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Cocaine Calm

I don’t know how I forgot about this story; I honestly thought I’d posted it. I wrote this on October 22nd, 2012 during a creative writing class. I’d love to hear what you think about it.

 

Cocaine Calm

There was a smirk on the bastard’s face as he watched the woman across the table, reviewing what looked like some sort of contract, red pen in hand, occasionally ticking off an item here or making a note there. She wore glasses with a thick, black frame, tipped at the corners with diamonds and gold, though her eyes twinkled at least as brightly as the stones. Glasses tinked here and there in the background as other diners toasted their own affairs; golden-tinged silverware clinked rhythmically on plates of fine china, carving warm flesh into consumable portions while perfectly groomed violinists performed Holst’s “Mars” darkly in the background. Robbie Benz leaned close as he gracefully deposited a pair of wine glasses upon the table, neither the man nor the woman taking notice. With a perfectly rehearsed motion, he conveyed his serving tray to the nameless busboy assisting him, opened the bottle of champagne, and prepared to pour at the discretion of his guests.

 

                He poured the lady’s glass first, filling it just halfway; the man, his eyes narrowed, stopped him with a single finger laid across the top of his own glass, a silent swish of his head from left to right indicating disinterest. The busboy, overeager, piped up in a feigned snobby accent, smiling as he said, “But please sir, surely you wouldn’t make the lady drink alone, for if there’s one thing less satisfying than a glass half full, it’s a glass never filled at all.” Robbie Benz closed his eyes and breathed out; the man turned to the busboy and replied only, “Speak when spoken to, boy. Keep your place and maybe you’ll keep your job.”

                Robbie bowed and took a step back, then addressed the gentleman. “Please accept my apologies, sir; this eager young man is new, his first night here, in fact, and as yet lacks the rigor of our protocol. No offense was intended.” He turned then to the boy and said in a lowered voice, “Return to the kitchen, I’ll call for you when you’re wanted.” It was then that the lady looked up, tilted her glasses off her nose, and in a polite voice, said to the busboy, “Oh, do let it be poured, perhaps I’ll need both glasses.” The gentleman turned his mouth down and replied in a brusque voice,” “Like Hell.” The lady smiled faintly, then turned to the busboy. “But thank you, dear, for your kind concern.” She turned slightly to face the gentleman and added, “Perhaps if my husband had shared such a trait, we might not now be preparing for divorce.”

 

                The busboy smiled and seemed about to speak when Robbie held up his hand, said “Tut! Off with you now!” and waved him away. He bowed gracefully, turned on his heel and walked briskly toward the kitchen, serving tray held high. He turned, then, just before the kitchen, and darted into the little alcove where busboys prepared for to assist the wait staff. He stepped into the little alcove, not much larger than a restroom stall, and leaned against the wall. “Son of a bitch,” he breathed quietly, his heart still pounding.

 

                “What’s goin’ on, Stitch?” Another busboy, Paul, had stepped into the alcove, hand in his pocket, big grin on his face. The busboy shook his head before answering. “I just about ate shit out there, man! This rich asshole was being rude to his wife and I tried to say something—“. “You did what?” Paul hissed, stepping further into the alcove. “I told you, you don’t never talk to nobody in here!” The busboy’s eyes glassed a little, and he took a deep breath. “I know, I screwed up. I’m just so nervous!” Paul sighed, glanced over his shoulder at the dining room, and pulled his hand from his coat pocket, presenting a small white pouch.

 

                “Here, gimme that tray,” he said in a hurried voice, “you need this, it’ll calm you down.” He quickly poured a narrow line of white powder on tray, dipped a hand back into his pocket and produced a small, black straw, and offered it to the busboy, who smiled gratefully. “Oh, thank god, I needed this.” He leaned in, put the straw between his nose and the line of powder, and snorted the entirety of it in an instant.

 

                “What’s going on here?” Robbie Benz leaned in, startling the two busboys; Paul dropped the tray, which clattered with fortunate quiet to the carpet below. “Nothing, sir, I was just…collecting myself,” said the busboy. “Good, it’s about time. The gentleman at the table would like some butter; go and fetch it, just make sure you don’t say a word, do you understand me?” Robbie narrowed his eyes at the busboy, who stood almost paralyzed at the request before responding, “Yes, sir.” He picked up his serving tray, dipped into the kitchen and, thirty seconds later, emerged with a beautifully arranged flower of butter upon his tray. He grinned broadly, confidence renewed, heart calm, and turned toward the table. As screams echoed across the restaurant, the whole of his vision was filled with the image of the gentleman, a red pen jammed deep into his eye socket, blood gushing in dark rivulets down his face. The lady, her eyes still sparkling like the diamonds in her glasses, held her empty wine glass aloft and smiled at the busboy as she said joyfully, “Well, my boy, I hope you brought the champagne: it looks like I’ll be drinking his half after all.”