It was past 4 am when Bradley, Luis and I exited the club. Outside, a bleach-blonde force of nature descended upon us. She was one of Luis’ clients, whom he introduced as Rose, Willie Nelson’s niece.
A huge smile stretched across her face as she shook my hand. “My family came from Tennessee to Texas to fight in the Alamo,” she said, “and we’ve been here doing crazy shit ever since!”
It was love at first sight. “You are so beautiful!” I swooned.
Her smile stretched even wider, which I didn’t think was possible. “I’m 62 now,” she informed me, “But you should have seen me when I was younger! Do you know who I dated back then?”
“Who?” I asked.
“Anyone I wanted!” she laughed.
I like to hang on to my car during these after-club excursions so that I can escape whenever I need to. Therefore, it was decided that Rose would ride with Bradley back to his house, and Luis would ride with me. According to club rules, my leaving the club with a client would be immediate grounds for dismissal, but normal club rules do not apply to Luis. He’s the best man in Rocco the Pirate’s wedding, for pete’s sake.
As one does when three friends are together and one of them leaves, Luis and I discussed Bradley on the way to his house.
“He seems like the kind of guy who feels the need to prove himself all the time,” Luis said. “Like, he’ll call me at midnight and be like, ‘Dude. You’ll never guess. I just fucked these two chicks.’ And I’ll be like, ‘Okay, I was mostly just trying to sleep, but . . . glad you had sex?’”
Luis can be very sarcastic. I’m a fan.
Bradley had a nice place, but he completely oversold it. There weren’t any lasers in the living room, and the 87,000 karaoke song set he had bragged about to me earlier were just songs he looked up on youTube.
Luis immediately sank back into his melancholy mood when we arrived. He cornered me while Bradley made drinks and pity forced me to listen to his favorite song, a sweet, sappy country song by Wade Bowen called, “Who I Am.”
“Damn, who broke your heart?” I wondered aloud. Inside, the stereotypes I’d always held about coke dealers broke apart and disappeared completely like glaciers melting into the ocean. Who knew coke dealers could be sweet and sappy and cry over country songs when some chick breaks their hearts? Who knew coke dealing wasn’t all fast cars, gangsta rap and hot women?
Rose moseyed over, intent to tell the two of us a thing about love. “Y’know,” she reflected. “I have had some millionaire husbands. We had mansions, yachts, everything we could ever want. But you know, I was never happy with any of them. My husband now, he is so poor, but I love him so much. Money just can’t buy you love, you know . . . but a great big cock is a different story!”
I must confess, I had not seen that one coming.
Somebody must’ve given Rose a lot of coke, because she didn’t shut up again for awhile. She launched into wild stories about dropping acid with Johnny Cash and fucking Waylon Jenning’s son and all kinds of stories I cannot even remember now. I just listened, blinking and gasping.
It was a bit of relief when Bradley bounced in with drinks. “Ya’ll ready for some karaoke?” He opened the set with the B-52s Love Shack. “Let’s duet!” he said, handing me a mic. I cringed. I have never heard anyone sing this song well. I never even attempt it.
I screamed the song as best I could, and at the end, Bradley beamed at me. “I always open with that song to test the girl I’m with,” he told me. “I won’t date her unless she does well. And you totally killed it!”
“That was fun!” I said. And honestly, it had been. “Let’s sing some more!”
We proceeded to sing every duet known to mankind while Rose danced topless on the kitchen counter and Luis stared bleakly into his drink. I hadn’t sung with the band in awhile, and it felt good to cut loose.
“You have such a great voice!” Rose exclaimed. “You should audition for The Voice or something!”
Ha, ha, ha, ha. NO.
Three hours later, it was clear that Bradley was falling in love. “You are so amazing,” he informed me breathlessly.
The look in his eyes made me squirm. He was supposed to be in love with poor J-Lo. What happened to her? I suspected I was going to break Bradley’s heart. And I suspected that, given his apparent short attention span, he’d be moving on to someone else pretty quickly when I did. This thought made me feel better.
It was time to go. I grabbed a very drunk Luis and a very coked-up Rose and headed for the door, determined never to see Bradley again.
“Hey!” he said just before I left. “Wanna go out with me on my boat tomorrow?”
And that changed everything.