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    Wombat Bill
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May contain graphic sexual content

Catering With Benefits (3) - An Appetite for More - 19. Divas

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Over the next month Edward’s redundancy application was accepted, he started his marriage celebrant’s course and with more spare time, spent many days hanging around Dean’s Bar. It was not so much for the drinks but to familiarise himself with the function room and make plans for its use. One of those plans was to have it given a separate name. The restaurant was called Poppy’s, the bar now named Dean’s, so Edward figured the function room needed its own identity.

When he put this suggestion to Prentice the owner, he off-handedly said “If you leased it permanently, you could call it anything you like.”

“Are you serious about leasing it?”

“Of course, it’s the only part of the building that’s not leased, so why not. I’ve only had one booking since I sold the restaurant, and that was for Craig and Justin’s party, so I gave it to them at a mate’s rates.”

“Ok, Mr Prentice, I’ll give your suggestion some serious thought and in the meantime, if you could let me know what rent you would be asking, that would be appreciated.”

***

After his meeting with Prentice, Edward immediately went over to Poppy’s to talk to Craig and Justin about his plans.

“Are you sure you could make it pay?” Craig asked Edward.

“If the price is right. As I see it there are many opportunities going begging. I just don’t think he promotes it properly. Prentice told me you are the only ones that have rented the room since taking over the restaurant.”

“That’s true, as we have accommodated all special functions in the restaurant so far, not that we’ve had many, we’re concentrating on the restaurant first and not taking bookings for large functions until we have settled in here. Although, I was speaking to Thomas earlier in the week and he has already planned three functions for next month.”

“Have you told Prentice yet?”

“No, I’m just waiting for Thomas to confirm.”

“Good, then can I ask that you hold off booking with Prentice while I negotiate with him?”

“As long as it doesn’t take too long. I don’t want to mess Thomas around, these are important functions for Price’s election campaign.”

“Give me a few days please and a heads up if you are pressured to make the bookings.”

“Ok, but keep me in the loop.”

“Of course. I’m looking forward to this. I’ve got so many ideas for shows, not to mention weddings and the business you bring in. It’s going to be absolutely fabulous.”

***

Prentice sent Edward a letter of offer for a lease on the function room; an offer that Edward found unacceptable. After checking with Craig what the daily rate was that Prentice normally charged, he made Prentice a counter offer. Edward reasoned that as Prentice had only one booking in three months, then by renting it to him at a monthly rate equivalent to one night’s casual rental, then Prentice was already ahead. This meant that Edward only had to get one booking per month to pay the rent and the rest was profit.

Prentice accepted Edward’s offer after his wife explained they were already getting rent from the restaurant, the bar and the retail space. They had paid off their loan with the proceeds from sale of the restaurant and bar, so after overheads like council rates and insurance, all the rent would be profit and they would have very little work to do. She won him over when she said “All we have to do is count the money, while the capital value of the property increases.”

Edward had his solicitor put the pressure on Prentice’s solicitor to draw up a contract in twenty four hours and signed it the next day. He even forced Romel to phone in sick so they could sign the lease together.

Edward then rang Craig and asked him to cater for a party.

“Do you want it in the restaurant?” Craig asked

“No, I’ll book the function room. Wait....I’ll check if it’s available....yes it is. It’s all mine, well me and Romel.”

“Congratulations, so the negotiations went well?”

“Very well indeed, I’m happy to say. Now, in a way, we’re all in business together.”

“Welcome to the catering business.”

“In my case more like show business.”

<>

That evening, Edward asked Romel “How’s it feel to be in show business?”

“I’m not sure I’ve had time to think about it. You’re like a whirlwind when you get going with a new project. I’m really just a silent partner here.”

“Well, we’re going to have a fabulous time and make squillions of dollars. Surely you can make some noise about that.”

“Yeah, whatever.”

“Hey, why so disinterested?”

“I’m not disinterested, just wary and a little worried that you’ve committed us to that lease and we can’t be sure it will even work.”

“If I say it will work, then it will. And we’ve already got three bookings for the month. That’s a great start. Now I’ve got to get some weddings coming in and work on my shows. I can see the advertising, Ed Weiner and One Eata Now Playing at......Fuck!” he yelled.

“What’s wrong?”

“I forgot how this all started. I wanted to give the room its own identity. It needs a name punters will remember.”

“Any ideas?”

“Not one...yet...just give me time.”

Just then Juanito came into the room and asked “What was that almighty fuck for?”

“Oh Mr Showbiz here, forgot why he signed us up to a five year lease of the function room at Poppy’s”

“You did what?”

“We’ve taken a lease on the function room at the back of Craig and Justin’s restaurant and I have to think of a name for it, any suggestions?” Edward asked

“How about Edward’s Folly?” suggested Romel.

