Lush is rocking back-and-forth on a barstool at one of his favourite haunts: ‘The Flamingo Club’. Flavio is in a generous mood today and, as such, Lush (as a distinguished member of the hummingbird infantry) is enjoying a bottle of Mollinger on the house this evening. Lush is a well-respected guest here; the first human to ever risk his own life for the sake of these renegade animals. Flavio and Lush have developed a routine of sorts. Whenever Lush arrives, Flavio will always fly over to where he is sitting to share a toast before telling him stories from his childhood.
Lush is enjoying the last warmth of this Saturday evening in London. Olivier has kindly offered to babysit the zebraffes for this evening, so Lush is as free as a human tonight. It is fair to say that, after his recent escapades in Paris and the humiliating ordeal at his ex-wife’s party, Lush feels very much at ease in the basement bar. Lush is reminded of a time from his Eton days when he had spent three days avoiding his responsibilities in an old antique shop. The owner was a kindly old man who took a liking to Lush immediately. Unfortunately for their friendship, the shop owner’s diet consisted almost entirely of cheese sandwiches. It was the eleventh cheese sandwich during his short stay that finally convinced Lush to brave the outside world. Somewhat tragically, the kindly owner died a few days later, possibly from cheese-based complications.
Lush is awoken from his daydreaming by someone slamming the bar door. Flavio Flamingo is a busy man and simply hasn’t had time to replace his doorman since the assault on the bar oh so many months ago. As a result, the bar is basically open to all-comers, provided they know where it is. Lush slowly turns his eyes towards the door. He has a sneaking suspicion that his short-lived happiness might be about to be challenged. To his surprise, an attractive lady with dirty blonde hair has entered the bar. After a very quick look around to take in her surroundings, she sets her sights on Lush. As she gets closer, Lush can’t help but notice that she is swinging her little black iguana-leather purse like a mace. At the sight of this purse, a gasp resounds from a corner in which an iguana funeral party has assembled. ‘Carl!’ The iguana widow cries, following the handbag with her eyes.
Suddenly, the realisation dawns on Lush that he knows this lady from somewhere. Although he can’t quite place her, he suspects that she might be an acquaintance from his days when in London’s west end. Lush, already not the youngest in those days (was he ever truly young?), was at the perfect age to play the role of the not entirely successful yet experienced old-money playboy.
Although Lush’s plans usually never led much of anywhere beyond giving his ego a little much-needed boosting, he did at one point convince a local restaurateur to aid him in his endeavours. Thinking back, Lush suspects that the man’s motivations may have been simple pity. In any case, the restaurant owner was instructed to make a big deal of Lush’s arrival at the bar whereupon Lush would invite the most eligible young lady to champagne and dinner at the restaurant. Whether things were going well or not, Lush would always pull off his signature move. Just before dessert arrived, he would excuse himself to go to the little boys’ room. From there, he’d slip out of the window into the street and flee home under cover of darkness. The maître d’ had been trained to go to the table Lush’s companion was sitting at to explain that due to force majeure Mr Lush would not be returning. ‘The gentleman apologises for any inconvenience. Unfortunately, we will require you to cover the bill for food in its entirety. We recommend that you leave your contact details, so that the gentleman can reimburse your funds as soon as he is available again.’ The lady would pay and never hear from Lush again. In a life devoid of fine hours, these were certainly not his finest.
The woman comes right up to Lush and whispers in his ear: ‘There you are, at last’, while taking a seat next to him. Lush, not feeling entirely comfortable in this situation, stops rocking on his stool while simultaneously looking for exits or means to cause a distraction. In many ways, Flavio is not the type of hummingbird to welcome change. Even the recent attack on his bar has not spurred him on to add an emergency exit. In short, Lush is trapped. Lush takes a big gulp of his champagne and tries to play it cool. All the while, he is desperately trying to get the attention of Flavio to get him to push the big red button under the bar. The button sends an emergency signal directly to Olivier. More than once the ocelot has come to Lush’s rescue. Much to Lush’s chagrin, Flavio is currently engaged in conversation with a particularly attractive opposum at the other end of the bar. Lush sees no alternative but to activate apology protocols.
‘Well… it’s lovely to see you. It was a dreadful business. I’m awfully sor…’ However, before he can even finish his sentence, the woman interrups him.
‘Save it. You don’t need to convince me. I know all about you and your skills. I’ll get straight to the point. Lush, we need your help… and we will pay handsomely.’
Lush begins to rock back and forth so violently that he ends up falling off his stool and slamming onto the floor of the bar. MM/DPFC/EG