Stan’s style is to prowl the warren of two-tops. That first night, he’d stopped at Harriet. Made puppy eyes and called her sweetheart, like an old vaudevillian. She saw his naked need to charm.
Stan earns no money as a stand-up comic. In fact, it costs him twenty bucks a night to meet the Yuck Hut’s two drink minimum for stage time. In the early days, Harriet would pay for her ticket, their drinks. His tipple is Hendricks with lemon. Top shelf. He hated that Harriet ordered black coffee. But as long as she laughed, he welcomed her presence.
Harriet wears the same dress she wore that first night. Too skin-baring for the frigid hotel coffee shop. The server approaches with their check, pauses, then sets it before Stan. Harriet rises, one hand on the table. She goes over her next actions. She wants it smooth.
Exit through the revolving door. Cross the hotel lobby. Walk the 13 blocks home. Hang the unlucky dress. Bury her phone under a stack of sweaters.
The sound of clattering dishes from the cafeteria kitchen will ground her until she is out of Stan’s stoned sight.
As she passes him, Harriet registers his scent of citrus-y shampoo and, of course, the weed. His face bears the hopeful expression that hooked her. On the Tinder profile she discovered this morning—he paid with Harriet’s credit card—Stan described himself as a naughty puppy.
She focuses on her exit.
Her glass-walled section of the revolving door holds, then returns Harriet’s own flowery perfume. And something else underneath; something essential and prime.