Crave(6)By: Sadie Black
“Is there something you needed?” Saunders squinted inquisitively at me.
“Oh, uh. Well yeah. I just, I wanted to say thank you.”
“You just did that.”
“I mean for everything. The work you and your guys are doing. Putting up with Sonia.”
“Oh yeah. Well, you know. It’s our job.”
“Right, well. Kaila was thinking, I mean we were thinking, that it would be fun to have a celebration of sorts. For everyone who helped make the restaurant a reality. You know? And, well, I wanted to invite you and your crew to join us on Friday night. Dinner and drinks are on the house.”
Saunders raised an eyebrow, as if he couldn’t believe that I would be offering free drinks.
“Yeah,” he said. “That sounds like fun. I’ll let the guys know.”
“Right. Good. I mean great. Well, I’ll just. Yeah. Be going.” I moved purposefully past him and out the door.
It was only after the door had closed behind me and I was faced with a chilled Boston night that I remembered I’d no intention of leaving. My purse was still stored behind the bar. I closed my eyes and exhaled a cloud of frustration into the frigid air, I knew I'd have to go back in there. I just hoped that Saunders would be gone by the time I snuck unceremoniously back inside.
Contractors don’t get invited to many dinner parties. At least not contractors like me. That was ok though because I remembered my training from when I was a boy. You don’t get to be the son of a prominent architect without putting on a few suits and attending a few functions. Some have said that I clean up nice. I wondered if Moneka would agree.
I revived an outfit that lived in its dry-cleaning bag three hundred and sixty four days out of the year, only to emerge for my Dad’s annual Christmas Party. That was the only time he allowed himself to smoodge. He always said it reminded him of the old days, when he had two-hour lunches to convince bigwig executives or trussed up politicians why he should design their new branch, or skyscraper, or public works project. Of course, that was all before mom died. Ever since then, he’d just been a retired architect, an independent contractor, and a holiday smoodge.
The suit was snappy. It was a double-breasted charcoal gray affair with a silver vest and tie. I put on a white collared shirt and polished black shoes. I knew already I’d be the best-dressed guy at the party. Hell, this suit was worth more than all of those light fixtures that Moneka had been going on about the other day. Maybe this would teach her to boss me around like I’m someone’s help.
However, when I showed up, I soon realized I was more than just the best dressed; I appeared to be the only dressed. I mean sure, other people were wearing clothes. It wasn’t that kind of dinner party. But there are jeans and t-shirts and then there’s Giorgio Armani. Even Moneka was wearing nothing more than a simple yellow spring dress with a blue cardigan and flats. Although she managed to make them look like a million bucks, it was clear they didn't cost anywhere near that. Self-consciousness washed over me as I immediately ducked into the bathroom to lose the vest and loosen my tie. When I returned, I tried to slip unnoticed into a seat between two of my crew members. Their low snickering told me that I was not successful.
Across from me, Kaila and Sonia were giving each other a look like they has just shared an inside joke. I wondered if I was paranoid for thinking that I was the punchline.
“Nice threads Romeo” Kaila winked, the heel of her hand supporting her chin in a flirtatious way.
Nope. Not paranoid.
“Yeah Cole. What’s with the getup? Headed to the opera later?” Sonia giggled.
“You’re both very funny.” I said. I then muttered something inaudible about laundry and exhaled gratefully at the site of Moneka trying to get everyone’s attention.
There was something different about her. I’d never noticed how petite she was before, how graceful. Her shoulders were slender when they weren’t squared in hatred toward me. Her face was glowing and her features soft when she wasn’t furrowing her brow at something I had just done. Everything about her seemed changed, the way she walked, the way she laughed, the tenor of her voice. It was as if Ms. Hyde had gone home for the night and here was Dr. Jekyll, ready to entertain us and serve us a meal.