Disclaimer: We don't own Twilight, or its characters, in any way, shape, or form. Stephenie Meyer does. Instead, we teach them to do tricks with promises of fudge.
A/N: We want to thank the amazing Dust story team, nowforruin and sherryola, the work they did with this outtake.
We're pretty sure you guys have been wondering why the diva is never allowed to recite one of our poems in the mains story. Well, this outtake will finally shed some like on to that mystery, and we never claimed the diva had any talent. Even if *ahem* he lives in an imaginary world where he does. Enjoy!
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DAMNED IF YOU DO
"Well, I'll let you know," I said to the applicant sitting in front of me.
I stood up and shook the young man's hand, watching him turn to walk out the door. As I sat back down in my office chair, I looked down on my desk. The man I'd just interviewed, Laurent, would make a fine bartender. He'd gone to one of the top bartending schools in the state and didn't even blink when I quizzed him on drink recipes. His work record was impeccable, meaning he was a stable employee. There was just one problem—I knew my daughter would run him off as soon as she saw him. I cursed that bastard, Embry, once again.
I had lost three bartenders for the same reason. Bella hadn't been able to handle working with men because her worthless, piece of scum ex had abused her to the point where she had been afraid of them. She had tried to play it off and act all tough, but a father knew when his baby girl was pretending.
Whoever I hired would only be temporary. Once my boy Jake was discharged from the Army, he would work for the family business and run the bar. Hiring the guy kind of seemed like a waste. I was desperate, though. Downstairs had really picked up in the last couple of months, becoming a strain for just Bella and me to run. We had been killing ourselves trying to keep up with the pace, and the wife was beginning to complain about it.
"You're not as young as you used to be," she griped at me one night after I came home from a brutal shift. "I'm not going to be a widow because you had a heart attack caused by your stubborn ass. Hire another employee, damn it!"
I'd leaned over the years that when Sue started bitching, it was time to listen. I still had the scar on my shoulder from the last time I had blown her off. I had been a stupid twenty-five year old that hadn't thought his wife's opinion counted back then. A valuable lesson had been taught that day…always heed your spouse's words. Otherwise you ended up with a gash in your shoulder and a severe case of blue balls. And I never blamed her for it, because the hit to my shoulder hadn't been intentional. She still made me sleep out on the couch so I'd know she wasn't happy with me, guilt or no.
So, being a wonderful husband, I had set up some interviews that afternoon before the bar opened. As I'd met with the prospective employees, there were two things I had to keep in mind—what the wife had wanted, or had demanded, depending on which perspective you looked at, but also I had to remember Bella's aversions. It was too bad all of the applicants had been men.
God officially hated me since no woman in town wanted to work there. I guessed my girl was not only intimidating to the males, but the females feared her, as well.
I am up a shit creek without a paddle. The Vietcong I fought back in Nam would be more appealing than dealing with this nonsense.
I shuffled the papers on my desk, looking out the open office door to see if my last interview was going to show. The applicant's name was James, but I was hoping the person turned out to be a woman. The application had been filled out with some kind of sparkly purple ink. No respectable man would do something like that, I'd reasoned, when it had first come across my desk. Besides, names hadn't meant squat in years. I'd heard of some gal named James who was an actress or something.
I sighed. The whole damn world was going to shit.
I heard footsteps coming down the hallway, so I abandoned my task and waited. In walked a man—damn it—carrying a fucking purple suitcase. I furrowed my brow, wondering what the hell the guy was playing at. He set it down in the chair facing the other side of my desk and turned toward me. He had on a white button up shirt with the sleeves rolled up to his elbows, dark blue jeans—are those fucking hip huggers? Bella wears that shit. Is this dude insane? He was wearing brown cowboy boots with silver tips on the ends, too. I feared for my safety in that moment, because I was sure the mental institute in Seattle had had some kind of field trip that day, and they'd forgot one of their crazies.
"Hello there, sir. My name is James, and I'm going to demonstrate why I am the perfect choice for the job." his formal tone was destroyed by the fluttering of his hands. "It's always been a dream of mine to work in a bar."
He bent down and opened his suitcase, pulling out some bottles of vodka.
