Breathless - Jesse Book 1 (7 page)

BOOK: Breathless - Jesse Book 1
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Chapter 10 – Rookies

Jesse

“Hope this will work for you,” Kenny said, while opening the door to the spare bedroom in his house.

“This is great. Thanks Ken.” I dropped my suitcase on the floor next to the bed. It was a cool place Uncle Kenny had. Right in the heart of Santa Monica, only a few blocks from the beach. A typical California style house that looked like all the others on the block, light colors, stucco exterior. East coast houses were different. Darker and more rustic than on the west coast. Not a lot of red brick houses in LA.

I stepped over to the window and pushed the vertical blinds aside with the backside of my hand to check out the view.
Damn
. Bigger yards in New York too, I noted as I surveyed the patio area. But what the hell, the sun was shining and the room was bright, painted all white. I scanned it from ceiling to floor. This would be my home away from home for the next couple months. Shit, who was I kidding; I didn’t have a home. I’d been crashing at Jimmy’s place in between races, ever since mom went in the hospital and our old house was sold to help pay her medical bills. But I had a good feeling about this visit. Spending the summer here, helping my uncle to get “Rookies”, his sports bar, off the ground might not be such a bad idea after all.

“Help yourself to anything you need. Towels, bedding and stuff. There's plenty of food and beer in the fridge. Mi casa es su casa.” He cracked a feeble smile. I hadn’t seen him for years and wrinkles had settled around his eyes. And yet, for his age of forty-five, he wasn’t a bad looking dude and stayed in good shape it seemed. I always wondered why he never married, or had any kids. He had a good heart, fun and easy going, one of those guys everyone gets along with. I guess that’s why he opened his bar. Kenny was your typical friendly bartender.

“Thanks again. I really appreciate it. Just let me know what you need from me. I’m here to help, you know.”

“Sure Jess, no problem. Take a day or two and get settled in. I’ll take you to the bar Monday and show you around. It’ll be the easiest job you’ve ever had,” Kenny said with a smile and paused as he went out the door. “Oh, but don’t walk around the house naked. I’m having female company later, if you know what I mean.”

“Uncle Kenny.” I grinned. “You dog, you.”

Kenny disappeared down the hall whistling and I headed out to the truck to get the remainder of my bags.

*~*~*

“Jess, meet Chase. He is my right hand here at the bar. Been with me ever since I opened this joint. Chase, this is my nephew, Jesse Morrison from New York.”

Chase stuck out his hand. “Hey, man. Great to meet you. Kenny told me you were coming out here to help with the bar over the summer.”

It was Monday morning and my uncle had brought me to his sports bar, “Rookies” to get me acclimated. It was my first day helping out and I was feeling pretty chill about the whole thing. Hanging around bars was not exactly new to me.

I shook Chase’s hand. He had a firm grip, was well-built and seemed like a nice guy. “Great to meet you too, man. Yep, I’m out here for a couple of months I guess. We’ll see how it goes.”

“Chase will show you around and explain the routine. Train you for the job.” We stepped into the back hallway near his office. “Chase, will you get Jesse his uniform?”

I cringed at the word “uniform”. I wasn’t a military “everyone wear the same outfit” type of guy. Chase nodded in affirmation.

“I thought you were going to train me yourself, Uncle Kenny?”

It was Kenny’s turn to cringe. He wrinkled his face. “You’re going to have to drop the ‘uncle’ thing. It sounds so...old. And just not right for our working situation.”

“Sure, sure. Kenny. You got it…Boss”

Kenny clapped me on my cheek as if he were some Godfather out of the old Mafia movies. “Well, better get your thumb out of your ass and get to work.” He turned to Chase.

“Chase, I’ll be in my office for the next couple hours if you need me.” He took a step towards his office and stopped to pull his wallet out of his pocket, handing Chase a couple bills. “Lunch is on me since its Jesse’s first day, but after that you two knuckleheads are on your own. Don’t drink it all up, get some food too. And call me if you need anything.” He turned to me. “Jess, I’ll see you later.” He slapped me on the back and gave a nod to Chase. “Have fun guys.” He disappeared into his office down the hall and left me standing there facing Chase.

“Your uncle is a pretty cool dude. Come on. I’ll give you the tour.”

I followed him out to the bar area. “Yeah, he’s always been solid. It’s good to see him again after all these years.”

“What do you mean? How long has it been since you two have seen each other?”

“God, I don’t know, lost count. The last five years I’ve been on non-stop tours racing Motocross and Supercross. I’m hardly in one place for very long, well until this damn injury.” I raised my left hand and open and closed my fist. “I haven’t gained back the strength I need for the proper grip and control of the bike.”

“Shit., that sucks. I could help you work on that, you know, target those muscles with some strength training. I’m also a trainer at a gym here in Santa Monica.”

“Maybe. Tell me. What's up with the uniform thing? I didn’t know I was gonna be wearing some lame ass uniform. I can’t be messing with my swag, you know?”

Chase laughed and shook his head. “Don’t sweat the load, man. It’s just a polo shirt with the “Rookies” logo. Nothing elaborate, See I'm wearing it. Sometimes red, sometimes a black shirt.” He pulled on the collar.

“Yeah, you look kind of geeky.” I grinned. Chase knew I was yanking his chain and I could tell right away he was my kind of guy. This gig was going to be a fucking piece of cake.

The rest of the morning was spent in training. Chase showed me the basics needed to tend bar. He also hooked me up with the goofy polo shirt slash uniform and finally we headed to a Chipotle on my uncles’ dime. About time, my stomach was starting to roar.

