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Henry Simpson

Mrs. Robin’s Lush Life


Lane drove to the Hill and Dale Club and hung around the parking lot until he saw a familiar face. A stockbroker he knew soon parked his Mercedes and got out, racket in hand, looking very fit and trim in his sporty tennis outfit. Lane walked over and greeted him in a friendly manner, told him he had to get inside to speak to a friend. The broker obliged by walking him through the gate into the club, over to the counter, and getting him a guest pass. 

After the broker left, Lane returned to the counter and asked the bouncy young counter girl to page Mary Robin for him. “Of course, Mr. Lane,” she said, smiling, then announced the name over the paging system. Seconds later, the counter phone warbled. She picked up the receiver and handed it to Lane. 

He listened—pool shouting and splashing—glanced out at the pool, and recognized a buxom bikinied redhead with ruby lips and flushed face, sitting on a stool at the outside bar, holding the phone and facing a jumbo martini glass. Without speaking, he set down the receiver.

He walked outside to the bar, sat down on the stool beside her, and nodded at the bartender, a handsome young Latino with the nametag “Dion Vargas” on his yellow Izod. Lane knew most of the local bartenders, but not this one.

“Yes, sir,” Dion said attentively.

“Gin and tonic,” Lane said. 

Dion promptly set the drink before Lane. 

Lane turned to Mary and nodded. She had a pretty face, past her ingénue prime, and a figure overflowing her red bikini. He raised his glass, sipped, and smiled. “Good morning,” he said to her.

It was 11 a.m.

She looked over at him, slow eyes, up and down. “Good morning,” she said, hint of a smile, watching him in silence, then raised that enormous conic section and sipped, glanced at him again.

“Have we met before?” 

He winked at her, smiling.

“Were you at Dr. King’s soiree?” Lane said.

“Yes, briefly.”

He chuckled. “You made quite a splash.”

“Oh, God.” She blushed

“I’m Ed.”

“I’m Mary.”

“Pleased to meet you, Mary.” Lane offered his hand.

“The same, I’m sure, Ed.” She took his hand and held it, looked in his eyes. “Do you work at Elysium?” 

“No. I was partying with a friend.  Who was that big guy, you pushed him into the pool?"

“Oh, him. Just a friend. He promised to take me to the soiree, but he flaked out at the last minute and I found out he took someone else. It really made me mad.”

“That would piss off Mother Teresa.”


She giggled. “You’re funny, Ed. Mind if I call you Eddie?”

“My intimates call me that.”

“In prison?”

“You’re funny yourself, Mary.” He smiled. “Was that guy, you pushed him into the pool, was he your husband?”

“No way, Eddie. Whatever gave you that idea?”

“When I see a knockout like you, I like to know where I stand at home plate before I try to get to first base so as to avoid any possible future complications.”

She laughed. “You’re fresh.” She raised her glass and emptied it. “You might buy The Lady Marian a drink.”

Lane caught Dion’s attention, pointed at Mary’s glass; instant refill.

“What’s your next trick?” Lane said. “Setting yourself on fire?”

“Later,” she said. She consumed another drink as they sat by the pool. At noon, she put on her robe and they went inside the clubhouse and sat in a booth in a corner of the dark, empty Tuesday cocktail bar. She talked about herself, poked at a salad as Lane ate a club sandwich. She ordered more drinks and, as she continued, her speech slowed, but remained coherent. More people came in, for drinks and food, cast glances at Mary and Lane, but no one acknowledged them or approached.

Mary fell silent, waved at the waitress, who approached with a smile and handed her the bill. Mary signed, no credit card required, and the waitress left. “Help me,” Mary said to Lane.

Lane got up, helped her out of her seat, held her arm, steadied her for the first few steps. She soon got her land legs back, but clung to his hand, led him out of the clubhouse, past the pool, along a pathway to a little bungalow. She reached into a pocket of her robe, pulled out a key, held it up.

“Voila!” she said, “Home sweet home,” stuck the key into the slot, turned, opened the door, grabbed Lane’s arm, and they went inside.

Lane sat on the bed and watched as Mary slipped out of her robe, dropped it to the floor, then the bikini top. 

“Oh oh,” Lane said.

She stood there, staring at him. “Are you gay or something?”

“Just trying to believe my eyes,” Lane said, standing. He unbuttoned his shirt.

She slipped out of her bikini bottom.

He laughed. “You’re a genuine redhead.”

“I’m as genuine as Venus in the flesh,” she said.

He kicked off his shoes, scattered the rest.

She flopped onto the bed, breasts heaving like loose cannons on a ship in a stormy sea. Lane climbed aboard and, as the tempest progressed, wondered if this adventure, though undeniably fun, might not accomplish any goal on his current list of professional, work-related objectives, until all thoughts left his mind and only wonder remained.


An hour later, under covers, with Mary asleep, snoring loudly, Lane considered what his next brilliant move would be or if he even had a next move, brilliant or otherwise. He heard a key open the door lock, shuddered, wondering if it might be a housemaid or Dr. Robin, jealous husband, a big man and possibly dangerous, even if a skirt chaser.

