Flashback to Richard's dinner party at Rachel's house
Richard arrived at six for dinner at the boss's house. He’d been there before, when Rachel gave a dinner party for him when he was hired at the treatment center. Rachel said each new hire merited the dinner party. The guest for the evening was a doctor friend of Rachel’s from a clinic in Houston, seeming to be involved with the boss romantically. The others were there, from the center. During the hiring process, Richard had met the other lieutenants. He’d worked at the center for a week before the dinner party in his honor.
Rachel called the restaurant they had reviewed on her latest broadcast. It was Richard's job to pick the order up and bring it back to the house; part of the ritual, the new hire picking up the order. When he arrived, the others were into a second bottle of wine, feeling warm and gracious to see him there, they each having had a glass or two of wine. He asked the boss what was for dinner, unaware of what he had brought back. Fish tacos, they told him. Someone poured him a glass of wine. Dinner being established on the long table, Richard paused, sipping from the glass, looking at Rachel’s family photographs. She had a daughter, pictured throughout, aged about twenty-one by then. She said she had a daughter, Erica, a junior at UT.
Richard sipped the wine, wanting to compliment Rachel on her beauty, as from looking over the other photographs, appearing down three generations of her family, to Erica. He took another sip. Someone passed him a plate. He looked around the room, a small room for such a large table, wondering if it was extended for the dinner party, assuming the affirmative. The doctor had brought the wine and the cheese platter, he and Rachel rejoining the dinner party from the kitchen, its light blinking off behind them.
The light in the room dimmed, the atmosphere warm and intimate, his new colleagues equally so, treating him as well as expected. Given the reputation of the Blue Wing, Richard felt already at home. Taking a swallow of wine, he looked across to another wall of photographs. Someone asked him about playing football in college. Someone asked him about his interest in the ballet. Someone asked him about the wine and cheese. They liked him. They all liked each other. Richard wondered who was the first in present company to bring back the fish tacos, and heard the story, from one to the next. It was an icebreaking technique Rachel had taken from a book she and a guest reviewed on Rachel's show, How to Make Excellent Impressions.
Richard knew of Rachel through a professor in the social work program at college, that she was described as being “technically magical.” The comment fascinated Richard and he’d come from New Mexico to Dallas to work at the Lexington Center.
A crystal figurine caught his eye, a female figure in the lotus position, containing seven small gems that Richard recognized as the chakras. He asked Rachel about the figurine. She explained that it was a gift from the doctor when she and Erica completed his course on personal energy. Rachel joked that the doctor said if all else fails, “Spin like a whirling dervish to keep your chakras open and your energies in motion.” The doctor laughed as heartily as a lover. Someone poured Richard another glass of wine and he observed the doctor who was clearly in love with Rachel. Or was it clear? He wondered for a moment. It could have been the wine.
Richard took a swallow after finishing dinner and trying a few postage stamps of fine cheese from the silver platter. Taking another swallow and relaxing further, someone queried him about his method of approach at work, toward serious response, catching him off guard. Richard responded agreeably to the ranking lieutenant. Rachel roused them with anecdotes on why they prefer the method in question, here as during the interview, where all of Richard’s new colleagues were present. He felt welcome and fully tried for defect. The colleague inasmuch indicated this, offering a toast, he said, “To Richard, may we share the benefit.”
"May we share the benefit!" the others sang. "Cheers!"
"Cheers," Richard said. "Thank you."