“You charge too cheaply,” I tell Cameron as I look through his log book. He logs sales by nightly, weekly, monthly, semi-annually, and annually. Maybe Cameron was good at giving beers and setting the party mood, but when it came to finances he wasn’t equip for it. “The average bar should make around $25,000-$30,000 weekly, based on an average drink cost of $8.00. Cameron, you charge 50% of the average cost. Say you sell 650 drinks a night at an $8.00 rate, you make $26,000 per week. However, selling the same amount at your rate of $4.00, you’re lucky to get $13,000 a week. That’s a significant difference.”
Cameron looks over my shoulder at the papers and I see his tongue slide across his lips as I explain to him, “When I first opened, my prices are what was drawing in customers.”
“I get that but you also have your clientele now,” I look over my shoulder at him, raising an eyebrow, “You sell around a quarter more drinks than the average 650 and still can’t get to $20,000 in earnings each night. If you raise your prices, even slightly it will change everything.”
“Do you know how expensive it is to rent this place? And to stock inventory each month? $4.00 isn’t going to--”
“Roughly $25,000 each month. It says here that rent and utilities average to $6,000 monthly. The other costs are employees and inventory, I know that you don’t pay Zoey and I $19,000 a week and inventory should only be six to ten thousand weekly.”
“This is too much math,” He says, running his fingers through his hair and stepping away from the desk where I sat. He lays on his bed and looks across the room at me, “Didn’t I tell you that I didn’t graduate? Math was it for me. And science, really.”
I stand from the chair and fold my arms over my chest while leaning against the desk, “Please just trust me on this. I take a business class and...”
“Wait, you’re taking business? You didn’t tell me that you’re doing a business degree,” Cameron’s voice is filled with pure amusement and surprise, making me realize what I said to him. I hadn’t been thinking about my age for a second, the business class that I’m taking in school at the moment was just so fulfilling that I wanted to use it to help Cameron any way that I can.
I shake my head and quickly attempt to cover my slip-up, “No, I’m not. I meant that when I went to high school I took an amazing business class. Just to prepare us for the real world and... I can finally use it.”
I can’t help but notice Cameron’s eyes locked on me, he seems so focused but there isn’t much to me. I’m quite bland, my clothes, my face, even my voice had nothing special to draw someone’s attention. I’m simply just a boring person so having Cameron’s eyes on me made absolutely no sense unless he were about to insult me in some way.
He stands up and walks towards me in a far too slow manner, possibly trying to set a dramatic mood, “You sure you want to help me? I’m not the easiest person to help.”
“You don’t say,” I respond sarcastically before answering him seriously, “I’m sure. This thing that’s going on with you and the police just seem unfair. You ”
“You think we can do this?”
I nod my head, feeling confident in this plan. Maybe now I can be in charge of Cameron’s financing to make sure he actually handles money appropriately, “I do... We will start tonight. The sooner, the better.”
That is exactly what we did. As the night approached, we changed the prices without a single complaint from the customers. Surely they knew that they were getting alcohol for far too cheap, even with the price change the deal they’re getting is clear.
Of course, not everyone can be understanding or welcoming to change and the moment I see Vincent approaching the bar I know that I’m right. He takes a seat on the stool across from me and gives me a disgusting smirk, “I’ll take a beer.”
I grab a cold bottle of beer from the mini fridge under the bar, giving Vincent a quick glance, “That’ll be $7.00.”
“No it won’t be,” He answers, putting a five dollar bill on the counter, “I will be nice, though. You can keep the change.”
“And if that’s what you’re willing to pay, you can keep the five dollars because the cost is $7.00. Just as I said before.”
His eyes shrink into a glare, waiting a moment before responding to me, “Listen, sweetheart. Maybe you changed the prices for everyone else, but not for me. Are we clear?”
“As day,” I respond before putting the beer bottle back in the mini fridge, “Is there anything else I can help you with? I have actual paying customers to serve.”
I guess my mouth had went on far too long for him, because as he stands from his bar stool a look of anger in his face while trying to hover over me in an intimidating manner, “Listen, bitch. I’m not everyone else.”
I remain calm, speaking to him the same way I have been for the past few minutes, “Vincent, I suggest you leave or I’ll ge--”
“Get who? Cam?” He chuckles and nods his head in agreement, “You do that, then I can tell him what a lousy excuse of a bar girl he has here.”
As I turn around I see the Cameron is already making his way behind the counter, clearly noticing that some tension had been created between Vincent and I, he looks at both me and Vincent before speaking, “What’s going on?”
“This bitch won’t give me a beer,” Vincent tells Cameron as he sits back on the stool, waiting for Cameron to get angry at me.
“Olivia, should I ask why?”
“Let me tell you,” I smile, proceeding to speak in a genuine and calm voice - unlike Vincent, “He’s refusing to pay, therefore, no beer.”
I could see the wheels in Cameron’s head spinning as he took a look back towards Vincent, “I can’t give you free beer. You realize that, right?”
My eyes wander to Vincent’s hands that are now balled into fists that look ready to throw a punch, “I gave her five dollars.”
“Well, we charge $7.00 now,” Cameron looks at me to confirm his thought, “It’s seven, right?”
I nod my head just as Vincent begins to lose his temper on Cameron, “Not for me, you don’t. I’m going to continue to pay regular price, the four dollars it has always been, are we clear?”
Cameron gently nudges me to the side so he can be face to face with Vincent. He places his palms on the counter and looks at Vincent with an equally intimidating demeanor, “Oh, we’re clear, Vinny. You can leave. I’m not going to give you special treatment when it comes to costs of product. Sorry, man. Business is business.”
The only thing that could be heard was Vincent’s laughter, it’s sarcastic, I know that much, but still. The guy gives me the creeps and I’m not sure how I feel about being on his bad side. “You can find yourself a new dealer. Go fuck yourself.”
Vincent doesn’t give Cameron a chance to respond, instead, he pushes past the crowd in an angry rage, disappearing within seconds. How entitled can one person be to think that he doesn’t have to pay full price? What a jerk.
As Cameron turns to me, he smirks and leans his back against the counter, “I’m impressed with how you stuck to your guns. Vin is an intimidating guy but you didn’t let him walk over you.”
“I try not to let people walk over me,” I tell him, hiding some resentment towards him in my voice.
“Yeah, I know... About that, I’m sorry,” He says, surprising me by apologizing but words still can’t fix the way he acted towards me, “The kissing you thing, and then yelling at you the other night... I’m not sure why you’re helping me figure my shit out but I know that I don’t deserve it. I don’t deserve you.”
He’s right. He’s completely right. Cameron doesn’t deserve my dedication to him and this bar, if it were anyone else I would have walked out weeks ago, but it isn’t just anyone - it’s Cameron. Somehow this guy had a hold on me and it made me feel vulnerable to him in every way. I was weak for him, I had a belief in him that he had proven multiple times to be false. But here I am, still waiting for a change that may never happen.
“You really don’t,” I agree with him before giving him a little smile, “I guess you should consider yourself lucky that I’ve been so lenient.”
“I do, very much so.”
I move my hair to one side, taking a deep breath as I attempt to end the conversation, “Just don’t kiss me again, okay?”
Cameron pauses for longer than I’m comfortable with, when he finally answers his words shock me to the core, “I don’t think I can do that.”