PART 7: Servants
Chapter 44: Initial Public Offer
Being introverts, Kaitlyn and I were tired from all of this social activity, even to the point of declining her parents’ invite to dinner.
Instead, we made the fateful decision to take mi burro to a nearby bar & grill catering to college kids: good, cheap, and not overrun by tourists. My wife and I were still young enough to consider it a comfortable venue, and its anonymously busy atmosphere would let us be alone together in a crowd.
Don’t scoff, you extroverts: this is a perfectly sensible social calculus for us introverts.
Inside, we opted for one of those small high bar tables, one off to the side by a wall with only two tall chairs, so we could chat without needing to shout over the people buzz.
Kaitlyn was up at the bar ordering our dinners and drinks when a gorgeous young woman sat down at the table across from me without an invitation, planting her round butt on the chair seat and rotating into place, her thighs given hardly any freedom to move by her dress’ tight knee-length skirt, so that she was reduced to that sort of lower-legs-only walking style.
“Hi, I’m Chanel,” she said with a sexy purr, holding a dainty hand out at me, long nails lacquered red.
I figured her for nineteen or twenty, her tight red dress getting her into the bar where her driver’s license would not.
The dress showed off a perfect set of B-cups and a figure ticking off every human female ideal of the last twenty years. I tell you Kaitlyn is hot, but this woman was hawt.
“Mind if I sit with you here?” she asked post facto, already sitting with me here.
I thought I had her type pinned, but not being nearly as confident in such intuitions as my wife — an opinion borne out by truckloads of experience — I decided to go fishing. “Hello, Chanel,” I said, taking her delicate hand. “Were you maybe looking for some…company tonight?”
Rather than be offended by this, she leaned into it, as I’d expected. “My, you do move fast! How about we go somewhere quieter where we can talk, maybe make certain…negotiations?”
I was about to answer when my wife came up, placed one drink on the table in front of me, placed her freed hand on the back of the chair that Chanel had slithered into, and set her own drink beside mine, eyes hard on the interloper, trapped now between Kaitlyn and the nearby wall.
Chanel’s eyes went wide, and she attempted to swivel the chair to get out, but Kaitlyn held it fast. “I was just…!” she began, but faltered.
“…soliciting me for sex,” I supplied, quietly enough that only the two women heard me.
Kaitlyn’s cold eyes melted at that, one hand reaching out to cover Chanel’s. They stared intently into each others’ eyes for a time, but Kaitlyn won, Chanel’s dropping in chagrin, her knees coming together, arms pulling into her center, hands in her lap.
“You stay there,” my wife said, pointing at the young woman sternly, then turned back to the bar.
Chanel looked up at me as soon as Kaitlyn’s back was turned, but I just said, “Don’t,” my lowered brow and single slight wag of my head punctuating the warning. I wasn’t entirely certain what my wife was up to, but she’d told Chanel to stay put, so I meant to enforce her will until she told me different. Chanel’s eyes dropped again, defeated.
Kaitlyn returned with a clear fizzy drink, placed it in front of Chanel, then dragged a third chair over between us and sat broadly on it to discourage Chanel from running. My wife took a drink and motioned for Chanel to do the same.
“7-Up‽” she exclaimed incredulously.
“Are you going to try to get me to believe you’re over twenty?” my wife asked sharply.
Chanel’s eyes dropped once again, and she took another sip.
“So, is it true, what my husband here accused you of?”
“He’s your husband?”
“What’d you think he was?”
In a near whisper, Chanel said, “Cops.”
This answered both questions for my wife, who replied, “No, we’re not the cops… I didn’t get your name?”
I hadn’t told her, and things had moved fast.
“Chanel,” the young woman said, her eyes coming back up to glance briefly into my wife’s, then fell again.
Kaitlyn thought awhile, then asked, “You putting yourself through school? With your work, I mean?”
“Trying to,” Chanel sighed. “It’s dead on campus here in summer break, so I’ve got to get out here into the bar scene if I’m to hustle up enough to keep my dorm room, put ramen in the cabinet, and pay next semester’s tuition.” Her look of defiance stiffened as her self-justification built.
“USU?” my wife asked, referring to the local branch of Utah State University.
“I went there myself. Graduated about three years ago now. I put myself through school, too, though I must say, I didn’t resort to… Well, I just had a different sort of job, okay?”
