THE MUSE: PREQUEL

Brik Evander looked across the 30 feet that separated him from all of his dreams. It may as well have been a million miles. Although he had defied the odds and had gotten a job in exactly the hotel that he wanted, he was working behind the front desk. Where he needed to be was the concierge stand.

Brik had big dreams but he grew up poor. Most dreams didn’t require money to be fulfilled. But Brik always saw himself as the owner of hotels. Not only did that require money, but it required a shit ton of it. With no family contacts and no membership to a fancy country club, he knew his only opportunity to meet an investor who would have the type of money he would need, would be to impress one by miraculously fulfilling their needs.

It wasn’t, perhaps, the best plan in the world, but Brik was proud of it. Being a concierge at a Las Vegas hotel would put him in constant contact with the richest of the rich. And if he could impress any of them enough for them to remember his name, he might gain an open door to present them with a sure fire hotel success.

There were, however, a lot of obstacles that stood in the way of that. Sure, he was in a hotel with the richest of the rich constantly flowing through it. But there were two guys who already worked at the concierge desk. Both never seemed to take any time off. And both had to be thirty years older than him.

Brik was twenty-two. Only a few months earlier he had graduated from college. And as much as he implored his manager to give him a shot as a concierge, even Brik had to admit that he didn’t have enough knowledge of Vegas, or of life, to handle the outrageous requests that the superrich would sometimes make.

So, until he got his opportunity, Brik stood behind his desk, serviced everyone with a smile, and made copious notes on those who could be a good investor.

“Welcome to the Four Queens hotel,” Brik said as a couple approached.

Brik watched as the well-built, good-looking man stepped forward.

“Yes. Checking in. The name is Romero,” the man said coldly.

Brik took a second to determine the wealth of the man. His thick dark hair, perfectly manicured eyebrows, his well-tailored clothes, and his expensive watch told Brik that this was someone to take note of. Not only that, he immediately struck Brik as being a little needy. This unquestionably wealthy man was sure to make use of the concierge’s services. And, if, by chance, Brik was standing there and picked up the phone, he wanted to remember as many details about the man as possible.

Looking down, Brik typed on his keyboard. “That’s two under the name Roberto Romero?”

“That’s correct,” the good-looking older man said crisply.

“Mr. Romero, you have our penthouse booked. It looks like it has been prepared with your special requests. And here is the key to both the elevator and your room,” Brik said as he handed the man the penthouse room key.

Taking the key without another word, the good-looking man turned away and headed towards the elevator. Brik made note of everything he saw. There was a much younger woman with him. She wasn’t one of those stick thin models, and although it was barely 50° outside, the woman was wearing a fur coat.

Brik also made note of the luggage. It was a Gucci. His luggage cost more than Brik made in a year. And what was clearer than anything else, was just how well Roberto Romero was put together. The man had style oozing off of him.

When the couple was out of sight, Brik turned his attention back towards his computer. One of the reasons the hotel had hired him was that they had recently gotten connected to the Internet. Brik had heard about the internet in college and had become fascinated. The conversations he had with a couple of his classmates who were in computer classes had paid off. Being the only one the hotel interviewed who knew what Yahoo was had gotten Brik the job.

Brik flipped the switch for the modem. Listening to it go through its bings and hissing noises, he wondered if he would luck out this time. Most of the people he searched for on the Internet weren’t there. But, every so often he would get lucky. If he gathered some type of insight from whatever was online, he might be able to impress him. And in spite of how experienced Daniel and Clive were as a concierge, they couldn’t know everything about everyone. At least, not being the dinosaurs that the two men were.

After typing Roberto Romero into Yahoo, Brik hit the return button and waited. He was still amazed by the whole process. With a few keystrokes, he could search the three largest newspapers in the United States. It was like having the entire microfiche collection of the New York Times at his fingertips. Okay, perhaps it didn’t have every article they ever printed, or even a single article before 1985. But it was still very impressive.