“Don’t be like that sweetie, it will be successful. Tell him Juanito.”

“Me? This is the first I’ve heard about it.”

“Now you know, you’re part of it. After all it will be your showcase room to become the Diva you were born to be.”

“Thank you... I think.”

“Hey, that’s it. I’m brilliant, brilliant beyond compare. Are you ready for this? The room will henceforth be known as Divas.” Edward looked at the two blank faces in front of him and said “Well?...trigger any emotions?...maybe the word fabulous, is what you’re looking for...yes... no... anything?”

Romel and Juanito looked at each other and burst into laughter simultaneously.

“What?” asked Edward.

“It’s just the look on your face.” replied Romel “It’s priceless.”

“Sorry Edward, I think the name is perfect.” added Juanito.

“Good, that’s two votes. Want to make a commitment Romel?”

“Yes, I agree it sounds good me.”

“Oh, I’m bowled over by your enthusiasm. Don’t over excite yourself, could be bad for your blood pressure.”

“Ok it’s fabulous, perfect, just the thing, tops, hindi kapani paniwala.” replied Romel.

Edward looked at Juanito and asked “Is that good? If I remember correctly, hindi means no.”

“It does mean no or not, so hindi kapani paniwala literally means not believable.”

“I’ll take that as a positive.”

“So what specific plans have you for Divas” asked Juanito.

“Firstly we have to get the place known around town, so that people with something to celebrate will want to celebrate at Divas. I’m thinking a wedding expo might be a good place to start. As long as it covers costs that’s fine, because the real payoff will be from the future bookings it generates.”

“How do you make money from an expo?”

“We charge the exhibitors a fee for rental space.”

“So who would these exhibitors be?”

“I will encourage, florists, hairdressers, limo hire, celebrants, wedding planners, jewellers, photographers, videographers and such.”

“You didn’t mention caterers?”

“Those I will discourage, except for one, of course.”

“Ah, I see, keeping it in the family.”

“Now you’re in the bus. I was also thinking that I could offer my services as an MC and you, my little Diva could offer your services as an entertainer.”

“I’d have to work up an act. I‘ve learned a few songs, but got nowhere with patter between songs. It just doesn’t come naturally to me like singing.”

“It may not be necessary, because your big talent is your voice. Wigs and dresses add the pizzazz, so all you need is a few lines between each song. You see, the average drag queen needs the caustic tongue because that’s their special talent, not lip synching.”

“Ok, but back to the room, what else have you planned?” asked Romel.

“Hopefully the expo will generate weddings, Craig and Justin should bring in some business when they get rolling again and Tristan has asked me to produce his dance project.”

“But I thought he was going to do that in a bath house.”

“True, but I think it should have a preview performance before that to generate interest plus we already have some political dinners for that Price guy that Thomas and Jared work for. We are slap bang in the middle of the electorate he’s standing for.”

“I’m feeling a bit better about this project now that you seem to have some definite bookings lined up.” concluded Romel.

“In that case, we should open a bottle or two and celebrate my retirement; that only lasted a week, and our new venture.”

“To make it a party, let’s get food delivered.” suggested Juanito “My treat.”

“There’s an offer I can’t refuse.”

“Indian ok with you two.”

“Yes, and speaking of Indian, we haven’t seen much of our favourite man of Indian background since your reconciliation. Is everything ok there?”

“Yes, as a matter of fact, he’s coming over later tonight, when the restaurant is over its busy period.”

“Excellent, we’ll all have Indian for dinner and you can also have Indian for dessert.” Edward said with raised eyebrows.

“I’ve been meaning to ask, because both Raj and I are busy at our jobs and he lives so far away, would it be ok if he came to stay over on his two nights off each week?”

“Nothing could make me happier than to regularly hear the sounds of love coming from the room next to ours.... Romel?”

“Oh yes, of course that would be fine.”

“Why so distracted?”

“Nothing really...it’s just that you sound so enthusiastic about your new project, Juanito has a new job, Craig and Justin plus Andy and Dean have new businesses, now even Thomas and Jared have new jobs. Oh, I forgot Brett and Jeremy are opening the new studio. That leaves me still doing the same old thing.”

“Do you want a change my love?”

“Not really, I love what I do.”

“Good then, a toast to the man who is happy doing the job he loves.”

Romel felt he had been dismissed, but said nothing more.

***

Edward wasted no time getting business cards printed and setting up a social media page for Divas. Then he set about contacting all the local businesses that could supply services for wedding functions. Early response was encouraging, so he set a date for the expo and also confirmed the three political functions with Thomas.

