Monthly Archives: April 2018

Trip on This: Chapter Eleven

 Chapter Eleven

Trip sits in her car, decked out in black.  She has come home after a long journey, her clothes signifying a return to self.  The minute she strips out of the ridiculous clothes she’s been wearing all week and slips into her black jeans, black t-shirt with long sleeves, black windbreaker, black gloves and other accoutrement, she feels alive in a way she hasn’t since the first murder occurred.  Her hair is slicked down, and she is wearing no makeup.  If she only had enough hair to pull back in a ponytail, she would be completely herself again.  As it is, she’s feeling good as she sits in the car smoking a cigarette.  She has a notebook on the seat besides her, neatly listing her points of interest.  She is on the case, even if her client is herself and she doesn’t know what she’s repossessing.  If she is to be honest, the uncertainly adds an element of spice to the job that has been missing from her last coups.  Even though the ‘Freezin’ Seamen’ case held her interest because of the sheer oddness of the contents of what she was asked to repossess, the job itself had been fairly straightforward.

Trip continues to smoke, wondering what became of Gina Lattimore, the woman who had stolen the guy’s cum and stored it in her freezer.  Trip shrugs as she dismisses the question from her mind; none of her business any more.  She has more important matters at hand which require her complete concentration.  Though every nerve in Trip’s body is screaming for her to do something, she forces herself to sit in the car and wait.  This is recon to see if there are any cops patrolling the area.  After a half hour, Trip comes to the conclusion that any patrol is sporadic enough not to be a bother.  She slips out of the car and locks it before approaching the apartment building.  As she does, she flashes back to the last time she was here, then pushes that out of her mind as well.  There’s nothing to gain by freaking herself out with memories of Angelica’s dead body.  This time, Trip is not going to be greeted by a dead body sprawled on the kitchen floor.  At least, she sincerely hopes not.

She steels her nerves and reaches for the door.  Earlier in the day, she had come to the building purporting Sto visit a friend, and despite all the shit that has happened in the building, some knob let her in.  It probably didn’t hurt that she used a high, breathy voice much like Marilyn Monroe’s without a trace of an accent.  To further help her cause, she had worn short shorts and a tight top as well as a blond wig.  She hadn’t needed the get-up as her voice was enough to get her through the door, but it never hurt to be prepared.  She had jimmied the door not to latch, and it is still that way hours later.  She looks at her watch and sees that it’s nearly one in the morning.  Time to get this show on the road.

She glances at the mailboxes to confirm Blanche’s apartment number before trotting up the stairs.  There is not much activity, but Trip still treads stealthily.  She reaches Blanche’s floor and cautiously looks around.  There is no guard or tape blocking the door, so she assumes that the cops are finished.  Even if they aren’t, it wouldn’t matter to her.  She pulls out her handy-dandy set of lock picks from her bag and is in the door in record time.  Adrenaline surges through her veins as she slips into the apartment.  She still has the juice, baby, and it feels good to get back on the horse again after being thrown off it.  She closes the door and locks it behind her.  As an afterthought, she slides a chair under the door handle—just a little protection to alert her if someone else gets the same idea.  She takes another deep breath before turning on the lights with a gloved hand.

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Trip on This: Chapter Ten

Chapter Ten

“What the hell is going on?”  Vandalia is seriously pissed off at the scene in front of her eyes.  Greeley is on his feet, his back to a crouching Trip who is slowly rising.  Mowgli is trailing Vandalia, but not nearly as concerned.

“She spit on me!”  Greeley says indignantly, his cheek still wet with spittle.  “She actually spit on me!”

“I was just showing him how feminine I could be,” Trip says coolly, dusting off her ass.  “Greeley and I were having a philosophical discussion as to whether or not a woman can be tough and feminine at the same time.  I was disagreeing with his point of view.”  She is openly smirking, though Greeley is deliberately not looking at her.

“Vandalia, I don’t think you should have anything further to do with that bitch,” Greeley says, his lower lip thrust out.  And they say women are the pouty ones.

“Excuse me?”  Vandalia’s eyes all but disappear.  “What did you just call her?”

“She’s a bitch!”  Greeley repeats himself, too infuriated to realize that he’s going down in flames.  Mowgli rolls his eyes, but stays to enjoy the show.  “She comes off all hard and shit, but she’s nothing but a punk underneath.  I was just telling her she can be strong and still be feminine, like you, when she got all psycho on me.”  Opie sure waxes poetic when he’s pissed.

