Friday night saw groups of men and women arranged in their accustomed places in the Elysium Lounge trying to ease the strains of the week while nibbling on pretzels and nuts and imbibing something alcoholic. A figure with a dark mop of hair and a boyish face strode in as if he were one of the regulars. Most of the men stopped talking for a few moments to give their stern looks of disapproval while most of the women assumed a casual posture that invited approval by the stranger. Sam was tall and well proportioned in that classic slim hip and wide shoulder profile while exuding that youthful charm that covered his age well. The ease of his stride and the slight upturn of his nose gave notice of the confidence and ease he felt in any social situation. He was a man who knew his passions and his passions were luxury and women. His attire was fashionable bespoke without that air of proclamation, truly understated ease to match his aura. The men went back to their loud conversations edged with tension, a consequence of the arrival of Sam in their midst. The women were chattering in an idle manner as if waiting for the usual pick up line, sure that they were worthy of Sam’s attention.
Sam strode over to the bar and ordered a Manhattan and then began to survey the room, casually searching the occupants as if he were a vice squad cop. He singled out several women in one small group and then picked up his glass and headed unhurriedly towards them. As he approached, Delia lifted her head and sighed to the others. She waited until he stood behind her, then she spoke. “Hello stranger. I see your back in town. Are you here to stay or just passing through?” The words seem to sting Sam for a moment.
“Been such a mighty long time, baby.” Those words eased out of his mouth in a soothing manner, searching for a response. “Mind if I sit with you ladies?” Two of the women with Delia giggled an assent while Delia remained silent. But Delia had other ideas. “Mary, Flo, would you leave us for a while? I’ll see you later tonight before I leave.” The two women were reluctant but complied after offering their compliments.
“Yes, it’s been a mighty long time. Almost an eternity.” Delia stated in a seductive manner. “I’m so happy to see you again.” Her voice quivered with a sense of anticipation and a large dose of emotion. “You’ve been gone quite a while.”
Her emotions were asking Sam for an account of his absence, something that made him a bit uneasy. Sam was not one for accountability. “It was business, baby. You know how it is. Man’s got to make a living.” His answer was met by that snorting laugh that signals incredibility.
“Seems like a mighty long time to be taken care of business.” Her answer came as a sigh short of understanding. “I’ve never stopped loving you, you know that Sam?”
“Baby, how can you doubt me?” A standard reply issued by rote came from Sam. A moment of silence as though he needed to gather his thoughts together. “I’m back in town now. Even got my old apartment back. Got me some big plans, baby. Mighty big plans. Business bound to come on through now. Got me some backers and things are going to be alright.”
“Same old Sam. Not much has changed. So what’s the game this time?
“Baby! I’m telling the truth. Ain’t no game. Everything is respectable. This is the real deal. Nothing fake here, all on the up and up. Go ask Doc if you don’t believe me.” Sam was acting aggrieved, as if to even question his business was an insult to his manhood.
“I’m so happy to see you again, Sam. So very happy you’re back now. God, I must be crazy. I can’t believe I’m doing this again. I’m just so happy to see you again. I mean, after such a mighty long time, I’m so happy to see you again. You’re not going to toy with me again, are you? I don’t think I could stand it again.”
“It’s alright, baby. I’m back and I’m going to take care of you. Trust old Sam, he ain’t going to fail you.” Sam was at his unctuous most. His voice was soothing and relaxing.
“Welcome back, stranger. Seems like a mighty long time. I’m so glad your back. You know I love you so.”
Sam felt her melt at the touch of his hand. Yeah, it was a mighty long time.