Chapter 2: Christopher
Jersey City, June 3rd, 1994
You can find an audio of this chapter here.
Christopher Hanna was pissed off. Like, so royally pissed off, he might put a fist through this dude's face.
“I’m sorry, sirs, but the bar is hosting a private event this afternoon.” This dude, clearly a career restaurant loser judging by his papery face and expensive gifted cufflinks, was about to get schooled.
“Yeah well, I’m Christopher Hanna. For me, there’s no such thing as a private event in this hotel.”
“I know who you are, Sir.” The man lowered his hand and actually put it in his pocket. Like he was settling in for a chat. So damn disrespectful. Chris lifted his chin and widened his stance, but the dude didn’t stop talking. “And you know who I am, Sir. Your mother informed me of your arrival, remember? I welcomed your group to Hanna yesterday. I’m Bernardo. The Maitre d’’”
At the mention of his mother, Michael sniggered behind him. He could be such an asshole.
“Well, Bernardo. My friends and I would like a drink, so I would appreciate if you’d let me into my bar.”
“I’m sorry, Sir. Your mother’s rules are very clear. You are to be treated as a regular guest. No special considerations. Apparently there have been prior…issues.”
At the word “issues” Michael gave up trying to suppress his amusement and let out a guffaw. A smile played on Christopher’s lips at the memory, but didn’t halt his rising temper. What the Hell, Mother!
Regardless of this guy’s frayed cuffs over his fancy cufflinks, Christopher knew he would not let them into that bar. Bernardo had Mother on his side. Great for Bernardo, but shit for them. He needed a drink.
It'd been a frustrating day. Clark had got them into a private game uptown. You’d expect a decent place on the upper east side. But the host’s apartment had been a dump. The players comprised a crew of self-important frat boys. One of whom had the nerve to ask Christopher if his accent was fucking Jamaican. None of them had a clue how to play blackjack. They were so disinterested and erratic Christopher couldn’t get into a decent groove. He’d lost close to five grand in the three hours they’d been there. Only three hours and the frat idiots had got so drunk one of them actually upchucked his breakfast over his blackjack hand. Damned if it hadn’t been two aces. That had done it for Christopher. He’d been ready to go, but Clark and Michael wouldn’t budge.
Michael was too happy with the bottle of tequila passed over happily and frequently by the generously tipped, acne-splattered, red-headed kid, futzing around the table as some kind of servant. Probably a desperate pledge. Idiot. Christopher and suffered through two more puke-scented rounds before knocking back two tequila shots and insisting they head back to the hotel. His hotel.
And now, they couldn’t even get a drink.
“Forget it, Chris, man.” Clark nudged into his shoulder. “Let’s just taxi to the Waldrove. We can get a drink there and your Mama won’t be able to keep her little baby in check.” Clark curled his lower lip down in a pout and Christopher threw a light punch to his shoulder. He would have made it harder, but Bernie was watching and Clark was right. Whatever he did, Bernardo would be sure to report back to his Mother.
“Okay, let’s get outta here.” Christopher said. “The staff is shit. I’ll need to have a word with my dear big brother.”
He risked a glance over his shoulder, but Bernardo just rocked back on his heels and smirked. He must get that asshole fired.
The guys went to their room to call the taxi and Christopher left to change his shirt and get rid of the frat boy stink. He tossed his jacket onto the four-poster bed and decided on a shower. The guys and the taxi would wait. They were traveling on his dime. They’d do whatever he wanted. Occasionally he’d get some shit from Clark, but he chalked it up to resentment. Clark had his own money and family prestige, but not at the level of the Hanna family. He couldn’t compete. Also, technically Clark’s dad was a Hanna employee, even if also a family friend. In Christopher’s eyes, that kind of made him Christopher’s employee or whatever. Anyway, Clark didn’t like it when others pegged him as Christopher’s lapdog, which happened to his high school buddy more than he’d like to admit. Michael, though, was happy for Christopher to fund the lifestyle to which he’d become accustomed. He damn well couldn’t fund it himself.
Christopher stepped out of the steaming shower and pulled the plush towel from the heated rail. He brushed his hand over the embroidered intertwined H's representing the logo for the Hanna Hotel in gold across the top edge. A lot of good it did Christopher being a member of the Hanna family today. He just wanted a drink in his own hotel, but no one would serve him.
“Your hotel, Darling? Hardly.” His mother’s voice crept into his head just as the phone rang. He knew it would be her. He’d summoned her. Like the fucking devil. He grabbed the robe hanging on the back of the bathroom door and pulled his arms through the thick cotton sleeves, and moved to the bedside cabinet to lift the receiver.
"Hold on, Mother. Trying to get decent."
"Decent, darling? You'll never be decent." She laughed her lilting, false twinkle laugh.
He moved to the bed and climbed in. He settled back on the tower of pillows against the headboard.
“Hello, Mother. Why are you calling me?”
She twinkled again. “I’m getting ready to leave for Miami, darling. Weekend with the girls.”
“Fine.” He wasn’t interested, really. His mother was always flying off somewhere. Probably escaping from their drunken father and his boring brother with his boring life. Just like him. “I just got shit from some dude. Bernadette or something. I don’t need you to be babysitting me from afar, Mother. I’m twenty-three years old, for Christ’s sake.”
“Don’t swear Christopher. It’s tacky.” She mumbled. Papers shuffled in the background. She must be in her “office”. She’d be sitting at her massive desk topped with black marble. He pictured her hunched over her latest “project” while behind her towered the same bookshelves filled with the same careful arrangement of gold-rimmed, first-edition hardbacks that had been there as long as he could remember. As teenagers, Christopher once asked his brother how many she'd actually read. Brad offered a bet of fifty grand she'd never turned a single page on any of them. They even shook on it, but then couldn't figure out how they'd prove it. Both of them were too chicken to ask her. She'd gone to Oxford, she’d said. Probably bullshit.
