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The Happy Ho – Chapter 6.9

The next few months of Brig’s life were a hedonistic blur of sex, drugs, and techno music. During the honeymoon stage, the party was just the two of them hanging out in Brig’s penthouse apartment. The novelty of the relationship was enough. Brig kept up appearances by going to work each day. Happy slept late into the morning, recovering from jet lag and the previous night’s work of pleasing Brig.

At Brigham Young International’s headquarters, Brig’s colleagues noticed that he had been smiling more. He was rarely unpleasant and did his best not to play the “boss’s son” stereotype, but he purposefully kept a professional distance. Brig powered through the mornings, but the lull after lunch and the anticipation of Happy and what she would do to him when he got back to the apartment was more than he could bear. Brig left the office a little earlier each day. Nobody discouraged Brig’s behavior. If anything, they encouraged it. He was their employer’s son and possibly their future boss. The only individual that might have an issue with Brig’s work ethic was VII, but he was almost never in town.

Happy occupied her time watching movies on Brig’s massive flat-screen television, swimming in the apartment’s private swimming pool, or walking the snow-lined streets of Salt Lake City. As Brig left each day for work, he left a stack of one-hundred-dollar bills on the kitchen counter for Happy’s “walking around” money, which Happy promptly deposited into a bank account she shared with Chang. In the afternoon, Brig would return to the apartment, and Happy would go to work, introducing Brig to a new position or technique that was always a little better than the day before.

When they finally ran out of positions, their secret and sequestered relationship began to stagnate. Brig suggested that they invite some of his friends over for drinks. Brig’s latest group of druggy cohorts were more international than usual. Matthew “Matt” Martin was a tall, skinny Australian from Melbourne. At least that’s what he told everyone. He had the accent, at least most of the time. He wasn’t particularly good-looking, but the local girls loved the way he talked. Then there was Xavier “X” Benoit, a Frenchman, and his Taiwanese girlfriend, Sonia. Brig hoped that Sonia would be good company for Happy, but Sonia was only good company for X, pretending to be aloof and superior to all others. X was the opposite and had the highest tolerance for drugs Brig had ever seen. Last, but not least, was William “Bill” Shoemake. Bill was one of Brigham’s oldest acquaintances. He was not a good person and had, at times, lived off of Brig like a parasite. Similar to Brig, Bill was born and raised a Latter-Day Saint in Salt Lake City. Unlike Brig, he had broken bad early and had never served a church mission. Bill had been the lead singer of a local band called “The Apostates,” that had achieved a small level of fame, but was currently on hiatus, and had been for the last five years. There were a few other characters that floated in and out of their group, but Brig, Happy, Matt, Xavier, Sonia, and Bill were its core.

One evening, the group convinced Brig to venture out of his apartment. This was highly unusual, given Brig’s paranoia, but Happy was looking sexy in skin-tight black leather pants and a lacy black camisole. Brig’s bravado, among other things, was peaking. Brig put on the wig he had purchased for these occasions while X, the artist of the group, drew a mustache and a soul patch on his face with one of Sonia’s makeup pencils. The group agreed he was unrecognizable.

At around 10 p.m. the group piled into Bill’s van and drove them out of the city to a bar called the “Copper Miner Saloon” in the nearby town of Magna,.” Magna was home to one of the world’s largest open-pit copper mines in the world, the Kennecott Copper Mine, hence the bar’s name. There were few other patrons at the Miner, likely locals and less likely to recognize Brig. Unfortunately for Brig, one of the Miner’s customers that night was an active social networker, blogger, and an occasional reporter for the Salt Lake City Tribune.

Steve Petrie had come in for a beer after working late and was about to leave when Brig and his posse walked through the bar’s doors. Steve didn’t recognize Brig, but he recognized Bill and knew if Bill was involved, there were probably drugs, and if there were drugs, there might be a good story, or at least a good time. As Brig and company chose a place to sit and order their first round of drinks, Steve sauntered over to the bar’s karaoke machine. He had a plan. From the karaoke machines vast selection, Steve chose a song he knew would amp up the room’s energy.

Within seconds of hearing the familiar, overplayed techno beats, the group was out of their seats and dancing before Psy could sing the first words “Oppa Gangnam Style.” As planned, the vibe in the saloon increased markedly. Other customers were getting off of their barstools, or chairs, and joining the fun. Steve, who had the song memorized, nailed the English and Korean words with perfect timing and had also mastered the famous horse trot dance. With the crowd won over, Steve made his move to introduce himself to Bill and his friends when the crowd’s attention noticeably shifted .