"Okay, so when I was doing some research watching Cocktail, I learned that the most important thing is knowing how to juggle bottles of liquor. Everyone loves theatrics, plus Tom Cruise is a fine looking man. Gorgeous hunks never lie to you," James had a dreamy look in his eye as he explained.
I sat back and watched as that idiot began tossing bottles up in the air. Only, he didn't catch them—they crashed to the floor, breaking open and letting the alcohol out to soak the carpet.
"Well," he mused, pouting his lips. "That was disappointing. It looked much easier when I watched the movie last night."
"Listen, uh, James," I said, having seen enough.
"Oh, but you haven't witnessed the best part yet!" The insane man rummaged through his case again and pulled out a pink notebook.
"Everyone knows that a good bartender knows how to recite poetry. The best ones are always the kind he makes up himself," James reasoned with a nod.
Is it because I ate the last piece of pie this afternoon for lunch? Is this the reason you're punishing me, God?
James opened his notebook, flipping through the pages. He hemmed and hawed as he looked over the contents. I rubbed my forehead, trying to keep the vein from popping as I thought of a way to get the moron out of my office. I wondered if the rags in the storage closet would be enough to clean up the mess. I was not looking forward to picking up the glass and sweeping the carpet. The damn thing had just been steam cleaned last week, and it looked like I was going to have to call those boys again. Maybe I could do it myself by renting one of those machines. It couldn't be that hard.
A throat clearing pulled me out of my thoughts. Jackass James was standing on one of my fucking chairs, holding that notebook. Boy didn't realize he was close to getting shot in the ass with the gun I kept behind the bar.
"I'd like to read you a poem I wrote last night titled, Ode to Tom." He cleared his throat and smacked his lips.
Oh, fair Tom, why art thou so pretty?
People call you crazy
I think you're just misunderstood
You are too bright for all the haters
Who want to mock your religion
And call you a joke
But you're in league with all the greats
Such as Brad, George, and that hunky elf Orlando
However, you can't touch Miss M because she's divine
Oh, what a crime
You are not tied to my bed
Or, on your knees, sucking my—
"Enough!" I shouted, not interested in the rest of what that mess said. He hopped—fucking hopped!—down from the chair with a pout.
"Boo, you're no fun. You seem a little tense. Maybe my magic fingers," he said, wiggling them, "can pull you out of that bad mood."
"I am a happily married man!" I could feel my blood pressure rise. "To a woman. A large breasted woman. What the fuck is your problem?"
"Fine," he said, sighing. "I'll quit thinking of you as my manly, rugged Sugar Daddy. It's too bad, too. That mustache completes the look."
"Get out," I stormed, jumping up from my chair. I was five seconds away from killing my first person as a civilian.
"Oh, but I haven't gotten to the best part, Love Lump." A huge grin broke out on James' face.
"I'm gonna give you a lump if you don't leave my sight." I paced behind my desk, trying to tell myself murder was a bad thing.
"I promise. You will be dazzled, amazed, and probably dumbstruck," James promised.
He ran over to his case of horrors, as I'd come to call it in my head in the last few minutes. Pulling out another bottle of vodka, I rolled my eyes. Jackass couldn't juggle the first time, and I was confident he couldn't the second either. I sat back down and sighed, wondering when my torture would end.
Guess I might as well wait. More alcohol to add to the puddle. Oh, goodie.
I tilted backward in my seat, ready to tune him out. That idea was tossed when he pulled out a metal rod with a small cloth tied around it and a lighter. The sight had me curious and afraid of what the fool was going to do next.
"The one skill a bartender has that is always guaranteed to wow his employers and customers is fire breathing," As the last word was said, he lit the cloth, causing it to ignite.
I jumped up and ran over to James, trying to stop him from whatever cockamamie plan he had thought up.
"Give me that!" I yelled.
I lunged for it, pulling it out of his hand as it got closer to his mouth. I ran out of the office, dropping it in the mop bucket. It went out with a hiss, and I breathed a sigh of relief. That nut job had almost burned down my bar. With all of the alcohol spilled on the carpet, one wrong move could have set the whole place on fire.
I was officially pissed.
I marched back toward my office, ready to tear the guy a new asshole. No one messed with Charlie Swan's bar. Intentional or not.