***

Divas wasn’t the only new local business opening. To save on set-up costs, Jeremy and Brett cleaned up the old shop, painted, installed new blinds and lighting themselves. As the toilet facilities were in such a bad state they reminded Prentice that it was his responsibility, as landlord, to repair or update the plumbing. He did this as well as installing new hand washing facilities and a tea room sink. However, the boy’s skills did not extend to carpentry, so they employed a professional to build partitions. The rest of the furniture or equipment required could be bought off-the-shelf. That left only one other item that required a professional touch, a business name sign. They also planned to order a sandwich board to place on the main street, indicating their location in the side lane.

But, before they could order signs that needed to choose and register their trading name. They went through a number of options and finally it came down to a shortlist of two. ‘Bear to Bare’ was Brett’s choice, but Jeremy was of the opinion that it would be suitable if they only wanted to attract male clients. Brett agreed, so ‘Dare to Bare’ was the final choice.

As opening day approached they updated their social media site, including an on-line appointment booking option and placed an advert in the local newspapers. They also had fliers printed to hand out on street corners and drink coasters which they supplied to Dean for use in the bar.

The night before opening they held a small celebration party. Because they could not fit many guests in the studio, the party spilled over into the lane. Brett could not resist doing his rent boy imitation again. It got a few laughs and a comment from Rani. She had accepted Jeremy’s invitation reluctantly, and attended more out of curiosity than good grace, after Jeremy apologised for the walkout incident at Hair We Are. When she saw Brett under the flickering light, leaning seductively against the post she attempted to insult him but it went wrong when she said “I always knew you were a slut and now your true colours can be seen, however I doubt you’d make much of a living from a body like that, so it’s just as well you are a good waxer.”

“Well, it takes one to know one and as I’m in such a good mood thanks to Daniel’s party favours I’ll take the compliment.”

Daniel immediately jumped to his partner’s defence and it was not long before the words turned to physical assault. By then the whole party had moved from the studio into the lane. This increased the noise level and attracted the attention of the neighbours, who called the police.

When the call was received at Darlinghurst police station, the desk sergeant logged it on the computer and was immediately alerted that the address had previously been a place of interest to the drug squad.

A noise complaint would not normally be given high priority by the local police who had more important matters to attend to. However, the drug flag meant the call went further up the priority list and a car was dispatched immediately.

When Jeremy saw the police car arrive he immediately concluded it must be a noise complaint, so he hushed the guests, ushered them inside and remained outside to deal with the police.

“Good evening officers, I do apologise for the noise but I have moved everyone inside the studio and asked them to keep the noise level down.”

“Very good sir, that is admirable of you, but we are here on another matter as well.”

Just then a second vehicle arrived, this time a van. The bonnet of the vehicle was emblazoned with three letters. Seen in mirror reverse it read GOD, but Jeremy knew he didn’t make house calls in a police car, so he froze when he realised what it really meant.

The four-legged officer tagged three of the guests, including Brett, but after body searches, which Brett thought were just cursory, only one person was arrested for possession of a prohibited substance, Daniel.

Next Chapter - Let the good times roll.

Copyright © 2021 Wombat Bill; All Rights Reserved.
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Chapter Comments

Hmm I don’t know if I’m supposed to feel sympathetic for Romel or not. I mean he sounds like he’s kinda suffering from FOMO yet he says he loves his job with seeming no desire to do anything else so what’s the alternative? I get he felt somewhat dismissed by the change of subject yet I don’t blame Edward for not reading anything into his comment as requiring an extended conversation based on what he said. Looks like everything was going well for everyone, on the surface anyway, until Dean got busted. Sounds like someone may have tipped the cops off.

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@Wombat Bill I think you deserve to be awarded an honorary doctorate in literature (if there is such a thing). Another chapter with another educational opportunity for moi, this time courtesy of @NimirRaj (thank you). His inclusion of the abbreviation FOMO in his review had me wondering what it could possibly mean. I thought at first with absolute horror it may somehow be related to SCOMO. Hillsong forbid! Fortunately I came to my senses (OK no sniggering you bitches) when I realised @NimirRaj would not likely know who SCOMO is, thus looked it up on the 'net. Perhaps it is an abbreviation of more recent times for the youngsters who text, or perhaps I have just have never encountered it before. Whatever its origin, I think @NimirRajhas "hit the nail on the head" with this statement. I too feel Romel is suffering from FOMO, or is he perhaps a little jealous that his older husband has a new lease on life, which he Romel is not the cause of. I think Romel was a little precious for feeling he had been dismissed though. He gave Edward and Juanito no reason for the conversation to continue.

Edward's actions in this chapter resemble Thomas' actions in the previous chapter. He is full of clever and interesting ideas, and seemingly possessed with the zest to follow them through. I believe he will succeed in his enterprise; Divas WILL be fabulous. Dare I suggest either Ed Wiener or One Eata may be in line for a Diva after showcasing their talents as drag queens. Hopefully there will be no feathers ruffled or trademarks infringed by using the names Divas. Perhaps Edward should check with the organisation which presents the awards first, and while he is at it, check with Makybe too.

