Excerpt from "The Lies Have It" .
Saturday, September 29, 7:00 pm
“See a penny, pick it up, all day long you’ll have good luck,” my friend Jessica said, as she leaned over to grab the shiny copper coin on the sidewalk. We were heading into The Stealth Lounge, the private party room on the second floor of The Pilot Tavern.
“See a penny, let it lie, then bad luck will pass you by,” I replied.
I’ve never let it cripple me, but I do happen to be a tad superstitious. Penny or not, I didn’t have a great feeling about the evening ahead of us.
Bound for Glory, a sado-masochist fetish club was booked into The Stealth Lounge tonight. The same group had rented the place two weekends ago, and poor Jessica had been the only bartender on duty that night. Dear friend that she is, Jessica had suggested that I pinch-hit at the bar with her this evening. I do have a real job as a private investigator, but all too frequently I find myself needing to supplement my income. Friends take pity on me, and occasionally offer me casual jobs that even welfare recipients would turn down, but I don’t have that much pride. Besides, The Pilot’s one of my favourite watering holes.
“Hand me the knife, will ya?” Jess asked as she dumped a bunch of citrus fruit on the bar.
She got busy slicing lemon and lime wedges while I stocked the beer fridge. We were in the midst of setting up the bar for the evening when Ian Dooley, the guy who spearheaded this dominance and submission social club, arrived.
“Hey, I’m Ian,” he said, leaning against the bar. His voice was a little on the high-pitched nasal side, and had more than a hint of a Maritime accent.
I expected some wimpy little milquetoast with a sign on his forehead saying “beat me.” Instead, when I looked up, I saw a hefty but solid guy in his late thirties. He was tall, easily six feet two inches. He was wearing a red plaid shirt and faded jeans, and had thick scruffy, dark hair and a firm jaw. He looked like Paul Bunyan’s long-lost cousin.
“Nice to meet you. I’m Sasha and this is Jessica.” I wanted to be polite, but I didn’t stick my hand out for him to shake. Something about a dude who hosts fetish parties gives me the heebie-jeebies.
“Ian and I met couple of weeks ago,” Jess said.
“Oh yeah,” I said.
“It should be a pretty good crowd tonight,” Ian said. “I’ve really been putting the word out. A lot more people were invited for tonight than last time.”
“I’m gonna start bringing stuff up, but can I leave this behind the bar for now?” He handed me his jean jacket and a Nike backpack. I tucked them onto the shelf where Jessica and I had stashed our purses.
“Could one of you unlock the back door for me?” Ian asked.
“I guess so. Jess, do you have the key?” I asked.
“Can you grab it?” she replied. “My hands are sticky. It’s under the drawer of the cash register.”
“Thanks,” Ian said. “It’s a lot easier to bring things up the back stairs. I can pull my truck right up to the back door.”
Ian headed out to collect the accoutrements for the S&M funfest. Jessica checked to make sure the cash register had enough change for the night, and I stocked up the straws and swizzle sticks.
Once we got everything set up behind the bar area, Jessica and I took a moment to freshen up.
“Do you think this colour is okay on me?” Jess puckered as she applied a shiny coat of Candy Apple lip gloss.
The bright red tone flattered her complexion and suited her chestnut hair, but I’m not one to toss off compliments freely.
“Yes my dear,” I mumbled through the bobby pins I was holding between my teeth. “All the bondage boys are going to be begging for you.” I was alliterating while trying to get my hair to co-operate, but gave up, and just stuck it into a random pile at the back of my head. My hair’s a lost cause these days. A good chunk of it was burned during a fire a few weeks ago, when I wrapped up one of my more unusual cases. The case had started with a missing hooker and had ended with me dousing out flames on my head. All in a day’s work. I had some hair extensions put in, but right now they seem like more bother than they’re worth.
By nine o’clock, The Stealth Lounge had been transformed into a spank-me paradise. The stocks were in place, a St. Andrew’s cross had been set up, and the lights were dimmed. An upside-down hangy thing that Jess had described to me after the previous event was set up. I looked it over, and could not figure out who was supposed to use it or how. Ian reclaimed his knapsack and went into the men’s room to change into his party clothes. He came back shirtless, wearing only a black leather “kilt” and black lace-up army boots. I couldn’t tell if he was wearing socks.
