Chapter I - Hanging at Brandy's

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A longhair blond guy came in. He stopped and stood just aside the doorway. Two girls came in after, talking loudly. They were also longhairs. The guy stared at them in passing. They played at a chatty conversation, not paying attention to him, but the nearer watched in peripheral, communicating the obvious. She turned back and blew him a kiss before merging into the crowd of movement in the direction of the dance floor. The guy didn't respond. He remained there, out of sorts. The dejection he brought out tonight stood beside him.

I waved to catch his attention, "Hi Mark!" He nodded and went to the bar.

Before the words traveled across the floor, I regretted this meet. The look on his face foretold of the hours ahead, a buddy needed to unload through the Saturday night. Well that's fine, I thought behind my smiling greeting. He is a friend. We're up for it. And the last time, we were up for it then too. And the time before that as well.

"Hi Mike," he said, climbing aboard a stool.

The little table gained a second bottle. The waitress was immediately there. Giving the table a quick wipe, the bottle was replaced on a mat proper and her smile was shined across us.

"You boys good for now?"

"Sure, Linda. Laters?" I asked.

"In your dreams, lover."

"And such nice dreams, my dear."

"Do I even want to know?" She winked at Mark and was off before I got the next volley out.

"So sweet. Hey, Mark, what's up with you tonight. Some kind of funk mood?"

He remained distracted by the waitress's extra wiggle she performed departing from us. He had yet to return to Earth.

Trying again,"Hello?" I bounced the bottom of my bottle off the top of his. Foam rushed out, down the bottle and onto the table.

"Hey!" he said swiping the bottle off the table and dripping onto his pants.

"Dude. Ground Control to Major Mark."

He leaned forward, "She wants you, man. How come you never went for that?"

"Linda? She's a bud, man."

"Yeah, but she's so fine. I would do her for sure."

"I bet you would. And maybe she'd be into it too, 'specially if you offered Michelle along."

I had his full attention now.

"What do you mean?"

"That fine wife of yours. Excellent hard body. Wonderful curves. Linda would be into her in an instant."

"Ah..." Mark drawled. "She's—"

"Nah. Plays for both teams."

We both turned at that moment, catching Linda discretely watching us. I was grinning ear to ear. She smiled and shook her head and began to move towards us. But before she could get a couple of steps in, a Suit caught at her arm. He made some involved request of her. Turning, she rolled her eyes and gave us a kissy face before disappearing into the back.

"She's so out of your league," he said, pushing the spilled beer to the other side of the table with the mat.

"I told you, she's a bud. Bud with benefits."

"Man..." he drew out.

"So, tell me what's up with you. Why the living vicariously through me when wifey is such the stone cold fox?"

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