The atmosphere was one that you might expect in a hotel bar. There were people all around drinking, having a good time. Not Robert. He had business that he needed to tend to. Howard should be here any minute.
“Another water please.” The barkeeper nodded once and went off to go and get some ice for Roberts water.
“Here we go, sir.” He smiled at Robert as he set the glass down next to him. Robert responded with a curt nod of his own, and turned back around on his stool to face the room at large, once more. His mind started spinning with questions; ‘What is Howard going to say?’ ‘Is he still angry with me?’ No matter what Howard said, he needed to clear the air. And what better setting, than in the very hotel they had met all those years ago. Where Howard had been…
Something near the door pulled Robert out of his thinking, and he saw him. Standing right there, looking at him. Their eyes met, and Howard started walking towards Robert. His appearance caused quite a stir amongst the bar guests. After all, Howard was famous. It was hard not to become famous when you were a talking chicken, with the same brain capacity as that of a human.
Howard continued walking through the crowd of people now milling around him, and continued towards Robert. He jumped up onto the stool next to Robert and turned to the crowd in the room. “Please, I do not want to be disturbed. I’m just here for a drink, like everybody else here. Please, go back to your tables. And you.” He turned towards the barman. “I’ll have a water, in a bowl please.” The barman looked stunned for a second, and then walked off looking for a bowl.
“And now, for the Great Roberto. Let’s get this over with.” Howard’s voice was hard. Unlike it used to be back in the day.
“You know I don’t like that name anymore.”
“You never used to mind it. You came up with the name here, don’t you remember?”
“Things were different. I’m not a magician anymore.”
“But I’m still the same Howard. Listen, why are we even here?”
This was it. The time to state his piece, whether Howard liked it or not.
“I wanted to apologize. I’ve been trying to get a hold of you a lot lately to tell you that.”
“Oh, believe me Robert.I know. My business manager has been complaining that you won’t leave her alone until I speak to you. I’m only here for her. Not you. And don’t give me this rubbish that you want to apologize. What do you really want?” His voice became much more accusatory, different to the happy and fun voice Robert used to know.
“I do want to apologize, Howard, I truly do.”
There was a long pause after these words. Howard’s face didn’t change. He still looked disbelieving.
“And? That can’t be all, Robert, you know I’m right.”
“Well…” Robert had begun to speak, but Howard cut him off.
“I knew it! You want something from me, don’t you? That’s why we’re here! Tell me I’m wrong!”
“You’re right.” Once again, Robert was cut off from his sentence.
“I knew it! I don’t need to be in here for another second! Don’t call me again Robert!”
He jumped down off his stool, and started walking towards the door.
“WAIT! I want to get the show back together!”
Howard stopped in his tracks, back still towards Robert. Whatever he had been expecting, it hadn’t been that.
“I want to get the show running again. Touring the world, with you alongside me. Not as my Assistant, but as my partner. Please, Howard. I am sorry for what happened before, but it won’t happen again.”
Howard turned back to face Robert, and stared at him.
Robert spoke again to break the silence. “We could tour locally as a tester, and then if you want out, you can leave. I’ve spoken to the hotel owner, and he says we can perform here, if you want. Where I… first made you.”
Howard’s face suddenly split into a huge grin.
“Partners, you say?”