Meeting at the Flamenco
Dexter, Pancho, and Val were hosting a shareholders meeting in the parlor of the Flamenco Club. This meant they were having a smoke. They called themselves a zebra stripe consortium, a plaid and polka dot sash parade, a couple of true heros leaning over a table full of dirty ash. They lit their thin cigarettes when they got there, let the smoke trails plume. They smashed their paper cups against one another and drank their gin and fizz.
Pancho was a midnight trader for a gasoline executive operating in the Philippines. He talked on the wire late into the night, mostly about smuggling slacks across party lines, state lines, countrysides. These new Wranglers were the hot commodity, these new Lees, everybody wants a piece. Pancho had a ten-percent purchase on the club, bought in flush off a hot tip and a quick turn.
Dexter and Val co-owned the club in 45s. They kept Panch in on the action, because they’d grown up together and thought tethering him to the place might mean they’d see him in between disappearances.
The ash spread across their letter-shaped bakelite trays. The set was Flamingo Ps, made of Flamingo feet and necks looped round to make the letter. A blue one, a neon green, and a classic Flamingo pink. Pancho liked to ash on the flamingo beak. He liked to enter the parlor from the balcony.
“You were supposed to bring the chair?” This is Val freeze-framing Pancho.
“I brought this new shirt,” he flicks his shoulders and wiggles in his seat. “What chair you talking about?” The first round of paper cups are already empty. Dexter is swishing the sloe gin in a shaker. Pancho is tapping his cup rim, looking back at the fellas through the big mirror that runs the length of the whole far wall.
“Listen, we all got to deal with this,” says Val.
“What chair you talking about?” asks Dex.
“Let ‘em come in,” says Pancho.
“I don’t think it’s that simple,” says Val. Dex takes a long drag and adjusts his glasses, pulls his moppy hair behind the frames, tucked behind his ears for a second before it frees itself again.
“You guys have any barretts?” asks Dex.
“It’s that simple.” Pancho is running his finger and thumb over his moustache. “How you gonna exclude a body from the Flame?”
“We got a good thing, though.” Val is too passive to take a big stand. He’s getting frazzled at the thought of arguing. “We’ve been working hard on it.”
“Good things move, babies” says Pancho. “We can’t control this. It gets crazy we release, and start again.”
“I don’t want to start again,” says Dex. He jiggles the shaken gin up and the boys all lift their glasses over the table. “And hey, what’s with the chair?”
“You never really start again. This place is what we built. That part don’t change. Cool is wherever you are. We can keep it all cool. So long -”
“So long as we don’t lose it,” says Val.
“That’s right. So long as we keep it.”
“Where you going?” Poncho was already straddling the window, his cup crushed on the table from a big drink, ready to exit.
“I’m gonna get the chair!”
“Wait wait wait, let me take a photo before you leave.”
Val didn’t even look in the lens, didn’t wait for Panch to answer, didn’t look to catch an angle, just raised the camera at his side, pointed towards the wall length mirror and captured all three. Pancho would disappear in a week. But just for a moment, when none of them were looking or thinking about it, they were free.