Chapter 2: Flynn’s Olde Boston Eating & Drinking Establishment
Part 4: Barber, Party of Six
YOU CAN READ
set for drinks here?” It’s the cocktail waitress again. She
wears a tight little satin skirt, and Matthew decides, after a quick review
of his mental notes, that she has the most beautifully shaped bottom he’s
seen in weeks.
Richard looks up at her face, but then he moves his eyes up and down her body without tilting his head. Matthew can see this, but Effie can see only the steady back of his head, angled upward. When Richard’s eyes reach the waitress’s again, he smiles at her with great warmth. “What’s the most popular drink here?” he asks.
“Probably a Paul Revere’s Ride.”
“Supposed to be based on something the original Colonists drank. Rum and applejack.” She reaches across Richard to pick up, from the center of the table, a card describing the drink. Matthew notices that, although her breasts do not brush Richard’s face, they come close enough so that, if he had chosen to, he could have stuck his tongue out and licked them. She hands the card to him, and he glances at it.
“What about those drinks with obscene names?” he asks.
“‘A Sloe and Comfortable Screw’?”
“Right. Or ‘Sit on My Face.’”
“Not in this bar,” she says, and she bursts out laughing. “We get a lot of families, you know. Tourists.”
Richard orders a round of drinks, and the waitress wiggles off. Richard and Matthew watch her bottom move, and Matthew’s embarrassed to find that it fetches the memory of an afternoon during college when he was delivering laundry to earn spending money. The boozy man who drove the laundry truck, watching a girl in a tight skirt cross the street, took a long drag on his cigarette and said, “Two piglets in a sack.” When Richard turns toward Matthew, there’s a look in his eyes that makes Matthew decide that all is not perfect with the Parkers. Perhaps Effie really is too much for Richard, and Richard has begun fooling around to shore up his ego. Immediately Matthew wonders how he would fare with Effie, not someday, but this evening, if Richard’s flirting with this waitress becomes intolerable and Effie turns to Matthew suddenly and asks him to take her home. Would he be up to her, tonight? If whatever might happen between them tonight were to turn into something more, if Matthew said all the right things in the cab, if Effie asked to stay at his place, then surely a congenial divorce could be arranged, very quickly, so that everyone could be happy as soon as possible. He wonders if it would be all right to call a separate cab for Belinda if Effie asks him to take her home.
The drinks arrive. Matthew notes that this is his third martini of the evening and resolves not to have another.
“So tell me what you’ve been up to, Effie,” he says.
“Oh, I’ve got myself set up with a nice little office at home, and I’ve been doing a lot of pro bono work, and I’ve done some ‘regular lawyer stuff,’ real estate mostly, enough to pay for my office equipment, and more than enough to convince me I don’t want to do any more of that than I have to. I leave that to Richard.”
Richard’s a successful lawyer with a respected old firm, not one of the largest, but one of the oldest. His income makes their easy life possible, Matthew knows, but he also knows that Effie pays her share, and he knows that her needs aren’t great. If she were living alone, she wouldn’t charter a boat in the Caribbean every winter, but since Richard wants to, she goes along, and happily. What Effie wants for herself, she earns and pays for, and often all she wants is time, time to do what she wants to do, good works. Sometimes Matthew can’t help thinking of her as saintly. He has begun to allow himself to say to himself, “I’m in love with her,” and it seems as if it may be true, but he isn’t sure. Perhaps he has always been in love with her. Perhaps not. Perhaps he just admires her.
I bet she’d be great in bed, though, and I bet we’d have a wonderful time in a cabin in Maine, snowbound.
THE CONVERSATION SPLITS, as conversations in foursomes often do, and
Matthew finds himself talking to Richard. He never has much to say
to Richard. He asks about the children, because he thinks people
who have children are flattered to be asked about them, since they’re investing
their hopes in their kids, but then the thought strikes him that perhaps
this isn’t really so. Maybe people with children are actually envious
of them, feel that their kids are getting a much better deal than they
got when they were young. In fact, Matthew decides, they’re
probably annoyed when they’re asked about their children. Now
he feels uncomfortable about having asked Richard about the children.
There is also the intriguing possibility that Richard might be haunted
by the suspicion that one of them is Matthew’s. Or both. The
boost Matthew gets from imagining that suspicion comes not only from the
pleasure it implies but from the implication that it’s possible.
He suspects that it isn’t, or at least that it’s unlikely. When Liz
didn’t become pregnant after three years of trying, her gynecologist suggested
Matthew have a sperm count done. Matthew made an appointment, but
as it approached he dreaded it more and more. He couldn’t stand the
idea of masturbating on demand, in a toilet with girlie magazines.
Then there was the possibility that he wouldn’t be able to. What
if he couldn’t get an erection under those circumstances? He’d have
to face nurses, wouldn’t he? He’d have to walk through a waiting
room full of other men, and he could imagine them snickering as he passed.
Matthew decided that he probably did have a low sperm count. It was
a good explanation; why not just accept it without verifying it?
He canceled the appointment but told Liz that he kept it. A couple
of days later he reported the results, which he fabricated from Taber’s
Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary and Our Bodies, Ourselves: a low
sperm count, low percentage of motility, high percentage of abnormalities.
Liz was understanding.
THE LOUNGE is getting more and more crowded. Matthew is amazed
at how dark it is here. Everything is dark—the wood, the upholstery,
the lighting. Most restaurants aren’t this dark anymore, he thinks.
it have something to do with historical authenticity?
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Copyright © 1990 by Eric Kraft
Reservations Recommended is a work of fiction. The characters, incidents, dialogues, settings, and businesses portrayed in it are products of the author’s imagination and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.
First published by Crown Publishers, Inc., 201 East 50th Street, New York, New York 10022. Member of the Crown Publishing Group.
Now available in paperback from Picador USA, a division of St. Martin’s Press.
For information about publication rights outside the U. S. A., audio rights, serial rights, screen rights, and so on, e-mail Alec “Nick” Rafter, the author’s earnest agent.
The illustration at the top of the page is an adaptation of an illustration by Stewart Rouse that first appeared on the cover of the August 1931 issue of Modern Mechanics and Inventions. The boy at the controls of the aerocycle doesn’t particularly resemble Peter Leroy—except, perhaps, for the smile.