Love of My Life

an excerpt

I ducked into the men's room off the lobby to take a piss. I was supposed to use the employee can, but it was at the other end of the building, and I was too busy to make the pilgrimage. I walked over to the bank of urinals, hauled out my cock, and let fly. As I flushed and started tucking it back in my pants, I heard a groan, then the distinctive sound of someone heaving. I looked around just as a stall door burst open and some poor bastard who'd spent way too much time at the bar toppled over like a felled tree.

"This is just what I need," I muttered to myself as I stepped over to see what I could do to help. I had food coming up in the kitchen and drinks waiting at the bar, but I couldn't just ignore the man. I gripped his shoulder and rolled him over onto his back. It was Wade Talbot, former high school jock and stud about town, now playing the multiple roles of town drunk, henpecked husband to his socialite wife, and lackey to his rich and powerful father-in-law, Randolph Madden.

Wade opened his eyes. They were bloodshot and glassy. "Hey, Billy. I don't feel too good." He started gagging again. I grabbed him under the arms and hauled him back into the stall. I got him positioned over the bowl just in the nick of time and held his head as he puked his guts out. When he was done he went limp in my arms, totally out of it. I half carried, half dragged him over to the row of sinks opposite the urinals. Getting him upright was like trying to stand cooked spaghetti on end. I had my left arm around his chest, pulling him back against my body while I pressed my hips against his ass, doing my best to pin him in place at the sink. I filled the basin with cold water and grabbed a wad of paper towels. I wiped the puke drool off his chin and held the towels against his forehead, hoping to revive him, all to no avail. His head lolled against my shoulder, and his lips brushed my neck. His warm breath reeked of alcohol and other less pleasant things. I turned my face away and caught a glimpse of the two of us in the mirror. Damned if we didn't make a handsome couple! I wiped the rim of the sink and tossed the paper towels in the general direction of the waste basket. Wade started tipping to one side, so I picked him up, threw him over my shoulder, and carried him out of the bathroom.

I walked across the deserted lobby and opened the door of the dining room manager's office. I knew Craig was in the middle of the dinner rush and wouldn't be likely to return any time soon. I laid Wade down gently on the old leather couch under the bank of windows that overlooked the club's main drive, loosened his tie, took off his shoes, and put a waste basket beside him, just in case.

When I entered the kitchen, Chef Wilson looked up. He wasn't smiling. "Do I cook this food so I can stand here and watch it die a slow and painful death in the window? Do I have nothing better to do than watch the sauce separate, the potatoes glaze over, the vegetables wilt?"

I knew from experience that these were not questions that required an answer, so I remained silent.

"If you can take a few moments out from your obviously busy schedule to deliver this to table nineteen, I would be forever grateful." When I reached for one of the plates, Chef's spatula smacked the pass-through shelf so hard the dishes bounced. "Not yet!"

"Sorry, Chef." I stood there, looking suitably contrite as he fussed with garnishes and ladled more sauce across the fish on the plate.

"Now hear this, Mr. Horton." Chef's voice wafted after me as I turned to go out to the dining room. "You'd better hope to God those entrees aren't rejected. If they are, I'll personally cut off your…" The details of exactly what he would cut off were lost as I stepped out into the animated buzz of conversation in the dining room. I served table nineteen—Earl Jackson and his wife Celia were both about two cocktails past noticing what they were eating, so I wasn't too worried that they'd complain about the food—and rushed to the bar where my drink order was waiting for me.

When I finally had a moment to spare, I scanned the room. I spotted Wade's wife and father-in-law, grabbed a water pitcher from a passing busboy, and made my way over to where they sat. "Excuse me, Mr. Madden." Wade's father-in-law looked up at me and smiled vaguely as I went through the motions of filling his water glass. "It's Wade, sir. He isn't feeling very well."

"What's the matter with him?" Madden was clearly annoyed.

"I'm not sure, sir," I lied.

"Excuse me?" Wade's blond wife Gloria favored me with a basilisk stare, obviously not pleased to find herself involved in a conversation with a lowly waiter.

"Your husband isn't feeling well, Mrs. Talbot." Gloria had made it crystal clear a number of years ago that she had no interest in being on a first name basis with the help. The fact that we had known each other since childhood did nothing to soften her stand on the matter. I needed my job, so I went along with her demand. I figured what I called her when I was out of earshot was really none of her business.

"I'm sure he's not. He's dead drunk again, isn't he? Found him with his head in the toilet, did you?" I flinched at her vitriolic tone. "Pardon me if I'm not too concerned." She waved her hand dismissively and turned to look out across the dining room.

"Sir?" I turned back to Mr. Madden, waiting for his instructions.

"For all I care, Wade can spend the night wallowing in his own vomit." Mr. Madden rose from the table. "Please inform our waiter that we won't be having dessert." He draped a filmy silk shawl across his daughter's shoulders, and the two of them stalked out of the dining room.

"What the hell was that all about?" Chad arrived at the table carrying a silver tray with a bowl of strawberries and a crème caramel.

"They won't be having dessert." I shrugged.

"Well, they may not be having it, but they'll be paying for it."

"I'd be careful if I were you. I've got the feeling old Madden goes over his house account with a magnifying glass."

"Good point. Want a strawberry?" He held the bowl out to me. I looked around, saw no one was looking, and popped one into my mouth.

"Gotta go." I turned and started back to the kitchen.

"I heard Chef Wilson call your name when I left the pastry table." I switched from stroll mode to double time. I wasn't dumb enough to cross Chef Wilson twice in one evening.