Lane and the Big Champagne
Amongst the crowd at the gallery opening reception, a former employee of the school, an employee who had recently been fired, an employee who knew and loved all the A.R.T. artists, did not, look, happy. Let’s refer to him as Ricardo. Big, beefy, strong, and mercurial, this being why he had been fired, among all of us only Ricardo had taken note one of the artists was missing.
He left the warmth of the gallery to check the parking lot and the by now, freezing van. There in the dark and frigid cold, he found Eric sitting in his wheelchair on the asphalt of the parking lot next to the van, no coat, gloves or hat. In the bustle to get the artists into the building the aides had, somehow, forgotten Eric.
When Eric and Ricardo emerged from the elevator into the gallery Eric looked dazed, numb. Ricardo looked angry.
He moved through the crowd to greet A.R.T. artist Lane.
“Lane. “What up? you want some champagne?”
Lane’s eyes lit up, him giving one of the two words he had at his disposal, yee for yes , nee for no.
“Okay then.” Ricardo roared.
[everything Ricardo said was said with oompha and volume]
Ricardo helped himself to the bar, filling a large cup to the brim, stuck a big straw in the drink and placed it on the laptray of Lane’s wheelchair. Ahhhhhh, Lane smacked his lips and set them on the straw and drew up some of the bubbly.
“Good, right?” Ricardo asked, Lane nodding yes as he pulled on the straw.
One of the admins of the school asked Ricardo, “Is that champagne?”
“What of it?” Ricardo turned to face them.
“This is not good.”
“What’s not good about it,” Ricardo asked,” he’s twenty-one, isn’t he?”
“This is not approved.”
“Relax,” Angel instructed the administrator. “It’s Christmas. Salude!” he roared, downing his drink. During the extended back and forth between the administrator and Ricardo, Lane’s eyes were fixed on the face of the person that was speaking, his eyes moving from one to the other as if watching a tennis match, at the same time working hard on drawing up as much of the champagne as he could, just in case things did not go well and his champagne was to be removed from his laptray.
And with Angel’s roar of his toast of: Salude, we heard the suction sound of Lane drawing up the very last bit of his drink.
“Ahhhh.” Lane smacked his lips, looking contentedly at the not happy administrator, then at Ricardo.