Jooster Fic: Jeeves and the Club for Inverts (Part 1)
Title: Jeeves and the Club for Inverts
Rating: R for some fruity scenes
Warnings: angst, uh, the seedy sort of underbelly of gay culture? Is that a warning thing?
Length: a little over 23,000 words
Summary: Bertie goes to a rather rummy sort of club, the last place one would expect to find one's brilliant valet. What follows is more rummy stuff, lots of drinking, much too much smoking, and some other unmentionable things.
For those that might like to listen along to the songs that make an appearance in the story, you can open these into tabs and perhaps hit play when you feel like it. Don't worry, it will be very obvious when a song shows up:
It all began rather innocently, I'd like to say. That is, I would like to say, but I won't as it would be an out-and-out lie, and quite frankly I think you lot deserve a sight better. I mean, here you are, sitting down to another one of my tales, probably already lulled into your ritual of pursuing the Wooster chronicles with a pipe and a cup of strong tea. You might expect another little ditty about my cousin Angela's trials and tribulations with her betrothed, or my fellow Drones and their pursuit of a toothsome female.
This story is a bit different; it doesn't turn on one aunt or another making a ridiculous decree, and it doesn't end with Jeeves tossing one of my beloved, yet to his mind unsuitable, articles of clothing in the rubbish bin. It's a wholly new kind of tale for me, and it begins not innocently at all, in just this fashion.
Cyril Bassington-Bassington, whom you might remember as the creature that was so taken with the Broadway stage that he had forsworn a position as a diplomat, visited me one day in the Berkeley flat. Cyril is a rummy sort, but a friend of mine, so I hailed him warmly, if not a little warily. As Jeeves saw to his hat and stick, I asked the old bean, 'What brings you here, Cyril? Are you no longer performing in New York?'
'No, Bertie,' he sighed, taking a chair and one of my cigarettes, 'the tour has drawn to a close. I'm sure I could have easily gotten a role in the director's next venture, but truth be told, I had tired of that buffoon and his so-called artistic vision.'
'Oh?' I said with all due politeness. (So needed because Cyril wasn't actually any good on stage, from what I'd seen.)
Cyril hummed and waved his newly lit gasper between two fingers. 'I've decided it's time for me to try my luck in the West End.'
'Oh.' I pursed my lips in what I hoped was reasonable interest. 'Rather.'
'But that's not why I've come to you, Bertie. I—' And then Cyril shot a completely fish-eyed glance at Jeeves, who was standing silently and helpfully off stage right as was his wont. The Bassington Squared cleared his throat meaningfully. 'Jeeves, do you think I might have a glass of water? Thanks awfully.'
And with a low 'Indeed, Mr Bassington-Bassington,' Jeeves trickled from the room like a fresh spring.
Cyril leaned forward and whispered to me in a hurried way. 'Bertie, I've come to ask a favour of you. It's a rather delicate matter. That's why I asked Jeeves for water, you see. I'm not actually thirsty, but it would get him—'
'Yes, yes.' I rolled a hand through the air. 'I am in the know. Pray continue, Cyril.'
His fingers twitched nervously round his cigarette. 'I wondered if you might accompany me to a club.'
This seemed a strange sort of secret favour, for it is known far and wide that Bertram W. Wooster is always willing to sally forth for an evening's revelry at any club in good standing. I like nothing better than lifting a beaker with a crowd of the best, though we were always welcome to do so at the Drones, and I reminded Cyril of such. But the blighter just shook his head.
'No, it's not that simple, Bertie. You see, it's a different sort of club.'
'So you say, I suppose.'
'Bertie, it's—' Cyril looked round the room again, but Jeeves was still in the middle of his famous disappearing act. 'It's a club for a certain type of gentleman.'
I nodded along. 'All from the theatre, then?'
'Not exactly. Bertie, I'm going to be very blunt with you because, erm, you're probably the best egg I know. To tell, I mean.'
'Why, thank you very much.'
'I don't think what I'm about to say will upset you unduly.'
'I should hope not.'
'Bertie, this club is for gentlemen who don't enjoy the company of ladies,' Cyril finally managed to squeak out.
I looked at him as if he'd gone mad. 'Cyril, surely no sane man finds pleasure in the presence of aunts and cousins, what?'
