I remember our night at Quinn's a little differently...
A light fog hung in the air as I ascended the marble staircase to the entrance of le Maison Luce. Ribbons of colored light streamed through the leaded glass of the heavy mahogany doors, which parted to reveal my smiling, dapper host.
"Good evening, Mrs. Swan" "Good evening, Quinn," I said, and offered my gloved hand to the impeccably dressed millionaire. He slid the stole from my bare shoulders and handed it off to the maid. My friends and I were always amused by the charming, eccentric Quinn, who insisted on playing maitre d' Thursday nights at his exclusive little bistro by the sea.
You had to know someone, of course, to get in on Thursdays-- it was, after all, Mudcat night and anything could happen.
"Your party awaits you in the lounge, Madame." he said, and gestured toward the great hall. "Thank you, Quinn. Oh, by the way, is Sonja here?" "No, Madame, she has not arrived. She met a mysterious concertina player at a little place called Annap's and no one has heard from her since." "Ah, pity," I sighed, "If you see her, please ask her to join us, I'm so looking forward to meeting her." "Very well, Madame." smiled Quinn.
I entered the spacious hall from the rear, hoping to catch a glimpse of my dear husband and his dashing friends, Fadac and Seed. As my eyes scanned the luxuriously appointed surroundings, the room filled with the sounds of a thousand lilting strings. The beautiful melody was familiar, yet oddly out of place. I struggled to remember the name of the haunting tune, and then-- ah yes, how could I forget-- it was unmistakably 'our song', "What Will We Do With A Drunken Sailor" (the Montavani version). It reminded me of him.
I wondered, was he thinking of me as he heard it play? Did he remember our wedding night in Tangiers when his tipper broke my bodhran, to the strains of that very song?
I moved through the crowd searching among tuxedos and evening gowns for the sight of my dear one's profile among the throng, but to no avail. I accepted a glass of champagne from a passing waiter and stood near the side of the room. As the music ended, polite applause arose from the crowd, then quickly faded as our attention was drawn to the sound of a silver spoon tinking a glass.
All eyes turned to the corner near the stage as Fadac rose and spoke. His commanding presence filled the room as the rich, round tones of his voice filled the air. "A toast!" he boomed. "To Mudcatters here and absent friends!" One hundred champagne flutes were lifted to join his, as the crowd cheered "Here,here!"
Just as the champagne touched my lips, a commotion arose near the stage. "Seize him!" cried Quinn, "He's got a set of SPOONS!" Glass shattered and women screamed, as the spoon-wielding fiend leapt from behind a bank of concertinas and tried to make a break for the door.
"Stand back!" shouted a tall, dashing silver-haired man, as he slipped the platinum plated harmonica form his breast pocket and hurled it deftly through the air, grazing the crazed percussionist. Knocked off balance, the masked intruder wheeled toward the audience, crashing into Fadac and spilling his champagne on nearby cameras.
"Thanks, Seed, I've got it from here!" came a voice from the front of the room. With lightning-quick reflexes, my brave husband flung himself on the fugutive, fearlessly facilitating forfeiture of the faker's flatware.
Ripping off the imposter's mask, he declared "Just as I thought! Trying to pass yourself off as one of the 'Sons of the Buccaneers' when any regular Thursday night 'Catter would know those posters out front were just a trick to hide the true identity of the greatest house band that ever played... "Hokey Pokey and the Druids!"
A cheer went up from the audience. The scoundrel was shown the back door, as Hokey himself stepped up to the microphone to lead the Druids in a stirring rendition of "Who Put The Jello In My Possum Ocarina". The crowd was on their feet and dancing in an instant.
But I couldn't hear the music. I crossed the room in a haze, my eyes locked on those of my handsome husband. He pulled his signature red bandana from his pocket and wiped the champagne from his brow. "Remember this bandana?" he asked provocatively. I blushed and nodded. "It's the one I used in Tangiers to moisten your bodhran between sets. I've never been without it since." I smiled and sank into the arms of the man I love.
Just another Thursday night at Quinns.