The door opened and Dion, the bartender, appeared in the doorway, peering into the dim light. His handsome features appeared gentle, almost feminine. 

“Hey,” Lane said. “Get the hell out of here.”

Ignoring him, Dion entered the room, walked to the foot of the bed, and glowered down at Lane, still under covers. “What do you think you’re doing with the lady, man?”

“What’s it look like?”

“Get your ass out of the fucking bed, fucker,” Dion commanded in a threatening voice. He was wiry, built like a bullfighter.

Mary awoke, rubbed her eyes, and sat up. “Dion, honey,” she said. “You better go.”

Dion stared at her, the sight of her bare breasts emboldening his rage. “Not till I finish with this punk-ass motherfucker.”

Lane got out of bed, walked up to Dion, punched him hard in the gut, and Dion folded in two and fell backward onto the floor. After struggling a while to catch his breath, he sat up, shook his head, glanced at Mary, eyes lingering on her ripe casabas. 

Suddenly, he rose to his feet, squared off against Lane, and threw a punch, but Lane moved aside, grabbed his arm, and threw him backward against the wall, blam. Dion fell to the floor, dazed.

Lane walked over to him, grabbed the front of his Izod, and pulled him to his feet. “Get out before I hurt you.”

After a long silence, Dion whispered, “Fuck you.” 

Lane dragged him to the door, opened, and tossed him out backward onto the patio. 

“Oh,” Mary said. “I hope you didn’t hurt him.”

Lane locked the door, set the chain, and waited for a second coming. After a minute’s peace, he sat on the bed. “Is he in love with you, is he your bodyguard, what is he?”

“Something like that,” Mary said.

Lane got dressed and Mary put on her robe. She went to the refrigerator, returned with a bottle of Russian vodka and two shot glasses, set everything on the coffee table, and sat down on the couch.

Lane joined her as she poured shots. She began her assault—one, two three—getting fully loaded, as Lane sipped one, trying to make it last.

“Are you married?” she said. “I mean, you look like the married type.”

“Not at the moment,” Lane said. “Tell me about your boyfriend, the one you pushed into the pool.”

“Him? He’s not my boyfriend, never, ever. He’s just this jerk, I used to hang out with him. Why you wanna know about him anyway?”

“Curiosity. You’re a whole lot of woman, Mary. I wonder what kind of men you tolerate.”

“Not that one. That man, he’s not much of a man, he’s not much of anything, can’t do anything right.” She poured another shot, downed it. “No, he can do one thing right. Get it on with his bitches and ho’s.”

“Not a nice man, eh?”

She turned to him, red-faced, bloodshot eyes. “Not nice at all, done some very bad things, but I can’t talk about them.” Poured another shot, downed it.

“I won’t tell, honey. Promise.”

“Cross your heart, baby?”

“Why sure, honey.”

“You’re not keeping up with me, Eddie . . . Eddie? Hey, is that your name?”

Lane poured himself half a shot, raised it, downed it, grinned at her. “Intimates call me Eddie, honey. You can call me anything you want.”

“Gimme another drink, teddy bear.”

Lane poured, handed her the shot.


She stared at it, seemed to have trouble focusing, then raised it, downed it, spilling some from her mouth. She looked at the bottle, reached out, hefted it. “Russian’s gettin’ light. We’ll have to order s’more.”

“You were gonna tell me,” Lane said.

“Tell you . . . uh . . . uh . . . what?”

“About that jerk you mentioned.”

“Oh, yeah.” She wiped her eyes. “Hey, teddy bear, you wanna fuck some more?”

“Sure, honey. In a minute.”

“He spiked some booze and gave it to a guy.”

“What happened?”

“He died.”

“Was it sleeping pills?”

“Coulda been.”

“You got any?”

“You want some pills, baby? Doctor gave me prescription, Seco-something. I know it but can’t say it now.” She giggled. “Let’s party. You’ll sleep good after. Pour me another, teddy bear.”

“It’s the last one, honey.”

She giggled. “I’m paying, I deserve it, pour it for me.”

He poured the shot, held it out to her. She reached out, hand wavering, grabbed it, raised it to her mouth, gulped it down and coughed.

“That’s the end,” Lane said.

“You only had one. What are you, a teetotaler? I’m having all the fun but it’s no fun when you don’t have fun.” She turned pale. “I’m gonna be sick.”

Lane grabbed a wastebasket but not fast enough as she spewed over the front of her robe. “Oh, yuck,” she said.

“You need to sleep it off, Mary. It’s time for bed.” He wiped her off with a towel, helped her to her feet and to the bed, pulled the covers up, and left.


Henry Simpson is the author of several novels, short stories, and works of nonfiction on technical subjects. He studied engineering, did graduate work in English and Psychology, and holds a PhD from UC Santa Barbara. He lives in Monterey, California. Bienvenue à la Danse, Henry.

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