Cyril covered his face with his hands and made a noise like a carriage wheel in need of oil. When he was done, he hissed at me: 'In bed, you half-wit! Men who don't enjoy the company of ladies in bed.'
'Oh. I say.'
'Well, how was I supposed to know what you were on about?' I admit I was slightly pipped at this attitude he had, that all and sundry should immediately understand what he meant by such vague statements.
'Look, it doesn't matter,' he sighed. 'I'd like to go to this place, and I don't want to go alone.' He fidgeted with his cuff-link. 'That is, if you're not busy.'
I've had a lot of accusations flung at me in my time, but no one has ever said that I have a heart of ice. Looking at young Cyril sitting there, entrusting me with his secret, I defrosted instantly. Cyril might be an annoying chap at times, and he can't deliver a line to save his life, but he deserved a spot of fun as much as the next bird.
'Certainly I'll accompany you to this club,' I said. 'Music and frivolity are always up my alley. I'm sure it will be a lark.'
'You don't mind, then? About the nature of this club?' Cyril simpered. 'And its members?'
I waved it away. 'Tosh. Sounds like it will be a fine time.' To tell the truth, I was rather curious; it sounded like these chappies fell along much the same lines as the youngest of the Woosters when it came to the tender arts. I mean to say, I've dabbled in many sorts of things and a gentleman never tells. But, well, I did attend Oxford, you know.
So Cyril and I agreed that we would step into this club Saturday evening. Just as our discussion was finished on that subject, Jeeves returned with what must have been the most well-tended glass of water in history.
Jeeves has an uncanny ability to be exactly where he should be at any given moment. If he were any other man, I would be worried he was listening at keyholes and what-not. But with Jeeves, I just assume he knows when to return to a room via some mental capability that normal humans do not possess. Listening at keyholes? Beneath him.
When Saturday evening rolled round, I had Jeeves dress me in my favourite black tie ensemble; I didn't want to go overboard with white tie since Cyril had only said that evening dress was expected, and when in doubt, I err towards the informal. Jeeves wouldn't have approved, had I been able to tell him my plans for the night. But with things as they were, I merely told him Cyril and I had theatre tickets and left it at that.
Cyril swung by the flat to guide us to the spot he had in mind. As we walked, silver-topped sticks swinging, he explained to me some of the more peculiar rules of this club of his.
'It's in Coventry Street; they call it The Black Cloak,' Cyril said to me, speaking very quickly out of the corner of his mouth, though no one was on the pavement to overhear. 'I'm told that every man who enters is given a mask to wear all evening.'
'A mask? Whatever for?'
'For anonymity, Bertie. For heaven's sakes, there might be blackmailers, or plain-clothes police, or just downright loonies lurking about. I wouldn't want those sorts to recognise me, would you?'
'I suppose not. But how do you know who the devil you're speaking to?'
Cyril rolled his eyes skyward. 'It doesn't matter. Everyone gives false names.' At the sight of my incredulous face, he elaborated. 'Think of it this way: when everyone's nameless, you have the chance to meet anyone. Gentlemen like us from wealthy families rubbing elbows with merchants, artists, or dash it, even servants. Anyone can enter as long as they're dressed the part. Isn't it brilliant? Better than roaming Piccadilly, surely.'
I had my doubts as to its brilliance. 'Cyril, I'm all for rubbing elbows. Chaps will tell you no one rubs elbows like a Wooster. But I don't know if I like the sound of all this secrecy. You know I'm no good at pretending.'
'It'll be great fun. You'll see. Ah, here it is.'
Cyril pulled on my arm, leading me up the stone steps and through a doorway that carried neither a sign nor banner declaring its club-like nature. From the street, it looked like any ordinary building. A professional office, perhaps.
The two of us entered a foyer that was staffed by a single aged attendant who took our overcoats, hats, and sticks with nary a murmur. When he had completed that task at his doddering speed, he took up a defensive position behind a desk and opened what looked to be a registry book.
'Names?' he intoned as he reached for his pen.
'Mr Sebastian Croft,' Cyril said with great cheer. I glared at him; I hadn't had time to think of a good nomme de plume for myself, and here was Cyril, crafting the perfect one! I mean to say!
'And you, sir?' the attendant asked me while I gaped at my friend.
Cyril provided my answer for me. 'This is Mr Nicholas Benton,' he said, gesturing to me grandly.
As the old man scribbled that down, I whispered to Cyril, 'I don't even look like a Nicholas.'
