Vape Famous Preview
Carly Hart trudged down the sidewalk of the strip mall. The heat was beating down the on the pavement, cooking her and her shoes. She popped in and out store fronts with her red portfolio tucked under arm. Her job was impossible, selling advertising for a Vibe magazine and their website. One of her bosses decided it was time to put the personal touch to their offerings and tagged her to be the gopher.
She quoted statics, the viability of print ads in the day and age of the internet, but there was no swaying the management. Now she was pounding the pavement. And as she predicted every shop owner declined to purchase an ad, even though the magazine was given away free all over the city.
It was almost five, quitting time and she pulled open the door to the sub sandwich shop. After getting a no from the owner she smiled and slipped into the restroom before hitting her business in the strip mall. One glance in the mirror gave another reason for the slew of declines from business owners. Her makeup had faded, her blouse was sliding out of the waist band of her skirt and her hair was starting to curl up even after the hour she spent straightening in the morning.
Disaster was the only word to describe her image. She swiped hot pink lipstick on her pouty mouth, touched up her eyeshadow and blush then decided to toss her hair up in a clip. Swearing she was going to cut it all off soon, as her dark blonde locks had grown past her shoulders. She was absolutely miserable with the long hair in the heat as well as the high heel shoes.
First impressions counted in sales. She had dressed in a nice white skirt to show off her long legs, her best feature and a colorful orange blouse with a nice v-neck to give a glimpse of cleavage from her D cup bustline. It was a cheap way to get someone to sign on the bottom line but she used every asset she had, in case her boss didn’t think she had tried hard enough. Unfortunately no one caved to her six foot height in heels, succumbed to her long legs or even gave her cleavage a second glance.
She paused at the last storefront with blackout tinted windows. Vape Lounge the large neon blue letters said on the door, along with the hours and the liquor license number. Smaller lettering announced recording on the premises. A lounge, excellent. She would go in, get her last ‘no thank you’ for the day and if lady luck was with her, she could sit in the a/c, and sip a Manhattan.
Cold air rushed across her as she pulled open the door and stepped inside and stopped immediately as a thick cloud of haze hung toward the ceiling. “Shit, a cigar bar,” she muttered then surveyed the establishment and inhaled. Weird, no smoke smell. To the left of her was the lounge decorated in a sixties vibe, with round leather booths, sitting areas and long bar across the back wall with high backed leather chairs. The only thing missing was fondue pots and some go-go girls in a cage.
The right side showed a display case and several people standing in front of them admiring the wall filled with colorful bottles. She glanced toward the bar wondering if they had a happy hour.
Her feet screamed at her as she propelled herself toward the display cases observing two men and woman holding box shaped devices in their hands which they would inhale and exhale a cloud of vapor. But it didn’t smell like smoke in this place and she sniffed the air again. It smelled like vanilla. No matter, she waited at the counter as the petite woman behind it with goth black hair streaked with pinks, facial piercings and a sleeve of tattoos which ran down her right arm catered to the customers.
“Whatcha need?” Her brown eyes were lined with heavy eye liner glanced at her.
“Is the owner available?” Carly gave her best smile which made her hazel eyes shine.
“No sweetie, he won’t be until ’bout seven.” The woman eye balled her. “So whatcha want with Steel?”
“Yeah, he owns this place.”
Carly tapped the portfolio under her arm. “Business,” then glanced at the bar, “Is there a bartender?”
“Yep, you’re lookin at her. I was coverin’ for Tips on this side while he ran out for some food. I’m Spree. What’s your poison?” The woman asked as she headed toward the bar.
Carly gave up all appearances of trying to make a sale at the end of the work day and wondered why everyone who worked there had funky names. “A Manhattan, if you can make one.”
“Sure, sweetie, Canadian or American?”
“Crown.” She said as she slid in a cool cushion leather chair at the bar. The lounge had a nice feel to it and wondered if the business was doing well as it was quiet for five-ish on a Friday night. “It’s quiet in here.”
“For another hour maybe, then it will balls to the wall until last call.” Spree said as she mixed the drink then set it in front of Carly who handed over her credit card. “Tab?”
“Yeah, why not.” She was beat and pulled out her phone to text her bestie, Mira. Maybe she could meet her for a drink. Spree was still staring at her. “Um, did I miss something?”
“Yeah chica, sip the drink, tell me if you like it.”
Carly gave a small laugh and lifted the large martini style glass. “Delicious,” she wasn’t lying. It tasted great. “It’s perfect.”
Spree smiled and gave her a nod. “Wicked.”