“Tell me, Jess,” Chase said downing a large bite of his burrito. “California is a long way from New York. A long way to travel for a summer gig. Anything else bring you to the West Coast, besides your uncle?”

“Basically, I’m an asshole and needed a change of scenery.” I wasn’t going to lie and try to pretty myself up for anyone. I am what I am.

“Dude, that’s kind of a rough description of yourself. Man, what did you do to earn that title?” Chase asked with a grin.

“It’s a long story but the shorter version is, I was at the peak of my racing career and like I told you earlier, I messed up my hand and my leg.” I dropped my taco and wiggled the fingers of my left hand in the air. “The surgery on my hand didn’t take right, my grip’s fucked up now. If I can’t clasp the handlebar and work the clutch with my hand like I used to, I’m screwed. I may never race professionally again.”

“Man, that sucks. Where did you race?”

“All over the states, Australia and even in Europe. Last year I won Supercross du Paris in France.”

“No kidding. Wow! You must have been pretty skilled on a bike. I’m impressed.”

“After my accident, things just went south. I couldn’t ride the way I used to and that killed me. I need to ride. It’s ingrained in my pores, my blood. I crave that kind of action in my life, fuels my soul. What the hell am I gonna do without it?” I shrugged and crunched into more taco. “Don’t have any other job skills. Spent all my life on a dirt bike, never even went to college. Don’t get me wrong, college is fine for…someone else. But me? Nah, I need the adrenaline rush every day. I would die if I had to get a job like sitting behind a desk all day. Literally die. I’d rather just take a gun to my head and get it over with fast, than spend the rest of my life at a desk job. Suicide by desk, I call it.” I cracked a smile, leaned back in my chair, crumpled the taco paper into a ball and tossed it onto the brown plastic tray. “So, I became an asshole instead. Drinking, whoring, and partying. Anything to fill the void, getting my rush in a different way. Oh, and then there was this whole thing about my brother, Jimmy. He’s a cop. His career, wife and future kid didn’t mesh well with my lifestyle. After he pulled me out of yet another bar fight, he ‘suggested’ I leave town and chill out here with Uncle Kenny for a while. Get my shit in one bag, you know. And basically, that’s why I’m here.”

Chase pushed his tray away and crossed his arms across his chest. “That’s quite a story. Well, I guess we all have one, but no worries, man. I’m not here to judge.”

“That’s cool.”

“And Jess, don’t worry about your hand. The human body is a pretty remarkable piece of equipment. I think I can help you with that hand. Don’t give up just yet, man. Lets’ see what we can do. I’ll design a specific training plan for you. I can’t promise anything but I might have a trick or two up my sleeve.”

“I doubt anything will work. I went to all of my physical therapy sessions after the surgery and it still looks like shit. I think I’m just destined to be an asshole.” I laughed, ran my hand through my hair and sucked down the rest of my Coke.

“We’d better beat it. It’s time to go back.” Chase stood up from the table and tipped his tray of trash into the can. He put the plastic tray up on top near the soda station and we shoved off into the bright California sunshine. I wasn’t used to walking to lunch, or walking to work back in New York, it was a new experience for me. It kind of made me feel like I was cheating on my truck.

The early afternoon hours were spent with more training, how to replace the beer kegs when they run empty, how to operate the glass washing station, prepare the set ups for mixed drinks and where to find all the bar supplies. Tonight, I would be the bartender’s assistant, helping Chase with anything he needed. Chase would train me in how to mix drinks and be an expert bartender later in the week. It was pretty easy stuff and I got a chance to get my feet wet, drawing beers from the tap for the after work customers.

~*~*~

A couple of days had gone by and I considered myself almost an expert, filling the heavy glass beer mugs with just the right head of foam. Every night I waited for “the big rush” of customers, but the reality was that my uncle’s bar was more like a graveyard. I wondered if my stay at my uncle’s house would be shorter lived than I had anticipated.

Saturday rolled around and I’d been in California for almost a week, working my butt off day and night at “Rookies”. All I’d seen was the dark inside of the bar and my bed for too long. I was restless and needed to blow off some steam. Hell, I didn’t even know what Santa Monica looked like in the daylight, but Chase came through with an invite to a bar. Hang with him and some of his friends.

Chase was texting when I slid into the passenger seat of his car.

“Hey man.” His eyes were glued to the screen. He finished his text, dropped the phone in the console cup holder and put the car in reverse. “Are you ready for this? Santa Monica nightlife?”

“Hell, yeah.” I pushed my hand through my hair.

“Tonight you can see how we rock things here on the west coast.”

“Where’re we going?”

“V lounge. Some friends of mine from back in high school said to meet up there. That’s who I was texting. I haven’t seen them for a while but they are chill and fun.”

“Cool. I’m down.”

As we headed to Venice Beach my mind was set on the burn of a Jack Daniels. New surroundings and a change to my daily grind had kept my mind off my own crap. Most of the time. But my injured hand kept me constantly pissed off and reminded me of the calming effect hard liquor induced.

As we entered the V Lounge, Chase quickly noticed his group of friends. “There they are, in the corner over there.” He pointed with his chin to a small group with a hot blonde reaching up on her tiptoes, frantically waving at us. We pushed through the mass of warm bodies in their direction. I swept the room with my eyes. Drinks were flowing like water all around us. I liked this place. I liked it a lot.

“Chase,” she squealed. The hot blonde threw her arms around Chase’s neck bouncing up and down.
Damn
,
I would like to see that bouncing action riding me.

BOOK: Breathless - Jesse Book 1
3.82Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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