Pop Up Bar

Danny and Sophie enjoyed their date. He had met her at the seed fixture at the Botanical Garden last week, they’d later had lunch at the cafe there, and now dinner in Lucerne Village. They’d shared a bottle of merlot and were slightly tipsy, but not drunk enough to do anything foolish – at least not yet.

Danny walked her home; it was only ten minutes out of his way, each way, and the fresh air and exercise would do him good. “What’s that?” said Sophie, pointing to a slim building tucked between apartment blocks, with a brightly lit doorway. “I hadn’t noticed it before. Doesn’t it look odd? It’s so tall and thin, like somebody sneaked it in while no one was looking.”

“Yes it is quite funny,” said Danny. “It looks like a commercial building.” There was an OPEN sign above the doorway. “Shall we take a look?”

Beyond its heavy wooden door was a small space with velvet curtains and subtle up- and down-lighting. It was classy but unnerving. They expected a host, or security staff ,to welcome them, but no one did. Classical music played beyond the curtains. They pushed them aside and entered.

They found themselves in a small but very grand room, with sumptuous, Victorian decoration. “Oh my God!” said Sophie. “This is like Buckingham palace, or Versailles.” Marble pillars stood at the corners of gold-leafed walls filled with Old Masters paintings. There were individual and family portraits, holy icons, and rural landscapes. A vast chandelier glittered above them, almost. It hung so low that they ducked to avoid it.

An impeccably groomed man with macassared hair and pencil moustache came towards them with champagne flutes, the glasses’ bubbles catching the chandelier’s light. “Welcome, welcome!” he said with a French accent. “Thank you for visiting Number One Lucerne.”

“Number One Lucerne?” said Danny. “How’s that?”

“We have a vision for this establishment,” he said, sweeping his hand around his head. “To be the beating heart of this village.”

“But it’s just one room,” said Sophie. “Four more people in here and it’s totally full. Sorry, I don’t mean to be rude. I’m just surprised.”

“Ah! You are right. But this is just the beginning. We will be taking over the whole building soon. Who’s we? Me and Pierro! We will make this place the talk of the town. The talk of every town!”

Danny drained his glass and it was refilled immediately. Sophie’s was topped up too. The man smoothed his pencil moustache and said, “There will be many other levels. This is the main bar. It is small, of course, because it is exclusive. Downstairs there will be a nightclub, below that, a retreat, and at the bottom, a dungeon.” He touched his nose, indicating a secret. “Upstairs we will have a restaurant, above that a hotel, and at the top, a tropical garden. That will be in a hothouse of course. We can’t risk frost.”

“Wow, that sounds amazing,” said Sophie. “We can’t wait to see that. When will you open the other sections?”

“As soon as we can get good staff, we will open.”

Danny had recovered from his recent depression, and was looking for work. “I would be interested in working here,” he said. “How do I apply?”

“I like you already,” said the man, running one nail along his moustache. “Just sign this contract and you can start tomorrow.”

In his enthusiasm and light headedness, and in low light, Danny quickly scanned the contract and signed it. He didn’t realize that the small print passed ownership of this illegal, unregistered, debt-laden, failed cultural project directly to him. He now had a choice: to make it work somehow, or to pass it on to someone else, as many previous owners had done.


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