I texted Rebecca back with a warm response. Not too much exuberance. Let her know I’ve been busy and that it was great to hear from her.
I had to be cautious. I’ve cut all of the crazy people that caused me pain out of my life.
Not that Rebecca had done that, but at this point I had to be careful.
I just have to be cautious now because I don’t want any drama in my life anymore. I only surround myself with good people.
“I know you’re busy, and I know I’ve been absent, but I would really like to catch up with you and see you even if it’s only for one drink.”
No matter what’s going on with Rebecca or any of the other women friends in my life, I can’t refuse if they reach out to me.
I’m overjoyed at my age that I get to spend time with these lovely ladies, and they trust and respect me enough to want to hang with me.
“Where shall we meet?”
A day passes.
“Ranstead Room, Thursday night after 8pm.”
“Perfect. I’ll see you then. Looking forward to catching up.”
I have to keep it light.
Quite frankly, I’m counting the days. We have history. Our previous dates. Unrequited love. Lust. I don’t know. I don’t know what this is, or what she wants. But somehow I’m driven to meet her. For god’s sake… this girl’s been gone for two years!
I’m a beauty addict and I can’t resist the draw of a lovely girl. I could be in the worst mood, and if a pretty girl comes in the salon and chats with me, it all falls away.
I understand the drop of dopamine, and live for it to extinguish my ever-present anxiety and depression. No one knows what it’s like except those that have it, but it’s a real thing. Some of us have risen above it without medicine, because there wasn’t any when we were growing up in the 60’s and 70’s.
I’m sitting in the Ranstead Room. It’s a back alley bar that’s sort of a speakeasy in the city. I know Rebecca knows about it, or I would have guided her properly, but she’ll be here soon.
I’m at a booth.
I have a very expensive, toxic cocktail before me. The room is always dark. Dark blues, and R&B fill the room. Tasteful paintings of nude women adorn the walls. The bar is illuminated by candles. The men’s room is adorned with a photo of a young, handsome Ron Jeremy. The music that plays is some sweet R&B from the 70’s. This place is Disney perfect for a cool retro speakeasy in 2020.
What am I doing here?
I just want to have a drink with my friend, I assure my lying self.
I miss Rebecca. I’ve been struggling with Cherie and her schedule. I’m not justifying, we’re fine, but it would be nice to meet with Rebecca for a minute and catch up.
What if she doesn’t show up?
I look down into my vermilion Manhattan and contemplate my life.
The brandied berry offers no quarter.
The air in the bar moves…
The door opens, and everything changes.
A young woman enters the bar. She’s 24. Her hair is brown and flows about her face like ribbons of dark chocolate. She’s wearing a one piece dark blue dress. It clings to her every curve. It ends at the beginning of her caramel thighs. She’s wearing heels that have ribbon straps that are tied around her ankles.
Her legs are spectacular.
She runs her fingers through her hair and throws it off to the side in a wave, as she strides toward me. Her skin is darker from the South American sun.
“Is this seat taken, sir?”
I’m losing my mind even after a potent cocktail at the sight of this exquisite beauty.
“Umm… It’s yours… Rebecca.”
Why does she always have this power over me?
Don’t question it, Be cool.
“Can I get a Cosmo?” she says as she eases into the booth like a cat. (Totally wrong drink to order in a place like this)
Rebecca looks so beautiful I want to bash by head on the table. But I must remain cool so I don’t lose my 50 years of experience.
God… She’s breathtaking.
She places her order and the drink arrives. “Did you bring me here to hide me, Chaz?”
I like that she called me Chaz.
“No. I just like this bar for its discretion.”
Rebecca takes my hands in hers. (dainty fingers tipped with manicured white polished nails)
“It’s good to see you again, Rebecca. You look amazing. It’s been so long. What’ve you been up to? I thought you were going away for three to six months, but you’ve been away for two years.”
“I know… I thought maybe you forgot about me.”
“Well, yea, I kinda did.”
“I’m kidding! Come on… what was it like? I’m just happy you’re okay and you’re sitting right here now.”
“You look good too. Maybe a little older…”
“Stop. I’ll pretend I didn’t hear that,”
“No… I’m sorry. I just meant you looked good. Distinguished.”
“Alright. Decent save. So… what was it like down there?”
“It was amazing working with all of those people in South America. An eye opening experience. I’m sorry I was out of touch, but once I got down there I sort of lost touch with everything but the work.”
“Really? It was that immersive?”
“Yea. Like nothing I’ve ever experienced.”
“Well, I’d love to hear all about it!”
“Can we wait to get to all of that until next time?”
“Umm.. yea. No problem.” (odd)
“To be honest, I’ve been a bit lost, Charles.”
I like that she’s using the real name, too.
“That’s okay, I’ve been there too.”
Rebecca squeezed my hands, “I’m tired of that.”
“Yea, I mean… me too.”
“I’m really happy to see you. You’ve always been amazing to me.”
“Rebecca, I’m just happy to see you.”
“Yea, but you’ve always been different to me. You’re not like anybody I know.”
“I get that a lot. Because I don’t want anything. I just like being alone.”
“Me too, but I’m happy you agreed to meet me tonight.”
She’s great. Went from hostess, to food runner to server at Bar Bom Bon and is killing it. Still vegan and in a relationship with Kyle for the past 5 years. So, solid kid.” (While describing her my signature move is to whip out my phone and show the person I’m talking to a recent photo of her.)
‘That’s great. I’m glad she’s doing well. Wow, she’s so beautiful.”
Everybody says that about my daughter. It’s like they’re amazed that came through me.
“It’s great to see you after all of this time, Rebecca. I honestly didn’t think I’d ever see you again.”
I don’t know. I just felt that we were in two different worlds, and you’d moved on like so many others. We’ve lost a lot of the old crew.”
“Oh, thanks a lot, so I’m like ‘so many others’...”
“No. I just thought that young people get busy and they move on to career, relationships and family.”
Rebecca took a long pull on her drink. “Not all of us, Chaz. What are you up to?”
“I’m doing everything I can to never go back to the rat race. I work at the salon and will be managing a restaurant in Rittenhouse next month, so I think I may finally be able to escape corporate America’s prison. I just like to work, And there’s a way to do it if you’re just willing to work hard. Most people are too lazy for that. I think I’ve finally found a happy balance to my life.”
“How’s your social life?”
“It’s good. Monday after work I went home and watched Netflix, Tuesday met with my friend and closed my favorite bar, Wednesday, had dinner with Church, and last night I took my employee out for gelato at one the best restaurants in the city. So, rockin’ while I keep all wheels on the ground. How’s your life been?”
Tune in tomorrow for the conclusion!
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