It was well after midnight when Simon arrived home from the new club in Jersey. Lydia was half-asleep when he entered their bedroom. Simon turned up the dimmer switch and kissed her on the forehead.
“I’ll be right out of the shower. I need to wash tonight off me, Babe,” he said.
“Something bad must’ve happened,” she thought. Simon rarely bathed at night. Lydia was the one who liked to rinse away all the stressful encounters of the day and the dark energy of the bars she performed in at night with hot water and lather. It was her cleansing ritual.
She turned on the TV and looked through the TiVo guide, settling on a show she’d recorded about indoor gardening. Simon was out of the shower before the first set of commercials played. He’d poured a couple of bourbons; he handed one to Lydia and crawled into bed with her. He reached for his wooden box and started digging around in it. He looked exasperated.
She knew Simon was having a difficult time with the new club. The brother and sister team that had previously owned it had put their music venue on the market but when Simon sat down to negotiate, Tony realized he wasn’t yet ready to completely retire. Instead, Tony convinced his sister to sell her shares to him and asked Simon to partner.
“’You’ll run the day to day ops, Si, I’ll be too busy playing golf’ that’s what he said would happen!” Simon said, impersonating Tony, as he rolled a joint. “I don’t want to deal with another winter here. My wife prefers Myrtle Beach anyways. Have ya been there? It’s suuuuuperb, I’ll tell ya. We have a house right there on the ocean. Tell ya what, you run the place, take a larger cut off the profits. I’ll check-in. I’m here if you need me. I can deal with the local merchants. I gotta lot of solid relationships that could come in handy for ya as they get to know the new kid in town. Ya won’t even have to shell out for the liquor license. Let’s do this!”
Simon exhaled, “What a liar, Lydia! He won’t just go the fuck away!” Simon said while lighting up and furiously inhaling.
After months of searching, Simon had reached his breaking point with searching for a venue. The fruitless quest for the perfect spot had him obsessed. Then he found Tony’s club, and it was perfect. Partnering with someone wasn’t what he’d originally wanted but being in business with Tony wasn’t a horrible option. The guy was extremely successful. He had a lot of connections. He didn’t know about comedy so he wouldn’t get in Simon’s way. He’d be in another state on a golf course. Simon agreed to the deal.
“He told me he was going to stay down in Myrtle Beach! But noooooo! He calls day and night. He’s shown up to every single staff meeting. He makes me fight for the changes I want that I know will make us more money, and he’s trying to take over everything I do! And that cunt, Esmerelda he had running the place. Oh my God, I could choke her! She won’t just do what I tell her. It’s like she cannot accept that I am her boss! I told her today for, I don’t know, the 37 millionth time to answer the phone exactly how I told her she should do it. She told me she’s been the manager for seven years and knows how to answer the phone. I could have punched her in the mouth.”
Simon was trying to make a lot of changes during the club’s reboot to a comedy venue. The staff, it seemed, did not take kindly to Simon’s instruction. They didn’t want to do what Simon Said.
“I told them tonight, at the meeting, that we need some immediate changes in operational protocol,” Simon said as he changed the TV channel to a cooking show hosted by a chef who liked to yell as much as he did. “I said we need to move the glass rack nearer to the bar, so the girls can reach it easier. We need to move last call up by 5 minutes so they will have more time to drop checks. We’ll probably sell more drinks doing that, too. And of course, just to be a battle-ax bitch, Esmerelda said it probably won’t work.”
Those changes sounded familiar to Lydia. She could have sworn Joannie and maybe another server at Simon’s old place came up with those ideas.
“I told him we also need to update the menu screens to include the drinks they sell the most on the first screen, it will save the servers time ordering,” he continued.
“Simon, didn’t Joannie ask you to do that?” she asked.
“No. I’m the one who thought of switching the menus around, Babe. It wasn’t worth paying the IT guy to come update anything, though. That club was so small, it was easy for the servers to enter what they needed, they didn’t have that many customers. They were just being lazy. But this club…there’s 323 seats. We need things to run at peak capacity, so I’m going to have the ones they order most on the first screen.”
“Oh,” Lydia said, not wanting an argument after one in the morning.
“The place is so big I think by the time they walk to the service bar their drinks should be waiting for them. That fucking holdover bartender, Cordelia, is way too slow. I’m going to fire her.”
“Simon, give her a chance. It’s a new menu and a new system.”
“I told Tony most of his staff probably wouldn’t want to stay. I think that’s why she’s making the drinks so slowly. She isn’t happy with working the service bar. But I am working the main bar, that’s not up for negotiation. I’ll fire her and get some college kid, they’re easier to train.”
He glanced over at Lydia and smiled at her. She looked like she was still in college herself. She still got carded when they went out sometimes. Many of his friends seemed surprised when they first met her. Some of them even asked if she is a student. When she told them she’d already graduated from university a few of Simon’s female friends seemed relieved. Some of them asked what college she’d attended. When she named the college for Simons’ college roommate and best friend, Stan, he laughed in her face, “Oh, a public university, huh? Your parents spared no expense on your education,” he said sneering at her in a manner she couldn’t decide if it were passive aggressive or aggressive aggressive.
“Yeah, that’s what I’ll do”, Simon continued as he smoked. “I’ll fire that old hag and get a college kid. Improve efficiency. Let the staff see I mean business: do your job right or you won’t have a job,” Simon Said. “I’m going to grab another bourbon, Babe. I’ll get you one, too. You have to hear what Esmerelda said about the new marquis. As if she knows shit about advertising or has any taste. ‘I’ll tell ya’” he said in Tony’s voice, “That bitch is something else. She’s another one I’m getting rid of as soon as fucking possible.”
And with that Simon was off to the kitchen to pour out a couple more drinks for his paramour and himself.