“What do you want, Mother? We are just on our way out.”
“Why are you drunk? I got a call from Bernardo to tell me you’re drunk. At this time of day, Christopher. Really.”
She should talk.
“I want that man fired. He's a prick.”
Now he heard the slide of a drawer and the clacking of objects presumably as she unloaded them onto the ultra-polished marble desktop. His mother always had a project. But mostly mother’s projects involved expensive stationery and filing papers. Her ‘work’ produced nothing of value. At least Clark’s mother was active and visible on the charity scene. His mother was only visible on the charity scene. Toni Hanna loved to be visible. “Hmmm. Well, you talk to your brother about that. See how that goes.” She said.
"Did you hear what I said? I want him fired."
She huffed. "To be honest, Christopher, I don't really care what you want. When you are there, you are representing the Hanna family. Honestly, Christopher, I can't have a little boy flouncing around drunk and stroppy and throwing hissy fits when he will one day be the steward of a global business." She went silent. He resisted the urge to clap back. He wanted to go out. Not spend the day fighting with her. She sighed. "I don't comment on these never-ending trips of yours. I'm trying to let you enjoy your youth, but this is ridiculous."
“The steward of a global business?” Christopher reached over to the bedside table where a half-full scotch sat from last night. He pushed yesterday’s Rolex aside and grabbed the crystal glass. He swigged a mouthful and grimaced. “That’s funny, Mother because I feel like the business, global or otherwise, already has a steward. And it’s not me.”
“Are you drinking right now?” The drawer slammed. “Speaking of your brother…didn’t he give you a job to do at home?”
Christopher swished back the last mouthful of scotch. He would drink whenever he damn well wanted to. He pulled the phone wire up from behind the cabinet and carried the handset to the closet, from which he pulled out a crisp, newly ironed shirt. The maid had carefully pressed, hung, and labeled his wardrobe for the week. At least this dump had one decent employee. “Yeah, and he gave me a crap job. Asked me to call potential ‘clients’, and grovel like a loser. No, thank you.”
“Did you tell him you were leaving Nassau?” He didn’t answer. It was none of his brother’s business where he went.
His mother’s silence stretched out, her favorite tactic to trick him into speaking when he didn’t want to. When he didn't speak, she sighed again. She did a lot of sighing around him lately. “Have you called Jessica since you've been there? Felicity said she misses you.”
“Felicity said no such thing.”
Not a chance Jessica would tell her mother that she missed him. And Felicity, Jessica’s mother, had never spent enough time with his mother to share such intimacies. His mother owned the responsibility for his relationship with Jessica, anyway. The insufferable woman had pushed Jessica on him as soon as he arrived home from a failed effort at grad school. Jess been after him since the week she appeared at St. Andrews during their last year of school and his mother had noticed and pushed and pushed until he’d given in. Jessica Syms was the only child of Felicity and Benjamin Syms. The Syms, an old Bahamian family, had recently returned from a successful life in Australia. They were the proud new owners of Sunset Cay, The Sunset Spa and Hotel, and the Sunset Marina. The entire family, and their private jet, were a hot commodity in Nassau. Having Jess around represented a real boost to his Mother’s social standing. Not like she needed it. He hated how she was a Hanna, yet always seemed so desperate for validation.
He'd been giving it a go. Why not? Jessica was pretty hot, not to mention ready, willing, and surprisingly able. But recent wedding talk, from both Jess and his mother, and Christopher wanted out. He had zero plans of getting married and less than zero plans of getting married to an empty-headed Nassau socialite.
"Let me be clear here, Christopher. Her voice was so strident he snatched the receiver away from his ear. Strident. A good word for her. Even with the phone a foot away from his head, her voice carried. “It's time you put a respectable front on your lifestyle. And since you have little to no understanding of what the word ‘respectable’ means, it falls to me to decide that for you. I have to go, darling. Please stop harassing the staff while you are there.”
He pulled the phone to his ear again. “Will you fire Bernadette?”
“The man who works here.” He found it unbelievable that a member of the staff of his own hotel had given him shit.
"Just behave yourself please, Christopher, and I won’t need to call you again. I'll see you in a few days."
The line went dead. His mother treated him like a child. He was a partial heir to a multi-million dollar company and yet he didn’t have the authority to fire a stupid little man himself without getting her involved.
Well, at least he didn’t have to be anywhere near the guy. Clark was right. Time to visit a different hotel and throw his mother off the scent. The Waldrove would do fine. Anyway, they’d probably find some pretty hangers-on there who’d jump at a fully funded evening of champagne and caviar. Girls hung around the Waldrove bar, believing it was the perfect pond for husband fishing. But most would relinquish the bait without putting it on the hook. He tossed his shirt onto the massive bed and grinned to himself. He could use some company in there tonight.
Note from LM - I love a fancy hotel don’t you? We don’t often splurge when we travel but if we are splurging you can keep your flight upgrades and Ubers, and give me a fancy hotel. When I picture the Hanna Hotel, I always picture the Royalton Hotel in New York City. It’s where I had my very first taste of fancy. A friend has left the telemarketing job I was stuck in and made it to the big leagues. She joined an advertising agency with a fat salary and… an expense account! She invited me to meet her for drinks in the Royalton Bar (she was buying obviously) and I felt like I was in Heaven.
What’s your favorite hotel?
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