When I walked inside, James was standing in front of the television I had set up and some movie with bartenders was on. He had that damn note book with him, but he also looked like he was taking notes. I was ready to kill that son of a bitch.
"Oh, Tom, why did you let me down?" he pleaded to the screen. "Your delicious ass has steered me wrong."
"It's time for you to go, James." I'd had enough.
"Oh, damn it," he complained, still staring at the television. "The only thing left for me to do is find a drag queen, knock him up, and then run away to the big city. Tom has not left me with many other options here."
"Get out before I shoot you!" Maybe I didn't need my shot gun. I kept one in the safe for emergency purposes. A bullet was a bullet. Shooting him with a .22 would have to be enough.
"This is going to be such a sacrifice. Men who tuck their cocks are not my style. For the sake of landing this job, though, I will do it. Tom better believe he will be owing me for this," James mused.
I was about ready to lose it. A man should not have to deal with this much stress. It was a crime against nature, America, and decency. Where did that freak come from anyway? He was not normal and probably insane, just like I had originally thought.
There was no way in hell I was hiring that man…crazy person…thing. He would run off all of my customers, and then I'd be forced to close down the place. Sure, I'd still have the diner. Where would I go, though, to shoot the shit with my friends or even find a decent glass of bourbon? Nowhere, that's where. I was going to shoot him, hide the body, and make his paperwork disappear to cover my tracks. James was about to go bye-bye.
"Charlie, are you almost finished?" a voice broke me from my murder plans. I turned and saw my wife, Sue, standing in the doorway. Sweet mother of God, the woman had impeccable timing. I was going to be sweet and loving when we went to bed that night.
"Okay, James, we'll let you know." I was hoping to save face in front of my wife. Even though every fiber of my being was screaming at me to kill.
"What's that smell?" Sue asked.
"Ah, it's nothing." I tripped over my words, forgetting about the idiot's attempts at juggling. Damn it, I was hoping to get all that cleaned up before she came in there.
"And, why is there broken glass all over the floor? Are those from bottles? Charlie, what the hell is going on?" Sue's voice steadily rose with each question she asked.
"Oh, don't yell at your husband, lovely. That's my fault. I tried to impress him, but things went wrong. I'll clean it up." James sulked away from the television, his shoulders slumped.
"Oh, dear. I hope no one was hurt," my wife said, fussing.
"No one was hurt. Just a little mishap. So, Charlie, do I have the job? I'm ready to start wowing the customers." James looked at me hopefully.
"There will be no wowing anyone. You almost set my bar on fire, you psycho!" I yelled, reaching my limit with that clown.
"Charlie." Sue used the voice reserved for our children. "What the hell is the matter with you?"
"What's the matter with me? Ask him! He comes in here, breaks bottles, soaks my carpet, reads me a poem that will give me nightmares for years, hits on me, and then about sets the bar on fire! That's what the matter with me is!" I was panting at the end of my rant.
"Charles Richard Swan!" Sue yelled.
I cringed, knowing I was in trouble. She'd pulled out the middle name, and it only happened when she thought I was being unreasonable or stupid.
"How dare you. You do not yell at me like that." And there was her you-crossed-a-line tone. Double damn.
She turned toward James, leveling her don't mess with me face on him. I wanted to dance around in celebration, because no one could fool my wife. She was notorious for weeding through the bullshit people gave her. It was almost like a scary ability to read people. Psycho James was on his way out the door and out of my life forever.
"Explain what is going on. Now," Sue said, leaving no room to argue.
James hung his head. "I just…I…I thought if I could do some of the things they do on Cocktail, I would be a shoo in for the job. I just moved here from Georgia, and I don't have anywhere else to go."
James started sniffling. Oh, lord. Is he crying?
"My parents don't want anything to do with me because I'm gay. I thought that if I found a nice, small town that was accepting of gay people, then I'd be able to settle down. Oh, Mrs. Swan, please don't make me go back." He fell to his knees and clasped his hands together as he wailed.
I smirked as Sue looked him over. That had been a great sob story, but after seeing all of the crazy from earlier, I knew it was all a lie. She'd see right through him, and then I'd finally get rid of the idiot.