'Nonsense. It suits you.' Cyril adjusted his tie in an age-speckled mirror that hung on the wallpapered wall.
After we paid a modest entry fee and were read a tome full of rules (most of which hammered home the importance of anonymity), the attendant reached into a small cardboard box that sat on his desk and procured what looked like two black whatsits moulded into a butterfly-with-holes shape. He handed them over, and Cyril and I both took one. Upon closer examination, I could see that they were little masks much like the things one wears round one's eyes during the carnival season in Italy.
'Is this the mask?' I asked. 'I thought when you said "mask" you meant a proper mask, one that covered the whole face!'
'Well, if the mask covered the whole face, how would you know if a fellow was a looker or not?' Cyril said as he pressed his little domino number to his eyes and slipped its invisible string of filament round his head to hold it in place.
'Yes, but how does this,' I held up the tiny bit of cover, 'preserve your identity in any real way?' I slipped it on to show him.
'I don't recognise you. Now come along, Nicholas.' My companion grinned in quite an empty-headed manner. 'It's time to join the party.'
'Right this way, sirs,' the old attendant said, and ushered us down a narrow hall and to a heavy wooden door which, when opened to admit us, revealed a main hall filled with such a number of masked men laughing, smoking, drinking, singing, dancing, and generally carousing that my eyes nearly bulged clean out of my domino mask. It was like that ship in a bottle gag; one couldn't quite work out how so much had been crammed inside so small a thing. But there was the proof: perhaps a hundred or more men in the grand ballroom that sported several chaises, armchairs, and sofas arranged in a haphazard fashion.
The ceilings were high, and the crown mouldings and beadboard that lined the walls gave the place a stately feel. A chandelier the size of a double-decker bus hung in the center, freely dripping crystals. A bit over-the-top, perhaps; even more so than the Drones' club, which was the very picture of overwrought architecture. Off the main hall, there appeared to be three or four hallways that were sectioned off with heavy red velvet curtains. Patrons were busily flitting in and out of the gaps in said curtains, like ants travelling about inside an anthill. And my word, there were certainly a lot of men in attendance.
At first blush, the patronage of The Black Cloak didn't seem much different from any other men's club I'd visited: lots of coves laughing, smoking, swilling, and smirking. Run-of-the-mill activity, I mean to say. But upon closer inspection, one noticed two men arm-in-arm, or a man pressing a kiss to another man's neck, or a couple in a far corner standing much too close together as they spoke.
My eyes flickered from one man to the next. Short, tall, fat, thin, young, old, devastatingly good-looking, terribly normal: there seemed to be a specimen of each combination. I had had no inkling whatsoever until that moment that men of my sort, that is to say, Nature's Bachelors, came in such a range of flavours.
The size of the crowd and the tremendous noise made me a bit nervous, I admit, though I'm normally right at home at a large shindig. This was different because I didn't know a soul save Cyril, and even if I did recognise someone, I couldn't very well shout 'What-ho, Biffy!' or what have you. The masks and all prohibited that.
Cyril, however, took to the room like a duck to a ready amount of the clear liquid. Without pausing for breath, he flung himself into the gale, sauntering up to an older looking gentleman with a lovely head of silver hair. (I had always suspected Cyril had a pash for the elder of the male sect.) The two of them struck up a conversation about cummerbunds and I was left vacillating near the doorway.
I fear I looked like a morsel waiting to be snapped up by some enterprising chap, and such a chap did slither his way up to me, resplendent in his own small domino mask. I didn't know the man, but his bearing made me wonder if we'd been at Oxford together.
'You look a little lost, poor boy,' he said. 'I'm Peter. Could I offer you a hand in getting settled?'
He offered his hand quite literally, so I shook it and said. 'Call me Nicholas.' I scanned the room for something to chat about, and as luck would have it, my peepers landed on a sturdy baby grand sitting in the corner, covered in empty drinks glasses. 'Oh, is that piano in tune?' I asked a bit rapidly. 'I'd love to play something, if that sort of thing is permissible.'
'Is it permissible, he asks!' Peter (though his real name was probably Winston or something) tipped his noble head back and laughed. 'Nicholas, everything is permissible here. Playing a song for us is the least impermissible thing you might do.'
