Charlie: “Where is he? Do you know?”
Delta: : “I don’t know. He said he had a meeting.”
Charlie: “Meeting. What a bunch of BS. We are at the only meeting he should be attending today. He’s off fucking around again, I guarantee it.”
Delta: “Probably. I heard him talking to someone on his cell phone this morning about getting together for drinks. Maybe that’s his supposed meeting.
Charlie: “What about dinner after the client meeting? Did he say if he was going to be joining us later?”
Delta: “He said he’d call. I can’t imagine he would ditch dinner later, though, not with ‘Lion’ attending. And, he was all over me yesterday about the guest list and final attendance count. I could tell he was up to something then.”
Charlie: “Alright. Let me know if he calls, please. We better get back into the meeting. They are probably done arguing about the paint colors.”
Charlie and Delta returned to the meeting. They hadn’t been missed. The clients were still arguing about the paint colors apparently. They both returned to their seats and silently continued to contemplate the situation. Delta couldn’t shake the persistent thoughts going through his head. How could the fearless leader play hooky for one of the biggest and most important client meetings of the year? How could he get away with it? How could he think he was fooling anyone? Why would he want to live his life this way? Before he could come up with any answers, however, he was called upon by the clients to make the presentations. Despite the importance of the meeting, he wasn’t nervous.
After the meeting concluded, Charlie and Delta instructed everyone to board the bus out in front of the hotel. Between clients and coworkers, the dinner party would number 30 people. And, they were on their way to one of the most expensive steak places in the city. As they were boarding, Charlie asked Delta if Bravo had called during the meeting.
Delta: “Nope. No word from him.”
Charlie: “Maybe he will meet us at the restaurant.”
Delta: “Ya, maybe he’s been there for the past two hours pre-selecting the wine list.”
Charlie and Delta took their seats amongst the clients and the bus departed. Delta had sent his two direct reports ahead in their own cars to make sure the restaurant was ready upon their arrival. ‘Texas’ was one direct report. ‘Kappa’ was the second. Texas was senior to Kappa by a few months, but they worked together as equals and friends. Texas was a newly-wed, married to a former college football player. She was strong-willed and very personable. She was tall. She had an accent. She’d seen a lot of adversity in her life despite her age, but always carried a happy and positive attitude. Kappa was the good looking single guy. He’d grown up in a wealthy Midwestern household, but never used that to his advantage. He too carried himself in a happy and positive manner. He’d been a welcome addition to the team. Both were model employees. Delta (and Charlie) expressed their confidence in and approval for the efforts of both on a nearly daily basis.
The bus arrived at the restaurant and the group entered the restaurant. Texas was waiting inside the door and immediately grabbed Delta. She pulled him aside and away from the clients. She had a grave look on her face.
Texas: “I need to tell you something right now.” She whispered.
Delta: “Alright. What’s up? Is everything ok? They have our reservation, right?”
Texas: “Yes. The restaurant is ready. It’s something else. He’s here. Bravo is here.”
Delta: “Ok. Well, at least that solves that mystery.”
Texas: “There’s more. He’s over there in the bar and I think he’s been there awhile.”
Delta: “Hang on a sec., Texas. I’ll tell Kappa to get the clients back to the room.”
Delta walked back to the group, who were still waiting just inside the door. As he did he looked out of the corner of his eye into the bar. He thought he caught a glimpse of Bravo near the back, but he wasn’t sure. He tapped Kappa on the shoulder.
Delta: “Kappa, would you please ask the hostess if our room is ready? If it is, please take the clients back there.”
Kappa: “Sure thing.” And, off he went.
After the clients and the coworkers (including Kappa and Charlie) had been safely escorted back to the private room, Delta walked back to where Texas was standing.
Delta: “Ok. What happened?”
Texas: “Kappa and I got here about ten minutes before you did. After talking with the restaurant hostesses to make sure all the arrangements were correct, we were standing outside the bar waiting for y’all to arrive. Bravo walked out of the bar here, on his way to the bathroom, and practically ran into us. Then he recognized us and tried to make a joke about it and pretended that he meant to drunkenly stagger into us. But, it’s obvious that he’s already had a few too many. I think he’s been here for at least an hour. And, he’s not alone. After he came back from the bathroom he asked Kappa and I to come into the bar to meet his guests. He introduced us to his three female friends, one of whom was that actress he insisted we hire for that deal earlier this year.” She rolled her eyes.