Happy was dancing as if in a trance, unaware of the attention she was drawing. She had somehow turned the silly song into something erotic, her hands alternating from holding invisible reins to spinning a lasso, her long black hair waving from side to side. The always energetic X jumped towards Happy, pumping his waist back and forth in perfect synchronization with the song’s video that played in the background. Happy took no notice, but Sonia did, angrily jumping between the two. Brig had already collapsed, exhausted by the dance, and watched, mesmerized and tantalized by Happy’s dance. It wasn’t until the final beat of the song when Happy threw her head back that she realized that everyone in the bar had been watching her. She blushed and covered herself with her face with her hands, embarrassed by the scrutiny. The room erupted in applause, flustering Happy, who retreated to Brig whom she straddled and kissed deeply, making every male in the room envious.

Steve, seeing his opportunity slipping away, quickly launched into part two of his plan. The second karaoke song he chose was one that Bill had made famous entitled “Rasta Brother, Brother Rasta.” The song had been popular in Salt Lake City and had climbed as high as #32 on the Billboard Top 100. The song became an anthem for those that had left the Mormon church. The bouncy, rhythmic tones of the song had the effect Steve was hoping for. The small group went berserk when they heard their friend’s song. Steve high-fived Bill as he leaped to the bar’s small stage. Bill’s younger, muscular self, danced with several scantily clad Jamaican beauties on the music video that played in the background. When the rest of the bar realized that the lead singer from “The Apostates” was on stage, they once again jumped to their feet to dance. The party was officially on.

At around 1 a.m. things had slowed down when Matt challenged “all posers” to a drinking competition. Unless it was cocaine, Happy wasn’t as hard-core as the rest of her comrades, but when it came to alcohol, she held her own. She had learned a few drinking tricks from her 14K brothers that she used to drink all but Matt, and their new friend Steve, under the table. X, Sonia, and Bill slumped together passed out in the booth. Brig was literally under the table. Happy, always supportive of Brig’s need to conceal his identity, made him comfortable, placing a jacket under his head and draping the tablecloth strategically around his head so that nobody in the bar could get a good look at him.

Matt poured another three shots of Jagermeister and told the two remaining competitors that they had performed beyond his expectations, but that they should give up now as they had no chance of beating him because he was Australian, and according to him, “Australians are master drinkers.” Steve teetered. He was ready to throw in the towel, but only if Happy did first. He refused to be beaten by a small Asian woman. He looked to see what Happy would do, and to his chagrin, she reached out and grabbed a shot glass.

“Yum…fucking…bui!” she shouted, drank, and slammed the glass back down on the table with authority.

Matt applauded and tried to repeat the Cantonese term that Happy had been trying to teach them all night. “Bum…yucking…fui.” He messed up the phrase but successfully shot the alcohol down his throat as though it were his first. Happy laughed and turned to see if Steve would stay with them.

Steve grinned, his body unsteady, and chose not to repeat the problematic Chinese phrase he hadn’t been able to pronounce six shots ago. “Cheese mite!” he yelled, giving his best impression of Matt. Happy doubled over laughing, and Matt nonchalantly placed his hand on Happy’s shoulder. Happy pretended not to notice, but Matt took no response as approval and pulled Happy forcefully onto his lap, into his muscular, Outback developed arms, and forced his tongue on a walkabout in Happy’s mouth. This Happy noticed, took offense to, and delivered a knee into Matt’s groin which sent him crashing to the floor. Matt landed loud and hard, coming to rest face to face with Brig. Seeing Brig’s face so close, and despite being in excruciating pain, Matt became overwhelmed with guilt and sobbed. Through tears, he pleaded to an unconscious Brig for forgiveness. Holding Brig’s face in his large hands, Matt pressed their foreheads together, blubbered his love for Brig, and accidentally pulled his wig off. Brig stirred and yanked the tablecloth down around him as he tried to sit up.

Steve was drunk, but not so drunk he couldn’t recognize Utah’s most famous son.

“You’re Brigham Young!” he yelled.

The whole bar seemed to grow quiet as Brig reached for his wig. Happy grabbed Steve by the lips, telling him to “shush.” When Happy was satisfied that Steve understood that he needed to keep his voice down, she let go of his lips.

“But that’s Brigham Young,” he whispered.

“Yeah. We know.” Happy looked around at their group. “WE know,” communicating what should have been obvious.

“Oh!” the message finally reaching Steve’s alcohol-soaked brain, “You want no one to know that Brigham Young is partying. I get it.”

Happy held her index finger to her own lips and nodded her head up and down. Brig stood up and lunged at Steve aggressively, losing his balance in the process and falling back to the floor.

“Hey,” the bartender yelled. “No fighting in here.”

Matt waved his arms back and forth, signaling to the bartender that there was no problem. Happy put Brig’s wig back on his head, kissed him, and helped him to his feet. Matt then pulled Brig and Steve together and ordered them to shake hands, looking back and giving the bartender a thumbs up. Instead of shaking hands, the two men embraced.

As they leaned against each other, Steve whispered to Brig, “Your secret’s safe with me.”

Brig patted Steve on the back of his head, showing he accepted Steve’s promise, and the world was right again.

“Last call for alcohol!” yelled the barkeep.

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