Bart had locked down the club as soon as he’d heard the news about Big Red. A detective asking questions was bad for business. Whilst Mack hauled the sax player down the station house, Shiraz and Viognier had slipped out the back door, jumped in a cab and headed straight for Bart’s secret speakeasy on the other side of town. They sat at a table in the corner playing poker. The light above the door glowed purple and Bart slid back the slat.
“Om nom nom nom” said a voice. The slat slammed shut and the fox heard the sound of a rusty bolt. The door opened and she kissed him hard on the lips.
“He’s over at that table” said Bart as he gestured to the corner of the room. He wiped his mouth and steadied himself on the nearest antler as the fox flicked her hair in front of the mirror. A sign above it read “Poker and loose women are known to frequent this establishment”. She smiled.
Nodding at the couple from the café by the river she threw her wrap on a luggage rack on the wall and cat-walked over to the bar. She sucked slow on a whisky sour and breathed in the atmosphere. The walls were covered with starlets, wigs and feather boas and waiters flitted amongst the cool cats bringing them baskets of cheese and bottles of liquid gold. The fox winked at a passing waiter. Bart’s crowd was her crowd. Whisky sipping night-time urban junkies.
“Who’s the new girl?” she said looking over at the dealer.
“Jen” said the barman as he chilled down a glass. “Whisky diva.”
The diva turned over the river card. “Five of Diamonds” she said in a sultry Scottish Borders lilt. All the cards were out. Texas Hold ‘Em poker, final round. The fox wandered over and wrapped herself around her squeeze. “Cute” thought Shiraz from the other side of the table.
Number 1 sipped his 14yo Clynelish and let the citrus and honey taste swirl around his mouth. He breathed in the spicy aroma and closed his eyes as the salted caramel flavours flooded his mind with memories. “Fold” he said tossing his cards onto the green baize. He popped an Isle of Mull Cheddar cube into his mouth and the strong herbal flavours kicked against the Clynelish to intensify the hit. The diva took his losing hand with a flip of her paddle. “The bet’s with you sir” she purred.
Number 2 finished the last of the dense and crumbly Doddington cheese and swirled the Stranahans around in his glass. The smell reminded him of home. The crisp, clear waters of the Colorado Rockies sang with the fresh salty cheese. “All in” he said pushing his chips into the centre. “Gutsy” thought the diva and flicked her long dark sleek hair.
She turned to Number 3 and flashed him a smile. The dense rich Zelu Korlaria cheese melted in his mouth and the blue veins spilled over his tongue. He reached for his glass and drank down the golden honey Connemara. The peat and chocolate flavours danced as the soft creamy finish filled his mouth. “All in” he bluffed. The diva smiled.
Number 4 licked her lips. She let the rich, buttery Ami du Chambertin cheese swim across her mouth. The light, smoky, spicy nose of the Nikka Yoichi 10yo gave way to more smoke in the mouth. She could taste the oak from the casks. She craved a cigar. “All in, all the way” said Shiraz as the oak gave way to fruit on the finish.
Number 5 nibbled on her light and fresh Ryefield cheese, sniffed in the cognac barrel aromas of El Tesoro Paradiso Tequila. She took a sharp and tangy slice of Serra D’Estrela and drank down the fruity elegant anejo. Viognier pushed her chips into the centre and nodded at the diva. “All in” her look suggested as the smoky finish filled her mouth. She hadn’t said a word all night.
The fox unwrapped herself from Number 6 as he sniffed the intense Port Ellen 1978, 8th Release. Ripped plum fruit filled his nostrils. He added a dash of water to balance the smooth amber coloured liquid. He ate a slice of strong velvety Bleu d’Avergne cheese and drank a sip of the fiery medicinal nectar. The drink coated his tongue and his mouth zinged. He cut a fruity sliver of Parmigiano Reggiano and fed it to the fox. “What shall I do?”
“All in baby” she mouthed. “Never let the truth get in the way of your ethics”. She took a sip of his drink and closed her eyes as the chocolate and oil textures filled her mouth.
“Time to show your hands folks” said the diva retrieving the Port Ellen bottle.
Viognier smiled. “Another full house” she thought.
As Number 6 collected his winnings Shiraz and the diva moved to the bar. “What kinda drink do you like?” asked the barman.
“I like it long and sloe” whispered Shiraz.
“This is a whisky joint. You’ll have to go someplace else for gin” he said handing over a cocktail list. “Give me a White Party then” said Shiraz pointing to the bottom of the page.
“Coming right up.”