Wednesday, December 22, 2010

I do a double-take when I see Alise and Stoney - and someone else, someone I don't recognize - slip in the back door. They head to the other dark booth, the one opposite from mine on the other side of the room. Hmmm… maybe they don't want anyone to know they're here just yet? In that case, it might be nice if someone offered to get drinks for them.

I look around, but don't see anyone I'd trust with such a delicate mission, and Patti and Monty have their hands full.

Fuck. That leaves me.

Oh, well… what's the worst that could happen?

Heads snap up when I suddenly show up at their booth. Alise is looking good, considering. Stoney looks thunderous till he realizes who it is. The redhead just looks calm, maybe even a little amused.

"Hi, folks. My name's Jack and I'll be your server this evening. What can I get you?"

"Jack!" Stoney grins hugely. "You're a lifesaver, dude. Can you get some juice for Alise and a beer for me?"

"Irish whiskey on ice," the redhead says coolly. I raise an eyebrow at that, but nod.

"Chiot, I wanted a little wine," Alise begins, but Stoney cuts her off. "It's too soon, Chaton. Maybe in a week or so…"

"You're being overprotective, Stoney," the redhead says in a voice that sounds like Kathleen Turner doing Jessica Rabbit. "A little wine won't hurt her."

Stoney glowers for a bit, but relents. "You're the healer."

"A little white wine, Jack?" Alise smiles in a way I haven't seen in a while. "And thank you, mon ami."

"Don't thank me yet," I warn her. "You don't have your drinks yet."

I make my way back to the bar, place the order, pay for the order and ask to borrow a tray, and that's when the fun begins.

I did mention somewhere that I can't dance, right? Well, carrying a tray loaded with three drinks across a crowded room in semidarkness is remarkably like dancing, in all the worst ways. Patti not only makes it look easy, but manages to swivel her hips at the same time. Me? Who are you kidding? This is Jack Stone, the Amazing Buttered Hippopotamus. I keep my feet, but that's the best you can say. The tray goes this way, the tray goes that way, the bottles and glasses do the Charleston all the way back to the booth. Somehow I manage to get it there without serious incident and then, just as I lower the tray, Stoney's beer bottle does a swan dive.

The redhead catches it in midair without spilling a drop, a move that makes Stoney and Alise - and me - gawk, our jaws hanging open in shock.

"Thank you, Jack," she says in a voice as cool as ice cream. "What do we owe you?"

"Consider it on the house," I say numbly, "considering that it was very nearly all over you."

"You've got style, Jack," the redhead smiles. "Take some advice from Tom Jones - develop some grace to go with it."

And just then, the jukebox starts playing She's A Lady.

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