“Frightening,” says Don as I walk back around the side of the bar. “You don’t know the half of it,” I say, lifting up the side entrance. “Trust me, I do,” responds Don, handing me a shot. “I’ve had to go up there myself on occasion.”
I don’t even ask what I am about to drink, I just throw it back. The dancer is now sitting down on the bar completely naked and smoking a cigarette. “I’m on break,” he says to me with a wink. There is a really old man leaning on his leg and looking into his eyes. “Isn’t a naked dancer illegal?” I whisper to Don. “Lots of stuff here is illegal,” Don whispers back.
“Okay, so what’s in the wooden boxes I serve with the boilermakers and who’s the old man upstairs?” I ask, looking at Don. Don puts one finger up to his lips. The phone rings and Don grabs it. He looks at me and points to the basement door. “Tree wants you downstairs.”
I walk out from behind the bar. “Be careful,” Don says with a laugh, “there are more monsters in the basement than there are upstairs.” I flash him a “you’re real funny” smirk and cautiously approach the basement door. It can’t get any worse, I think, can it? I grab the handle and yank it open.
The noise level is louder in the basement and the lights are much brighter than in the upstairs bar. The staircase is actually pounding and vibrating in time to the music. I slowly walk down the stairs, waiting to see what this next adventure will bring. The place is jumping. It is fully packed with lots of old men and very young guys. I see that Scott and Dennis have cozied up to an old man at the bar. Scott, ever on the prowl, sees me and raises his drink in my direction.
Tree is behind the bar holding court; he waves me over. “Geoff,’ I want you to meet some friends,” he says, a big smile crossing his face. “Geoff, this Carl,”Tree says, putting his hands on the shoulders of one of his bar patrons. I put out my hand to Carl and he shakes it. Tree moves further down the bar to the next patron. “Geoff, meet Neil.” “Nice to meet you, Neil,” I say, extending my hand.
“And Geoff, this is Bob,” Tree says with a smile. I turn and find myself eye to eye with a blond tussled muscular surfer with killer blue eyes. Words fail me. “Hi, I…, I…,” I mumble. “I am Geoff,” Bob says, finishing my sentence and grabbing my hand in his. I can’t look away from his eyes, and then a perfect smile appears on his face. His teeth are straight, white, and he has a twinkle in his eye.
I stand there not moving for a good three minutes. “Let go of his hand,” says Tree out of the side of his mouth, causing Bob to laugh. You know that part in the movie when the wave crashes on the beach and the music begins to swell? Well, this was that moment for me.
“I hear this is your first night. Are you having a good time?” Bob asks. “Uh huh,” I respond. In my mind we are slow dancing. Everyone around Bob begins to laugh. “Wow, you cast quite a spell,” says Tree to Bob. Bob doesn’t move, he just stares deep into my eyes and keeps the smile on his face. “I…, I…, I am very pleased to meet you,” I say, still looking into his eyes. Bob keeps holding my hand and I feel the warmth of his hand in mine.
Slowly, I pull my hand out of Bob’s, realizing that I am making a fool of myself. “What…, what…, what do you do for a living?” I stammer, still looking at Bob. “Bob’s a lawyer,” Tree says quickly, “corporate law,” adding a wink at Bob. The wink escapes me as I continue to stare at Bob.
“Oh Geoff, wait. Robin!” Tree yells, waving across the bar. “Robin, Robin!” he yells louder and waves his arms like he’s landing a plane. I really don’t need to meet anyone else. But Robin Byrd looks over at Tree, acknowledges him, and begins to walk in our direction. She is wearing her trademark look, a string bikini and cowboy hat. I notice that the bikini is not really holding that much in. She saunters up to the bar and flashes a smile.
“Robin, I want you to meet Geoff, he’s new here,” Tree says, reaching across the bar and pushing me forward. Robin looks at me and I notice she has an eye that sort of just wanders off. She puts her hand and out and says, “Nice to meet you.” “Nice to meet you,” I quickly say. “If you need anything Robin, just ask Geoff,” Tree adds. Then he quickly blurts out, “He’s not from New York City.” Robin smiles and I take a step back. It’s then that I realize I am pushed up against Bob, I can feel him behind me. “Nice,” whispers Bob and puts a hand on my hip. I almost faint.
“Hey, new kid,” someone screams across the room, breaking my moment. I realize its Scott. He motions me over with his ever-present riding crop. “Excuse me,” I say to Robin and Bob. Bob flashes another smile at me and I take a few steps backwards. Quickly I turn and walk right into one of the patrons. “Hello cutie,” the patron slurs. I can smell the booze emanating from him as he is teetering and trying to put his arms around me. I suddenly hear the crack of the riding crop as Scott brings it across the old man’s head. “Move along grossy-grosserson,” says Scott, hitting him with the riding crop again and again. The old man lunges and staggers away from us. Scott grabs my arm, pulling me to the side of the bar, and yanks out a stool. “Have a seat,” Scott says, dusting it off with his riding crop.
I steal a look back in the direction of Bob. He is staring at me with a big smile on his face. “Oh, you like ‘em big and cute?” says Scott, placing the riding crop under my chin.