Lager Effect
Joanne Faires
“I hate the smell of beer,” said Karl as he shuffled from one foot to another. “I’ve got to get another gig.”
“Tough when you live in Milwaukee, land of non-stop endurable beer fests,” said Jacob. “This is where the lines are. At least it’s summer. The lake effect brings a breeze, not non-stop snow for us to shovel in the line. I hate winter fest.”
Helen asked, “How long have you two been line-standers?  I haven’t seen you since high school.”
“Three years for me, two for him,” said Jacob as he gestured. “I had a year of port-o-potty lines. That’s the worst. Karl got to skip that since I vouched for him.”
“Technically we are line-standers and dedicated servers,” chuckled Karl. “Our clients don’t have the patience for the public wait staff. We just keep circulating the beer.”
“I miss Pabst. At least they had pitchers,” said Jacob. “Juggling cups is high pressure.”
Helen handed them each a card. “This will get you into Leinenkugel Brewery next week. Class act with large steins.”
“Thanks. Catch you later. I’m up.” Karl stepped forward to order the maximum beers, when a burly fellow muscled into his space. Without yielding, Karl sidestepped and leaned in to pay. Without hesitating, the kid pulling draughts ignored Karl, accepted the other guy’s cash and gave him a full tray.
“What the hell, Cory? Thought we had a deal,” said Karl. “Every second, every beer counts.”
Cory wiped his brow. “Sorry, Karl, but the Klinghoffer gang is paying extra for their line guys. They have jump privilege.”
When Karl finally got his order, he stormed back to his clients, deposited rounds and scurried back to the line fuming. He even moved back one position to join Heidi. “The Klinghoffer’s? Cory said that they are paying extra.”
Heidi rolled her eyes. “Yep, Franz, Georg, and Martin now run the south side of Milwaukee. Might not sound like a big deal, but they are tough and the Germans are loyal to their roots. Farming and beer – it’s the lager effect. They have control of hops fields, stainless tanks, trucking, and line standing. Hell, you knew they own this bar.”
“I need to call old Martin. He owes me one.”
Monday, Karl and Martin met for lunch. Over schnitzel, Karl reminded Martin about old times. “You’re still married to my cousin, Pauline?  Happy family, pretty kids?  I need a favor, better job.”
The following Saturday, Karl was back at the Pork Belly Bar. Tourists and regulars filled the place, overflowing to the patio.
Karl stepped on stage, “Welcome everybody. Let’s work up a thirst and dance.”   Playing a hand accordion, he launched into a polka.

First published: May 2016
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