The Feast of Stephen Part 2
“Boys! You made it!”
Doris the thirty-something cougar of a Building Manager turned from the conversation she was having with the Mexican from the fifth floor. They both had small white with blue trimmed fabric “Atco” stickers affixed to their shirts that had their individual flat numbers written on them in black Jiffy Marker™. Doris immediately stepped over to Hunter and Bill as they stepped out of the elevator, and as quickly as she could in her three-inch heels, spirited them over to a table near the front entrance that was covered in similar nametag stickers.
“You’re looking good tonight boys,” she purred, putting down her glass of white wine and searching for their flat number, “Ah here they are.” She handed one to Hunter, who stuck his on upside down over his heart. Doris slowly peeled the backing from Bill’s tag and gently pressed it on to his shirt, gently massaging it to make sure it stuck.
“So how’s it hanging tonight boys?” She gave Bill a lascivious grin, still rubbing the tag onto his chest. Hunter felt a pang of jealousy at the attention Bill was getting, and was quite sure the sticker was fine, but apparently Doris believed otherwise.
“Like a brontosaurus! As always!” Bill said in answer to Doris’s somewhat personal, and perhaps inappropriate inquiry.
Hunter has other concerns, “Right then, bring on the free hootch!”
Bill nodded, gently removing Doris’s hand from his barrel chest.
She picked up her drink, “Right this way boys,” she said, leading them to another table covered with several big bottles of what a bartender might call “well spirits,” the cheapest brands of the cheapest booze in the biggest bottles money could buy, along with no-name soda in regular and diet varieties, topped off with a couple cartons of Egg Nog and a cooler full of cans of Molson Canadian. None of this mattered to Hunter or Bill however, as free booze, was after all free booze, and one never looked a gift-horse in the mouth. Doris excused herself as another group of party-goers appeared from out the main lift car. A singer Bill and Hunter didn’t recognize started belting out, “Run, Run Rudolph!” from a banged up old Sony stereo cassette blaster in the far corner of the lobby.
Hunter reached for a beer.
“I wouldn’t.” Bill said.
Hunter looked over at him, “Whadda you mean?”
“Beer before liquor, never sicker. Liquor before beer, free and clear, which is why I’m starting things off with a double dark and dirty. Should I prepare one for yourself as well?”
Hunter shrugged, “Sure, whatever. Hey is that Rachael over there?”
Rachael was standing stiffly in the corner near the corridor leading to the “Dirty Deli”
Bill glanced over his shoulder, his hands deftly mixing two drinks at once in white plastic party cups, “Yup, that’s her alright. I thought you told me she wasn’t coming?”
“She said she wasn’t, which is why-“
Bill finished his thought, “Which is why you invited that blonde girl you met at the Underground last month-“
“Yeah, the Witchy looking girl with the nose-ring and the long bouncy ringlets. Ami. We’ve been sorta seeing each other for a couple weeks now.”
Bill was finishing off the drinks with a slice of lime, “Yeah, Ami… the girl that looks like Kate.”
“What? No she doesn’t, not even a little!”
“Whatever you say, pal no one's ever accused you of not having a 'type.' Here” Bill handed Hunter his drink.
Hunter spied the lime wedge, “What’s with the fruit salad?”
“You don’t want to get scurvy do you?”
“I’m not a pirate!”
“But you might be someday.”
Hunter looked over at Rachael, who hadn’t seemed to have noticed him yet, “I better go talk to her.”
Bill nodded, “Ha! Ya think?”
Hunter took a deep drink from his cup and winced, Bill mixed him a strong drink here. He would have to pace himself. Or at the very least get some of the chips and sausage rolls he spotted on the other table into him, but first…
“Rachael! You’re here! I thought you couldn’t make it!”
She looked at Hunter with her icy-blue eyes, “Hello! Yeah no It turns out I could come, so here I am!” She tugged off her multi-coloured crochet toque and her silky, chestnut coloured hair flowed down to her shoulders, framing her face.
Hunter was stuck for a moment, locked in her gaze, “Well there’s a coat rack over here,” he pointed to portable chrome rack with a couple of jackets already hanging on wire hangers.
“Oh, no thanks, I’ll hold on to it.”
“Ah, well… lets get you a drink then.”
“Oh, yes lets. That sounds like fun!” She looped her arm around Hunter’s and they made a bee line for the drinks table. Half-way there, Hunter noticed that Bill seemed to have taken up residence behind the table, and was currently mixing drinks for a group of people standing before him.
Hunter pounded back the remainder of his drink, all thoughts of pacing himself vanished from his mind.
“Oh, Hunter sweetie, your tag seems to be on upside down!” Doris commented as they brushed past her.
Hunter looked down at the tag on his golf shirt, “Nope, I can read it just fine!”
“Who’s that?” Rachael wanted to know.
“Building manager. She lives down the hall from us.”
“Ah! So that’s the one that Bill likes to fuck! You told me about her!”
“Uh, yeah… maybe... I don’t know if he exactly likes to, he just sort of does… on occasion.”
