Henry joined Amal at the bar for the final act. The bartender (who played the police officer) resumed his duties after returning the uniform to the costume closet. The headliner performed after the double feature of Henry Cockburn and Amal Beck, to rave responses. Henry missed the act entirely. He was present at the performance, as anyone in the Chandler Comedy Club could attest to. But he spent the time looking at Representative Fulton, studying his every move. Not even Amal, seated next to Henry at the bar, could convince him to discuss their mutual performances. Henry only noticed Amal when his friend, with a sudden anger, grabbed Henry’s jacket pocket and took his pen from it. Amal wrote scribbles on a notepad, but Henry took notes in his head. He gave a pointed look whenever Fulton laughed, a nod whenever Fulton shook his head.
At the end of the show, Henry looked to Amal. Amal looked calmed down. But he usually did— in Henry’s experience, he could give Amal a peanut butter and cheese milkshake, and Amal would extol the virtues of free drinks.
The last of the applause died down. Henry took Amal’s vodka from his hand, and replaced it with his phone. Amal stared at the phone. He gripped it, harder. In front of the two comedians, club patrons squeezed by in front of them, bustling past on their way to the double doors outside. Henry raised an eyebrow at Amal. Amal sighed, and then turned on the camera.
Henry shot up from his barstool. Representative Theodoard Fulton ambled, with his guests, past the straggling barflies still calling for more drinks. Fulton regurgitated some of the headliner’s funnier jokes to his company, and they laughed with him. Henry pushed back his sl...