A week after his telephone conversation with Buddha, Brig had called Happy Ho and arranged to meet her for dinner at the Porcupine Pub, a popular restaurant at the bottom of the Big Cottonwood Canyon. He and a few trusted cronies had been regulars at the Porcupine for years. Brig was friendly with the restaurant’s owner, whom he had met at a Porcupine Pub sponsored climbing event, and who understood Brig’s need to keep his un-Latter Day Saintly behavior in the closet.
It was a Friday night, and he had made a reservation for 6 p.m. Brig figured if she was ugly and the date went poorly, he could get rid of her before eight and still have plenty of time to meet up with friends.
Brig walked into the pub just before six. A short, round girl with multiple facial piercings, greeted him, “Good evening, Mr. Young. Byron told me to expect you.”
“Wonderful! A good man that Byron.”
“One of the best!” she responded enthusiastically as she led him up the stairs to a table in the restaurant’s loft. She was wearing khaki shorts and hiking boots, what the locals called “waffle stompers” after the waffle-like pattern of the boot’s tread. Her steps were heavy and echoed loudly as they climbed the staircase. The loft had six booths and five standalone tables that surrounded a regulation-size pool table. The main area of the restaurant was busy and close to full capacity, but the loft was still quiet.
The hostess sat him in his preferred spot. A corner booth with a strategic view of the stairs and the restaurant below, allowing Brig to see without being seen. If he moved to his left, closer to the wall, only the group sitting at the table directly across from him would have a good enough view to recognize him. He had made similar arrangements with other restaurants in the city. Brig wasn’t being paranoid; he was protecting his livelihood and his inheritance. He was sure that VII knew about his drinking, maybe even the drugs, but in the interest of family harmony and the family business, they had adopted a “Don’t ask. Don’t tell” policy. As long as Brig didn’t get arrested and stayed out of the limelight, everything was copacetic. Brig even attended church services on the rare occasions his father was in town.
Brig was halfway into his second beer when he heard the distinct clomp of the hostess ascending the staircase. Brig felt a change in the room’s energy as he leaned over to get a better view of the stairs. The hostess’ braided, blonde hair was first to break the surface of the steps. Brig suddenly felt nervous, like a teenager on a first date. Time slowed, and the drama built as each noisy waffle stomper step brought a new section of the hostess’ body into Brig’s view. Clomp (the top of her head)! Clomp (her pierced face)! Clomp (her shoulders)! Clomp (her ample bosom)! Brig strained to see if anyone was following her. Clomp (her belly)! Clomp (her child-bearing hips which blocked Brig’s view)! Brig could now see that somebody was being led up the stairs. Brig was leaning as far out of the booth as he could go without falling over. He wanted to yell at the hostess, who was smiling at him, to get the fuck out of the way. Clomp (her thighs)! The person who was following had long black hair. Probably Asian. Probably female. But still couldn’t see the person’s face. Three clomps later, and Brig knew he was in love. The hostess vanished, as did everything else in the vicinity. All that remained was the singular, heavenly vision of Happy. At least that was how Brig remembered it.
Happy smiled brightly as she recognized Brig recognizing her. There was no mistaking Brig. Brig had heard of “love at first sight,” but believed that nonsense was only in fairy tales, until this moment. She was tall for a Chinese woman, with an athletic build; thin, but not skinny. She had a small waist, and what Brig imagined were larger than average breasts. Her hair was jet black, straight, except at the ends where it curved back in toward her body. She had a habit of pulling her hair back with her hand and hooking it behind her ear as if she were trying to hear better. She wore a pair of diamond stud earrings, and something jade hung from a gold necklace.
As Happy reached Brig’s table, she held out her hand to be shaken. Her smile turned from bright to demure, embarrassed by Brig’s unabashed attention. Brig had remained seated. His eyes fixed on Happy’s beautiful face.
Brig came out of his stupor, stood, and clutched Happy’s hand awkwardly, unsure if he was supposed to kiss it or shake it.
“Hi,” he stammered. “You must be the Happy Ho. I mean, you must be Happy…Miss Ho.”
She laughed, a comfortable, self-assured laugh. “I am, and I am. Happy, and my name is Happy Ho. I assume you’re Brigham Young?”
“I am, and not so much. I’m more middle-aged. But I am Brigham Young,” he smiled, the ice broken. “Please, have a seat.”
“Thank you. I’m glad you called. It’s good to see you again.” Her English was excellent.
“I know. Right?” Brig agreed. “What a crazy story! I can’t believe that little girl was you. I guess I owe you my life!”
Happy laughed. “How about you pay for dinner, and we’ll call it even?”
That night was not one Brig would soon forget. Perhaps the greatest twenty-four hours of his life. They talked, they drank, they laughed, they ate, and they drank some more. The restaurant closed at 11 p.m. and Brig asked the hostess to call them a limo. He was too drunk and high to drive. Making sure Happy noticed, Brig tipped the hostess $500. Arriving at Brig’s apartment, Happy sunk her hooks in deep, surprising even herself by how easy it had been to not just seduce Brig but to have so much control over him, so quickly. She’d only ever been with Chang and was only beginning to understand the power she had over him. Brig was easy, and she was good.