“What can I get you,” Bill said, without looking up, “Oh it’s you Hunter! You can pour your own damn drinks! What can I pour you Rache?”
“Oh, I’ll have a gin and tonic please!”
Hunter poured himself another dark rum, this time sans lime, took a sip, then almost spat it out. Ami had just crossed his vision as she walked past the long, plate glass window at the front of the lobby!
“Oh shit! Uh, hey Rachael, I gotta show you something, uh… this way!”
Bill handed Rachael her drink just as Hunter spun her around and rushed her towards the corridor leading to the mailbox room and the Manager’s Office.
Rachael took a hurried sip of her g and t, “Oh! Where are we going?”
They rushed through the growing crowd of revellers, Hunter nearly spilling his drink twice, before ducking around the corner and into the mailbox room. The door was propped open with a rubber wedge that Hunter kicked loose, and out into the corridor.
“Oh! This is nice,” Rachael said, “In my building the mailboxes are all out in the open. This is cosy.”
“Sorry tootz, but I’ll be right back.”
Hunter shut the door and jammed the wedge back under the door, then walked quickly back to the lobby.
Ami was standing by the “bar” talking to Bill, who was serving drinks with speed and flair. Tom Cruise in Cocktail was a clumsy amateur with Parkinson’s next to Bill tonight. Ami was wearing a black corset under a black men’s sport jacket, a long tie-dyed skirt and a pair if short, 8 hole Doc Martens.
“Who was that girl with Hunter?”
“Who said what now?” Bill was pouring a couple of rye and gingers for the elderly gay couple from the 15th floor.
“That girl with Hunter! Who was she?”
Bill looked down at the short girl with the flowing ringlettes of golden hair as if seeing her for the first time, then thought up a lie, and he thought it up quick, “Oh hey Ami, that was, uh, Sally from the tenth floor…” his eyes rolled up to the left, “she was having trouble with her mail key, so Hunter was going to show her a little trick we use to help jimmy the mailbox open.”
“Okay, do you know if he’s going to be long, because-“
“Hey Ami-chan!” Hunter was suddenly standing right next to her.
“Oh, hey Hunter!”
Bill handed Ami a vodka and tonic with a twist of lemon, “I was just telling Ami about how you were helping Tenth Floor Sally with her mailbox.”
Hunter was silent for a second, “Oh, yeah those things are sticking all the time…”
Ami wasn’t interested, “Look, I just came by to tell you I can’t stay long, I’ve got a family thing to go to tonight, could we maybe talk upstairs?”
“Up in the flat you mean? Yeah sure, okay.” Hunter turned to Bill, “We’ll be right back.”
“Don’t rush on my account!”
* * *
Hunter and Ami were kissing and clawing at each other on the Giant Sofa. After a few minutes they came up for air. She tasted of honey and lemons, her hair smelled of strawberries.
Ami put her hands over Hunter’s and licked her lips, they tasted like rum and cheap cola, with just a hint of lime, “Hunter, I’ve been thinking and I would like us to be exclusive.”
Hunter was surprised, but not unhappy by this news, “Oh! Okay, that sounds good to me.”
She put a finger over his lips, then moved in close and whispered in his ear, “I’d also like for tonight to be the night for us to finally… you know.”
He did. And he wasn’t one that had to be told twice, He smiled, looked into her green eyes, and moved in for a kiss.
In the lobby, everyone who wanted a drink had one, Madonna was on the stereo squeaking away her rendition of “Santa Baby.” And Bill finally had time to grab another drink for himself. He pulled a can of Canadian from the cooler at his feet. He had no sooner opened it when Doris suddenly appeared beside him as if through some kind of dark magic.
Bill choked on his beer, nearly sending it cascading through his nostrils. “Oh, hey there darlin’ what can I do you for?”
“Oh Billy sweetie, could you give me a hand with something?” She was swishing around a half a glass of white wine that Bill knew for a fact was not her first, or her fifth.
“Sure, Ms Ehm, what do you need?” He took a proper swig of beer, and this time spilled nothing.
“You know you can call me Doris, and it’s easier if I show you, come with me to my office will you?” She took his hand and they walked across the stone tiled floor, past the small, sparsely decorated Christmas tree near the corridor, past the mailbox room and to the Manager’s Office.
Bill had no illusions about what was going to happen next, and normally he would have protested, at least a little, but he was still pissed at Sara for standing him up. It wasn’t even as if they were actually seeing each other, not would that ever be the case according to her. Bill just thought it would be fun for them to hang out, and the idea of free booze and snacks didn’t hurt either. Oh well, he thought, that ship has sailed…
Once they were inside, Doris shut the door and reached out, taking hold of Bill’s skinny black tie, “Come here you, I’d like to thank you personally for taking over the bartender duties tonight.” She reached down with her free hand and ran it over Bill’s fly to find he was already hard.
In the mailbox room, Rachael slipped out of her coat, and let it fall to the floor. Where the hell had Hunter gotten to?
