Cass was woken by her work phone, she looked at it hazily. It was work. Dejectedly she answered it. It was Dolores.
“Were the hell are you?” Dolores barked.
“Julian gave me the day off, I worked yesterday.”
“Do you know where he is?”
“I don’t know, at home? I left him at his club about 5pm,”Cass’ head throbbed.
“He is not at home. Rebecca is going insane. She said that he just disappeared yesterday morning and did not return. I’ve got work to do Cass, I am not employed to be his fucking babysitter. Was he drinking?”
“Well at the meal we did drink, but not much,” Cass lied. She did not like Dolores tone.
“He is an alcoholic, Cass. How could you?” Dolores statement was like a slap.
“I didn’t know that! No one thought to tell me that! He has drunk before with me and he was fine,” Cass retorted without remorse, sure that Dolores was exaggerating.
“He has been in rehab four times since I have worked here. He has started again,” Dolores voice cracked a little. The emotion made Cass realize that she was telling the truth.
“Look,” Cass suddenly became very sober,” he took me to this old fashioned club in St James. I can’t remember the name, but I think I can remember the place. Give me an hour and I will call you once I have found it. “
Cass quickly showered and pulled out her jeans and t shirt from yesterday’s Liberty bag. She chugged down a coffee and a couple of paracetamols, and headed out on her boss – hunt.
She cursed Julian on the Tube to Piccadilly. Lying bastard. She cursed herself for being so stupid. It was a beautiful day and she wanted to be in a park reading or go and see her sister and nieces. Instead this man baby had invaded her Sunday and now hijacked the Monday, which he had given her off. This was the last time she was going to do him any favours.
She walked down Germaine Street, too preoccupied and angry to notice the beautiful tailoring in the windows.
When she located the Club, she approached the doorman. She did not realize that her frustration had contorted her face, until she saw the look of alarm on the doorman’s face. She took a deep breath and tried to calm herself. She explained as calmly as possible that she was here yesterday afternoon with her boss, Julian Bauer and she was looking for him.
“No one with that name here, love,” the doorman said impassively.
“I was in here yesterday, please you have to help me, he has gone missing. His wife is beside herself. He is in there, isn’t he?”
“Look you are cluttering up the door way, he is not here.”
Cass looked around there was no one in the street. She prayed that Dolores was not setting her up, that their relationship had improved. “He is an alcoholic and he needs help,” Cass said firmly, planting both trainered feet on the top steps to the entrance.
“Oh go in, talk to the porter.”
She went in and there was the porter behind the mahogany vestibule. His round mutton chopped face turned beetroot on her approach, but Cass was now in her stride. “I know Julian Bauer is here, I need to see him. He is unwell and needs to get home. “
The porter bundled her into a side room. “Yes, yes! He is,” there was palpable relief in the porter’s voice. “We did not know who to contact. He said that he had left his telephone at the office. It transpires we only have his work telephone number. Please, can you come up the back stairs.”
Cass followed him up to the upper floors. “People sometimes like to stay here when they are in London, so we have a few rooms for our members. Unfortunately we were fully booked so Mr. Bauer is up in the storage level.”
The older man huffed up the narrow stone stairs. “We did our best under the circumstances,” he said apologetically as he opened the attic door. In the grim little room, Cass was confronted first with the sour smell of secondhand booze. If someone had lighted a match, the whole place would have gone up on the alcohol fumes.
She got used to the lack of light. Stepping over a couple of vodka bottles, blooded blazer and piss stained chinos, she gingerly approached the dusty mattress on the floor. Her boss looked tiny, rapped up in a duvet on the naked mattress. She knelt down gently to wake him. Her anger had subsided to pity.
“Julian”, she said as if she were waking a child. “Julian, it is me, Cass.”
“You are wearing those fucking trainers again. How did you get in here?” he mumbled from under the duvet.
The porter motioned to his face, communicating silently to Cass. “Julian can I see your face, please?” she urged gently.
Julian shifted his head from under the duvet. He had a black eye and a fat lip to finish the look. “How did you do that?” Cass said trying to push down her shock.
“Oh, well, you see, I went out to get a present for Rebecca, after you left and I was mugged you see. They got away with the bracelet I got her from de Beers,” Julian slunk under the duvet again.
The porter motioned Cass to the door and closed it. In hushed tones the porter explained, “Mr. Bauer’s did not leave the establishment yesterday. He went to the garden saying that he would be doing some work. From his bill, it looks like he only had a couple more glasses of wine, after your meal. As he went to leave last night, he collapsed and got caught in the revolving doors, that is when he got the head injuries.”
“Did you get him a doctor?” Cass was quite annoyed.
“Madam, our establishment is frequented by many acclaimed doctors. One of our member looked him over and said that bruising is superficial and he should sleep off his excesses.”
“And the vodka?”
“He must have had them on him. We do not think it is wise to frisk our members.”
“Okay,” Cass could not be bothered arguing. Places like this did not care, so long as the monthly membership and bar bill was paid. “I didn’t know he had an alcohol problem until today, but I would appreciate it if you would keep an eye on him next time. What is the name of this place?”
Cass phoned Dolores and explained where she was and the state of Julian. Dolores said she would get Rebecca to pick him up with clean clothes, but could Cass stay until she arrives. Cass shuddered at the thought of meeting Rebecca for the first time. Julian had painted her as a bit of a gold digging harridan and irrationally she felt that it was her fault Julian was in this state.
An hour later and a kind cup of tea in the Club’s kitchen, Rebecca arrived. She was petite, neat and a little bookish looking. Her clothes were expensive but slightly arty. She reminded Cass of a classy English teacher.
“Cass, thank you so much for finding him,” Cass was shocked at this stranger hugging her. “I am so sorry you had to see him like this. I didn’t even know he was a member here. Another secret.” Rebecca looked sad but resigned by Cass’ description of her husband.
As they entered the little room, Rebecca approached the makeshift bed, “Come on Julian, it is time to go home.”
“Oh it is you,” Julian buried himself further into the duvet. “There is a present for you in my briefcase.”
Rebecca did not look at the case, “Lovely but you really do need to get home now.”
“You are angry with me, I was mugged,” Julian said defensively.
“No you weren’t,” Rebecca’s tone was on the last key of calm and going to crescendo into rage. “Please, lets get you dressed and get you home. We can talk when we are home.”
“Home, home, home,” Julian sounded vindictive. “Don’t you get fed up of that place. No wonder I get like this, you don’t bloody work. I do everything and you just happily sit on your arse all day.”
“That is not fair Julian,” Rebecca was crying but it was rage not sadness.
Cass interjected, ‘Come on Julian. You can’t stay here. It is not really your style is it? We have fresh clothes and the swelling will go down in a couple of days. We all have moments.”
“Yes, yes,” Julian’s tone sounded more positive. “I have just had a moment Rebecca. Listen to Cass, she is very clever.”
Cass left the room as Rebecca was dressing Julian, but she was not far enough to ignore the hissed recriminations coming from the room. Rebecca wanted to know who Cass was. Julian accused Rebecca of being paranoid. Julian then said, “ You are so stupid. Have you not seen what she is wearing, hardly my type. She just fucking works for me. Those feet make her look like a transvestite.”
Cass inspected her feet critically. They weren’t that big.