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The Gourmet Room is a one of a kind. Originally just another topless beer joint in a campus town, it changed in the sixties into a lounge, then into a liquor-less soul kitchen, then it closed for awhile.
New owners took it in a large land deal and decided to bring back the original flavor of the place, and cash in on the campus area business boom in the late seventies. They picked the combination of a co-ed wait staff wearing nearly nothing, upscale food, exotic drinks, and prices just as upscale and exotic. Then they hired the university's NCAA championship wrestling team as bouncers, to keep out 'undesirables'.
Jack and Mary drove up, a tall well-muscled black man opened her door. "Well Come Ma'am." he said carefully. He looked over at the driver's side. "Hi! Jack! I mean, Good Evening Sir."
Jack greeted his friend and gave the Toy to the high school kid working as valet.
The valets had been told to park the BMW's and Caddy's up front, and better looking cars where they can be seen from the street. Jack's car ended up back by the employee's lot, next to an ancient pickup and a battered, nearly unrecognizable Dodge.
The valet cursed his luck, "I get to park the freepping junk, Tony gets to drive the Porches."
"Tony hasn't even dinged some paint since he's been here, who backed into the trashcans in a Lexus?" Another parker asked him.
"Shut up Joey."
Dale and Peggy stood around outside and watched the building staff do the nose count of the residents and visitors. They wandered off in a little bit talking about all manner of stuff. They roamed around the library, and found themselves in the magazine morgue.
Among the old copies of 'Cropdusters Quarterly' and 'American Superinsulators Journal' they came face to face.
Dale was dumbfounded, staring into this girl's eyes. She was shy, pretty, and nice. Just the kind of girl he thought he liked (or at least the kind of girl he thought he liked, he thought). Peggy was just as innocent as Dale, though not as naive. She found him slightly uneasy about their being alone, but she liked him.
"Lets go sit down someplace." Dale half scared himself with his own voice, he had forgotten they were in a library and talked instead of whispered.
She agreed and they went to a small seating area, far from the elevators and the stairs. Most of the library traffic went up in the building, to the stacks, and the computer center. Most of the more popular magazines were on microfilm upstairs. Only an occasional grad student looking for the 1943 index of 'Steamship Maintenance' ventured down here. They were very alone in one of the busiest of campus buildings, they talked and talked.
Cindy nudged Mike again.
"Huh? Oh, sorry. I was watching the movie."
She looked at him for a long minute. "You're awful distracted tonight."
"I'm just worrying about contract law."
"You said you're doing better in it."
He nodded. "I thought I was."
"So quit worrying."
The movie went on without their undivided attention.
"I'm going to schedule another tutoring session every week."
Cindy nodded. "If you think you'll need it."
He shrugged, "Couldn't hurt. Might even get my grade up a little more. You don't mind sharing me with a law tutor do you?"
"Well. I might get a little jealous, but you can make it up to me." She smiled.
WARNING: DUE TO SECURITY MONITORS THESE DOORS WILL ELECTRONICALLY LOCK AFTER CLOSE. USE STAIRS ON WEST SIDE OF BUILDING. IN CASE OF EMERGENCY. PULL ALARM, DOORS WILL UNLOCK AND ALARM WILL SOUND.
NOTICE- ELEVATORS DO NOT OPERATE AFTER CLOSE. USE STAIRS.
WEST STAIRS TEMPORARILY CLOSED FOR RENOVATIONS. USE EAST STAIR.
Jack forked over ten dollars for the cover to another friend of his. The big young man in a tux lead them to a table with a view of the dance floor of the nightclub area of the place.
"Looks like a niiccccceeee....." Mary said and trailed off as a well-built young man with a string around his waist, and not much more than that, approached their table for their drink order.
"Hi there, would you like a drink this afternoon? Ma'am, sir?"
"____" Mary moved her mouth but no words came out.
"Beer." Jack said, smiling as Mary tried to control her wandering eyes.
"Ma'am, our slo gin fizzes are excellent, would you like one?"
Mary nodded, her mouth still wouldn't make sounds.
Jack was openly laughing as the waiter walked away. Mary was blushing.