Chanel looked my wife up and down, assessing, but she didn’t say anything.
“I won’t say I wasn’t tempted to try your path, from time to time. Honestly, I think I was scared off it more than actually unwilling. So many risks! Well, I guess I just decided there were better options.”
“Not for me.”
My wife looked at her critically, then asked, “How old are you exactly, Chanel?”
Chanel had implicitly admitted as much earlier, but a brief bubble of exultation rose through me to have my initial guess vindicated. Still, I kept my mouth shut. Kaitlyn was doing just fine, and I wasn’t going to trip her up on ground she was far better equipped to negotiate than me.
Our dinners arrived, and I motioned at the one I’d ordered, quietly telling the waitress, “Bring another one of these, please. Our bill.”
The waitress looked a bit contemptuously at our table guest. I took from this that the two young women knew each other, and that Chanel’s choice of occupation was known to the other. She said nothing more than, “Right away, sir,” and scooted off to amend our order.
I pushed my plate to Chanel and motioned the women to begin eating. I sipped my drink and attempted to achieve social invisibility, a skill I mastered years before the magical sort. They returned their attention to their food and each other quickly.
Success! Introversion for the win!
Several bites in, my wife asked, “I take it you aren’t carrying any loan debt?”
“Madness,” was Chanel’s simple judgement.
She didn’t need to explain in more detail, because my wife nodded in agreement. She’d gotten her BS without debt in part by going to the local branch college, and she recognized a similar motive in Chanel. It was still expensive, but it was doable in today’s overheated higher education market, barely. I felt lucky that I’d been able to get in on the tail end of India’s tech boom with a government-subsidised education. That was getting harder to acquire in India, too, as it followed the US’s path to privatization.
I was following my wife’s line of thinking: smart enough to make it through a couple of years of college without getting kicked out, smart enough to do it without going into debt, and apparently smart enough not to get caught, at least not so badly that it had interfered with her education.
Not yet, at least. That last was a ticking time bomb.
My wife confirmed that we were on the same train of thought, because she said, “You’ve got to get out. It won’t end well.”
“I’ve just got to do it for another few years, then I can get a real job with my degree.”
“I don’t think you have two more years. If an aspie like my husband here can spot you, why do you believe the authorities won’t?”
Chanel quirked her red lipsticked mouth up a bit and said, “Don’t flatter him. A good part of this job is in getting noticed. It pays really poorly otherwise.”
“How do you avoid getting caught, then?” my wife asked.
“It’s all in how you arrange the key transaction. It’s fine to be noticed before, fine to be noticed after, but you absolutely cannot get caught in that one step, or it’s all over.”
“And avoiding entrapment by the cops.”
“Yeah, that, too,” Chanel admitted, giving a small shiver, perhaps remembering the fear that had paralyzed her just minutes ago. Then before my wife could ask another question, Chanel looked at me and said, “Thank you,” waving her fork at her plate meaningfully, taking another bite.
I just nodded.
The two ate in silence for a while, interrupted by our waitress reappearing with a third plate and a utensil set, allowing me to join them.
My wife must have taken the quiet time to come to a decision, because she said, “I worked my way through college at the Bureau of Land Management. You know the place, off of Main, between 4th East and Kane Creek?” Chanel nodded, her mouth full, so my wife continued, “Well, it was a scut job, not the good one I hold now, but it got me through. As it happens, there’s another such opening right now. I can put in a good word for you if you want, but only if you promise to get out of this current life,” she said, waving her fork up and down Chanel’s red evening dress meaningfully.
“You’d do that?”
“For the right payoff, yes. I’ve given you my terms. How about it?”
They negotiated for a few minutes, long enough for our check to come.
When I just sent the waitress off with my credit card without looking at the receipt, Chanel turned to me and asked, “This meal…was it part of this…transaction?”
“Just payment for your time, Chanel. I wanted to keep you here talking, not going off looking for better, ah, opportunities.”
She gave me a small smile then returned to discussing details of the job and what my wife expected of her to get it, then finally said, “All right, deal,” holding out a hand to her.
My wife took it, then hugged her in that triangular sort of way women do, still sitting in their high bar chairs.
For a wonder, both sets of eyes were shiny when they broke their hug.