Mrs. Bailey sounded detached after the excitement. “Oh him. He stumbled out front and is getting sick on the lawn. I don’t think he even noticed when that one Shriner crashed through the window. Can you just imagine? Wait . . . The manager just saw him . . . He’s marching through where the window used to be . . . Now he’s out there yelling at the Shriner. I don’t think the Shriner is listening because he’s too busy vomiting. But I really have to go. I don’t want to miss Shame-O.”
Janie responded, “Okay . . . Yes, the phone numbers are right here on the fridge . . . Well at least it’s not a real gun . . . Enjoy yourselves. Bye.”
* * *
Mrs. Bailey gazed into the distance, smiled and shook her head as she hung up the phone. A quick survey of her surroundings elicited a sigh. She mumbled a brief prayer as she stepped over a passed-out Shriner while she walked toward the main room.
When she returned to the table she shared with her husband, he casually asked, “What was all that noise out front?”
She explained; he faked interest. “Boy, and to think you’d have missed those life-enriching shenanigans if we’d stayed at home where it’s comfortable and quiet.”
“Oh don’t be such a Danny Downer.” Mrs. Bailey often used this nickname for her husband. She surveyed the room and cheerfully commented, “My, isn’t this gay?”
Mr. Bailey sneered and replied, “I’ll say.”
They sat at one of twenty small round tables that rested on red pile carpeting in the dimly lit room. A teardrop-shaped red glass candle container gloved with white plastic netting housed a lit candle that glowed in the center of every white linen tablecloth. The tables outlined three sides of a black tiled dance floor. Plastic plants stood against gold-papered walls, and a black curtain shrouded the stage at the front of the room. A galaxy of variously sized silver cardboard stars glittered on the curtain with the promise of cosmopolitan entertainment. Married couples just like the Baileys sat at each table.
A middle-aged suicide-blond cocktail waitress wearing a leotard/tuxedo hybrid approached the Baileys. “Good evening and welcome to the Hickory Inn. May I get you something to drink?” Her smile revealed crooked yellow teeth.
Mr. Bailey opened his mouth but Mrs. Bailey interjected and ordered for both of them. “We’ll each have a glass of orange juice please.”
The waitress frowned. “Aww, are you two on the wagon?”
Before Mrs. Bailey could answer, Mr. Bailey updated his order. “Now that I think about it, put a couple of shots of bourbon in mine. And hold the OJ.”
The waitress smirked and purred, “Now you’re talking my language honey.” She sashayed to the next table before Mrs. Bailey could protest.
She squeezed her lips shut, curtly sighed and hissed, “The nerve of that—that hussy calling you ‘honey’! Can you just imagine? Of all the . . . I’ve a good mind to call the manager! And you promised me that you wouldn’t drink liquor tonight. God and I are very disappointed! James Bailey, are you even listening to me?”
Mr. Bailey didn’t respond to Mrs. Bailey’s question. He wore a silly grin and wallowed in a reverie where he committed unwholesome acts with the waitress.
She used a theatrical whisper to blurt her husband’s name loudly enough that the neighboring tables heard. “James Bailey!”
He started and replaced his silly grin with an exaggerated expression of concentration. “I’ll get to it this weekend Fran, I promise.”
She appeared to deflate. “Well my goodness, you didn’t hear a word I said, did you?”
He became a caricature of indignation, sat up straight and adjusted his tie. “I most certainly did!” As Mrs. Bailey rolled her eyes, the oblivious expression returned to his face. He looked from side to side and added, “Boy, I hope she brings that drink soon.”
As if the waitress sensed Mr. Bailey’s urge, she appeared. She placed a tall glass full of iced orange juice in front of Mrs. Bailey, and a squat glass that contained considerably more than two shots of bourbon in front of Mr. Bailey.
“Enjoy the drinks.” The waitress’s bosses had scripted the friendly directive. She leered and winked at Mr. Bailey, which wasn’t scripted, as she sauntered to a nearby table.
The waitress's overt flirting agitated Mrs. Bailey. Again she squeezed her lips shut and curtly sighed, glared as she asked her husband, “Did you see that?”
Mr. Bailey took a long swallow. “See what?”
Mrs. Bailey continued, “Well it was so obvious. Can you just imagine? That—God bless me—harlot winked at you!”
This piqued Mr. Bailey’s interest. “Really?” He beamed, sat up straight and adjusted his tie knot.
Mrs. Bailey started to speak but the dimming lights reminded her that she had come to the Hickory Inn to bond with her husband, not bicker with him. She quickly decided to put her scorn on hold and devote her attention to her marriage and a great entertainer.