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Chapter 15
The boss, a middle-aged man (estimated BMI twenty-seven),arrived with the additional supplies just in time for dessert, anddid some re-organisation of the process behind the bar. Dessertwas great fun, although it was hard to hear orders over thevolume of conversation. I sold primarily the cream-basedcocktails, with which most of the diners were unfamiliar, butresponded to enthusiastically.
As the food waiters cleared the dessert dishes, I made a roughmental calculation of our coverage. It depended a great deal onRosie, but I believed we had samples from at least eighty-fiveper cent of the males. Good, but not optimum use of ouropportunity. Having ascer-tained the names of the guests, I haddetermined that all but twelve of the Caucasian males from thegraduation party were present. The missing twelve included AlanMcPhee, unable to attend due to death, but already eliminatedby means of his daughter’s hairbrush.
I headed for the bar, and Dr Ralph Browning followed me.
‘Can I bother you for another Cadillac? That was maybe thebest drink I’ve ever had.’
121/290The bar staff were packing up, but the boss said to Rosie,‘Make the man a Cadillac.’
Jenny and Rod Broadhurst appeared from the dining room.
‘Make that three,’ said Rod.
The other bar personnel surrounded the owner, and there wasa conversation.
‘These guys have to go,’ said the boss to me, shrugging hisshoulders. He turned to Rosie. ‘Double time?’
Meanwhile, the diners were forming a throng around the bar,raising their hands for attention.
Rosie handed a Cadillac to Dr Browning then turned to theboss.
‘Sorry, I need at least two to stay. I can’t run a bar for ahundred people by myself.’
‘Me and him,’ said the boss, pointing to me.
Finally, I had a chance to use my expertise. Rosie lifted thehinged part of the bar and let me through.
Dr Miranda Ball raised her hand. ‘Same again, please.’
I called to Rosie, loudly, as the bar area was now very noisy.
‘Miranda Ball. Alabama Slammer. One part each sloe gin,whisky, Galliano, triple sec, orange juice, orange slice and acherry.’
‘We’re out of triple sec,’ yelled Rosie.
‘Substitute Cointreau. Reduce the quantity by twenty per cent.’
Dr Lucas put his finished drink on the bar, and raised hisfinger.
One more.
‘Gerry Lucas. Empty glass,’ I called.
Rosie took the glass: I hoped she realised that we didn’t havea sample for him yet.
‘Another Anal Probe for Dr Lucas.’
‘Got that,’ she called from the kitchen. Excellent, she hadremembered to swab.
122/290Dr Martin van Krieger called out, loudly, ‘Is there a cocktailwith Galliano and tequila?’
The crowd quietened. This sort of question had becomecommon during dinner, and the guests had seemed impressedwith my responses. I took a few moments to think.
Martin called out again, ‘Don’t worry if there isn’t.’
‘I’m re-indexing my internal database,’ I said to explain thedelay. It took a few moments. ‘Mexican Gold or FreddyFudpucker.’ The crowd applauded.
‘One of each,’ he said.
Rosie knew how to make a Freddy Fudpucker. I gave the bossthe Mexican Gold recipe.
We continued in this mode, with great success. I decided totake advantage of the opportunity to test all male doctorspresent, including those I had previously filtered out because ofincompatible ethnic appearance. At 1.22 a.m. I was confidentthat we had tested all but one person. It was time to beproactive.
‘Dr Anwar Khan. Approach the bar please.’ It was anexpression I had heard used on television. I hoped it carriedthe required authority.
Dr Khan had drunk only from his water glass, and carried itwith him to the bar. ‘You haven’t ordered a drink all night,’ Isaid.
‘Is that a problem? I don’t drink alcohol.’
‘Very wise,’ I said, although I was providing a bad example,with a beer open beside me. ‘I recommend a Virgin Colada.
Virgin Mary.
Virgin –’
At this moment, Dr Eva Gold put her arm around Dr Khan.
She was obviously affected by alcohol. ‘Loosen up, Anwar.’
Dr Khan looked back at her, and then at the crowd, whowere, in my assessment, also exhibiting the effects ofintoxication.
‘What the hell,’ he said. ‘Line up the virgins.’
He put his empty glass on the bar.
123/290I did not leave the golf club until very late. The last guestsdeparted at 2.32 a.m., two hours and two minutes after thescheduled completion time. Rosie, the boss and I had madeone hundred and forty-three cocktails. Rosie and the boss alsosold some beer of which I did not keep track.