He leered somewhat, and I made up my mind to beat a hasty retreat from the blighter. It's not that he wasn't handsome; he was. And it's not that he wasn't friendly; he was overly so. But this Peter cove seemed rather determined and—what's the word? Single-minded. I could sense when he looked at the Wooster person that he was envisioning that person sans black tie and all underthings. Now, normally that would be just fine. Cyril, for example, didn't seem to have any problems with that sort of treatment from his silver-haired gentleman, who was doing much the same to him at that moment.
But for me there was a slight hitch. As curious as I was about this club, and as much as I wanted to help old Cyril in his quest for companionship, I wasn't exactly keen to dive into the pool of suitors myself. I felt a little leash inside me holding me back, if you get my meaning. There was something that stopped me from giving Peter the glad eye, as he was giving it to me.
So I legged it.
'I'll just try it, shall I?' I said over my shoulder to the blister as I weaved in and out of the tangles of men and furniture. Everyone else seemed to have a cocktail in hand, and I saw a bar somewhere off in the distance, but I felt I should sit at the piano bench and camp there for awhile before getting a brandy. I took my place, cracked my fingers, lifted the lid, and had a go at it.
I started simply enough with a quiet little ditty I'd learned at the Drones that week; I believe it was called Tea for Two, and it was in a corking show that had just opened. I improvised just a bit, as I sometimes do, and it wasn't long before I had a small crowd of smiling birds round the baby grand, humming along and waving their heads to the beat. One elder cove with a large white mustache clapped me on the shoulder just as I came to the end of my song and said, 'I'm Horton. What's your name, then, son?'
'Nicholas, I'm told.'
He laughed. 'You would do well to meet Victor. He's our other piano enthusiast. You two could make a passable duet, I think. Where's he gone? Victor! Oh, here he comes.' Horton waved at a figure as it floated through the gloomy shadow of a curtain, one of many that hid what must have been the entrances to various halls. This Victor was tall, dark, and, at the moment, turned the other way as if saying something to the man behind him. My friend at the piano shouted louder over the din. 'Victor! Come here. I've found you a fellow pianist.'
Victor turned, a cigar in one hand and a scotch glass in the other. And he promptly stopped short, his amused almost-smile falling from his lips. Someone who knew him might have been able to discern his shock from the slight widening of his eyes, wreathed in their small black mask.
And I certainly knew he was shocked. Because I recognised him as my valet, Jeeves.
As for me, my mouth must have been flapping open rather awfully; I'm not as good at hiding life's little jolts, you know. And this was the last place I'd ever expected to find my man Jeeves. Valets, as a race, are a quiet breed, given to introspection and deep thought. That is to say, I hadn't ever considered that any valet, let alone Jeeves, was ever bothered by the baser instincts to take a woman to bed, let alone another man.
But I couldn't say anything about it, could I? If I had shouted, 'Ho! my valet!' then I would have ruined not only the friendly atmosphere of the club, where everyone seemed about equal, but I would have embarrassed Jeeves terribly. Looking at him, decked out in tails and black tie, I could see that he was here not as a member of the servant class, but as a creature of high society, one that was often called upon to play the piano and what-not.
I think I recovered very admirably. I shut my trap and stood on shaky pins, thrusting a hand forward in greeting.
'Nicholas Benton,' I said, feeling my neck heat and prickle with a flush. 'At your service. And you are?'
'Victor,' Jeeves intoned, and if I had had any doubt as to identity, that smooth, low rumble of a voice dashed it to bits. 'Victor Larson.' He set his drink down to shake my hand.
'Oh, Victor, you must play with Nicholas here. He was performing a delightful Tea for Two,' my new friend Horton said.
'Yes, do you know it?' I babbled, trying to keep my tone light and friendly. I could feel Jeeves eyeing me with suspicion, as if he couldn't decide whether I was protecting his secret purposefully or if I really was so daft as to be tricked by a little eye mask.
'I could play the bass line, if you like,' Jeeves returned slowly, and we arranged ourselves side by side on the piano bench under the watchful eyes of about a thousand of London's biggest Wilde fans. I tried to pinpoint Cyril in the midst of it all, hoping he wouldn't blurt out Jeeves' identity like the loon he was, but he was nowhere to be found.
Jeeves touched off a chord, and I had to get my sweaty palms arranged on the keys with all due speed. I took off with the melody, and he accompanied me rather well. While the loud noise of the song rose all round us, I whispered under my breath, 'I had no idea you could play.'