“I told him that he needed to broaden his definition of feminine and not be so goddamn narrow-minded,” Trip says sweetly, her tone syrupy.  “Seems like Mr. Macho needs to have his ego pumped up on a minute-to-minute basis, and I failed to provide him such succor.”  Mowgli hides a smile of his own as Trip trots out the psychobabble she devoured when she used to live on the streets.  It never fails to surprise people who underestimate her that she is damn sharp.

“What the hell is she talking about?”  Greeley demands, his nose out of joint.  He looks to Vandalia for support who is less than thrilled with his Cro-Magnon behavior.

“I think we should go,” Mowgli says, finally interceding.  “Vandie, thank you very much for putting up with this miscreant.”  He busses Vandalia on the cheek.  “I definitely owe you one.”

“You owe me more than one,” Vandalia retorts, kissing Mowgli lightly on the lips.  “But I have to admit, it’s been intense.”  They embrace as Trip goes to her room to gather her stuff.  When she returns ten minutes later, the tableau is the same.  She shrugs and moves towards the door.

“Nice meeting you, Vandalia,” Trip says over her shoulder without breaking her stride.  “Wish I could say the same about your boy.”

“You ungrateful bitch,” Greeley roars, starting after Trip.  He is deterred by a large presence in front of him—Mowgli.

“Let it go, man,” Mowgli counsels, knowing it’s a lost cause.  No matter how enamored Vandalia had been by Greeley prior to now, she would have nothing further to do with him now that he’s shown his true colors.  Vandalia is a feminine woman, yes, but one with feminist sensibilities.  In other words, she doesn’t tolerate fools.  “Talk to you soon, Vandie.”

“Where’s your car?”  Trip asks Mowgli, jiggling her foot.  She’s impatient to be on the move, not wanting to present a still target.

“Took a cab,” Mowgli says as he waits for her to unlock her car.  “Thought I’d catch a ride from you.  Give us some time alone.”  Trip tosses her stuff in the back seat and slides into the driver’s seat.

“You thought I’d be out of there today,” Trip corrects him.  She starts the engine and zooms away from Vandalia’s apartment.  “Where am I going to stay?”

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Trip on This: Chapter Nine

Chapter Nine

I am still simmering and don’t want to even be in the same room as Greeley, let alone brainstorm with him.  Who the hell died and made him god?  How dare he intimate that I have done something to bring this upon myself.  That’s like telling a rape victim that she shouldn’t have worn that outfit or shouldn’t have been walking in that area at that particular time when the bottom line is, she shouldn’t have been raped.  I was simply trying to do my job.  Period.  What this asshole doesn’t understand is that I don’t have the same options that he has, and now that I’ve finally found something I’m good at—that doesn’t include me spreading my legs for hours on end—I’m not going to let some assholes stop me from doing it.  I will never be the president of the United States or CEO of a fucking corporation or even an executive secretary for the CEO of a fucking corporation.  I have neither the education nor the skills for such lofty jobs.  What I’m good at is repossessing possessions that shouldn’t have fallen into the wrong hands in the first place.  It’s ironic that it’s my skills as a repo man that have gotten me into this mess, but perhaps it will be the same talents that help me get out of it as well.

“We need a plan,” Vandalia says, snuggling next to Greeley.  She is idly stroking his leg which causes him to look at her as if to jump her bones right there in front of Mowgli and me.  “I’m worried about what Blanche told the assholes before they killed her.  I mean, if she told her coworker about meeting with you, then maybe she told them where you guys met.  And the coworker described us, too!”  Her eyes open wide.  “Are we going to have to go around in disguises, too?”

“No one can tell it’s you guys from Melody’s description,” I reply.  “I think she did that on purpose, by the way.  Only wants to fuck me up, not you guys.”

“I don’t know,” Vandalia says.  “It would make more sense to describe us completely to get closer to you.  I think she only really paid attention to you.”

“Shit, this is getting too complicated,” Mowgli mutters, rubbing his forehead.  He doesn’t look as fresh as he normally does, which is understandable under the circumstances.  “Why can’t we find them?”

“I wonder,” Greeley says slowly.

“What do you wonder?”  I ask sharply.  I haven’t forgiven him yet, but this isn’t the time for retribution.

“What if Andretti isn’t his real name, either?  I think we need to concentrate on O’Reilly.”