He passed his knapsack back to me, flexed his muscles and asked, “Whaddaya think?”
I checked him out from head to toe, and really didn’t have any opinion, except for flinching when I noticed his pierced nipples. Ouch.
“So, is it true that men don’t wear anything under their kilts?”
Shortly after nine o’clock, the first few partygoers began to straggle in.
“Coupla Stolies, neat,” commanded a man in a leather hood as he dropped a fifty dollar bill on the bar. He groped and grabbed at his partner while I poured their shots of vodka. The man looked like he wanted to devour the woman for breakfast, and she hung onto his arm like the ditz I’m sure she is. After the guy paid and scooped up all his change, I gave my hands a quick rinse. Everything about this evening felt grimy. It suddenly seemed like my uncareer had been downgraded from unconventional to uninspired. I reminded myself that I had options. I could go back to school and train as a nurse or something.
The next twosome to belly up to the bar were in character, and they dashed the career choice I’d just made. She was Florence Nightingale in a micro-mini and see-through blouse. A cute little nurse’s cap with a red cross on it was perched jauntily on her head. Her partner was dressed in green hospital pants and a white lab coat, and looked ready to give her a cervical exam.
The Missing Hooker case I had worked on this past summer had exposed me to the world of commercial sex. I had learned more than I wanted to know about what people do behind closed doors. However, my education in non-traditional sex is mostly anecdotal, and I’ve never actually seen anyone acting out their fantasies like I was seeing here tonight. In fact, in another former job of mine, I’d talked people through their wet ’n wild fantasies, but that had been on the telephone. I usually played solitaire or surfed the Internet while horndogs got their rocks off, but I digress. Tonight was a real eye-opener.
Ian greeted guests as they arrived, high-fiving some of the guys. He pointed out the coat rack to the left of the entrance where people could dump their jackets and bags, and then he steered people towards the bar to order themselves a glass of liquid courage. Yet another couple walked in, and they too were dressed to role-play. They were in leather from head to toe, though she had on considerably less of it than he did. The red-haired chick had a studded dog collar around her neck, and her partner had a leash attached to it. He didn’t pull the leash taut, but the message was clear.
They came straight to the bar and I asked them something along the lines of “what’s your poison” although I reworded it – some jackass in this crowd may have taken the cliché literally. Jess threw a smirk my way as she handed a Corona to a wrinkly old man wearing nothing but assless leather chaps and a pair of handcuffs dangling from his left wrist. I didn’t watch to see where he kept his wallet. The master and slave duo in front of me looked at the array of bottles behind the bar.
“Johnnie Black and Coke. On the rocks,” Master said. I was about to ask his pet what she’d like, when her master continued, “She’ll just have water.” I didn’t ask if I should pour it into a bowl or serve it in a glass. The girl never even made eye contact with me.
I have to admit, the people – at least those who were permitted to speak – were rather nice and generally polite. But with some customers it was hard to hear their orders – the music was blaring, and leather facemasks aren’t especially conducive to enunciation.
I flirted with a couple of the wussier-looking guys, correctly guessing they’d respond well to a stern dominatrix, a role I’d learned to vocalize all too well during a period of financial meltdown, when I’d briefly worked at an X-rated call centre. There’s something to be said for transferable skills. You’d think that someone with my rather sullied curriculum vitae would be blasé about bartending at a fetish party. I wasn’t necessarily offended by what was going on, but it was beyond my ken, although sort of interesting and rather surreal. Right now, I kind of wished I were a pothead. A joint might have helped make sense of this night. Alas, I’m not a toker.
I made the next customer beg me for his bottle of micro-brewed light beer.
“Are you sure you want it?” I purred as I uncapped a bottle of organic lager. “How badly do you want it?” I held the bottle just beyond his reach.
“Oh Mistress, you know I want it…bad…Please, please tell me you’re going to give it to me,” the guy replied.
A couple feet away, Ian, who’d been watching this whole transaction, gave me a thumb’s up.
Jess rolled her eyes at me, and poured a Scotch on the rocks for a woman wearing nothing but Saran Wrap.
“Careful not to spill any on your lovely outfit,” Jess deadpanned as she handed the Saran Siren her libation.