Perhaps he didn't hear me, because Jeeves gave no answer. We romped through the jolly tune and even fiddled with a phrase here or there, one of us going off course and waiting for the other to follow, only to have the tables turn and we'd improvise the opposite way. The men in the audience soon joined in with the lyrics, belting out the chorus with such vim that, had I been wearing my top hat, I bet it would've been blown clean off.
'Picture me!' they shouted. 'Upon your knee! Tea for two, and two for tea!'
I must say, the level of singing prowess at the Cloak beat the living stuffing out of that of the Drones. Jeeves and I ended the song to massive applause, and we both took our small bows before getting up and leaving the piano to those who were now clamouring to show off their stuff. A new song swelled up, following us as we wended our way through the room. From the corner of his mouth, Jeeves said to me, 'The bar. Shall we?'
I couldn't have said it better myself. Once we were both fixed up with drinks (Jeeves with a fresh one and I with my first), I was a little less nervous about chatting with my valet in an inverts' club. Once I'd gulped down a swallow or two, the thought came to me that neither of us could be very sore about it. That is, I couldn't very well say, 'Jeeves! In an inverts' club! The shame, the nerve!' because I was there too, wasn't I? And the same held true for me. I had no reason to worry about Jeeves looking me up and down and saying, 'I am so very disappointed in the decisions you've made in regards to your more intimate company, sir.' He had made exactly the same move, after all.
While I was sipping at a thoughtful glass, I noticed Jeeves relighting his cigar. I'd never known him to smoke cigars, only gaspers, and I'm afraid I stared just a little.
He noticed and gestured with the thing, an airy sort of movement. 'Havanas,' he said. 'I try not to overindulge in them, but they do make for a nice treat.' He seemed completely relaxed and at ease, though if one looked harder, one noticed a bit of tension round the ocular region, nearly hidden by the domino mask. It was a look I had seen painted on Jeeves' face several times; it was the 'waiting for the other shoe to tumble to the floor with rather a loud bang' look (often employed during my Aunt Agatha's pauses between sentences).
I sought to reassure him.
'You know, Victor,' I said, 'you're so unlike anyone I've ever met. I mean, you play a fine bass line, and you seem to know the correct barman to flag down for a strong b. and s., and you manage to handle Havanas like a film star.' I propped my chin in my hand, which in turned was being held by my elbow propped up on the bar, and shot him an innocent look. 'It is so refreshing, meeting new people.'
I hoped the Wooster baby blues communicated it all via silent ocular telegraph: 'Don't worry; I won't mention it if you won't.'
The stuffed frog face melted somewhat. 'Yes, I agree, it is quite refreshing.'
I hadn't noticed until that moment just how naked Jeeves' voice sounded without the 'sir' tacked on to everything he said. I considered that I was going mad, and that maybe this Victor really wasn't Jeeves at all. But no. That little mask and a few dropped appellations couldn't fool me. This man before me was Jeeves, right down to the small freckle on the left side of his throat and the tiny scar on the underside of his chin, which I could see when he tipped back his glass.
I swirled my drink round and watched Jeeves take another draw from his cigar. 'So are you regularly in attendance at these soirees, Victor?' I asked. 'This is my first visit, you know. Had to escort an old pal of mine.'
Jeeves tapped the loose ash from his Havana into a crystal ash tray at his elbow before answering. 'I have been a patron of the Cloak for several years. It provides a soothing respite when one wishes only for mild entertainment and not deeper intellectual pursuits.'
I caught his meaning. This was his home away from home when the Junior Ganymede made him restless. No small wonder, really. The Ganymede, I've been told, is the place to find a slew of the best valets, butlers, and assorted manservants in Britain, but it must be dashed difficult to find a young fellow of our shared disposition there. Butlers, as far as I know, run along a median age of about eighty-nine and aren't much given to musical theatre sing-a-longs.
I looked round the crowded room once more. It appeared to be teeming with even more men dressed to the nines than earlier. Everyone seemed to be getting along famously, as if everyone knew each other very well. The two coves standing next to me at the bar, for instance, were becoming incredibly acquainted with each other's tongues. I fear I was a little startled at seeing that sort of thing going on mere inches from the Wooster nose; I might have even jumped a bit.
