The efficiency of an experienced cocktail waitress never ceased to impress. Slender arms slinked between shoulders, depositing martini, whiskey, and waters into the grasp of waiting fingers. Deftly, she picks up the cards for the tab, and checking IDs before slipping them into a check holder. The waitresses here all wear red vests and sleek black skirts with hose, very classy.
Chad insisted we try this club he’d heard of. It wasn’t one I had, but we travel in different circles. I’m more likely to drink someplace that doesn’t have a cover and everyone knows your name. Chad, though, he liked the trappings of his wealth. “Check that out, a cigar girl,” Chad laughs one of his humorless chuckles and points crudely across the span of the darkened room. She’s in a gold vest with a red pillbox hat, hair perfectly swirled to frame her rather striking features. “It’s like Jackie O. fell on hard times,” I quipped, noting the resemblance to the former first lady, one the hat reinforced, whether the girl knew it or not. “Jackie? Which one is that? Is she that rich bitch you go shopping with?” He’s grinning as he sips his drink, a neat Johnny Walker. I’d like to think he was joking, but his knowledge of American politics is about as deep as his knowledge of whiskey. I don’t bother to respond, instead I choose to enjoy the feeling of a well stuffed leather chair, the constant pound of classic rock, and the atmosphere of indulgence. My eyes were drawn to the cigar girl, who wore only a leotard and smoke grey hose beneath the tray. She was exquisite, gliding through the tables with winks and smiles. Her customer, a tanning bed bronze blonde of trophy quality, was treated to the ritual of the cigar. The label was carefully slipped off, the end neatly clipped, then delicately dipped and swirled in a glass of amber liquid, Brandy most likely, then placed in the blonde’s waiting crimson lips. A sliver of balsa is produced and lit, turned to insure proper heat, and applied to the end. Suck, draw, and exhale. The ritual is complete. A generous tip is slid into the cigar girl’s bosom by the blonde’s male escort, and she curtsies her farewell.
“Oh, man, that’s hot. You want a cigar?” Chad, it seems, had watched the transaction as well.
“Yeah, sure. Why not.” He waved her over with his usual charm, “What’s your name, doll?”
“Garnet,” her smile was professional and slyly solicitous just as I’d expect, but her working name was original. I found myself liking Jackie O. She offered a few suggestions, Monte Cristo, Flores, Hoyo de Monterrey, but Chad interrupted and asked for a Cuban.
“Well, sir, I’d love to, but we usually only have a box or two from Cuba, and it happens to be that we’ve sold out. If you don’t mind me saying so, these Drew Estate Tabak Especial from Nicaragua are just the sort of cigar for the discerning man.” I noticed that she did not give a price, and Chad didn’t ask as he agreed to two of them.
“Ladies first,” she asked, with just a hint of flirtation as she bowed beside me.
“Uh, yeah.” Chad, ever the gentleman seemed on the verge of correcting her, but her position afforded him a distracting view of her décolletage, and he seemed to forget whatever it was he was about to say.
She described the cigar as infused with essence of rich, aged, coffee beans, with long strands of the finest tobacco. She suggested that a shot of Amaretto would set the palate in the right mood, and without confirmation poured a shot from her tray. The array of goods on her tray was surprising. Aside from the cigar boxes, she carried lighters, matchbooks, clippers, balsa, Amaretto, Brandy, and a Baileys, two high balls, a couple of shot glasses, individual cigarettes in a lovely silver tray, and condoms in neat black wrappers.
She was right. Though the first puff was drowned by the Amaretto still clinging to my mouth, the second draw was divine, a lovely espresso like sensation that filled and surrounded me upon the exhale.
“Oh, you’ll love this Chad,” I purred as I glanced around the room, realizing that there was actually a dance floor of some kind past the bar. Chad wasn’t paying attention. He was transfixed by Garnet’s ritual, modified just slightly for his benefit. She wet the tip, not with Amaretto but with her own tongue, pink, darting, and precise, and deeply sucked and exhaled to provide him with a nicely burning tip.
“Thanks, Doll,” he said earnestly, his hand slid up her thigh as she stood and deposited a folded bill into her pocket. She did this hip bounce thing by way of thanks, and slinked off to find another mark.