“I wonder if there’s any way of getting close to the mayor,” Vandalia adds.  “Maybe volunteering or something?  I really think he’s the key to this whole thing.  Even if he’s not the one handing out the orders, he has to be aware of what’s going on.”

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Trip on This: Chapter Eight (Part Four)

Chapter Eight (Part Three)

“Shit,” I yawn as I wake up.  I had a disturbing dream that I can’t remember upon waking which has kept me from sleeping soundly.  This is so unlike me that I’m not sure what to do about it.  Realizing that there is nothing I can do about it, I drag myself out of bed, disgruntled.  I take a quick shower and dress in a flattering emerald-green top and slacks.  I can’t believe it’s only Friday, four days after my personal hell started.

“Morning, Sunshine,” Vandalia says grimly tossing the paper on the table in front of me.  The appetizing aroma of bacon and eggs is in the air causing me to salivate.

“Mowgli make it home OK?”  I had gone to bed before Mowgli left, so I wasn’t sure how late he stayed.  Or what the two of them did after I went to bed.  By the looks they were sending each other, I have a hunch that they are more than just friends.  Which leads me back to my question of what gender is Vandalia.  I shrug as I pour myself a glass of orange juice.  It’s really none of my business, and I don’t particularly care as I’m not attracted to her.  It would interest me to know if she and Mowgli are lovers or have ever been, but it is purely personal curiosity to which I don’t often give in.

“Mowgli’s still here,” Vandalia says, her tone still hard.  “He’s taking the day off.”

“Why?”  I look at her levelly, not understanding the emotion emanating from her.  She seems pissed, though not necessarily at me.

“Read the paper.”  Vandalia turns back to the stove to look after her cooking.  “He was going to go in later, but we need to call a war council.”  I pick up the paper and scan the headlines.

“Lady in White Found Slain Behind Famous Strip Club!”  I shut my eyes, knowing what is to follow.  Jesus, those assholes must have a personal hotline to the press the way they control the flow of information.  I’m sure when I open my eyes and read the article, Blanche’s name will jump right out at me.  I knew I should have gone back to the club last night; I just knew it.

“Read it!”  Vandalia barks, forcing me to open my eyes.  She is glowering at me—an irate hausfrau wrapped in a bright red muumuu.

The story is sensational, though maybe not by San Francisco’s jaded standard.  An ‘anonymous tipster’ had called the police in the wee hours of this morning after hearing noises in the same apartment building where Sylvian was killed.  The cops burst into the apartment and found—surprise, surprise—Blanche White dead on her living room floor.  Quite a coincidence that she lived in the same building in which Sylvian was found.  The police revealed that the place was in shambles and it would take them some time to discern what—if anything—had been stolen.  It is clear that Blanche White, nee Bertha Dubrowski—no wonder she changed her name—has been murdered by a single gunshot to the heart.  In case anyone’s wondering if it’s suicide, she was hog-tied at the time of her demise.  Not too easy to shoot yourself in the heart with your hands tied behind your back.  As with Sylvian and Sato, there is no evidence of sexual intercourse, but Blanche had been severely beaten and tortured before she was killed.  The cops say they have irrefutable evidence that Blanche White’s death ties in with Angelica Sylvian’s and Evelyn Sato’s, which means that folks, we have a serial killer on our hands, and it’s a female.  As I read, I’m getting more and more pissed off.  What’s clear to me is that I am an easy scapegoat for these fuckers to pin a whole plethora of murders on.  I curse DiCalvo for walking into my life, and I know that he is going to fucking pay one way or another.

‘Colleagues who talked to Ms. Dubrowski before work say she seemed nervous and upset,’ Detective Beauregard says, his face serious.  I stare at the picture of the handsome detective—six-two, dark wavy hair, blue eyes—committing his face to memory.  Another asshole to add to my list of fuckers who are out to get me.  Either this man is in the pocket of DiCalvo, or he’s being played like a mandolin.  Either way, he’s now my enemy.  I also wonder why the chief of police didn’t comment himself as is usual in a case like this.  Is it because he wants to keep his hands clean or because Beauregard has convinced him to stay out of it?  Either way, I need to find out more about the chief, too.  I need to know exactly who in the police department has it in for me.

