I stood on the pier as I watched my uncle disappear. Why did I say yes to doing this? What have I gotten myself into, I asked myself as I walked back into the Mermaid’s Tale. Standing there were the chef, Brian, the two bartenders, Martina and Deja, and four of the wait staff, waiting for me like little confused soldiers. They had no idea who or what I was. 

Well, now this is going to be fun, I thought to myself. “Hi. As my uncle pointed out, I’m just here to oversee things while he…while he’s away,” I said as I looked around to each person standing there.

“How long will that son of a b**** be gone?” Brian the chef demanded.

Hearing him say this of my uncle, I was very surprised. “He didn’t say. So you’re stuck with me till his return.”

“F****** sea dog, that’s fine by me. Are you even old enough to be here? Much less running the place. Just stay the f*** out of my kitchen, f***** newbie!” Brian shouted as he stormed off back to the kitchen

“Don’t mind him, Nike, he’s always like that,” Martina, one of the bartenders, said 

“I see. My uncle warned me. So what happens around here? I know what my uncle said, but I want to know what you all do here exactly.” I had them all take a seat so I could listen to them.

Surprisingly, none of them questioned my age. Each one told me what really happened around here and that my uncle was a bit of a hard ass on certain things: that the booze was stocked and who was not allowed in his bar. And now with the new upgrades and the swim-up bar, they were pretty much on edge on weekends. After listening to them, I decided to head to the office and make some calls. 

I called my sister Athena and asked her if she would weave me a black sheer curtain that I could drape throughout the restaurant. I then called the Lady Nyx to see If she would add some StarDust security. StarDust security is stardust strands woven into the fabric with an added enchantment. The enchantment protects the wearer or in this case, the space from evil meant for harm. I figured if I was going to be watching the bar, I wanted added security. Fall in Olympus has a way of becoming a bit unpredictable. Both of the ladies agreed that that would be a good idea. 

I hadn’t wanted to put up all the usual scary things that the mortals put up, like fake witches and ghosts cutouts. I ordered some pumpkins in varying sizes, some wooden candle holders, and those battery operated candlesticks that have a flickering wick. Lots of fall and sea artifacts began to arrive later that day. The staff loved it. It was classy and not tacky. I even added some fall foods and drinks to the menu. Chef Brian wasn’t too keen on me making changes to his menu, but when I made it sound like it was his idea, he might have actually smirked. I know it seems odd that I would know what to do. Because I really didn’t. I actually made another call to my friend Doug, and he had told me what to do and how to make things look good. I met him while I worked at Starbucks. He was studying to be an interior designer. So with his tips, my uncle’s dive bar was brought up a few notches to be a fancy bar and grill on the wharf.

The contractors had installed the new three-foot thick glass walls my uncle wanted at the base of the bar to keep the sea life out of the bar portion of the swim-up bar. He added a wet bar so that not only the merfolks could come and enjoy the bar with the mortals, but even the divers could swim up for a brew if they wanted. 

Everything looked great and it only took three days to pull everything together.  It was now 4 p.m. on Friday, time to get ready to open up. I had called Bia and the brothers to come and help me. I had each of them pick an area to cover:  Bia chose to be on the door, that way she could read the minds of those that entered; Zelus chose to be with the wait staff; and Kratos looked like he owned the place, so that suited me just fine. I had the wait staff in a white button-down shirt, black pants and black long aprons with a mermaid print bowtie. They looked so cute. I hope my uncle liked the changes I had made. I thought about how rustically classy the place looked, considering my uncle destroyed the place when he killed that mortal Ted.  I am glad the remodel was completed before he left, though. The bar had been stocked with all the top shelf and low goodness. We even had this Japanese whiskey that cost $100 a glass. I added a pumpkin spice slider and a pumpkin martini for the season. 

The New Mermaid’s Tale was now officially open. There was a line outside for the restaurant and the bar was beginning to fill up. I had valet parking, outside dining, and sea level dining was under the water, where sea life could be found swimming by like in an aquarium. 

All areas were moving like clockwork. Hmm, this is easier than I thought. I had to say that, right? 

Brian was his usual jovial self, shouting at the cooks in the kitchen and using every profane word in three different languages. 

Suddenly, a merman sang out with an urgent pitch that only the Gods could hear. I knew what that meant. I had completely forgotten about the hippocampi that were about to foal. I rushed down to the swim-up bar where the screeching came from. All the mortals heard was a siren-like sound. The merfolks all tried to talk to me all at once, and the sound was deafening. I motioned them to be still. I took off my jacket and walked down to the water’s edge. I looked back and I could see my brothers Zelus and Kratos watching me. I nodded that I was fine. I turned and dove into the water, followed by the others.

