I am watching the waiters in their black and white outfits crossing the glowing orange doorways of the big hotel opposite, with flickering carriage lamps over the entrances.
In an upstairs window a woman is demonstrating poses. Perhaps someone is photographing her.
Across the street in the first floor windows of the boutiques are well-lit displays of expensive clothes.
Somewhere someone is singing.
I am in a terrace bar waiting for Diane. There is a little grassed “minipark” with a water feature, between the bar and the hotel. Two small children are playing there, tumbling around in the grass in their T-shirts.
They belong to the couple along the terrace.
I watch the sleek black cars, Mercedes and BMWs, pulling up at the valet stand.
A Latino man comes by, selling roses, smiling, not pushy. The boy goes and talks with him. The man gives him a rose and walks on. The boy takes it back to the parents. The parents send him after the man with a five-dollar bill. The boy comes back saying the man won’t take it. “That’s nice of him”, says the father.
I guess the Latino man was just happy that the rich kid spoke with him.
Diane is late, as usual. She is thinner than I remember.
Diane, whom I first met when I worked here, is having a hard time. She had a good job as compliance officer in a big financial firm – that means being responsible for seeing that all transactions are conducted and recorded according to the regulations.
Then suddenly she gets a bad review and a few weeks later they say they are terminating her position. So she has lost her job.
She thinks it’s because she raised a problem with them, called “front running”. That’s when the employees of the firm use their own money to make trades, just ahead of executing transactions on behalf of clients.
It’s not exactly illegal but it should be recorded. She told them she thinks some people are not disclosing.
Shortly after that they fired her.
Now she has got lawyers to take on her case. She has to pay them $3000 up front. They will get 40% of anything they win.
I feel for her. There’s a bit of bravado as she jokes with the waitress about the desserts. The waitress is a beautiful, tall black woman called Tina in a very short black miniskirt.
Very American. Never show you’re down.
Diane slips her arm into mine as we walk back to the parking structure. “I’ll keep you posted,” she says, through the open window of her old Audi, before sweeping up the ramp.
Someone is sitting on the steps of my apartment building.
“Hi Dad”, he says as I get nearer.
It’s my son Jamie.