Monday, September 26, 2011

Chapter 88: Beau Is Not On A Date Like Teenagers

Thurs December 10, 2074, 7:12 pm: Kafe Lonicera-- Doubling, Pleasantview

Beau's romantic onslaught had been staged in phases. First were the phone calls, nightly, around 8:00 pm when Jack was not around to shout obscenities in background for Felicity to overhear. Then came Phase Two: the leaflet campaign-- dozens of handwritten notes wedged into her locker door, all signed "Captain Safety" (in fact, he was beginning to feel every bit like the psychopath that she accused him of being the first time they met). Then there were the emails that she dutifully responded to, always dancing around the subject of a potential date.

Two weeks passed and Beau was unsure about what he said or did but she approached him in the hall outside of his World History course and accepted his dinner invitation. It was a good thing too because his next maneuver would have involved chucking pebbles at her bedroom window, and he was not certain that he could vouch for his accuracy.

Beau was nervous when he tried to open the restaurant door and pulled the handle when he should have pushed. He was nervous when the warm air from inside washed over them both, luring them in with the scent of food. He was nervous when she linked her delicate arm with his and smiled.

"You're going to love this place," he said. A couple exiting the dining room brushed against his shoulder as they passed, forcing them closer together. "They have this duck in a red curry sauce that's so amazing. Or at least they used to. I haven't been here in a while."

"Duck?" Felicity wrinkled her nose.

"You don't like duck?" Beau stopped walking.

"I dunno. I never ate it before."

"Oh. Well, we could go someplace else if this isn't your thing." Felicity appeared to suppress a laugh and shook her head.

"No, this is nice, really." Beau relaxed his shoulders, previously unaware of how taut he had been holding them. Felicity was not uncomfortable here, with him. She had not accepted his invitation grudgingly. Beau saw now that any impression he needed to make was already made. For the life of him, he couldn't remember what he'd written in those locker notes, only that they had become increasingly desperate as the weeks went on. Felicity inclined her head toward the hostess.

"Should we go get seated?" Beau looked up at the tall, gaunt woman behind the podium. She was anxiously twirling a red pen on the open pages of the reservation log. Beau placed a hand on Felicity's waist and led her forward without a word.

"Good evening. Reservation for Broke party of two?" The hostess clapped her palm over the pen as if to crush a speeding insect. Beau's gaze lingered on the pen for an instant before returning to the hostess. Her behavior was puzzling and he told her so with a furrowed brow.

"I do apologize for the inconvenience but we do not serve Townsmen at this establishment." Her voice was cool and indifferent even as she pronounced what was probably the most dreadful sentence that Beau had ever heard from the mouth of a stranger. Why had the possibility of this never occurred to him? He swallowed against the rising knot in his throat.

"I can't say that I agree with your policy but seeing as how it doesn't apply to us--" The hostess shook her head at him. Her eyes landed on Felicity and widened, as though soaking her in.

"Nor do we serve first generation Residents," she said.

"Townie-borns, you mean." Beau's dread was giving way to fury. He was thinking not just about the circumstance at hand but every circumstance that arose for Felicity on a regular basis; every door closed to her, every sneer, every slander.

"Your words, sir." The hostess seemed dazed, apathetic even.

"Your sentiment," he spat. Felicity was tugging on his sleeve now. Her face was buried into his neck, as high as she could reach.

"It's alright. We can just go someplace else," she whispered. Beau did not take his eyes off of the hostess though his anger was changing its course. Felicity’s impulse to diffuse and avoid confrontation only irked Beau further. She expected to be humiliated. It was part of who she was and he hated that. Then there was the fact that she was so close to him that he could feel her breath on his skin. It was as good as a kiss and he couldn't even enjoy it. That place, that hostess, all of society had taken it away from him.

"No, Liss, it's the principle of the thing." Felicity gave him a penetrating look.

"Look, I appreciate what you're trying to do here but I really don't need you to be a hero." Beau gritted his teeth and flushed but he did not move. There was no force in the universe that could have pushed him away.

"Sir, you are making a scene in front of our guests." The hostess's fists were clamped at her sides. Beau thought she looked childish and silly.

"Good." Felicity's eyes were more urgent now. He could feel them boring holes into the fiber of his skull. Across the room, the diners were starting to take notice. The hostess shut her reservation book with the pen inside.

"I'm going to get the manager." Felicity closed her eyes in resignation. Beau reached into his pocket and handed her the keys to his car. For a time, she bounced them in her open palm as though testing them for weight.

"You know, a few minutes ago you were ready to give this place up because I never ate duck before."

"That was then, I guess." The restaurant quieted. Felicity must have known that they were being watched but she did not dare to turn around.

"Can we go? Please? I mean, what are we still doing here?"

"Making a point."

"But I don't want to make a point! I want to be out on a date like normal teenagers with normal lives. Can we do that?"

"No. Not anymore, we can't." Felicity's eyes glazed over with tears. He hated himself but his resolve was set, and she was still holding his keys. He told himself that she could leave if she wanted to. Felicity reached for his hand, as though she could read his mind, and returned the keys. Nothing more needed to be said.

The manager arrived with the hostess in tow. She was smiling in a wicked and self-satisfied way.

“Is there a problem here?” The manager was a man in his early thirties with a mechanical walk and an unfortunate grasp of what it meant to be in the hospitality business.

“We have a reservation and would like to be seated.” Beau’s tone surprised him. It was steady and measured in spite of his emotional state. Felicity took his wrist in an attempt to gently coax him backward. He responded by pulling her against his chest with both arms like a shield. The manager cleared his throat.

“If it is true that this young lady is a first generation Resident then I am afraid that restaurant policy stipulates—“

“This young lady is a customer who should be awarded the same rights and privileges—“

“Sir I am going to have to ask you to leave.”

“—as any other customer.”

“Sir, please leave before I telephone the police.” It was as though someone had thrown a switch. Felicity’s nostrils flared. She bared her teeth like an animal on the verge of an attack.

“Don’t you dare threaten my boyfriend, you limp-dick son of a bitch.” Beau’s jaw fell. Everything around them came to halt. He had no idea that Felicity even knew language like that.

“I’m calling the cops,” the hostess breathed. She cut through the crowd in the direction of where Beau imagined the kitchen was. The manager stood dumb-founded while Felicity glared at the diners.

“Why are you doing this? You know how things are.” The look in the manager’s eyes seemed to be appealing to Beau’s sense of self-preservation. Why are you causing unnecessary trouble for my business to your own personal detriment? That was what the manager really wanted to ask. Beau felt that his sympathy was misplaced.

“It’s a matter of principle,” Felicity said. “We have a reservation, and we can wait all night.”


  1. Have we seen that manager before? He looks familiar.

    I kind of want to bash his and the hostess's heads together. "Making a scene"... damn, with a policy like that, it's only a matter of time before someone "makes a scene". If Beau and Felicity do manage to get in, I hope they dine and dash.

  2. *twiddles thumbs* The manager is played by Oliver Hanby (Haven's step-father) whose character I expect will never appear in the story. Likewise, the hostess is play by Desdemona Livingston who is the eldest of the Burb children. Interestingly, when I first started writing the prologue, I assumed that Desdemona was going to be a main character. She got pushed out of the spotlight by Jorge and Laurie and Troy and Elise and Dina and all the rest.

    That was Beau's sentiment exactly but I neglected to throw it in here. :D Beau felt that it was about time someone did something. And it was infuriating to him that Felicity was so conditioned to just take it. This will continue into the next two chapters.

    Thanks, Van!