Though it would turn out that I was not the only guy dancing with Cassandra Corvette at Frederick’s, neither was she the only girl dancing with me. I was logged in twice at the jazz and swing nightclub, initially taking up both the middle bar stool and the spot at the railing three feet from the door, where hopefuls lounge in their best tuxedos and not-that-bothered poses. Meanwhile, I was logged in a third time back at my office, where Honeycomb Crumbled was finishing off a story she could have summarised in a tenth of the time it actually took her. Clients just love to think they’re unusual.
“Mr Luck,” she said from the seat on the other side of my desk, the leather worn from the outpourings of her many, many predecessors, “are you going to take my case?”
“Let me get this straight,” I said, pausing to whisper in Cassandra’s ear a sweet nothing about the route being taken by my fingers over her shoulder blades. “You think some of the visitors to your club are employed by a competitor to pick people up and take them there instead?”
“Frederick’s used to be the most popular Friday night destination on the grid,” Honeycomb said. “The last few weeks, my numbers have dropped and dropped. Meanwhile, Dominoe’s visitors - for example - have been growing at about the same rate. I can quite assure you that I’m doing nothing different. The same popular DJs and live artists perform. The same standards of dress and behaviour that established our reputation are enforced.”
“Well maybe that’s your problem, sugar,” I pointed out, quickly typing in a comment about the neckline of my second dance partner, Burnished Oak, and how if it plunged any lower my zipper might get itself confused as her navel piercing (the dress code at Frederick’s really wasn’t that exacting). “People get fed up with same old same old. Had it ever crossed your mind that maybe Dominoe’s is just offering something new that the punters want to check out?”
“But that’s just it,” she replied. “There’s nothing whatsoever remarkable about that place at all. The music’s piped in from an easy listening internet radio station. There’s no dress code. The build is a heap of badly scaled and misaligned textures, and the place is crawling with advertisements. If my guests are going there of their own accord, Mr Luck, then I am utterly at a loss as to why.”
Burnished Oak wrote back that my zipper was only an obstacle to what her navel actually wanted to feel pressing against it. Meanwhile, Cassandra Corvette mentioned goosebumps rising across the skin on her back. Neither of them had made any suggestion yet about a change of location, but we’d only so far been dancing for a couple of songs. Halfway through Honeycomb’s lengthy introduction, I’d decided to set the meter running and check the joint out before anything became ‘official’. Cassandra and Burnished were the only two unoccupied avatars when I’d got there, but that wasn’t to say any member of the four already dancing couples hadn’t snagged their partner earlier and weren’t at this very moment whispering about alternate venues.
And right then is when it happened: as though by mutual private agreement with each other, both of my dancing partners asked both of my representatives if we’d like to relocate to “somewhere a little livelier”. Thirty seconds later, my alts where in a different place, waiting for the greys to colour in.
But only one of them was Dominoe’s.
Part two will be published on Thursday...