‘She mentioned meeting with an Asian woman before coming to work,’ Melody Anderson is quoted as saying.  ‘There was an Asian woman in the audience the night before Blanche was killed.  She seemed awfully interested in Blanche.  Fixated, you know.’  I am stony-faced as I read the quotes from little Melody.  She, too, is thrust onto my list.  Melody goes on to say the Asian woman doesn’t fit the description of the suspect, but she was wearing a lot of makeup and seemed to have cut her hair short.  She goes on to describe Mowgli, Greeley, and Vandalia whom the police call ‘possible accomplices’.  Her descriptions are vague, however, and would fit half of the San Francisco population.

By the time I’m finished reading the article, I am speechless with rage.  How dare these pricks do this to me?  Not only do they kill without compunction, they don’t give a damn that they’re sending me to the chair.  Whatever body count they end up with, they best add one more if I’m caught, tried, and electrocuted for crimes I never committed.  Why the fuck me?  How did they happen to chose me?  It can’t just be because I’m Asian and because O’Reilly has a fetish for Asian women—that’s too flimsy.  When I cool down, I can see that if my being Asian is a primary concern, then it had to be me.  Let’s face it—there aren’t many female Asian repo men running around.  In fact, I can’t think of another one besides me.

“Fuckers,” I say, not realizing I’ve said it out loud.  I stop reading halfway through the article because I can’t stomach finishing it.

“We need to powwow,” Vandalia says, sliding a plate full of food in front of me.  Normally, I don’t eat breakfast, but I make an exception this time.  I’m so angry, I need something to fuel that anger.  My therapist used to tell me that I had to let go of my anger which is one reason I think therapy is a crock of shit.  Anger is a useful tool, and it’s much better than fear.  Continue Reading

Trip on This: Chapter Eight (Part Three)

Chapter Eight (Part Three)

Trip doesn’t like Blanche any better than she had the first time she laid eyes on the whore.  Blanche isn’t nearly as beautiful up close as she appears on stage because her pores are bigger, her lips are slightly too narrow, her nose a hair too long, and her eyes too close together.  Still, she struts into the place like she owns it, her ass swaying solely for Mowgli’s benefit.  She’s dressed in white jeans which are three sizes too small for her, a white tank top, and white stiletto heels.  Nothing is tackier than high heels and jeans, but somehow, Blanche carries it off.  She’s wearing enough makeup to feel right at home up on stage, and her eyes are a perfect blank.  Either she’s on something, or she’s very well trained not to give herself away.  She holds her head high, staring coldly at Trip before resting her eyes on Mowgli.  She favors him with a wide smile which shows more gum than teeth, but the smile never touches her eyes.

“Well, what can I do for you?”  Her eyes flick to Trip and back to Mowgli.  “I don’t do girls, though she can watch if she wants, I guess.”  Her tone is doubtful, but gains confidence as she flops on the couch.  “Two hundred an hour, no kinky stuff.  That’s extra.”  The straps of her tank top slide down her arms before either Mowgli or Trip can get a word in edgewise.  They both watch in amusement as Blanche wriggles her boobs for their benefit.  Obviously, Mowgli isn’t affected by the show but appreciates the effort whereas Trip doesn’t care for such artifice, her own current look notwithstanding.  “Well?”  Blanche says impatiently.  A flicker of uncertainty crosses her face as Mowgli makes no move towards her.  She flushes and pulls up the straps of her top, crossing her arms in front of her chest.  “Well?”  Her tone is belligerent to cover up her embarrassment.

“You’ve misunderstood, Ms. White,” Trip drawls, her eyes watching Blanche carefully.  “We are not in need of your…services, though we will surely pay you for your most valuable time.”  Even with the saccharine Trip ladles on her words, Blanche is quick to catch the undercurrent and flushes.

“I don’t have to take this,” she says angrily, standing up in a huff.

“Lucien Andretti,” Trip says softly.  Blanche turns as white as her name as the forbidden name is uttered.  She sways in place as her knees buckle, but she doesn’t leave.  “Caleb O’Reilly,” Trip adds, the magnolia gone from her tone.  She isn’t playing, and she wants to make sure that Blanche realizes it.  “Angelica Sylvian.”  Blanche is trembling as she listens to the names so Mowgli escorts her back to the couch where she sits down again.  Trip remains standing so she can retain the psychological advantage.

“What do you want from me?”  Blanche whispers, all traces of arrogance gone.  “I don’t have any money to pay you.”

