed that; I meant what do you think of Dorian’s personality.” Bob responded
“Well his sharp enough…as you require and he seemed to be holding his own with Aunt Glenda…but we need someone who can do the hours Paps.” Alise answered.
“Don’t worry he will be fine. It’s a good fit trust me. Now let’s hurry back and get started.” Bob said as he rushed pasted Alise.
“Oh yeah we need to complete his paper…” “Yeah yeah we will get to that…all in due time, all in due time.” Bob interrupted as he walked into the barroom and caught sight of Dorian.
There was still a weariness to him but he looked more engaged which was expected when talking to Aunt Glenda.
“I have to steal him from you Aunt Glenda. He is on the clock and has no time to be picking up ladies.” Bob interjected
“Huff, last time a man his age tried to pick me up we were at war…probably with the Nazis.” Aunt Glenda remarked. “Anyway I best be leaving now. Alise dear walk an old woman to her car.”
It always amused Alise how a strong woman like Aunt Glenda pretended to be weak occasionally, usually when she wanted something.
“Where is your grandson, Ralph?” Alise asked as they got outside. “I gave him the night off dearie, sometimes children need the freedom to make mistakes and adults need to prove they are still alive, but enough about that…I am interested in young Dorian’s background as I rarely find men of his age remarkable.” Aunt Glenda stated as she and Alise headed out.
“That is the reason for my reservations with father over this hire…Dorian has no background or references or even an address.” Alise sighed exasperated
“Oh he said he lives in the projects somewhere…I think I have seen the area in the news before for some crime or something. Well sugar you are going to be my eyes and ears.” Aunt Glenda responded
“Don’t worry Aunt Glenda I intend to watch him.”
Aunt Glenda paused then smiled to herself with a thoughtful expression on her face, “Hmm is that so…” she said as she got into her car “Well not so hard just yet dearie…okay”
“Ha ha ha. Youth is wasted on the young…thanks for the assistance Alise. Now hurry back inside. Won’t want you to miss anything” Aunt Glenda joked as she drove off with a smile.
Dorian’s first day at McLarren’s was hell.
It was bad enough that Dorian was dealing with his own issues, but it was becoming increasingly difficult to fake interest; apart from his conversation with Aunt Glenda, he also had to deal with the little pixie with red hair who kept trying to pry into his past. Her name was Alise and although you could see Bob in her, the resemblance did not detract from her fairytale cuteness. Her physique brought to mind stories of glass slippers, fairy princesses and dancing cutlery. You would expect someone like that to be delicate. But she was a firecracker. She started her inquest into his history subtly but soon abandoned all pretense and flat out called him out.
“Look I don’t care what Paps says. I’m not letting you work here without any background or history or references. For all we know you could be a criminal. ” Alise queried.
“Alise…leave him alone…he will talk when he is ready.” Bob said trying to shield him.
“I’m with Alise, we need to hear this. Nice to know who will be covering for me when I have to stay home with the kids.” Rupert, the other bartender, interjected.
“Yes yes…we all want to hear it.” said one of their regulars, a lanky veteran named Wilson.
Dorian had strong reservations about lying and dishonesty but he was committed to his course of actions. Therefore he decided to manipulate the truth. “Umm…I actually don’t have any references for this job…you see the thing is my father died when I was young and my mother…well she wasn’t really present…long and short I come from an unhealthy childhood situation… I have had to take care of myself and I am no stranger to counselling especially for troubled kids so…”
“Oh my God. You’re a foster kid, aren’t you?” came from a woman’s voice somewhere in the bar; but all Alise could register was that he was a kindred spirit- his mother had abandoned him as well.
“It’s alright Dorian… you don’t have to say anymore.” Bob soothed
“Emm yeah. We’ll work something out…” Alise responded distractedly.
“Oh yeah I didn’t give you my address.” Dorian added, trying to deflect the conversation to a lighter topic. He had notice something go out of Alise as he mentioned his mother and she seemed to deflate further with the mention of foster care.
“Yeah just write it down here.” a distracted Alise replied as she handed over his employee form trying to sound upbeat. “Guess we will go on Paps’ judgement on this. Plus Aunt Glenda seems to like you.” Alise tried to joke but Dorian could sense her distress and surprisingly it moved him. It could have been the guilt of his half-truths or the complicated relationship with his mother that he suspected Alise also shared with hers, but something about her melancholy spoke to him.
“Yeah I got a studio apartment down 46th. It’s a bit of a dump but it works for me. Problem is I don’t know where to go to find cheap furniture that’s comfortable and appealing.” Dorian had reservations about putting himself out there but he was hoping to provide a distraction for Alise.
Bob caught on quickly, “Hey Alise why don’t you show Dorian around town and help him find decent furniture on the weekend.”
“Huh, oh okay yeah. There are a couple of places that have old furniture just lying around for anyone but for good things at an affordable price will have to hit a couple flea markets and garage sales. I will go check what’s happening this weekend.”
Alise walked to the back office, a little demure but with purpose again.
“Thanks Dorian. Rough childhoods are a sore subject for Alise. I suspect you will find out why soon enough. Anyway, good work today kid, I got an early shift for you on Thursday…from next week, I will work you into the full rotation. Check the notice board in the locker room on your way out.”
Dorian wiped down the bar one more time and proceeded to the locker room, wondering what he had gotten himself into with Alise. But as he removed his apron he figured having a friend may be good for him especially since his best friend was not in support of his current actions.
He had met his best friend as a fellow PhD student, but then Rajeesh was already defending his thesis while he had just been admitted to Harvard. It was not surprising that the two outliers, an underage post graduate and a physically challenged foreign students in the same department would become friends. But now Dr. Rajeesh was estranged from his friend because of Dorian’s radical scheme to address his depression.
That however did not stop Raj from insisting that Dorian contact him regular to document this “nouveau” approach to treating his condition. So Dorian gave his friend a call as he exited the bar.
“Hey Raj, just finished my first shift but nothing major to report. I will try you again later. Oh if I don’t hear from you before tomorrow I will tell you how my counselling session in the centre near my apartment went. Take care and don’t tell my mother where I am, no matter what…thanks again for being a life-line.”
Dorian hung up after leaving his message on Raj’s phone. “First day cleared…let’s see how this treatment goes.” Dorian exclaimed to himself as he hurried to catch the bus back to his apartment. Unfortunately he was no longer as optimistic that this his new insight into managing depression may be as successful as his other breakthroughs in psychology.
For now he ignored the seven missed calls from his mother.