“Where’d you get the name Spree?” Odd name, maybe her parents were hipsters or new agers. She was proven wrong when the woman pulled a roll of candy out of her pocket.
“I’m addicted to these things. Somewhere down the way people started calling me Spree and it stuck.”
“Cool.” Carly said, as a group of people came in the door and headed to the retail side.
“I’ve got to take care of those folks. If you need anything just holler at me.”
“Thanks.” She nodded as a stream of text messages came through on her phone and it rang at the same. Mira, no communication device could tame the woman.
“Where are you? I’m dying here. It’s Friday, I need booze and to feast my eyes on some man candy, maybe get a taste.” Mira’s fountain of words finally ended.
“I’m at this lounge at the new strip mall, having the best Manhattan I’ve had since we went to NYC. Get over here.”
“Eye candy woman, I need scenery to wash away this dismal job. I’m going to quit. I swear it.”
Mira threatened to quit her job every week. She stayed at the high stress ad firm across town because she was in lust with the boss. She was waiting for the day he would see the gem in her, sweep her off her feet and carry her off to his whatever Mira could imagine, yacht, penthouse, estate mansion.
She held no illusions about love or men. Sex was either good or bad and men fell into the same category. She didn’t keep them around long. They either became clingy and needy, or like her ex, Krae, fell in lust with every piece of pussy to cross his path. She had goals, plans and prince charming didn’t factor in, neither did cheaters. “I’ll text you the address. The bartender said it would be hoppin’ with people in an hour. I’ll grab a booth in the back for us with a view.”
She slipped off the bar stool and scanned for a booth to give Mira her view of man candy. One booth was elevated in the back center to overlook the lounge. Perfect. Mira would be thrilled and she gathered her things and walked slowly on her aching feet toward it to settle in. The cameras hanging from the ceiling caught her attention and the smaller ones near the booth. Seriously, the owner was either paranoid prick or has an in with a security specialist because the whole place was wired.
She didn’t care, she was going to prop her feet up on the cool leather and sip her drink. A slow stream of people came and she watched from the higher vantage point. They all had some kind of device, square, round, wooden, tube shaped they blew vapor from and the shelf of multicolored bottles seem to garner the most attention. Three more people arrived behind the bar and put on aprons then classic rock started to fill the air.
Mira arrived and scanned the room finding Carly before she could wave to her. She smiled and glided her five foot four frame, perfect self to the booth. She had changed from work and was wearing a white scrunch dress and four inch heels. Her clothes were always designer and expensive to show off her slim hips and perky boobs.
Carly always envied the fact Mira could go bra-less in the summer without jiggling like jello when she walked. “Shit, you didn’t tell me this was a Vape Lounge. I’ve been wanting to check it out.” Her chestnut brown hair bounced around her face in trendy style brushing the edges of her chin and her eye make was done expertly to enhance her exotic brown eyes she inherited from her Japanese grandmother.
“They have those devices, here people use to quit smoking.”
“Oh, yeah. Well, you do need to quit. Job stress is no excuse.” Now it made sense. She had heard some talk about it at work but didn’t connect the dots. “Go check it out. I’d go with you but my feet are toast. I walked four shopping centers today.”
“Why did you take that job? You are the butt boy for everyone there, makes no sense. You could work at Lindy & Groves with me. You’ve got a Masters degree in Graphic Design and Marketing. You speak Chinese for fuck sake! Do something with it.”
“Mira, you don’t even work in your field at Lindy. You’re just a glorified copy girl. Besides if you want to learn a business, you do it from the ground up. And at least I get to work in my field.”
Spree popped by their table and took their drink order as Mira scooted closer. “Girl friend, I know that man took you to the cleaners, you’re going to run out of money soon and that job pays shit.” Mira leaned back in the booth and surveyed the lounge. “Ohhh, sweetness. Bad boys with tats at ten o’clock.” She breathed under her breath as Spree set their drinks down.
“The owner is back if you still want to talk to him,” Spree paused to await Carly’s answer.
“I’ll catch him during business hours.”
“Sweetie, these are his business hours.” Spree smiled giving her one more chance to change her mind. “I’ll call and make an appointment.”
“Suit yourself. Enjoy the drinks. I’ll check back later.”
Carly wondered if she was missing an opportunity to make an ad sale, then dismissed it. She made an hourly wage, commission on sales and if she was honest with herself, she felt defeated. She wanted to something innovative and creative, not just create ad copy or design a web listing for a database.
Mira poked her thigh under the table, “Don’t look now but I think the bad boys are on the prowl.”
Great, just what she needed, aggressive alpha males in heat and she eyed the two men walking toward them.