Once I was in the water, I could hear the hippocampus moans; I knew they were almost ready. I swam to the cave under the bar, and sure enough, they were there. The others had set up the nesting area, which consisted of sea kelp, sea moss and baskets of krill to feed the new foals. I was asked by my uncle to help because they needed a victory with this birthing. You see, since we have become visible to the mortals once more, many of the sea creatures have diminished in numbers. You could say they are on the endangered species list. I promised my uncle I would do my best. I swam with this creature for years and as a grandchild of Oceanus and Tethys, this allowed me to have a connection to the creatures of the sea and waterways. 

As I swam up to the nesting area, the handlers watched me swim around the Hippa. The she-beasts were both writhing in pain. The two male bulls were very protective. I swam in a circle, then lowered my head and presented myself in a floating bow, which is basically making yourself stiff as a board with your hands extended out above your head. You have to allow the water to bring your scent to the she-beast. You have to wait until she decides you are safe. The bull will swim around you and bump into you, but you mustn’t move. Once he is done pushing you around, then the she-beast will allow you near her.

Now in most cases, the she-beast will lay her two eggs and the male will rest with the eggs, but there is a problem: both of the female beasts won’t lay. They have kept the eggs within them, which could mean the death of both the she-beasts and the foals. So I approach her slowly. I reached her and place my hand on her sack, which was bursting. I swam to the other she-beast and she, too, was bursting, but the eggs refused to come. I knew what I had to do, but it was going to be very dangerous. I merspoke to them (but as I know you are reading this, I will translate).

“It looks like there is something blocking the delivery canal. I will need to cut her open.” 

“No, you mustn’t, my Lady Nike.” 

“You might kill them, and these are your uncle’s prize mares.”

“Can you help them? She is in great pain.”

“I will try. I will need to get a knife from the office.” I had to calm the handlers, because the beasts can sense any distress. “Keep them comfortable and see if they will eat something. I will return.” I swam away as fast as I could. I went back up to the bar to get to my uncle’s office, where I knew he kept a sea dagger in his desk. 

As I was about to go to the stairs, Deja stopped me. “Nike, I need your help.” 

“Yes, what’s up?”

“We have a problem with a guy at the bar. He won’t pay for his drinks.”

“Okay, can you ask my brother to help you?”

“He’s busy at the door, something’s happening out there.”

“Okay.” I turned around.

“Hey, why are you all wet?”

“I had to take care of something in the caves.”

“The caves?”

“Never mind. Where is this customer?” I followed Deja back to the bar. As I got closer, I heard people ordering different types of drinks: tequilas and margaritas, bourbon neat, black opals. I heard that one and I turned to see who ordered it. It was a voice I’d heard before, but had never seen her face. She smiled at me and I nodded to her. As I approached the delinquent customer, he was raising his voice at Martina.

“I am not going to pay for drinks that have been watered down!” he shouted.

“What seems to be the problem here?” I said as I stood next to Martina

“Nike, he is refusing to pay for the three shots of the Hibiki Harmony he and his friends ordered.”

“And why won’t you pay for what you ordered?”

“Because your girl here watered down the drink.”

I looked over at Deja. “How much is this…?”

“Hibiki…and it cost $100 a glass.”

“Did he order this?” 

“Yes, he did.”

“And was he made aware of the cost of the drink he ordered?”

“Yes, Nike, he knew,” Martina said sarcastically.

“Very well, sir, you will pay what you owe.”

“I will not. Do you know who I am?”

“No, do you know who I am?” My eyes were about to change color to show the man who I was when I noticed the curtains began to shimmy and move, which was the alarm for supernatural beings approaching or in the bar. 

“Nike, come to the door we need your help,” I heard my sister’s voice say in my head. 

“Alright, I’ll be right there.” Turning back to the loud customer, I looked in his eyes. My eyes changed to a fiery blaze and I said, “ You will pay what you owe, and you will leave my uncle’s bar right NOW!”

The man’s eyes shone with fear and he pulled out his wallet. I left the bar and headed to the door. What else can go wrong? I whispered to myself. 

When I got to the door I heard Bia in my mind “ Nike, it’s witches.”

“Oh no, why is it witches?” I said, rolling my eyes.

Nike (Nikki Crump-Hansted)
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