In a few minutes a waitress approached the table, she was all but topless. Jack mumbled and fidgeted. Mary ordered for both of them.
Jack finally recovered. "OK, now we're even, what do you think?"
"Love the service." She said smiling.
When the food arrived, it was good, but not spectacular, Mary's drink was about standard for bar drinks. It became apparent what the attraction of the place was. The waiter came around several times to check on their drinks, the waitress did the same for the food.
They noticed that their waiter had the food at another table and the waitress handled the booze.
The help at the Gourmet Room had learned long ago that the liquor brought the bigger tips. So they split the job up. Also a table full of women got an all male waitstaff, and vise-versa.
"Makes sense don't it." Mary said after the waiter explained it to them.
They discussed what the tip should be. Then the situation that the help did just for fun to almost every couple that dined there happened.
It had started as a joke, but became a tradition. The waiter and waitress arrived at the same time, stood opposite the customer of the opposite sex, and asked in unison, "Will there be anything else tonight?"
It had the anticipated affect. Jack bit his beer mug, Mary about swallowed her straw. But Jack had an answer.
"Yeah, you two wanna come to a party after work?"
The employees looked at each other. "Sure, why not." They answered.
"What party?" Mary asked him.
"House party. I'll set it up."
"Oh, hell." She sighed. House parties she had heard of. They were always something. You may never know what. But something. Jack went up front to use the pay phone.
The waiter took the check and money away.
The waitress came back in a few minutes. "A couple of friends want to know if they can come."
"Sure no problem, everybody is invited." Mary chatted with them for a minute.
"Well. Now what?" One of them said.
Peggy looked around. Dale was reading the sign by the elevator.
"Nothing like this has ever happened to me before." She said.
"Eeeegch." He said aloud. Peggy looked at him. "It says here that in the nineteen forties this sub basement was used as cold storage for the medical and anthropology departments before being converted to library use in the fifties." He backed up a step. "I wish I hadn't read that."
"Dead bodies down here? That's creepy. I didn't need to know that. Let's see if there's another way out of here."
They walked all around the floor. No other doors, no service ways, nothing. They even tried the phone. All it would do is call another phone in the library. Dale tried that for awhile, then gave up.
A low howl echoed through the building.
Jack came back to the table. Mary was grinning in a self-satisfied way. The waiter came back, with two more drinks. Jack reached for his wallet, "On the house sir. We'll all be at the party, about half an hour after close." The waiter said smiling, and walked away.
Jack was stumped, "What'd he mean by 'we all'."
"I don't know."
Three waitresses stopped by the table and whispered to Mary. They left.
"What was that all about?" He asked.
"I asked about an application. They were encouraging me."
"You. Work here?" Jack said with a smirk.
"Why? You don't think I have the qualifications for it." She looked at her chest. Then she sipped her drink, this fizz had so much gin in it she gasped.
Jack was wondering how to get out of what he had said.
The waiter stopped by again. "Bill says your house has great parties. I'm looking forward to it."
Jack was still a little confused, "How many people are coming tonight?" He said.
But Mary was on her way to the phone. She called the house, and told them the whole staff from the restaurant was coming to Jack's party.
The howl died away. And did not occur again. Neither of them could know that the noise was from the building's air handling units shutting down for the night.
They walked hand in hand to the seating area. Shadows merged into substance in the half-light. Books and walls merged into one in the grayness. They had only found one other group of seats on the entire floor, and it was under a section of burned out lights. What they wanted right now was light and space. To watch for the bogeyman.
Later they had to make the walk back to the area by the elevators, where the restrooms were. The rooms were pitch black. Dale propped the door to one of them open with a book for a little light, and they felt their way into the same restroom together, holding hands, feeling along the walls. They found two side by side stalls. They relieved themselves next door to each other without a word.
Then the book slipped and they were caught in absolute black. Peggy cried out in surprise, Dale gasped and strained to see. They found each other in the dark and felt their way out. Back in the relative light of the elevator lobby they took a deep breath and held each other.
Then their lips found each other's in an uneasy kiss.
