Pablo Michael’s Picture Choice: The Gilded Cage
Donahue entered the vintage hotel, The Grand Marquis, through the lobby. It had been ten years since Donahue and Biff last met. They were reuniting for drinks at five in The Gilded Cage. Donahue was shocked by the stark appearance, even though the black and white, marble floors were still intact. He glanced around, noticing the lone table and two chairs occupied by two women.
His memory flashed back to the times they joined other businessmen, unwinding from the competitive rat race in the city, after work. I still get dizzy looking down at those damn, art deco triangles on the floor. How did we ever make it out of here, when we had so much to drink? Let’s see what they’ve done to our old stomping grounds. We had so much fun in the Gilded Cage. Crap, they’ve changed the name. New Marquis Lounge? What kind of name is that? They’ve ruined it already.
The lounge no longer breathed the lively atmosphere, they enjoyed when meeting for appetizers and drinks. The stage, where the two drag queens, Lusty Lulu and TahluluThrills, entertaining the crowded throng of men in business suits, was drab and bare. No faux gold ornamentation and crystal chandeliers sparkled in the dim lit bar. The heavy bass, dance music and bellowing, torch songs were replaced with low easy listening tunes. Simple tables and chairs replaced the ornate, oak furniture. Even the beautiful bar had been remodeled into high tech simplicity. He sat on a barstool, formally a more padded, high back.
Ordering a martini, Donahue glanced at his wristwatch. Ah, four forty-five. Biff should be here, soon. If he’s not scared away by all these new changes. At least the bartender is good looking.
A few minutes later, two hands grabbed Donahue’s upper chest from behind. “You still have that beefy bod.” A jesting voice whispered in Donahue’s right ear, followed by a laugh. “What else hasn’t changed, my best friend?”
“I know that cackle, Biff. Has that enchanting smile changed?” When Biff released his arms, Donahue stood up and turned around. “You haven’t changed at all.”
They hugged and then kissed.
“Still gulping down those wicked martinis. Couldn’t wait for me?”
“I usually drink wine. But I was trying to remember our fun times in the old Gilded Cage. Isn’t this place deplorable now?”
“I’m afraid our those times are over, even in the surrounding places, where we tortured the clientele.” Biff sat down next to Donahue. “The bartender looks familiar, though.”
“He does, and he’s cute.”
“What’s your pleasure?” the bartender asked Biff.
“I’ll join him with a martini. Make mine dry. We have to liven up this place.”
“You must be remembering the old Gilded Cage?” The bartender prepared the cocktail. “I miss those times. I’m Troy.”
“Of course.” Biff recognized him. “You poured drinks bare-chested. You still look great. Mind taking off that stupid white shirt and black vest to see if you still have those rippled abs?”
“I remember you, Troy. I tried to get you in bed.” Donahue shoved his empty glass forward to order a refill. “I’m Donahue. And he’s Biff. We worshiped our afternoons in the Gilded Cage, especially you.”
“I remember you two. Both of you came onto me. But I thought you were an item.” Troy placed their cocktails on napkins before them.
“No, we were, are just best friends. We caroused the city together.” Biff paid for their drinks. “But our jobs transferred us out of state. I went to New York and he went to Chicago. I think we should have a toast.”
“To the Gilded Cage and its survivors.” Donahue extended his glass.
“To the good times.” Troy’s tumbler of coke clinked against their martini glasses.
Three robust sighs followed the tinkling of glass.
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Pablo Michaels writes LGBT fiction and has published with Naughty Nights Press, http://naughtynightspress.blogspot.com You can follow him at @bell2mike