Dare to bare, very clever. Jeremy and Brett will do well to I think.

Rani is a snippy little miss isn't she. She needs to get over it. I wonder if Daniel has sealed his fate with her. It may depend on the type and quantity of the prohibited substance.

Edited by Summerabbacat
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Yes, the cops were tipped off @NimirRaj- by their computer. 

"When the call was received at Darlinghurst police station, the desk sergeant logged it on the computer and was immediately alerted that the address had previously been a place of interest to the drug squad."

Remember, the previous tenant was a drug dealer fronting as an herbal medicine shop.

OMG @Summerabbacat, now you know, I'm sure you will soon feel the symptoms of FOMO, where previously you may not have. 

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@Wombat Bill, @Summerabbacat, and @NimirRaj, I thought I had already commented on this chapter.  So DANIEL got arrested?  That is interesting.  I wonder what Rani thinks of that.

What does the acronym DOG mean in NSW (New South Wales)?  While I know that FOMO is Fear Of Missing Out, and ICYMI means In Case You Missed It, that DRE means Digital Rectal Exam, and that B&B can either mean Bed & Breakfast or B&B can mean Blow and Bang, and YDKM means You Don't Know Me (said to someone who thinks they know what proverbially makes you tick, but they really do not), I don't know DOG.

The more I see of Edward, the more I like him.  Again, well done, Wombat Bill.

Edited by ReaderPaul
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@Wombat Bill, that sounds too simple to be on a police van.  I did find, on a list of acronyms, that DOG means Delusions Of Grandeur, and DOGF is a US military acronym meaning WatchDOG Failure (though not used much). 

Okay, I'll just laugh about this and go on.  Thanks.

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2 minutes ago, ReaderPaul said:

that sounds too simple to be on a police van

We are simple folk in NSW. We say what we mean. 

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I think it's deliberate to fool the drug dealers. While they are trying to work out the meaning of what's written on the cops car, they swoop in and arrest them.

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1 hour ago, Wombat Bill said:

We are simple folk in NSW. We say what we mean. 

Not necessarily @Wombat Bill. Jonathan will have that lesson to learn if he is going to have any chance of succeeding in politics; politicians, at least those from the major parties (especially the two that I loathe) rarely say what they mean, or they "wrap it up" in so much spin, that one is never sure exactly what they mean. Not that our lot are any different from others worldwide, although at least we have the Westminster system of democracy. I shudder to think what it would be like living under the rule of a clown like Trump or a murderous regime like many in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa. You have my sympathy @ReaderPaulfor having lived through the Trump years; he made George Dubya look good.

Edited by Summerabbacat
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I had to look that one up, as I  had never seen it written before. I am familiar with the strange pronunciation of W, but read this as DOO BY A as in city in the UAE. Oh well that's us simple folk.  :boy:

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7 hours ago, Wombat Bill said:

I had to look that one up, as I  had never seen it written before. I am familiar with the strange pronunciation of W, but read this as DOO BY A as in city in the UAE. Oh well that's us simple folk.  :boy:

Actually, @Wombat Bill it is pronounced DUB-yuh.  Compared to tRump, as some call him, or President Bone Spurs, as others call him (because he claimed to have bone spurs in his feet to have an excuse not to go into military service), Dubya is a nicer guy.

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5 hours ago, ReaderPaul said:

Actually, @Wombat Bill it is pronounced DUB-yuh.  Compared to tRump, as some call him, or President Bone Spurs, as others call him (because he claimed to have bone spurs in his feet to have an excuse not to go into military service), Dubya is a nicer guy.

@ReaderPaul although I disagreed strongly with many of George Dubya's policies, he did not strike me as being an inherently evil, conniving, backstabbing, manipulative, thuggish, entitled arsehole, unlike Trump who struck me as all of those things and then some. I cannot imagine Dubya provoking and supporting the violent attacks and rioting that beset the USA Capitol on 6 January 2021. I don't think George Dubya was all that smart (he could not correctly pronounce nuclear, which to his credit he laughed about when his wife lampooned him) and likely had many others behind the scenes truly "running the show". I suspect he was heavily influenced by his father, who was much smarter and seemingly well respected.

Trump may have done some good things for the USA (although you will never get me to admit to this), but I think he is the worst president you have had in my lifetime (even worse than Nixon and Reagan). I think one only has to look at some of Trump's "prominent" supporters, whom he seemingly "courted", to draw this conclusion. Ted Nugent being the classic example; even ultra-conservative Republicans have distanced themselves from this truly heinous "human being". COVID-19 might finish him off though if what he has now claimed is in fact the truth. 

Edited by Summerabbacat
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