The final chapter of my story, “The Drunk Knight,” is here! As always, you can click on the “Short Stories” tab in the menu above or just click the “Continue Reading” link below to check it out.
The Grand Canyon Brewing Company – Williams, AZ
Located at 233 Historic Rte 66, Williams, AZ 86046
Open Sun-Sat 11a-11p
Button and I left Flagstaff Brewing Co. and headed west on Route 66. About forty minutes later we were in the town of Williams where the southern terminal for the Grand Canyon Railway was located. The summer months always brought a large influx of tourists to Williams on their way to the Canyon and today was no exception. The town’s historic, Western look made it the perfect setting for our final showdown with $imon. We walked into the Grand Canyon Brewing Company taproom, which had the feel of an old-timey saloon with its wooden bar, wooden stools and the river of peanut shells on the floor. There were sixteen beers on tap and flights came in either samples of four or samples of eight. There was even a fridge with cans and 22 ounce bombers that you could take home.
Button and I shared a flight of four. I sipped the first beer called Sacred Saguaro Lager. It was light, crisp and refreshing; a perfect brew for the hot summer day. I was sweating under my suit jacket, partly because of the heat, mostly because I was nervous.
“So what’s the plan, Classy?”
“We’re gonna stall $imon until Lennix gets here. And when he does…you’re gonna do what you do best. I’ll take it from there.”
Button took a sip of the next drink in the flight called Expedition as he put on a pair of brass knuckles. It was another light beer that had a nice, citrusy wheat taste to it.
I heard the clacking of cowboy boots behind us followed by a familiar sound: click-whirr. It was that same weird noise that I heard every time $imon was on the phone. Button and I turned around.
A white guy with a beard wig stood at the entrance of the brewery. Like, a big fake red beard covering the bottom half of his face held on by a string that went around the back of his head. And he was wearing cowboy boots with cargo shorts for some reason. This was him.
“Well if it isn’t Mr. Classy and Mr. Button!” $imon said. “Sorry I’m late. I had to stop and get these sick-as-fuck cowboy boots since we’re meeting in this Old West town. Now I’m like Will Smith and y’all are Kenneth Branagh in ‘Wild Wild West.’ Have you seen that shit? It’s the best movie ever!”
Ugh. This guy was the worst.
“We know exactly what you’re up to, $imon. Your dad told us your entire plan.”
“Shit! That old man could never keep his goddamn mouth shut! You know, my mom bailed on us when I was a kid because she heard him bragging to his Jai alai buddies about how he was boning the Nicaraguan babysitter that he bought me. She wasn’t even that hot! I mean, she was a Nicaraguan eight, but that’s only like a Scottsdale five. Whatevs, doesn’t matter now. Y’all can’t stop anything. Every single keg I stole from Phoenix and Tucson is strapped with an explosive. And they’re all loaded onto helicopters that should be flying over the Grand Canyon in…” he looked at his Apple Watch, which was the only accessory that could make him look like even more of an asshole than the cowboy boots with shorts, “the next fifteen minutes. You should come outside with me when I actually detonate that shit. You can probably see the fireworks from here. And you can officially say goodbye to Arizona’s craft beer industry.”
Button was about to lose his shit. I put my hand on his chest and held him back.
“Not yet,” I whispered.
I was honestly surprised that he even listened to me. Button grabbed another beer from the flight. It was the Horseshoe Bend Pale Ale. It was yet another light beer with a nice hop undertone that wasn’t overly bitter. So far our flight was perfectly suited for the summer weather.
“I know what happened to you, $imon,” I said. “Old man Fey told us about the homebrew keg that blew up in your garage. And he told us how it blew your jaw right off your face. That’s the clicking and whirring sound I heard over the phone, isn’t it? It’s coming from the robot jaw that you got surgically implanted.”
$imon clenched said jaw hard enough that it let out another click-whirr sound.
“So you couldn’t make it as a professional beer brewer,” I said, not waiting for him to respond. “Oh well. There’s tons of homebrewers like you who make shitty beer that no one would ever buy. But you’re such a spoiled little brat that you think you deserve a seat at the table anyway. Craft beer is a business. And the business doesn’t owe you a goddamn thing.”
“My beer may have been shitty but at least I created something! click-whirr This industry is a mess. It elevates nobodies like you to celebrity status. You write stupid dick joke stories that nobody likes but somehow you still achieved fame, money and got to go on Ellen that one time when you danced like an asshole. Well it’s time to bring some balance to Arizona. Once the majority of the state’s craft beer is blown up my homebrew is gonna start to look more and more appealing to people. And now that your influence has been ground to shit, I won’t have to worry about being hindered by you…bro.”
