Reflections of a Hostess

by Phyllis

I’ve been working at ‘The Saloon’ for almost a year. It’s your typical bar, a lot of smoke, loud music, talking and brawling; between both friends and strangers. We have bouncers that handle them for us. The crowd consists of men mostly, with a few women. Most of them are usually with some man. The girls that show up unescorted are welcome as long as they aren't ‘working’ shall we say. Some people are regulars, some faces we see once and only once. The regulars you’ll usually see on the same night each week and usually just the once. But there are some regulars that stop in several times a week, no one night in particular. We all breathe a little easier when we see ‘them’ start coming through the door. Jack and Steve are good guys and good bouncers, but they've met their match and the police have had to be called. But that never happens when these guys are around. On the nights that the ‘seven’ show up, everyone relaxes a little more. We all know if trouble breaks out, that it will be quickly and, usually, quietly handled. I love working the nights the guys show up.

 I’d've known their names even without them having introduced themselves, which they did. It’s nice to greet them by name. It’s nicer to be greeted by name. Inez usually waits on the seven, but if she’s busy or working the bar, then I get them. They sit at the same table every time. They walk through the door and, as if by magic, that table is available. Funny how it works out that way. Glad though, ‘cause it’s my table.

They’re always there together, though sometimes they come in separately. One shows up and the others are there by the time the first drink is downed. They’ll come in two or three times a week and then won’t show for a couple of weeks. Those times are hard on us because we know when they do show, one or more will be a little weak and a bit pale and not drinking alcohol. His friends will encircle him, forming a sturdy wall around him, protecting him from all outsiders. It’s always the same. No one gets through the perimeter, especially if it is one of the two younger members of the group. Intruders are greeted with growls as a first warning. Anyone foolish enough to ignore the warning and break the circle is quickly and efficiently escorted out.

Chris is the leader of the group. He scared the devil out of me the first time I saw him. He always wears black. He strides in confidently, with long, sure steps. He has short blond hair and piercing green eyes that look straight through you. He’s not as scary now. After watching him with the others for a year, you begin to pick up on things. The way he acts with his men..well, he's very intense, but protective. It reminds me of a documentary I watched once about how elephants act within the herd-nice and docile until threatened. Then watch out for the bull. He’ll give you one warning and then charge. That’s Chris; you don’t mess with his men. No, definitely not a healthy thing to do. If there is a fight, unless it’s a direct attack on one of the group, Chris is usually the next to last to join in. He hangs back and watches, as if gauging the strengths and weaknesses of the opponents. Maybe he fears he’ll lose that tight control he maintains on his emotions. I saw him lose control one night. Someone made the mistake of blindsiding one of the seven. Chris struck much like a coiled serpent-fast and silent. Vin pulled Chris away and nearly received a blow to the jaw for his trouble. But Chris quickly clamped down on his rage and he and Vin had nodded at each other in a silent acknowledge of ‘Thanks’ and ‘Any time.’

Vin is one of the younger members. He's also the quietest. I had a hard time getting him to talk at first. Seemed all I could get out of him for six months was ‘Ma’am’ or a nod of his head. He is the one that comes in the door and slows, seemingly to map the place out with his eyes. He watches everything and everyone, though he never seems to move. He and Chris seem to understand each other without speaking at times. Wonderful face on that boy, strong jaw and beautiful smile, but so shy. I saw him blush once because I placed my hand on his shoulder. It was so sweet. Buck kidded him about it so mercilessly I started to swipe him upside the head. It took only one word from Chris- ‘Buck’-and the teasing stopped. I frowned down at the mustached man and saw him flush. "Sorry, ma’am.’ The others laughed, including Vin. there was a sweetie. Tall, dark hair and eyes, mustache, a very nice package indeed. He always makes a point of looking you square in the eyes. He can make you feel so warm and safe. Buck is a man that makes a woman feel special. He has an easy laugh and brilliant smile. He’s well known as a ‘ladies’ man’. He loves women and it shows. He’s the first to come to your defense if there's trouble. The man can talk a line of ‘BS’ and have even the most cynical woman giggling like a schoolgirl. He's a charmer, that's for sure. He’ll be the first to join in if a fight looks to be getting out of hand, too. He’s attached at the hip to the youngest member of the group. If Buck is there, so is JD.

