“Are you really gonna make me do dis?”
“Obviously, we are already in the door we aren’t walking out. That would just be monumentally embarrassing.”
My best and now my greatest enemy pushed the small of my back so I would walk to the reception desk. I cringed internally and reluctantly walked up to the reception desk. When we had entered the door to the new club "The Menu", I was instantly intimated. The plain black door at the back end of an alleyway made the club seem pretty sketchy to begin with, but the inside was in complete contrast to the outside entrance. The reception hall was beautifully adorned with white and gold marble floors. A red carpet lead the way to the reception desk. As we walked the short distance I notice beautiful painting in between the three sets of pillars. Each painting was abstract colors of red, gold and off white. All the twists and turns of the brush strokes told some kind of story that grabbed your attention. Unfortunately, I couldn't dwell on the beautiful art as Antonio pushed me towards the extravagant desk. As we approached, a slim beautiful creature stood and smiled at us.
“Welcome to The Menu! Invites?” The flamboyant, purple haired receptionist greeted us. He, at least I think it was a he, had a captivating androgynous look about him. His light complexion matched a shiny gold hoop on his left ear glinted in the lights above his head, and his perfectly manicured hair seems to halo his head with a crown of light. I handed over my red envelope containing an official invite, and Antonio hands his over as well. The cute little receptionist opened each envelope and read the letters carefully. He looked up at us several times while reading the invites as if he was deciphering some code link between us and the written words. After he read through both letter he stood and smiled gentle at us heading the envelopes back.
“Great! If you’ll just give me your identification for verification then we can proceed.” We both dug out our wallets and laid our licences on the marbled counter. I finally noticed the boy had a name tag: Marco. Somehow the name matched the angel in front of us. Marco took our license, and started entering information into a hidden computer behind his fancy little counter. After a few short minutes he gave us back out licenses, and spoke.
“Ill separate you into our perspective groups and get all the newcomer paper work done. Will you be joining the menu or would you like to be browsing the menu tonight?” Antonio answered for me,
“I would like to be added to the menu, and she would like to browse the menu.”
“Excellent. And how would you like to be named Mr…?” Marco looked at Antonio expectantly.
“Bianci, Antonio Bianci.” He answered
“And you? Miss..?” Marco queried
“Ivanov, Stacia Ivanov.” I answered quietly
“Thank you. Mr. Bianci please make your way to the left door and Penlope will help you fill out the necessities and Miss Ivanov the door to the right will lead you to the dining hall. The staff will help you sign the required paperwork. Enjoy!”
Marco smiled gleefully and looked back to his computer and started tapping furiously on his keyboard. I turned to Antonio still unsure of myself. He gave me a reassuring smile.
“Stacia. You can do this. It's been long enough. It's time we had some fun!” Antonio fake punched my shoulder, knocking me slightly off balance. I wobbled in my heels and when i regained my balance I glared at him and whined,
“But you vont be vith me. You are on da Menu and I am not. I vill be all... all alone in dat hall. Vaht if I scare someone?” My Russian accent came out thick when I was nervous. It was usually nonexistent since I had been living in the states for so many years and speaking English since I can remember.
“We’ve been over this. You're beautiful honey. Just be yourself and enjoy the evening. I'll see you on the other side and if I don't I'll text you.” He wrapped his arms around me and squeezed a little providing me with a little comfort.
“Be safe my friend.” I sighed.
“I will.” Antonio kissed me on the cheek and headed to the left with the skip in his step.
At least he was excited about this. He deserved to enjoy himself after his ex screwed him over. He had been begging me to come to this club for what seemed like months. It took a week of convincing and a shopping trip to the mall before I finally gave in and said yes. I told myself it was for him that I was doing this, but in reality I really did need to get out.
Antonio and I met three years ago when we started working at the same coffee shop. We instantly bonded over Americanos and Disney movies. Both of us had been university students here in Seattle and stayed after graduation. When we started working at Beans and Books, a locally owned coffee house and bookstore, We were recent graduates trying to find jobs and internships like everyone else. Beans and Books had apparently been Antonio's favorite study site, and my go to for first dates. It was fitting it turned into our favorite place to be in general and the owner ended up liking us both so much he gave us jobs as soon as we had asked.
At the time, I was living alone and Antonio was living with his then boyfriend. One night about a year ago, Antonio showed up at my door with a black eye and his suitcase. I lost it. After he calmed me down, he explained what happened, and cried himself to sleep on my couch. Now he's a permanent fixture in my little apartment, and I love it. We are inseparable.
Two months ago a new club opened up, and Antonio got it in his head it was time for both of us to find love again. The incessant nagging began. I finally broke. The Menu was a personal invite only club. Antonio told me that it was a very unique club. At first I thought it was some kind of crazy BDSM club and I wasn’t sure that that was something I wanted to get into just yet, but I was assured it wasn’t so extreme, unless you wanted it to be. Antonio had been personally invited by Penelope, who worked with him at his second job at the small fashion design company in downtown Seattle. He had convinced Penelope that I needed the invite as much as he did. I guess Penelope got the OK from the management to extend two personal invites to the next event. So here we were two weeks later at our first event at The Menu.
I stared at the door with the shiny gold letters saying “Dining Hall” and I gathered all the courage I have and opened the door.