The party was going when they got back to the house. Music met them in the parking lot behind the house, then a barefoot man with no shirt made a diving catch of a softball into some bushes. He threw it back at the roof of the porch where a heavyset girl caught it in a garbage can.
"It seems they started without us." Jack said.
Inside several of the employees from the restaurant were already there.
Jack went to find out how much they had put on his charge card.
"Well, we weren't going to make a run, we thought we had plenty of stuff here. But then Mary called, and Lance and a couple of the girls from the restaurant showed up, and you did say you'd buy this one, so..." Bud was avoiding the answer.
"How much did you buy?" Jack asked.
"Well, two kegs, and a couple cases of light beer, and a couple of bottles of bourbon, and...."
"HOW MUCH?" Jack nearly screamed at Bud.
"Less than three hundred dollars."
Jack couldn't talk for a second. Then he kind of howled, he grabbed Bud and started trying to choke him. The others pulled Jack off of Bud and carried him screaming outside.
Back on the couches Dale fell into an uneasy sleep. Peggy looked at the pictures in a magazine until her eyes hurt in the dim light. Then she leaned on his leg and went to sleep too.
The lights came back to full intensity about six in the morning. Dale woke up to the sudden brightness. There was noise somewhere in the building. A vacuum, upstairs. He shook Peggy gently awake.
"We had better wait until later to go out. We might get in trouble or something." He suggested to her. She agreed.
They played hide and seek with the vacuum cleaner. Dodged a helper returning some magazines, and were relieved later to see a group of students looking for old copies of 'Civil War Annual'.
They walked out hand in hand about eight o'clock and nobody even looked twice.
They stopped for breakfast in the union. Both ate heartily even though the food was below average.
Then they stopped at Peggy's dorm, she showered and changed. Then in Dale's room she sat and looked through the history book while he showered. He came back to the room in his towel, embarrassed because he forgot to take his clean clothes. She smiled and turned her head while he put on his pants.
They sat on his bed to rest before class, and fell asleep together.
Now the party was going full tilt. Mary was dancing with Joe, or was it John, from the restaurant. One of the girls was topless, riding on a football player's shoulders, she was pouring bourbon into upraised glasses.
The independent house was known for its parties, which at times rivaled those of the frats. It was called a 'house' but it was still officially a dorm. So it was under the full jurisdiction of the university. Even so it was given a little more leeway than a regular dorm.
A ringing phone got the house's faculty advisor out of bed. "Yeah."
"Dr. Wilson? This is Mrs. Smith, there is a riotous party going on at the Independent Dorm. They are being very loud and disruptive."
The advisor moaned. "Thank you again Mrs. Smith. I'll go right over and settle them down. They'll be quiet in less than an hour."
"Thank you sir. Sorry to disturb you."
Dr. Wilson hung up. He knew Mrs. Smith did nothing but walk up and down Frat row on weekends and look for parties to report. He got up and dressed quickly. It was a nice night so he decided to walk the block or so to the House.
He was never quite sure what to expect when he had to go quiet down the house. He had never walked in on either a human sacrifice or a genuine Roman orgy. Yet.
He ran into Mrs. Smith across the street from the building.
"Good evening Mrs. Smith. How's the party going?"
She looked at him. "Its disgusting. The music is so loud. And I can smell the beer way over here. And those girls... Oh, Mercy."
"I'll take care of it." He told her and crossed the street.
Kremin had sat and chewed the inside of his lip that evening.
It was a fantastic offer. The opportunity was unbelievable.
"You do not have to answer today sir. We understand this is a monumental decision that will impact your lifestyle considerably." The man in the tuxedo said solemnly.
The old lady smiled at him. "Take your time and let us know."
Kremin nodded slowly and got up.
The music room of the mansion was stylish and sedate. He looked into the dining room where the staff was sitting the large hardwood dining table. He walked down the hall and stopped in a small room heavily decorated with religious objects. An olive-skinned man was kneeling on the floor praying with his palms up.
Kremin knew he wouldn't fit in here.
For one, it reminded him of his parent's house. Which was enough by itself to convince him he didn't want to move in.
He turned and looked at the Butler and Miss Alice.
"Maybe I've got an idea for a compromise."
Two Dorms Part 5
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