The drinks had long since gone to David’s head, his body was light and floating. Conversation simmered over a back burner of desire. Led by Lise’s voice and the cool piano that sprinkled the room, his eyes were drawn to an immensity of darkness, flickering orbs in primary colors, blending into a sea of off-white. Mass humanity, the more cramped the more poetic, tangled patterns, writhing to be free, revealed in Christmas lights splendor.
His phone vibrated and whirred and would not stop––glancing at it, David registered that two hours had passed. With surprising abruptness his Eve-supplied slush fund had evaporated, he was on after burn.
Somewhere in the depths of incoherency David pulled it together, speaking with a clarity that contrasted with the slurred rhythms of a moment before, his fingers alternately pulsing and counting figure eights along a smooth, ice fringed lake. “I have to ask… that is… my friends at the office, the ones who recommended this place… Sato and Hata…. mentioned a woman who works at the club, a blonde…..”
A theatrical pout crossed Lise’s face as she sat up and brushed David’s hand far from intimate regions, crossing her legs. “And now you want to try your luck with––this other girl?” She pronounced luck with the same vindictive emphasis of fuck, and then her pout was replaced by a knowing smile, “It’s all right, you must have your fun…. I’m melting for you, goal achieved––and believe me, you got me halfway there––a far better performance than the Brazilian team at the World Cup.” She crossed her heart, clearly thinking of the impending Olympics. “Tell you what––let’s take a walk to the bar and see if she’s available. Shouldn’t be too difficult––we have two blondes to choose from tonight… actually, one, if you don’t count Poki-chan, who got her hair from a bottle and tits from a clinic down the street.”
“Ah Eve,” Lise said, settling again, a shadow crossing her face. “She’s not here, I think she’s a little under the weather?”
“Has anyone... been asking after her?” David asked, the drink doing its part in keeping his tone loose and casual.
“Customers, you mean? Yes, of course….she’s popular enough.” Lise uncrossed her legs and something entered her eyes. Catching herself, seeming to realize that David was intent on her words, “Actually, despite being her best friend, I just felt a twinge of.…” Smiling again, she took his hand and placed it in her lap, massaging it with a surprisingly firm touch. “Women can be like that, you know.” Cupping hand and whispering, more confidante than anything, “bitches.”
But it was not exactly jealousy that David sensed in her eyes––something in Lise’s attitude had changed. Probing a little further, “One of my colleagues––Ken––has a thing for her.”
Lise raised her eyebrows. “Ken? The name is familiar... I think Eve mentioned him once or twice, and that’s rare. You might be a little late if you are after that particular blonde goddess….” Catching herself again, “He has a thing for her, does he?” She was purring now. “Well, meu querido, they all do.”
A host of unanswered questions, a sea of missed opportunities––at least that was the way it seemed to David in retrospect. At the time, well––he had been very drunk and even in this state he sensed what lay beyond Lise’s preoccupied look…. she was puzzled at the combination of Eve’s uncharacteristic absence, non-reply to texts, and a customer evincing interest in her best friend. But alarm bells were not exactly ringing––that would not happen for a day or two. The police had not been around, the alarm had not been raised, he surmised––nothing had punctuated her existence at the club tonight related to her friend’s disappearance. This conditional “coast is clear” meant that Eve could put into play something he could only guess.