In less than a minute, Brik’s results appeared in front of him. Roberto Romero was the clothing designer for one of the largest clothing brands in the world. Past that, he was also one of the owners. The article estimated his wealth at $50 million. Brik could barely conceive of such large numbers. How could a clothing designer be worth so much money?

Brik pulled out his pocket-sized spiral notebook and jotted down anything that seemed important. After that, he pulled up the special request that the good-looking man had made for his room. He had requested a lot of cloth samples in various sizes. He would be staying at the hotel for four weeks and it seemed to Brik that Roberto was making this a working vacation.

This was all very interesting and held some potential for Brik. But the problem still remained, he had 30 feet that separated him from his goal. Brik needed to be at the concierge desk. If he couldn’t be there when Roberto Romero called down, all of the insight he had gathered on the very tanned, Italian designer would go to waste.

“No, Brik,” Clive said when he saw Brik approaching him.

“No? You don’t even know what I was going to say.”

Clive adjusted the lapel of his tailored dark suit. “Fine. What is it?”

“I was going to ask you how you were,” Brik explained.

“I’m fine, thank you. What can I do for you?”

“You can let me work here. Just allow me to pick up a couple of shifts. I won’t let you down. I promise.”

“How many times do I have to tell you this? This isn’t a job for everyone,” Clive explained. “If you knew the things that we have to do.”

“What? Find prostitutes? Sneak people’s lovers out of the hotel without anyone getting a picture of them? Find people “party favors?” What are we talking about? Because I’m ready for any of it,” Brik assured him.

Clive looked at Brik’s young face. His light blonde hair and sharp features made him strikingly good-looking, if not innocent looking. But, was he innocent?

“So, you’re trying to say that if someone did call down for something like that, you would be able to acquire it?”

“I wouldn’t be asking you for the job if I couldn’t,” he lied.

“But, you know there’s a lot more to dealing with this hotel’s clientele then getting hard to find items. You have to know how to interact with them, how to cater to them, their whims.”

“You have to know how to kiss their ass. I know. I’ve been kissing people’s asses my whole life. The only difference would be that now I would be getting paid for it.”

Clive looked at his young charge again. After a moment, his eyes wandered onto the colorful walls of the 1960s era casino.

“There might be one day that you can help me out with,” Clive said reluctantly.

“Really? That’s amazing. When is it? I’ll take any time. You want me here at 4 o’clock in the morning, I’m here.”

“Nothing quite like that. Daniel is out on vacation, as I’m guessing you already know.”

Brik smiled. “I might’ve heard something about that.”

“Indeed. I have been scheduled to do double shifts covering for him. Usually it wouldn’t be a problem, however, my wife and I just had twins.”

Brik had to hide his surprise from finding out the Clive had twins. He probably should’ve known that. Just like he should’ve known that he was married. Brik didn’t know any of this.

“Of course. Go on,” Brik encouraged.

“The babies have been teething and I’ve been growing in concern that my wife might murder somebody, mainly me. If you can cover a day, it might be helpful.”

“Just one day? Don’t worry about it. Please, be with your wife and kids. They’re only gonna be young once, you know? Go spend time with them,” Brik insisted.

“You know I’m not talking about today, right?”

“No. Of course not,” Brik said thinking he was.

“But, I was thinking, perhaps tomorrow? From 9 AM to six?”

“That would be perfect. And if you need me to stay longer, I’m here.”

“No, I just need one day to show my wife that I haven’t abandoned her. And, you’re not scheduled at the front desk tomorrow?”

“Luckily, I happen to have the day off,” Brik concluded with a smile.

Brik didn’t have the day off. Walking back to his desk on top of the world, he knew what he had to do next.

“Please, Maria. Please, please, I’ll do anything. Just cover for me for tomorrow,” Brik begged.

“I told you, Brik, it’s my college roommates wedding tomorrow. I’ve been talking about it for the past month. There is no way you could have forgotten,” the heavyset Latina said.

“I know. And I certainly wouldn’t be asking for this if it wasn’t really important. It’s life or death.”