JD is a young one, so sweet and innocent looking. He’s the opposite of Chris and the continuation of Buck. Chris is tan with blond hair and guarded eyes; JD is fair with black hair and an open face. The blond rarely smiles or laughs, while the other does both easily and often, just like Buck. I had wondered about the youngster the first time I saw him, believing he was Buck's younger brother, or son perhaps. He's wide-eyed and youthful and looks at everything with wonder, as if seeing it for the first time. I thought him much too young and innocent to keep such rough company and worried about him getting hurt. But while helping with a brawl one night, I saw the fury that innocent exterior hid. The boy fought, smiling most of the time, shoulder to shoulder with the others. But when a man struck Buck from behind with a chair, the innocence disappeared in a split second. The fury that took over that sweet face was heart stopping. He leapt on the back of the coward and clung like a cougar does to the back of its prey. And he was as unrelenting as that killer cat. No one could stop the boy as he exacted revenge on his friend’s assailant. Only when Buck stood and called to their youngest, did the assault stop. The boy's face snapped back to the child-like innocence as he examined the large man for injury, tears of relief evident in his large hazel eyes

The one that wears a cross, Josiah, has small, intense blue eyes that bore right to your soul. I only hope that he doesn’t read minds. His voice is as smooth and soft as velvet. He could pick up the phone book and start reading and I’m sure the back of my knees would start to sweat. Lord, help, but that voice is sexy. The man is intimidating in the bulk of his chest and jaw, but he is as gentle as a lamb most times. Josiah's a reflective man and speaks softly and, only after much thought. He holds off getting involved in brawls as long he can, but if the tide turns against the others, he’s right in there. He's a fearless fighter, kind of terrifying, kind of like watching a car wreck-you can’t turn your eyes away.

Nathan is another one with a deep and wonderfully rich voice. He’s black and has the most expressive eyes. I could lose myself in those dark eyes. He's about the only one who shows up with a woman on a regular basis. Rain, she’s Nathan’s, is the feminine equivalent of Nathan-a beautiful woman. I could kill for skin that clear. Oh, my, what I wouldn’t give. Nathan doesn’t get into the fights very easily. He must be a doctor or something. If someone is sick or hurt, he's right there, helping them. He’s a gentle man with soft hands and nice manners.

And leaves sweet talking Ezra. Now there is a man who knows how to dress and talk and move.. oh, hell, there isn’t anything the man doesn’t do well. Ezra could convince a drunk that the fight was over and he had won the battle. But if that fails, he can fight-he doesn’t like it, but he can fight. The man has more big words than anyone one I know. He sticks a whole bunch of them words together and you need an interpreter to translate them into English. I may not understand what he says, but I love to hear him say it.

Yeah, we love to see the ‘Seven’ come in. It always promises to be a safer night. They sit and talk and laugh. They drink and eat and enjoy each other’s company. And the evening is done and they get up to leave and each one will bid us good evening-every time. I try to position myself close to the door so I can watch them leave. Chris will give you a nod and a tip of his hat if he has one on. Vin graces you with a lop sided smile and a ‘Evenin’, ma’am.’ Josiah tosses out a wave and a compliment about the service, usually. Nathan usually tells us ‘It was wonderful tonight. We’ll see you soon.’ Buck and JD usually leave together. Buck will release his arm from the boy and give you a kiss on the cheek, along with a ‘night, darlin’ and JD smiles, shaking his head. He blushes at the forward nature of his friend and calls out to everyone, ‘night, everybody.’ Ezra strolls out casually, smoothing the wrinkles from his jacket. He always takes my hand and places a kiss on the back of it as he speaks something French and bids me ‘Adieu.’

I thought about leaving a couple of times. Been offered better money and better hours. But, truth be told, I like the people that I work with and like the place I work at. It’s close to home. Oh, hell, who am I fooling? I love working at the Saloon because they come here and if I can’t get my monthly dose of the 'seven’, I don’t know what I would do. The withdrawal would be unbearable. So, here I am, one year later (a new record for me) addicted to waiting for seven guys to show up and ask for drinks.

Lord, I need a life.

I wonder if I can adopt?


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