A man maneuvered the narrow aisle in the bar like a spook. Dressed darkly, head ducked into furtive phone whispers, he seated himself beside me on the open bar stool. One of two left open in the uber-trendy R & D Cafe. I edged my bar stool closer to my husband to give the dude privacy.

And as excuse to snuggle nearer the man I’ve loved for 40+ years. We schmoozed, kibitzed, nibbled our meals, and sipped varietal wines at $15/glass.

Trendy = Spendy.

Thunk. The noise, asynchronous in the atmosphere of tinkly glasses and semi-tipsy fashionistas, drew my attention to my left.

Atop the gleaming wooden bar surface was a UPS bag, roughly scissor-cut open at one end and oddly shaped. Intriguing…

Actually it was two 9X12 bags. Full of stuff.  Double the fun –

In front of two jocular, slim and perfectly-postured-and-coiffed men. The initial guy’s cell phone conversation was replaced by a live conversant, another dude of similar age, stature, and savoir-faire.

Middle-aged and merry, like my husband and me… Well, maybe twenty years younger, I gotta admit. But, they were enjoying their drinks more or less the same as us. ‘Twas another PJ’s birthday celebration night, something of a specialty for me. Maybe their packages were gifts.

In a riff on the age-old game ‘kick the can’, I asked the guy next to me to see what was in his bag…

Cool and slow, Smoothe Dude opened the bag, as to reveal a game show prize behind Door #1. Sorta like a slow strip tease… Do not ask how I know how that looks – ! I’m a long-married Boomer, entitled to a little salacious fun…

But I digress… Back to the dude, his bag, and the taunting request for a peek. It was opened-Sesame-me.

I gaped, aghast and wide-eyed ’cause that’s what Cocky Dude craved. I spied stacks and stacks of banded $20 bills. It was like cracking a safe.

“Wow!” I dutifully exclaimed and pulled the bag over to show my husband.

Then, I smiled and said, “Thanks for the birthday gift.”

Cocky Dude on the other side of Mr. Smooth blanched.

The Smooth Dude smiled and eased the cash to its rightful place, in front of him. I raised my eyebrows and tilted my head in casual request for the cash’s source. “What gives?”

Cocky Dude went stone cold when Smooth Dude replied, “I’m a drug dealer.”

I didn’t flinch. I didn’t blink. I steely-eyed back.

A beat went by. And another and another. Two can play a game.

“So am I,” I said. Slight smile, just a tweak, but not a wink to undermine my semi-lie.

He looked away.

Then I slid him my card. “I write fiction. I lie for a living.” I winked.

Smooth Dude picked up the card, looked at it, eyed me and opened the UPS bag. He dropped my card inside to nestle with the cash stash. He raised his glass to toast.

He didn’t request clarification or confessions, so I gave none. I was Amy, the ballsy lass who hijacked book one in my series, Stashes.

I was a bad-ass Boomer, tweaking the balls off a hyper-cool, nuevo-riche recreational marijuana dealer. I know, though he didn’t provide his card.

I do research. I write.