“I don’t want your money,” Trip hisses, still using the Southern accent.  “We just need to have a little heart-to-heart you and me.  Girl talk.”  She looks at Mowgli, but he shakes his head.  As much as he loves Trip, he knows her too well to leave her alone with Blanche.

“What’s there to talk about?”  Blanche still hasn’t looked Trip in the eye, but steals a glance at Mowgli who smiles reassuringly at her.  She seems emboldened by it and straightens her spine.

“I’m going to be frank with you, Blanche,” Trip says, her tone cold.  “I know Angel is dead.  I know Andretti did it.  I know O’Reilly knows about it and is abetting, even if it’s after the fact.  What I don’t know is where you fit in.”  She stops, allowing Blanche the opportunity to talk.  Blanche, however, chooses to exercise her God-given right to remain silent.  Unfortunately for her, this is not a court of law, and Trip is no judge.  “Answer me!”  Trip’s voice lashes out, causing Blanche to flinch.

“I’m not supposed to talk about it,” Blanche says in a little girl’s voice, keeping her eyes fastened to Mowgli’s comforting face.  He sits next to her and pats her knee in an avuncular fashion.  She leans into his touch which causes him to quickly pull his hand away.  Even in her fear, she can’t help but sexualize her interactions with Mowgli.

“Tough.”  Trip’s voice is uncompromising.  “Another girl died, Blanche.  Evelyn Sato.  Ever heard of her?”  Blanche silently shakes her head, but her face grows even whiter.  “She died because she knew something about Caleb O’Reilly.  Murdered, though they tried to make it look like suicide.  She told me some things, but held back.  She would have told me eventually, but now it’s too late for her.”  Trip pauses, letting the implication dangle.

“What did she know?”  Blanche asks, nervously clutching her hands together.

“Would you like something to drink?”  Mowgli breaks in, earning a scowl from Trip.  She hates having her flow interrupted, but Mowgli is concerned about Blanche’s pallor and doesn’t want her fainting on them.

“Yes, please,” Blanche answers, trying to smile.  “Gin and tonic if you have it.  I wouldn’t mind some food, either.”  Trip refrains from rolling her eyes, but how like a whore to take what she can get even before it’s offered to her.

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Trip on This: Chapter Eight (Part Two)

Chapter Eight (Part Two)

“I feel pretty, oh so pretty,” Vandalia is singing as I enter the apartment.  “Why, hello, Trip!  Isn’t this a glorious day?”  She smiles at me in the manner of one who’s just been thoroughly fucked.  “Who would have thought young Greeley would have had it in him?”  She giggles as she waltzes around the kitchen.  “By the way, nice disguise.”  I have shed the wig, but I still look drab in my ‘I’m trying to blend in’ ensemble.  “That’s my wig, isn’t it?”  Vandalia asks, spotting it in my hand.  “Oh well.  It didn’t suit me, anyway.”  I hate talking to people in lust.  They think everything they do, say, and feel is so profound when it’s simply inane.  Without fail, sex brings out the stupid in people—that’s why I tend to stay away from it except as a strict physical release.  Who needs the complicated shit that accompanies romance?

“Got anything to eat?”  I ask, opening the fridge.

“Yes, and thanks for asking how my night was,” Vandalia says waspishly, but quickly regains her sunny mood.  “Can you believe we did it four times in five hours last night?  I feel as if a train has plowed its way through my thighs.”  She giggles again as she continues to hum and sidestep around the kitchen.  “Girl, there’s nothing like a good loving to cure what ails you.”  She flicks her eyes up and down me.  “You look as if you could use a good fuck.”

“What I could use is Andretti’s and O’Reilly’s nuts in a vise,” I growl, pulling a container of egg salad out of the refrigerator.  “Then I’ll work on getting laid.”  The bartender from Tosca’s flits through my mind, but I can’t remember his name.

“Girl, you know what they say,” Vandalia drawls, pointing at me.  “It’s gonna plumb dry up if you don’t use it.”  It’s irritating that Vandalia has seemed to appoint herself my big sister, but I am beholden to her because she’s letting me stay in her apartment, so I keep my mouth shut.

“I’m going to check the news,” I say abruptly, taking the egg salad sandwich I made into my bedroom.  I power up the computer and wait impatiently for my Yahoo! homepage to show its sweet face.  I zip over to the Chron’s webiste, and grit my teeth in anger.  The news I’ve expected to see is there billed as breaking news, and it’s worse than I thought.