Up in flat 1401, Ami and Hunter were laying in various state of undress, staring at each other from opposite ends of the chesterfield. Ami was smoking a More Menthol and blowing the smoke out the open patio door.
“I only dream in the wintertime…”
“Where’s that from?” Ami inquired, her already large green eyes wide with curiosity.
Hunter hadn’t even realized he said it out loud, “It’s from me. It’s from the book I’m trying to write.”
“What is it? A title?” She took another deep drag on her cigarette.
“Yeah, actually one of a few I’m kicking around right now.”
“What about the other ones?”
“ ‘I Sing the Equator’ and ‘No Ticket.’ “
Ami butted out her cigarette in the “Pied Pickle” ashtray on the floor beside the couch, “ ‘No Ticket’ for sure. It’s like that funny scene in The Last Crusade! So what is this book about?”
The door buzzer interrupted them.
“Should get that,” Hunter stood up, pulling his ripped, black jeans on, and walked to the intercom.
Ami was tucking her milky white breasts back into her corset, “It’s prolly my dad…”
Bill’s voice crackled over the tinny speaker, “It’s me! There’s a guy here who say’s he’s Ami’s dad?”
“We’ll be right down,” Hunter said.
* * *
Hunter watched from the glass vestibule as Ami got into her dad’s black Mercedes ML350. She gave him a quick smile and a wave and was off.
Bill met him with a beer. Hunter opened it and took a long draught. Someday, he thought, someone is going to make the holes on these cans bigger…
Bill was dishevelled, his long, dark hair pulled free of it’s ponytail, his shirt was un-tucked and the tie askew.
“Party’s startin’ to break up,” he looked up at Bill and did a double take, ”What happened to you?”
Hunter began to laugh.
Bill spoke, “That’s right, laugh it up fuzzball! I have a question for you though; where’s Rachael?”
Hunter blanched, “Oh for fuck sakes!”
Hunter kicked the rubber wedge from the door to the mailbox room and stepped inside, “Geeze Rachael, I’m so sorry I-“
“Oh! Hi! You’re back, lets get to it then.” She began unbuttoning her blouse.
“Ok…” Hunter was a little confused, but still of a reasonable enough state of mind to pull the door shut, and twist the lock to the closed position.
Rachael dropped her shiny, white bra to the floor, then unzipped her bright green denim pants.
As she stepped out of her pants, Hunter noticed she had come to the party commando. Well Hunter thought, I guess she means business. He un-tucked his golf shirt.
* * *
A warm, westerly wind was whipping around through the trenches of inner city buildings as Bill and Hunter sat out on the “Jimmy Hoffa” sofa on the concrete patio of flat 1401.
Hunter was a third of the way through the Cuban Montecristo #4 Tubo he had been saving in the freezer for the last three months. It burned fast and seemed a little dry to him, though he had no idea why. It would be years before he learned to properly care for, and keep cigars properly. He blew out a cloud of smoke as Bill to a swig of Drummond Dry.
Bill lit up another cigarette, and took a long drag, “So you know that stuff I said back in the spring about Rachael?”
Hunter was swallowing a mouthful of lager, “What? That she was a high functioning MRF? How could I forget!”
Bill was smiling a crooked smile, “Yeah, I was just pulling your dick.”
Hunter looked over at Bill, “What?”
Bill was shaking his head and almost laughing now, “I was just joshing you, she's actually not retarded. She’s just a little odd is all.”
This was actually a huge relief to Hunter, who had been secretly sleeping with her for the past couple of months, and was just too embarrassed to admit to it. He had long suspected that Bill might be lying to him about her, but had no proof until now.
Hunter shook his head, “You are such a fucking asshole.”
Bill took another drag, chuckled then said in his best impersonation of their friend Paco Villa-Lobos, “Yeah, well whadareyagonnado?”
Hunter rolled his eyes, “Yeah, thanks Paco.”
Bill took another swig of lager, finishing his tinnie, “Shit. Isn’t that just like a beer to run out of itself in the middle of being consumed.” He looked up at the sky, straining to see what might be beyond the light pollution, and past the cloud cover that enveloped the city at night. “How long do you think this’ll last?” He asked, almost to himself.
Hunter blew out another cloud of fine cigar smoke, “What, the Chinook winds? A couple more days I think the weatherman said.”
Bill shook his head, “No, not the westerly, I mean all of this,” He waved his hands in an all-encompassing gesture, “Lond Ho, us living here. I mean are we gonna still be sitting here in twenty years, smoking and drinking on the deck, fighting off pigeons…”
“Who knows man. I don’t know about you, but I love this place. I could live at Lond Ho forever.”
Bill looked down at the cigarette he was holding in his hand, “I don’t doubt that you could. Anyway, who the fuck cares!” He grabbed another tin of Drummond Dry from the small lunch cooler that sat on the sofa between them. “It’s the holidays! More than enough time to think about this shit in the New Year! Chin chin!”
They touched cans.
Hunter took a swig, “December 26th. The wheel of the season is turning. We’re now half-way out of the darkness…”
“If you say so,” Bill said, and lit up another smoke.