Twist in the Tale
“Mouthful, ain’t it?”
“What’s a mouthful?”
“The name of that saloon.” The Kid pointed toward the sign. “Tipsy Tess’s Timpson Texas Tavern.”
“You got that right, Kid,” his partner acknowledged. “A real tongue-twister.”
“I’ll bet even that silver tongue of yours would be trippin’ over itself, tryin’ to get through that one.”
“Tipsy Tess’s Timpson Texas Tavern. There. Not so hard.”
“I meant after a brew or two. And speakin’ of brews… Shall we, Joshua?”
“After you, Thaddeus.”
“I’m Tess. What can I get you fellas?” asked the bartender, a gray-haired woman, with deeply etched smile lines surrounding sparkling eyes.
“Beer,” Heyes answered, holding up two fingers.
The Kid tossed his hat aside and leaned both elbows back onto the bar top, surveying the tiny establishment. A woman caught his eye, not a difficult task, considering the Kid’s deep appreciation of women-folk in general, and this one, well, she happened to be the saloon’s only other patron at the moment, making her pretty tough to miss. The Kid smiled politely and nodded his greeting.
Heyes rolled his eyes.
The woman, seated at a back corner table, smiled back warmly, and waved her hand, signaling to both of them.
Curry snagged the mug Tess had just slid down the bar’s waxed surface and made a move in the direction of the woman’s table.
Heyes caught his partner’s arm and shook his head. “She’s a nun, Kid.”
“A nun? In a bar?” Curry shook his head, skeptically. “C’mon, Heyes.”
“Just take a look at how she’s dressed!”
With one quick glance, the Kid took in her dark, tweed skirt, her modest, high-necked, blouse, her mousy-brown tresses pulled tightly into an unattractive bun, and the pitcher of beer on the table in front of her. “Two bits says she’s not.” His challenge was extended along with his right hand.
“You’re on.” Heyes grabbed his own beer and followed.
“Hello, ma’am. I’m…”
At that precise moment, the woman turned away, raising a finger of pause and spewed a mouthful of beverage into a nearby pail. “Pardon, gentlemen.” She dabbed her lips as delicately as possible against her sleeve and stood. “They call me Grace.” Her smile was as gentle as it was genuine. “And your names are…?”
“Joshua Smith, ma’am,” Heyes introduced, eyes taking in the spittoon on the floor next to Grace, more than half full.
Curry stared, dumb-founded.
“And this is my partner, Thaddeus Jones,” Heyes assisted.
“Pleased to meet you.” Grace gave a half-hearted attempt at a curtsey, then motioned toward two chairs. “Join me, please.”
The Kid found his tongue as he sat. “You’re not a nun, are you, ma’am?”
“I’m a tester,” Grace answered.
“Tester?” Heyes wondered, also sitting.
“Taste tester,” Grace affirmed, nodding.
“A beer taste tester?” The Kid chuckled through his words and cast a look of victory Heyes’ way. “My friend here thought you were a nun.”
“A nun! Imagine!” Grace poured a small amount from the pitcher, watched carefully as the foam dissipated, then swirled the amber concoction expertly around her glass. She sniffed, sipped, then swigged a mouthful. There was a loud swishing noise before Grace again spewed in the direction of the spittoon, and again dabbed at her mouth delicately, using her sleeve. “Tess!” she called, causing both Heyes and Curry to jump. “Send out the Leinenkugel’s!”
“Tess arrived promptly with a pitcher and three glasses. “Here you go, Grace. The Leinenkugel’s, Summer Shandy.”
“Summer what?” the Kid asked.
“Shandy,” Grace explained, patiently. “Beer mixed with lemonade.”
“Why would anyone want to ruin a perfectly good beer by diluting it with…”
Grace poured a glass and shoved it toward him. “Taste.”
Heyes tasted, and shrugged. “Not bad. That’d cut the dust nicely after a day on the trail. What do you think, Thaddeus?”
The Kid tasted, and nodded his agreement.
Throughout the evening, hour after hour, the brew-fest continued, until finally Tess arrived with a final sample. “Last one, folks,” she declared. “This brew comes from Mexico.”
Heyes and Curry lifted their glasses in salute, one to another.
“Wait! Try this.” Taking a knife, Grace sliced a lime, then squeezed several drops of its juice into Heyes’ glass, Curry’s, and then her own. “Bottoms up, gentlemen!” She touched her glass to each of theirs and winked before chugging. Finishing, she turned her glass upside down on the table before dabbing her mouth on her sleeve one last time. “Ahhh!” she belched. “Good stuff!”
Moral of the story:
If Grace can’t come up with a Twist for her Tale, she’s happy to settle for a Twist in her Ale!
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.