“So what’s she like?” Drusilla asked Andrew, who had been arguing with Dennis about Liz meeting them at The Barn. They had arrived early, knowing she’d be by after aikido class.
Andrew and Dennis looked at each other, waiting to see who’d answer first.
“This is the chick you were going to go see yesterday, right?” Drusilla prompted, looking from one man to the other. Her big smiling eyes seemed to consume her face as she waited for the answer.
Andrew nodded. “She’s a good person. She’s strong and confident and…” he thought about it, looking over the dance floor. The club was almost empty, the music not at full volume so it was easy to talk. Peach and Dennis’ fiancee Tania were playing billiards. “She always wants to take care of everybody.”
“When she ought to be taking better care of herself, usually,” Dennis added.
“She’ll be fine,” Andrew said with a touch of exasperation.
“We’re in a bar. Does that seem like a good idea for her to meet us here?”
“I’m not going to let her drink. Are you?”
Dennis shook his head. “It just seems like a bad idea to me.”
“Why can’t she drink?” Drusilla asked. Andrew gave her a highly abbreviated version of Liz’ drinking issues, eliciting a nod. “I don’t know if it’s a good idea for her to go out to a bar, then. Keep an eye on her,” she said, giving Andrew a little sideways hug, her cheek pressing against his shoulder.
“She’ll be all right,” Andrew said again. “She’s been stressing about a lot of stuff, and it’ll do her good to dance a little.”
“After she’s been working all day, and then playing grab-my-wrist for an hour?”
Andrew grinned at the old joke. “Of course! She’s nothing but a big protein-burning machine, when she’s feeling herself.” He explained to Drusilla, “We used to call her ‘Lizbot,’ partly because it’s the first syllable of her last name, but mostly because there was some speculation that she might be an android.”
“Stamina for days,” Dennis added.
“That, and the wires coming out of her neck.” Drusilla looked startled. “Just kidding. Anyway, she’ll be happy as a pig in shit. A sober pig in shit, I promise. The Barn’s not as bad as Cellar Dweller.”
“She goes there too?”
“She used to. How long have you been going there? You might have seen her before, but she hasn’t been in two years. She had long green hair then, usually wore Arctic camo pants.”
Drusilla shrugged. “I probably didn’t see her then.”
“I wonder if she still has those pants,” Dennis said.
“Oh, here we go. He likes to dress women up in his head, like virtual dolls. I think he played with Barbies as a child.”
“Best way to hang out with the girls,” he shot back lazily. “I’m serious. Arctic camo, a black bra top, boots. Did she show you her tattoo? She got her whole back done.”
Tania chose that moment to appear at Dennis’ side. “Whose back?” she asked, slipping a possessive arm through his.
“And when did you see Liz’ back since she got home?” Tania teased. She wore a henna-colored wig that fell in an unnaturally straight line to her shoulders, framing a heart-shaped face. Her babydoll dress, a shade darker, revealed a slender figure, and she wore heavy New Rock boots.
“She showed me her ink. It was platonic.”
“Did she get it done in California?” Dennis nodded in reply, glancing to Andrew to continue.
“Anyway, she liked the dance floor there, at Cellar Dweller, but she also drank a hell of a lot there.”
“She’s never been here, has she?” Tania asked.
Andrew shook his head. “It was mostly a sports bar before she moved.”
“It still is,” Dennis said.
“It’s full of dorks,” Drusilla agreed. “Look at the guy over there. He looks like Columbo or something.” Andrew glanced as discreetly as he could, saw a short-ish guy in a battered trench coat. He didn’t generally go in for making fun of norms, but the guy did look like he’d be more in place in a porno shop. Trench Coat guy didn’t seem to be paying any attention to them, however, unlike the assortment of college jocks and barflies-in-training who were studiously avoiding them.
“Except that I know the DJ.” Andrew threw his hands up. “Hey, it’s what we’ve got now, right? I know I’m not going downtown any more.”
Drusilla looked up at him with a curious frown. “Why not?”
He pursed his lips with a noncommittal shake of his head.
“‘Cuz Liz can’t go there?”
“No, nothing to do with her,” he said quickly. “We had some trouble down there. I don’t feel like getting stabbed in the parking lot, right?” He looked at Dennis, and the two of them shared a moment of private emasculation.
“What happened?” Tania asked.
Dennis shrugged it off in his easy way. “It was about a month ago. Some guys thought we were insulting their women. We weren’t, but it could have been anyone. Punches were thrown, and the bouncers tossed everybody out and broke it up.”
“You got kicked out of Cellar Dweller?” Drusilla asked, her eyes wide.
Andrew nodded. “There were four of them, real romper-stomper types, and we were kind of worried about getting stomped to death in the parking lot. Doug made sure we all went our separate ways though. So they went back to their car, and drove around the block, and chucked a bottle at Dennis as they drove by. So I threw a brick through their back window.”
“Because you are the dumbest son of a bitch that ever existed,” Dennis added, although he was trying not to laugh. “He was holding the brick before they chucked the bottle.” Drusilla and Tania were rapt and horrified.
Peach joined them, holding his cue stick. He had his own, and brought it with if there was pool to be shot. “Is this the story about your daring escape from the Hamtramck punk gang again?” he asked.
“All should hear of my expertise in brick diplomacy,” Andrew said. “Anyway, I took out the back window, and they stopped and all got out of the car, the girls too.”
“What did you do?” Drusilla asked.
“Beat them all to within an inch of their lives, of course.”
“With our cocks,” Dennis added.
“And then we did their women, right there in the street,” Andrew said. Tania reached out and smacked his shoulder. “I’m kidding! We ran like hell.”
“If Andrew didn’t have that crazy redneck pickup truck of his, they’d have caught us.”
“Pure driving skill,” Andrew added.
“Three hundred something horsepower, more like.”
“That didn’t hurt. Anyway, we decided it was a good idea not to go back to Cellar Dweller for a while. Like, maybe, ever. I’m sure those guys will be looking for us.”
“Oh, do you think?” Tania snapped. “Men are idiots.”
“I’m not going to argue with you,” Peach said.