“This is a nice place,” I mused as I watched groups of well-dressed men and women mingle near the bar and meander on and off the dance floor. One distinguished man in a grey suit was holding court to three ladies of ages ranging from mid-20s to 40s. There was a gesture towards another man at the bar, who raised his glass in salute before the man slipped his arms around two of the women and the group made their way towards recessed booths on a raised platform, a VIP area of some sort, I assumed.
“Oh yeah, it’s great. My finance guy turned me on to it last year.”
“Oh, yeah? How are he and Shannon doing?” I’d met his finance guy at a barbeque, an officious little prick with a darling girl far too good for him. Shannon and I had hit it off and played a few games of tennis and followed each other on Instagram.
“His girlfriend? Oh, yeah. They’re doing great. He said something about maybe taking her to Jamaica this spring.
“That’s nice, do you think he’s going to propose?”
“Huh? Why would he… I mean I guess he might. I really don’t talk to him about his girls. I mean, we get drinks together and hang from time to time, but guys don’t talk about that stuff.”
“So, it’s all work, and sports, and cars. Guy stuff all the time,” I quipped.
“Pretty much. And I’m sure you and,” there was a pause as he searched for her name, “Shannon get together and talk about mani-pedis and Real Housewives and me. I mean come on, what do you even have in common with that girl? You’re a P.I. You know more about guns than I do. It’s not like you have girlfriends.”
I wanted to argue. Actually, I wanted to throw what was left of my martini in his face.
“You mean it’s not like I have friends,” I said, my voice low.
“No, I,” his voice trailed off, and I think he might have even felt a little bad but whatever he was going to say was dropped when the waitress appeared again, depositing another round without ordering.
“From the lady,” she whispered, and gestured towards a statuesque mature woman in an emerald gown, who tipped her high ball in greeting. Chad slipped the waitress a bill.
“What the hell?” I wondered, as the woman clearly checked us both out. It’s not like I’m not used to being eye groped, and Chad was a slice of beef cake, but this woman, probably old enough to be our mother, was far more forward about it than I was used to outside of a gay bar.
Chad smiled his best frat boy grin and leaned towards me, asking, “What do you think of her, nice, huh?”
“What the hell, Chad.” Each word was said with precision, measured, and way more clam than my clenching fist. Things started to slip into place. The nameless club, the extravagance, the cigar girl and her condoms, this place was starting to feel more strip club than exclusive watering hole.
“I thought we might spice things up a little,” he smiled sweetly, his big paw resting on my thigh. “You told me how much you enjoyed the women you have dated, and I thought maybe this would be fun.”
Enjoyed the women I dated? I’d dated women, loved one. I told him, because we’d been together a while and she and I still talked. Yes, I was bisexual, but when I committed, I was monogamous. I didn’t play around. I thought that’s where Chad and I were, in a committed relationship.
“What the hell kind of place did you bring me to?” Now, the demographics were becoming obvious. There were way more women than men. The men ranged in age greatly, while most of the women were under 40, and none that I could see were less than pretty. The VIP area had discreet black curtains that the waitresses ducked in and out of.
Chad seemed honestly confused. “Hon, I said it was a private club, one where you could do pretty much anything you wanted.” “Yeah, I figured you meant smoke, maybe get a gram of coke or something.”
“I thought you liked women?”
“What does that have to do with anything? I thought we were a couple.”
“I thought we were just having a good time.” He wasn’t confused anymore. His tone hardened quickly.
“Such a good time that you brought me to a swinger’s club? Jesus, Chad, if you wanted a little kink we could have gone to a strip club and gotten a lap dance. Not this. Where would you even think that I would be into something like this?” Mentally, I began to catalog our conversations, wondering if I had ogled too many girls, caused some terrible misunderstanding. I began to realize that we barely talked. We talked movies and TV, he talked about his work, I talked about my clients, we didn’t talk about us.
“Hey, so I was wrong. Sorry, seriously.” Chad’s voice had gone low again, and his hand was on the table, kind of patting my forearm. “Just think about it, OK? We’ll invite her over and see how it goes, OK?” “Yeah, invite her over,” I said as I picked up my clutch and walked out, calling a cab from my cell the moment the elevator hit the ground floor.