The drag show was just beginning in the Crystal Room of the La Te Da Hotel. Rudy heard it from the piano bar where he sat at the baby grand playing songs to distract himself. At 9:30 p.m. he’d have to give up the seat to the professional musician booked to play there. Until then the ivory Steinway was his. If he played without stopping it might keep him from seeing in his head what he saw on Duval.
He’d done it to himself, of course. At first, women found the non-stop work habit cute. Eventually the missed Christmas party took its toll. Ducking out of the romantic dinner to take the call or handle the problem started an argument. And there would always be another guy waiting to fill the vacuum left by your absence. By your absence. Tonight he’d killed it before it could start. Shown her who he was right out of the gate. Maybe for the best. It just didn’t feel like it.
The tall blonde leaning on the bar and nursing a gin martini requested a song. Rudy obliged. While he played, the blonde shifted to the piano bench and rested a hand on Rudy’s thigh. After the song he invited Rudy to watch his performance in the Crystal Room. He gave Rudy’s thigh a squeeze and suggested that maybe later they’d get a bite to eat.
It was an amusing thought. He’d like to see Carter step in and sweep this guy off his pumps when Rudy turned his back. He’d pay to see that.