Tabitha Richards dined at the Clair de Lune often, though lately she and Andrew had been taking their meals together at his home. He was an excellent chef and if she didn’t pay attention she might gain weight. She still appreciated the restaurant’s chic décor with its white linen table cloths, red walls and colourful posters of Can-Can girls.
The restaurant guide for Halifax classified the place as ‘upscale’ but besides the classic French dishes such as Boeuf Bourguignon, basically a rich stew, the menu offered light meals, simply cooked with herbs and spices. She and Andrew spent most of their evenings together. However today he was unavailable to join her. And anyway she had other reasons for being here tonight besides satisfying her appetite. Her mind was like a windmill, a whir with thoughts and ideas creating an energy of their own.
The information Tabitha had been given proved to be correct. She confirmed Randy Armstrong was at his post behind the bar, mainly cleaning glasses since at this hour business was quiet. He should be able to spare time to speak to her later.
Clair de Lune opened five years ago and Tabitha was one of its first patrons. By that time her real estate business was doing well and she could afford the prices. She’d been a regular customer ever since. Tabitha remembered Randy told her that he obtained his job as bartender/waiter when he finished his Hospitality course at the community college in Sackville. He considered himself fortunate to obtain such a good job right out of school and in his hometown of Halifax. Both she and Randy were Haligonians (the term for people from Halifax always confused tourists) and though they traveled in different social circles a casual friendship had developed through their contact at the restaurant.
Tabitha got up from her seat and sauntered to the bar.
“Hey Randy. How are you? Can you please fetch me a red wine? You know the kind I prefer.”
“Sure Tab-Tabitha coming right up. I see you had time to change after w-work.” His gaze admired her figure in jeans and green T shirt. “What a great c-colour, your shirt matches your eyes.”
“Why thank you. I picked it up at the discount place in the south end.”
“Oh I know that spot. I haven’t been there in a while.”
Randy looked around the almost empty restaurant. “I don’t see Gerard. Has he taken your order already?”
“No I phoned it in. I know the menu so well I don’t have to see it and he always informs me aboot specials that might interest me.”
“Oh here’s G-Gerard now.”
“OK good. After I eat if it’s still so slow in here maybe we can have a chat.”
“O-OK.” Randy’s hazel eyes rounded and he tried unsuccessfully to tuck his white shirt into his black trousers; the bistro’s uniform.
Tabitha returned to her table, passed a few pleasantries with Gerard the waiter and tackled her meal of fresh oysters, scalloped potato with braised mixed vegetables. She pulled out a paperback from her purse and proceeded to read while she ate.
When she had taken the last bite of her dinner, almost as good as Andrew’s, she put her book away and looked over to see if Randy was occupied. It appeared the restaurant hadn’t gained much business since earlier and he was again engaged with busy work.
“Randy if you could spare a bit of time why don’t we catch up?”
Randy nodded, walked to her table and sat in the other chair. He handed her a glass of wine and carried a ginger ale in his other hand.
Okay Tabitha see if you can pull this off.
“Things are good?” She skimmed her thumb over the long nails on her left hand. A nervous gesture she hadn’t been able to shake since she was a kid.
“Yeah pretty good. Wish this place got more business. I can use the tips. Real slow tonight.”
“I’ve been meaning to ask you something.”
“Yeah?” He ran his hand through his short hair.
“I notice that the longer we’ve been speaking, the less you stutter…”
“Yeah,” he said with a tense smile. “I guess when I get comfortable with someone I talk better. I wish I could get rid of it all together.”
“I heard that in addition to working here you work for Bill Pelletier. Is that true?”
“Yeah.” Randy’s eyes flickered with suspicion. “He asked me to help him out with stuff aboot a year ago. The extra dough comes in handy and he said he could help me out too.”
“Oh really?” Tabitha peered at him. “Doing what?
“Oh just stuff.”
“You know the word is that Bill isn’t very nice.”
Randy’s back stiffened and his eyes shifted from left to right never directly looking her in the face.
“Well he’s OK. He does yell at me sometimes, tells me I don’t know how to dress or speak good but that’s just his manner.”
“It sounds to me as if he doesn’t respect you very much. I can see you’re a hard worker, usually cheerful and get along with everyone.”
“Yeah well I like people and it’s good when they like me back – bigger tips,” and he grinned.
“You’ve had some hard times too haven’t you?” Randy shifted on his seat and nodded, his thoughts elsewhere.
“Yeah I don’t have good luck sometimes. It could be a sunny day and then only on me it rains. Raindrops fall on my head. But on no one else’s.” Randy squirmed in his chair with an embarrassed expression and a deprecating laugh.
This wasn’t going as well as planned, Tabitha thought with annoyance. She would have to try another tactic.
“Have you met Mr. Goode?”
“N-no I haven’t. I’ve been meaning to get a tour of his place sometime.” Randy’s eyes moved to the left as if he is leaving something out of the conversation.
“Well when I give the tours he’s not around. But maybe you could come out to supper some evening and get to know him.”
“That sounds nice.” But his glare belied his words.
“He could use some help around the place and I think he’d treat you better than Bill does. Andrew is a Truman and it’s not in his personality to use people, only to help them.”
“Yeah well I’ll think about it. I better get back to work. Nice talking to you Tabitha.”
I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
Blogophilia Week 22.6 – Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head
(Hard, 2 pts): Quote Maya Angelou
(Easy, 1 pt): Mention a past U.S. president