The Zestpool

The Zestpool was the best restaurant in town, some people
claimed, in the nation. Its prices were outrageous, eating
there without a reservation– impossible. People waited
months to get a table. To be a regular at the Zestpool was a
status symbol. If Pierre remembered your name you were
either filthy rich, a celebrity, or both.

Pierre watched Sue walk toward him with mild admiration.
That Pierre admired a woman’s beauty was really something.
Pierre saw all the rich and beautiful parade by him on a
daily basis, besides, he was gay. His real name was Peter
Washlowsky.

Sue tried to walk by Pierre as if he wasn’t there. “Pardon moi,
Madam, do you have a reservation?”

“No, my date does. He must be here already. I’m a bit late.”

“What’s his name? I could tell you if he’s here.”

Sue gave him a beguiling smile. “Oh dear, this is a bit
embarrassing, I’m here on a blind date. I only know his
first name. He is a friend of a friend, but he is stout and
has red hair.”

“Oh, yes, that must be Monsieur Tripp. He is a regular.
Please, go join him, madam.”

Actually, Sue had seen Monsieur Tripp from the street, as
he ate alone in the terrace section. She didn’t have a date
with him, or anyone else. Susan had never seen him, or
heard of him before this evening.

“Hi, Mr.Tripp!”

Mr. Tripp noted how warm and soft her hand was. His
small eyes narrowed in scrutiny. His nostrils flared to
inhale her perfume, and his lips parted a bit. “Do I
know you?”

“I’m hurt you don’t remember me, I remember you.”

“Do you work for me?”

“I met you here.” Sue pulled back her hand . “May I sit
down?” Without waiting for an answer, she sat. “Two
years ago, when we met, I was with a friend of yours.”

“What’s his name?”

“I only dated him once. I think it was John something,
or other.”

Jim Tripp leaned back on his chair. His pig eyes looked
at her shrewdly. “Please, describe him for me”

“He has your physique, but not your beautiful hair.
He is balding badly.”

“Mmm! I know a few Johns who fit that description.”

“Who’re you with, tonight?”

“No one. I saw you from the street, and thought, Ah,
there is that man with the gorgeous curly red hair, I
think I’ll say hello.”

Jim fought the temptation to touch his hair, and lost.
He leaned forward and whispered, “You know, I have
curly red hair from my chest to my knees.”

“Oh, please don’t tease me. I dream about your hair.”

He leaned closer, his face flushed. He really looks
like a piglet, she thought.

“Don’t say? What kind of dreams?” asked Jim.

She lowered her eyes, “Sexual dreams.”

“Tell me about them,” he whispered, covering her
hand with his.

“No, I can’t. You’d think I’m a pervert.”

A car honked twice on the street below. He looked
down. “Damn my wife is here. We’re going to her
mother’s funeral. Listen, we must get together and
take care of those dreams. What’s your name, again?

“Sue.”

He fished for his wallet, took his card out, and gave it
to her with a flourish. “Sue, call me at work, day after
tomorrow around noon. Say, did you eat already?”

“No, I’m starving.”

He gestured to his waiter standing at a discreet distance.
Each table had it’s own waiter.

“Bring the lady a bottle of my favorite wine, and a menu.
Put whatever she orders on my tab.” He whispered to Sue,
“I have to run before my wife comes looking for me.” He
kissed her on the cheek, and dashed out.

Sue took her phone out of her tiny purse. “Guess, where
I’m sitting?”

“You can’t be serious!” said Jill at the other end.

“Yes, I am. I’m sitting at my own table, on the terrace.
Look up!” She stood up and waived to the two girls
standing on the sidewalk below.

Mary grabbed the phone from Jill, “You’re a genius,
you’re incredible.”

“Hold on, my waiter’s here.”

The waiter poured an inch of wine in her glass. “Never
mind that, fill it up. I’m sure it’s fine. Oh, and please
tell the Maitre’ D, right away, that Mr. Tripp’s guest is
expecting two girlfriends.”

“Certainly, Madam.”

She picked the phone up from the table. “Wait five
minutes, and come in. Tell the Maitre’D you are with
Mr. Tripp’s party. ”

Sue leaned back and sipped her wine. Mmm… not
bad at all. She looked around at the people dinning
on the terrace. Sue felt very proud of herself. People
were such fools, so easy to manipulate. She saw his
card on the table, tore it up, and let it fall in the ashtray.

Sue was smart, but not smart enough to see how she
was a sucker for a dare. She was blind to Mary’s
manipulations, and how she used her to get the things
she wasn’t brave enough to obtain for herself.

Twenty minutes ago, the three girlfriends had been
walking down the street below. Mary the heavyset one,
said, “Look! The Zestpool, I wish we could just go in and
have dinner.”

Jill, the skinny one, replied, “There is no way, people wait
a year to eat there.”

“I bet you, Sue, could go in and get a table just like that, if
she wanted,” said Mary snapping her fingers.

“No, she couldn’t!”

“I bet you she can. You buy dinner if she does, and I buy
dinner if she doesn’t.”

“Are you crazy? Dinner for three in there must cost three
hundred bucks. Where are you buying dinner?” asked Jill.

“White Castle,” said Mary with a smile.

“Ha! Aren’t you a big spender!” said Jill.

“So, then, you do think there is a chance she could get
a table?

“No, there isn’t. You’re on.”

Without saying a word, Sue walked toward the Zestpool
door.

“Is she serious?” asked Jill.

“Kiss, your credit card limit goodbye,'” said Mary.

Sue and the girls had a fabulous time at the Zestpool.
They ate, they drank, and drank, they flirted with, and
fondled the waiter, and charged two thousand dollars to
Mr. Tripp’s tab, plus a generous tip.

Years later, while serving time for identity theft, and
mail fraud, Sue, reflected on how her fall into a life of
crime had begun that night. Curiously, she never blamed
Mary, but thought Mr. Tripp had been the very devil in disguise.

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