He stood back up and started bawling, muttering about how he'd have to live in his car and ranting about the unfairness of it all. He cried about how pretty men shouldn't have to suffer like that. Then, he moaned about eating out of trash cans. It was all I could do to not roll my eyes.
"Go upstairs and order yourself something to eat. I'll be up in a bit to let them know it's on me." She walked over to him, giving him a hug.
My jaw hit the floor. Oh, this guy is good. Really good. I couldn't wait to hear what she would say once he was gone.
James left the room, wiping his hand across his nose as he walked out. I waited until he was out of sight before I turned to look at my wife. I expected to see her smile or even a smirk. What I got instead was a scowl. Oh, I am so screwed.
"You are hiring that young man." Sue stared me down.
"Like hell I am." I crossed my arms, standing my ground.
"We are not letting him live out on the street when we have an extra apartment open, and a job he can work at," she countered with a glare.
"Sue, it's not going to happen," I warned, trying to intimidate her with my own gaze.
And then my balls wanted to crawl up into my belly, because my lovely Sue had leveled the mother of all death glares at me. It was the kind of look that every husband knew—I had just lost the argument. Fuck me sideways if that didn't piss me off.
"He's going to run out every customer we have. And then where will we be? Out on our asses, that's what." I tried to appeal to her logical side.
"Knock it off. We could live off of the profits from the diner alone. We keep this bar open for you to have a place to hang out with your friends. Not to mention, give the people of Forks a place to drink at other than The Pit over in Port Angeles. Honestly, I don't see how Marcus still has that place open. Everyone knows that he waters down the liquor and rarely washes the glasses."
I narrow my eyes. She just had to bring up that sorry excuse of a man, didn't she? Sue was well aware of how much I hated Marcus, and his one-health-code-violation-away-from-closing establishment. The prick was always sneaking into town and handing out coupons, trying to steal my business. That bastard was lucky he hadn't been shot yet.
"What about when Jake comes home? We won't need him then," I said, smirking.
"We are doing well enough with both businesses that we can afford to hire and keep the poor man. I'm ashamed of you. He needs our help." Sue shook her head in exasperation and countered my argument.
"Fine, but if Bella disagrees, he's out. I'm not having her uncomfortable." I had to give up. I was out of ammunition.
"That's all right by me. However, I'm confident he'll be staying. She needs someone to pull her out of her funk, and I think James is just what she needs." Sue voice brightened, and a smile pulled at her lips.
I seriously doubted my wife's prediction, but I would humor her. If there was any way I could keep from sleeping on the couch, I was going to take it. A man needed his own bed.
We walked up the back steps into the diner. Sue disappeared into the back, probably to let Leah know that James was eating for free, I assumed. I turned and saw my nightmare sitting in one of the back booths, eating. I figured I'd go ahead and get it over with.
I walked over and stood beside him. James looked up, smiling. I grimaced as I slid into the seat across from him.
"So, uh, we're going to give you a trial run," I started to say, running my hand over my face.
My words were cut off by the over active man when he jumped out of the booth, practically lunging at me to hug me. I shook him off, uncomfortable by his actions.
"Oh, thank you. I promise, you won't be disappointed. You know what the place needs? A stripper pole. You know, I could get you a lot more business if I could shake my money maker. I took this class back in Atlanta—it was a stripper-cise class—and I learned how to—" he began to ramble.
"Do you want to die?" I huffed in frustration. "I am seconds from making it happen. Just…shut up and listen."
He went back to his side of the booth—thank fucking God—and sat down. Then he made the motion of locking his lips and throwing away the key. If only it was that simple, I mused silently.
"Now, like I said before I was interrupted, we're giving you a trial run. Our daughter, Bella, is the other bartender. She's, well, not good with men. She'll probably give you hell, but if you can survive working with her, you have a job." I really hoped he was listening, because it was the only time I was going to explain it.
"And we're throwing in an apartment as part of your salary if you pass, too," Sue mentioned as she slid into the booth next to me.
Damn woman didn't know when to keep her mouth shut. I wasn't going to reveal that particular detail until we'd gotten past the trial period. However, my wife had just given him a reason to try harder. Damn it all to hell.
The moron bounced in his seat, clapping his hands. "Oh, I won't let you down, I promise."
Yeah, I thought. Just wait until you meet Bella.