Brig reached the top of the hill, and the garish orange lights of the Hard Rock Cafe made it impossible to miss. A crowd of people stood outside the venue’s entryway as if waiting to get in. Brig weaved his way through the crowd and reached the restaurant hostess, a tall, blonde, blue-eyed American girl who stood looking down at a clipboard on a guitar-shaped table. Ooooh. A nine! Brig said to himself as he admired the beautiful young lady.
“Y’all are busy tonight!”
“It’s like this on Friday nights. How many in your party?” the hostess asked disinterestedly and without looking up from her clipboard.
“Just me…and you, if you’re free.”
“You’re welcome to sit at the bar. Otherwise, it’s going to be about an hour,” she said, looking up and scrutinized Brig from head to toe. With contempt, she added, “…or more.”
“Yeah. OK. I’ll save you a seat.”
He walked into the bar, his confidence slightly shaken by his interaction with the hostess, and scanned the room for a place to sit. It was crowded and all the seats were taken. There were ten tall bar tables scattered throughout the area and only a few chairs, occupied mostly by women. The bar tables were designed to encourage people to stand and drink, as opposed to sit and eat. A few regular dining tables outlined the room against the wall towards the back of the bar, but these were also fully occupied. Undeterred, Brig spotted a corner table that allowed him to watch people come and go, as well as protect his backpack.
He moseyed over to the table, currently occupied by a young Chinese couple that appeared to be finishing their meal. Brig situated himself intentionally and awkwardly close to their table. While his disheveled appearance may have worked against him with the hostess, it worked for him now as the young couple appeared nervous and uncomfortable. A few more bites of their meal, a few more sips of their wine, and soon the young man was raising his hand for the check.
Brig acted surprised, “Oh! Are you guys leaving?” The couple nodded that they were. “Brilliant!” Brig declared. “Would you mind if I put my bag down here?” Without waiting for their approval, Brig swung his bag from his shoulder and attempted to place it in the corner behind the young woman. He misjudged the distance between his pack and the woman’s head and cringed as he felt his pack rebound off the woman’s head.
“Oh god. I am so sorry.” He patted the top of her head as if he were petting a dog, but continued to put the bag down. He was determined to secure his spot. The woman pulled her head away from Brig and indicated that she was okay.
“Let’s get out of here,” said the man to his date in Cantonese, assuming Brig didn’t understand. They stood to leave without waiting for their bill.
“Sei gwailo,” (Die foreigner) the man muttered under his breath as he walked away. A common insult that Brig was very familiar with as Buddha had yelled it at him regularly back in their missionary days.
“O.K. Be safe! And again, I’m very sorry about almost knocking your head off.”
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