Delta: “Your kidding me. He’s here, he’s been drinking, and he has HER with him?”
Delta: “Alright, you go join the group in the room. I will go into the bar and ask him if he is going to join us. Unbelievable.” Delta was pissed.
Texas: “Alright. I will make sure the wait staff keeps two chairs free, just in case.”
Delta: “Great. Thanks.”
Delta collected his thoughts and tried to regain his composure. He knew it was not worth getting upset about, but hated the situation nonetheless. Who was the senior person in the group? Who was the more responsible employee? Was it the one that lied about his whereabouts and played hooky from important meetings? Delta entered the restaurant’s bar and saw Bravo near the back, talking animatedly to three women. After taking a couple of steps toward their location, Bravo recognized him and shouted for him to come over. Delta faked a smile and shook his hand.
Delta: “How are you, sir?”
Bravo: “Great. Great. Couldn’t be better, Delta. Step up to the table here. Pull up a chair. I want you to meet some friends of mine, Delta. This here is Darlene. You remember Darlene from that deal earlier this year, right? And, these are her friends, Mandy and Britney. Ladies, this is my bestest employee, Delta. Here, have a seat, Delta. What are you drinking?” Delta noticed that he slurred every word.
Delta: Hesitating. “Ah, nice to meet you, ladies. Well, sir, normally I would join you. And, I don’t want to appear rude, but we have the clients back in the wine room just getting settled. I really need to get back there.”
Bravo: “Right right. You are correct. We should get back there. Just let me finish my drink first. I was just telling the ladies about my love for 25 year old single malt scotch.”
Delta: “Sure. Not a problem. Take your time. Since we just arrived, I doubt they’ve even seen the wine list yet.”
Bravo: Chuckling. “Oh, yeah, the wine list. That’s going to hurt us, isn’t it? This large of a group, the bill is going to be huge. Better make sure Lion doesn’t choose the wine.”
Delta: “Yes. That’s a good point. I will try to keep him away from the wine list.”
Bravo: To the ladies. “Our main client, Lion, is a huge wine fan. He has quite the wine cellar in his house. I have seen it. It is impressive. He always orders Jordan or Caymus or Cakebread or Silver Oak whenever we have these dinners. And, then he makes sure everyone always has a full glass. He loves spending someone else’s money. The owner of this restaurant knows Lion personally, he orders so much wine. Of course I know the owner personally myself.”
Delta: “Ah, speaking of Lion, I think he just arrived. I believe that’s his car that just pulled up out front. I better go greet him and escort him back to the room.”
Bravo: “Yes. You tell him I’ll join him in a few moments. Make sure he knows I’m here. I will finish my drink and then go back to the wine room.”
Delta: “Sure thing. Consider it done. See you in a few minutes. Nice to meet you ladies.”
Delta walked to the door and greeted Lion. After exchanging a few pleasantries, Delta pointed Lion towards the wine room and indicated he should join the group. Delta then said he’d be along shortly himself, explaining he needed to use the restroom. Lion headed off toward the wine room. Delta hoped Charlie, Texas, and Kappa had kept the group entertained these past five minutes and that they’d already chosen the wine. Delta then thought to himself about how upset Charlie would be when he told him about what Bravo had been doing that afternoon and evening.
It was well known that high priced ladies of distinction worked the bars in all of the expensive restaurants in the city. Always dressed like they were on their way out to the clubs, these silicon enhanced women were easy to spot. They hung out in the places that the guys with big expense accounts traveling on business were sure to frequent. A married guy like Delta was not someone that ever caught their interest (not that he wanted that attention). Bravo, on the other hand, fit their profile exactly. And, apparently, he’d been enjoying that attention all evening.
The ladies that Bravo had been drinking with…
The ladies that Bravo had skipped the meeting for…
The ladies that Bravo was trying to impress with his knowledge of wine and scotch and who knew what else…
Those ladies were hookers.
Delta headed back to the wine room. Let the dinner begin…