I was about to grab the last beer in the flight when I heard the faint fwap-fwap-fwap-ing of helicopter blades off in the distance. I looked over at Button. He adjusted his brass knuckles to make sure he got a snug fit. We sat in silence for a beat listening to the sound of the helicopter getting closer and closer. That had to be Lennix.
“You’re right about a few things, $imon,” Button said, stalling a bit more. “The Classy Alcoholic may be an asshole. He may be a talentless fraud undeserving of fame and respect. He may be a sloppy drunk and an all-around train wreck of a human being with terrible impulse control issues. He may be too oblivious to recognize when people dislike him and he may be a really shitty friend who’s always ‘busy’ when you need help moving but the second he goes through a breakup he’s blowing up your phone trying to get you to listen to him whine about that bullshit for weeks. He may be into really weird sex shit that involves Chewbacca masks and those giant tubs of sour cream that you buy in bulk at Costco. He may be absolutely fucking terrible at The Electric Slide. But this man isn’t a nobody. He is important to the craft beer industry because, apart from being all of those really shitty things I just mentioned, he’s first and foremost a drinker. I’ve poured my heart and soul into the beer business. But I don’t do it for me. I do it for the sad, lonely, disillusioned drunks who’ve given up on life but still find their only semblance of joy in a pint of really good beer. I do it for him.”
“That was beautiful, Button.” A tear rolled down my cheek as I heard the helicopter blades slow down and eventually stop. Lennix was on his way in. “I think it’s time you let $imon know exactly what you came here for.”
“Sure thing, Classy. I came to kick ass and drink some beer.” Button chugged the final sampler in the flight. It was called Pistachi-Yo! A slightly tart pistachio-flavored saison made in collaboration with Arizona Wilderness. “And it looks like I’m all out of beer.”
Button lunged. He punched $imon in the stomach, grabbed him by the neck and slammed him into a table. Lennix came into the taproom with a keg that was strapped onto a dolly. I took off my necktie and helped Button keep $imon’s arms behind his back but he was a lot stronger than we expected. He flailed around and we were having trouble holding onto him. $imon whipped his head back and bashed his skull into my nose. I was about to lose my grip when Lennix came over to help us.
Before I realized what happened $imon stomped his boot on the floor and a three inch blade popped out the bottom of it. He stuck the boot knife right into Lennix’ stomach.
Button kicked $imon’s other leg out from under him and we put his back up against the keg on the dolly. I used my necktie to bind his wrists together behind the keg. Button went to check on Lennix. He was on his back, bleeding very badly.
“Alright you piece of shit,” I said. “Lennix got this keg out of one of the helicopters you hired. If you set off those explosives this one’s gonna take you out with it. So tell me where the trigger is.”
$imon only laughed. His jaw was clicking and whirring up a storm.
“Where’s the trigger?!?!” I Batman-ed. I always wanted to do that.
“You idiots. This was your stupid fucking plan? I wasn’t willing to die for my scheme before. But I definitely am now. Because if I detonate this keg it means I get to watch you burn. I hate you, The Classy Alcoholic. I’ve hated you ever since I first saw you that one time on The People’s Court when your ex-girlfriend was suing you for small-claim damages after you broke into her car to take a dump in it. And the more I learned about you after that, the more I hated you. So not only do I get to still destroy the beer industry you love but now the last thing I’ll ever see is the look on your stupid fat face as you accept that you failed.”
I could tell he meant it. The look in his eyes was the same one I had every time I drunkenly Facebook stalked my ex-girlfriend and saw pictures of her new shitty boyfriend with the tongue ring. His hatred was real.
“Button we have to find the trigger. It’s probably in his stupid cargo short pockets.”
“No, Classy. It’s not on a device. It’s wired right into my jaw. I just need to say the code words out loud and it’ll transmit the signal to every single keg at once. Like this: Ashton. click-whirr”
A green light on top of the keg came on.
“Scarface. click-whirr” The green light started blinking and emitting a beep.
“Shut up!” Button yelled. He used his brass knuckled hand to punch $imon in the jaw as hard as he could. There was a loud clang as the brass hit steel and the sound of bones cracking. But $imon didn’t flinch. Button screamed in pain as he fell to the ground holding his hand on his chest. He must’ve broken all his fingers and everything else down to the wrist.
“Nickelback. click-whirr” The light went from green to yellow. Still beeping. Still blinking.
$imon smiled at me. He knew I was panicking. I didn’t know what to do. My hands were shaking as I looked around for something I could use.
“Vince Vaughn but from the early 2000s after he got chubby. click-whirr” The light stayed yellow but the beeping got faster.
“Do something, Classy!”
I looked over at the empty beer flight behind me.
“Wait, $imon, not yet. Just…let me have one last drink before you finish.”
