The Pan Cave was boisterous as usual, a cacophony of joy ricocheting off the walls. Drink glasses clattered, bar stools scooted along the wood floor, and laughter roared as Peter performed his usual Friday night juggling routine. Although the performance almost always meant a juggling pin to the noggin or two, it was given every week without fail.
John ducked to one side, “Peter, you very nearly assaulted me with your grimy circus implements!”
Peter chuckled, unable to deplete the jubilation with which he’d initially tossed the pin, “Sorry, but my audience normally loves how immersive my show is.”
From the other side of the room, another peal of laughter roared out. Lily was demonstrating on Michael to a concerned audience of Wendy and Smee how couples yoga poses invigorate the body and mind. Unfortunately, Michael had long ago forsaken sobriety that evening. Their Boat Pose appeared to be sinking and their Double Camel proved to be more of a Trouble Camel. Michael collapsed in a heap on the floor, giddy and sweaty.
“Pan Punch strikes again,” chimed Wendy, giggling as she watched Michael wriggle about on the floor.
Lily leaned down and stroked his forehead, unable to hold back a smile as she did so. Although not nearly as drunk as Michael, her insobriety was plain to see. She lifted him to his feet, both of them unsteady and euphoric. They wobbled toward the bar, nearly careening into John, who was still reeling from the juggling pin incident as it was.
Michael loudly and excitedly announced something at Peter, but the garbled message seemed to make no impression at all.
Lily happily interpreted, “He said you could make a fortune off of Pan Punch.” She then dropped her smile completely, stopping to stare with awe at Michael’s sudden stroke of brilliance. Why hadn’t she thought of this before?
She looked at Peter again, who held his pins close to his chest with a tinge of fear. This time she spoke with import and realization, “You could make a fortune off of Pan Punch!!”
Peter, who had never thought to monetize his hallmark drink before, merely replied, “I could?”
Lily instantly reverted to a state of mind she had forgotten she possessed within her. Although her ambition had given her many promotions since her fall from affluence, most of the traits of her inner businesswoman had long remained hidden. Tonight, a stroke of drunken brilliance from Michael Darling awoke that hidden talent.
She seemed to sober up a bit as she organized her thoughts, not paying much mind while she passed the still stumbling Michael into John’s arms. “If we pitch this drink to my old friend Ivan Menezes, Pan Punch could pollute not just the better part of Northern Ohio, but every fun and adventurous boozer in the United States.”
Lily did not seem to notice as Peter poured her another glass of the punch. She grabbed it without thinking and swallowed about half before continuing, “I remember exactly how the market for alcohol looked before I was so rudely cast from my empire of wealth. The fall of Four Loko is upon us, which means the world will be needing a new delectable and chaotic poison.” She gestured wildly with one hand, pulling off an eloquence few drunkards can, “Look no further, because the future of unbridled indulgence lies before us. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Pan Punch!” She raised the glass triumphantly over her head before downing it all in one fell swoop. A cacophony of applause echoed throughout the room, every inebriated person in the room entirely ready to invest in Lily’s Pan Punch endeavor.
Michael mumbled again, this time with John to translate, “Michael has suggested that Pan Punch is the drunkard’s spinach… He informed me that he feels like Popeye.” Lily’s elation betrayed her. She snatched the wiggly boy from John’s arms and dipped him. Peter began to laugh, resuming the juggling pin routine. Wendy, Smee, and John joined in the laughter. Lily schemed her capitalist plans at Michael in between overtly hypersexual smooches and Michael melted into her eager ramblings.
Wendy looked at Peter, “So,” she said coyly, “are you going to let them do this every week?”
Peter dropped a pin while he chuckled, “Of course.” He picked it up off the floor and sent the pin right back into the flurry of juggling. “Until Lily reclaims her empire with Pan Punch, I’ll be sure she makes that speech every week.”