Jeeves made a noise at my surprised leap into the air. I won't call the noise a chuckle, because Jeeves does not chuckle, even when he's playing at being someone other than Jeeves. I would call it, perhaps, a low rumble of mirth.
I turned to him to try and explain that I wasn't some sort of neophyte (if that word means what I think it does) at this cove kissing thing, that it had only shocked me to see it so up close and in such crowded surroundings. But before I could squeak out my explanation, Jeeves reached past me and tapped the nearest chap on the shoulder.
'Christopher,' he said, 'perhaps it would be best if you showed your friend to an alcove.' He said this just as he might make a gentle suggestion concerning my choice of tie.
Christopher came up for air long enough to grin at us and shrug. 'Absolutely, Victor. Sorry I got so carried away, what?' And he led his companion by the hand through the crowd, where they disappeared from sight.
'An alcove?' I asked as I watched them go.
Jeeves examined the glowing tip of his cigar. 'The club provides them for patrons who wish to have a quiet place away from the main hall.' He flicked his eyes to me, and I was about to inquire further when a loud shout came from the other end of the bar. Jeeves and I both craned our necks to see two older gentlemen embroiled in quite the shouting match. It wasn't totally clear, but I believe the argument stemmed from something that had been done or said by one of them around the year 1892.
'Excuse me for a moment,' Jeeves said, resting his Havana in the ash tray. 'I must go see what's the matter.' And he floated toward the fight with all the grace of a benevolent peacekeeper.
The barman came to refill my glass, and he made the requisite chit chat that one makes when one's customer is standing alone. 'You're a friend of Victor's, then?' he asked. 'I've never seen you in here before.'
'Oh, just met him. Quite a chap.' I watched as Jeeves bent to whisper something in one shouter's ear; whatever he said had immediately calmed the fellow. 'Is he the unofficial enforcer here or something?' I asked the barman.
He laughed. 'That's one way to put it. We've all come to Victor at one time or another for advice or help. Trouble with a lover, trouble with the law, anything really, Victor always knows exactly what to do. Why, he was the one who helped me get this job.'
I could see why Jeeves would have done such a thing. The barman was a friendly sort, but a bit on the, how can I put this, obvious side. It would have been curtains for him if he'd worked at a bank or something. Every word he spoke screamed 'invert'.
'So Victor's very popular?' I hadn't seen anyone clinging to Jeeves that evening, but the night was young. Maybe his paramour just hadn't made an appearance yet. I don't know why it was suddenly important that I know, but it was.
The barman frowned. 'He's well-liked, if that's what you mean. But between you and me, darling, Victor's not going home with you, so don't hurt yourself trying.'
Well, I mean to say, what can a man do but bristle at that? 'I don't intend to go home with anyone!' I said. 'And what's wrong with me, anyway?'
He chuckled again, probably at the face I'd pulled, and said, 'Nothing against you. You seem an absolute lamb. But Victor hasn't had anybody on his arm for a very, very long time.' We both watched Jeeves brokering a handshake between the two men who had been fighting.
'How long?' I asked.
'Oh, I'd say two, maybe three years,' he said while wiping a glass clean. 'Before then, he prowled with the best of them. But maybe he grew tired of it. I don't know.'
At that moment, Jeeves trickled back to my side. 'The gentlemen were quarreling over a young man named, I believe, Sebastian,' he informed me.
'Oh, blast!' I set my drink back on the zinc bar-top. 'That bally Cyr— I mean, Sebastian! He's my old friend, you see, from school. If he's making an ass of himself—'
'I gathered that he has imbibed much more than is prudent, and is currently dancing on a table in the main hall.'
I tossed a few notes beside my drink and grumbled, 'I'd better go collect him and get a taxi. It wouldn't do for him to get us kicked out, what?'
Jeeves placed his hand, which was warm and large, lightly on my wrist. 'I take that to mean you wish to return at some future point, Nicholas?'
'Well.' I looked up at that magnificently noble face, replete with chiseled features and dark blue eyes, hidden only by the black domino mask. 'It has been great fun, I must say. Perhaps I will see you here again?'
'Perhaps, yes.' The weight of his hand left my wrist, after which I said toodle pip, found Cyril and his wayward tie, and rushed him out of the club and into the foyer, where the attendant took back our masks. I shoved Cyril in a taxi and rode with him to his flat, where I made sure he got inside safely before directing the driver to Berkeley Square.