You may remember me telling you that I am participating in a short story challenge at 12shortstories.com. Well, here is the story I just submitted for August. It may or may not have been an actual event in my life. 😉
I made it a point to have lunch at The Drunken Bull that day after two of my coworkers told me eating there was worthwhile entertainment. I needed something to take my mind off doing way too much work for way too little money. I didn’t really want this job but I took it for two reasons: my husband’s old college roommate said I would love working there and my current job was taking its toll on my health. I walked over to The Drunken Bull around noon. It was only a few blocks from the congressional buildings and the crisp fall air did me a world of good.
The rectangular red brick building looked unassuming from the outside, like it housed offices or apartments rather than a restaurant. The entrance had an inconspicuous blue awning that jutted out over it. The lack of any wording on itgave hints of the infidelity that went on inside. Inside was a stark contrast to the exterior facade. This was the watering hole for congressmen and senators who wanted more than just the draft beers and food listed on the menu, if you catch my drift.
My khaki pants and woman’s polo shirt with the computer installation company logo emblazoned on the shoulder announced to everyone that I was not of the same ilk. The men in their suits and ties looked like desperate johns, and the women in their painted-on suits looked like expensive call girls. I grabbed an empty seat at the bar and was greeted immediately by the bartender with a menu and a glass of water. The chatter was thick and loud. The words “Lewinsky” and “cigar” and “impeachment” were on tap in every conversation. Yes, I worked as a computer installer during that scandal.
I never saw so many people in one place so concerned with who knew whom. But I guess it was par for the course, politics were all about connecting with the right people. Who were the right people? That depended on what your agenda was. I’m not sure what that girl’s was, but I’m almost certain penetration by cigar in the oval office wasn’t what she had in mind. Or maybe it was.
The scandal in the news and the reporters that crawled all over Capitol Hill like an army of ants, hadn’t put a damper on things at The Drunken Bull. This was “the club,” where our nation’s lawmakers made shady deals with rich constituents over burgers and beer and used their political prowess to get laid by women who weren’t their wives.
A tape recorder and no conscience would have made me a rich woman. My ears zeroed in on the guy next to me who called his wife and gave her some bullshit story about congress being in a special session so he wouldn’t be able to make it home this weekend. “No, no, you just stay there and have fun with the kids,” he told her. I choked on my soda. He hung up his cell phone and shot a look at me, displeased I had been privy to his plans for debauchery. I scoffed at his attempt to intimidate me and ate my fries.
This place was filled with young women, none of them more than 23 or 24 years old, who got hit on by unattractive old men whose only lure was their political prowess. They had access to places and these women wanted in. The hypocrisy of it was amusing: these men committed the same sin they were trying to impeach the sitting president for. I kept my gaze on the shelves of liquor behind the bartender to disguise my eavesdropping efforts. I picked up on another conversation, to my right this time. A congressman who convinced his new and gullible-sounding staffer to let him show her around DC to “give her the lay of the land.” She had no idea his words were a double entendre.
I heard politicians were the slimy sort and not trustworthy, but I just sat among scalawags that justified the sentiment. I shoved the last bite of my sandwich in my mouth and raised my finger to the bartender. “Check, please.” I wanted to take my exit before the slime in that place found me and tried to ooze its way over my body like that pinkish-red ickyness in the movie ‘The Blob.’
Then I heard it: “Well, haven’t seen you in here before, pretty lady.”