$imon nodded. Instead of pouring a beer from the tap I went over to the fridge and grabbed a 22-ounce bottle. It was summer but Grand Canyon still had a batch of their pumpkin porter from the previous fall. I held the bottle up to my face and caressed it with my other hand.
“I’m sorry, my delicious friend,” I whispered to the bottle as I grabbed it by its neck. $imon smiled at me. I knew he had no intention of letting me drink that beer before he finished the code. He just wanted me to get my hopes up one last time. But it was okay…because I had no intention of having my last drink just yet.
“Axe body spr-”
I swung the bottle of pumpkin porter across $imon’s jaw before he could finish. Glass and precious, precious beer went everywhere. His robot jaw got dislodged from the hit and flew across the taproom along with his stupid beard wig. The jaw landed on the ground a few feet away and the wig stuck to the wall ‘cause it was soaked in beer. A couple more whirring sounds came out of the disembodied jaw but they quickly stopped after the alcohol seeped into it. The light on top of the keg went off.
$imon’s tongue flapped around, not having anywhere to rest. He couldn’t do anything other than let out a weird, guttural yell. Tears streamed down his face as he slammed the back of his head over and over into the deactivated keg.
“Don’t mess with The Cla$$y A£coholi¢, motherfucker!”
ONE HOUR LATER
The sun was all but gone and the evening summer breeze rolled through Williams. Police, paramedics and press were on the scene outside of the brewery. $imon got strapped to a gurney and put into the back of an ambulance. I sat alone in the taproom for a while drinking a pint of Grand Canyon’s Sunset Amber Ale. It had a nice red color to it and there was a strong sweet finish that was more prominent than in a few other ambers I had. The police lights outside danced around the flashes coming from the press cameras. I closed my eyes and tuned out the sound of the people outside. I took a second to enjoy the silence in my own head before it had to be broken.
Button walked into the taproom with his broken hand in a cast. Lennix came in behind him with his stab wound bandaged up and a dark bloodstain decorating the lower half of his shirt.
“We did it, Classy,” Button said with a smile. “The cops said all the helicopters landed safely back in the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. The bomb squad was able to detach all of the explosives. We didn’t just save our beer, we saved people’s lives!”
“Good job, kids.” Lennix said. “You were true heroes today. And I’ll make sure everyone knows that. But first I’m gonna take the helicopter outta here and head to Vegas. I need to get myself laid or something.”
“Jesus, Lennix, you just got stabbed. Shouldn’t you take it easy?”
“Nah. I already told you, nothing can kill me.”
Lennix walked out leaving Button and me sitting in silence for another minute.
“I think it’s pretty fitting that it was beer that ended up saving your life, Mr. Classy. That beer bottle saved all of us.”
“That’s true, Button. And it made me realize something important. It looks like I need beer more than beer needs me. $imon was jealous of all my success but I think about my life and I don’t see what he saw anymore. The beer industry in the state is growing like crazy without me and I think it may have left me behind. People like you are the ones who are gonna take the reins going forward.”
“Woah, Classy, it sounds like you’re talking about retiring.”
“No, not at all. I’m always gonna be The Classy Alcoholic. Not because I want to be but ‘cause I don’t know how to be anything else.”
“That sounds kind of sad. Almost like you’re stuck.”
“Well, maybe life isn’t about having huge epiphanies and completely changing who you are as you grow. Maybe the trick to life is becoming slightly better versions of the people we already are. Slightly better versions of the people we’ll always be.”
“That’s deep, Classy. So you’ll be around?”
“Always, Button. I’m the hero the craft beer industry in this state deserves. But not the one it needs right now. So I’ll be around, roaming through the shadows and through the bushes outside my ex-girlfriend’s house. And I’ll make sure that you, Button Brewhouse and the rest of the Arizona beer family are safe and taken care of. I’ll be the silently shitfaced guardian. The hammered, pants-less protector. The Drunk Knight.”
“Wait, I thought I was gonna end up being The Drunk Knight in this story.”
“What? No, I’m The Drunk Knight. Why would you be The Drunk Knight?”
“Well just ‘cause you kept talking about how I’m the hero Arizona needs.”
“Yeah but that just makes you a regular hero. That doesn’t make you The Drunk Knight. The Drunk Knight’s heroism is a point of pride but also a burden. And he has to balance his heroism with his dark side.”
“I have a dark side too, though.”
“Shut up, Button, you’re 39 years old and still look like you’re 25. There’s nothing for you to be dark about. Go fuck yourself. I’m The Drunk Knight.”
“Alright, alright, fine! You’re The Drunk Knight. So where are you going now?”
“I don’t know. I have nowhere to go. Which actually means I can go anywhere.”
Damn. That was a good-ass line.