‘You guys can go,’ said the boss. ‘We’ll clean up in themorning.’ He extended his hand to me and I shook itaccording to custom, although it seemed very late forintroductions. ‘Amghad,’ he said. ‘Nice work, guys.’
He didn’t shake Rosie’s hand but looked at her and smiled. Inoticed that she was looking a little tired. I was still full ofenergy.
‘Got time for a drink?’ said Amghad.
‘Excellent idea.’
‘You’ve got to be kidding,’ said Rosie. ‘I’m going. All the stuff’sin your bag. You don’t want a lift, Don?’
I had my cycle, and had only drunk three beers over thecourse of a long evening. I estimated that my blood alcoholwould be well below the legal limit, even after a drink withAmghad. Rosie departed.
‘What’s your poison?’ said Amghad.
‘Poison?’
‘What do you want to drink?’
Of course. But why, why, why can’t people just say what theymean?
‘Beer, please.’
Amghad opened two pale ales and we clicked bottles.
‘How long have you been doing this?’ he asked.
Though some deception had been necessary for the purposesof the Father Project, I was not comfortable with it.
‘This is my first work in the field,’ I said. ‘Did I make someerror?’
Amghad laughed. ‘Funny guy. Listen,’ he said. ‘This place hereis okay, but it’s mostly steak and beer and mid-range wine.
Tonight was a one-off, and mainly because of you.’ He dranksome beer, and looked124/290at me without speaking for a while. ‘I’ve been thinking ofopening in the inner west – a little cocktail bar with a bit offlair. New York feel, but something a bit extra behind the bar,if you know what I mean. If you’re interested –’
He was offering me a job! This was flattering, considering mylimited experience, and my immediate irrational thought wasthat I wished Rosie had been present to witness it.
‘I already have a job. Thank you.’
‘I’m not talking about a job. I’m talking about a share in abusiness.’
‘No, thank you,’ I said. ‘I’m sorry. But I think you would findme unsatisfactory.’
‘Maybe, but I’m a pretty good judge. Give me a call if youchange your mind. I’m in no hurry.’
The following day was Sunday.
Rosie and I arranged to meet at the lab at 3.00 p.m. She waspredictably late, and I was already at work. I confirmed thatwe had obtained samples from all attendees at the reunion,meaning we had now tested all but eleven of the Caucasianmales in the class.
Rosie arrived in tight blue jeans and a white shirt and headedfor the refrigerator. ‘No beer until all samples are tested,’ Isaid.
The work took some time, and I needed to source additionalchemicals from the main laboratory.
At 7.06 p.m. Rosie went out for pizza, an unhealthy choice, butI had missed dinner the previous night and calculated that mybody would be able to process the extra kilojoules. When shereturned, I was testing the fourth-to-last candidate. As we wereopening the pizza, my mobile phone rang. I realised immediatelywho it was.
‘You didn’t answer at home,’ said my mother. ‘I was worried.’
This was a reasonable reaction on her part, as her Sundayphone call is part of my weekly schedule. ‘Where are you?’
125/290‘At work.’
‘Are you all right?’
‘I’m fine.’
It was embarrassing to have Rosie listen to a personalconversation, and I did everything I could to terminate itquickly, keeping my responses as brief as possible. Rosie startedlaughing – fortunately not loudly enough for my mother tohear – and making funny faces.
‘Your mother?’ she said when I was finally able to hang up.
‘Correct. How did you guess?’
‘You sound like any sixteen-year-old boy talking to his mum infront of –’ She stopped. My annoyance must have beenobvious. ‘Or me talking to Phil.’
It was interesting that Rosie also found conversation with aparent difficult. My mother is a good person, but very focusedon sharing personal information. Rosie picked up a slice ofpizza and looked at the computer screen.
‘I’m guessing no news.’
‘Plenty of news. Five more eliminated, only four to go. Includingthis one.’ The result had come up while I was on the phone.
‘delete Anwar Khan.’
Rosie updated the spreadsheet. ‘Allah be praised.’
‘World’s most complicated drink order,’ I reminded her. DrKhan had ordered five different drinks, compensating for hisabstinence earlier in the evening. At the end of the night, hehad left with his arm around Dr Gold.
‘Yeah and I messed it up too. Put rum in the Virgin Colada.’
‘You gave him alcohol?’ I presumed this was in violation of hispersonal or religious standards.
‘Maybe he’ll miss out on his seventy-two virgins.’
126/290I was familiar with this religious theory. My public position, asnegotiated with the Dean, is that I regard all non-science basedbeliefs as having equal merit. But I found this one curious.
‘Seems irrational,’ I said. ‘Wanting virgi............
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