“Cops Get A Break!”  The headline screams.  The story goes on to say that a witness has come forth with the information of seeing an Asian woman breaking into the building of one Angelica Sylvian the night she was murdered.  There is a fairly detailed description of me along with a police sketch that, amazingly, looks eerily similar to the real me.  ‘The police state that this woman, placed in her early twenties, is at the very least a witness and at the most, a suspect.  They would like to question her, so she should do her civic duty and turn herself in.’  I have to laugh at the last statement—why in hell would I voluntarily turn myself in knowing what I know?  The writer must be smoking crack to think that I’m going to pick up the phone and say, ‘Hey, this is the woman seen breaking into Angelica’s apartment.  How may I help you?’  Even if I don’t show up at the cop shop, they can trace where I’m calling from, and besides, my interactions with Andretti and O’Reilly have convinced me that they have connections in high places, most likely including the cops.  It’s a no-go on me turning myself in, thank you very much.  I check the Examiner as well, which carries the identical story, except, they emphasize even more strongly that I’m a suspect and not just a mere witness.  I curse under my breath, then stop.  Why now?  It’s Thursday, the third day after the murder.  What do the Handy Man and Silver Tongue have to gain by alerting the cops to my presence now?  Is it because they know I’m dogging their every move and are worried that I’m getting too close, or is it something else?  I know they set me up to take a fall for Angel, but what about Evelyn?  What is going down tonight, and am I going to be blamed for that as well?  I find the timing of this ‘news break’ odd, but I can’t figure out what the reason for it is.

“Vandalia?  Can I talk to you a minute?”  I walk out to the living room where Vandalia is watching the soaps.  Instead of sudsy activity, however, there is—you guessed it—breaking news.  She’s watching with rapt attention as the composite sketch of my face appears on the screen.

“That’s you,” she says needlessly, her mouth dropping open in awe.  “I mean, I knew you were in trouble because Roberto told me so, but I never expected…”  Her voice trails off just as my cell phone rings.  I find my bag in the kitchen and fish my phone out of it.  It’s Mowgli.

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Trip on This: Chapter Eight (Part One)

The morning comes too quickly for Trip’s taste.  She spent a good hour after returning from the Tenderloin watching infomercials to clear her mind.  She hates returning to her stamping grounds because it makes her feel as if she’s only one step away from where she’s trying so hard to leave.  This morning, her head is thumping with the dull regularity of a hangover—which is something she never has.  The again, she hardly ever drinks as much as she did the night before.  She lies in bed pondering her plan for the day.  She needs to talk to Blanche outside her natural habitat, but has a hunch that Blanche will not be as eager to talk to her.  Trip knows that Mowgli is right when he says Blanche will talk to him before talking to her, but Trip needs to be the one to talk to Ms. White.  She wants to do it as soon as possible, but reluctantly admits that it would be better to have Mowgli present when she does so.  It grates her ass to have to rely on someone else, but discretion is the better part of valor and all that.

O’Reilly needs to be talked to as well.  He definitely is in on the bigger picture, however reluctantly.  Trip knows that her ultimate goal is to get to Andretti, but she wants her ducks in a row before she tackles the big man herself.  She wants to make sure that there’s no way the man will slip through her fingers once she tracks him down.  She hauls herself out of bed and takes a shower.  She drinks some juice as she ponders what to do in the morning.  She doesn’t want to barge in on O’Reilly at his place of work, but she wants to make sure she nabs him.  Does that mean following him again?  She sighs at the thought of such tedium.  Today, she is aiming for blending in with her environment and pulls on a pair of jeans, a beige sweatshirt, and sneakers.  She flattens her hair so it hangs around her face in forlorn tufts.  She dabs on makeup to make her face look sallow and unattractive.  It’s not enough.  She goes into Vandalia’s room, and sure enough, there are wigs.  Trip thought she had seen them when she was in Vandalia’s room yesterday. She picks a blond wig cut in the pageboy style and pulls it firmly over her hair.  She nods in satisfaction at her image—nobody would look twice at her.  She slumps over slightly and shuffles her feet as she walks.  After stopping at an ATM to withdraw some cash, she is on her way.

But to where?  Does she really want to stalk O’Reilly again?  She wishes she could talk to Evelyn, but quickly dismisses that thought.  She doesn’t live in the past, and there’s no use regretting what she hadn’t done.  That’s a selfish luxury that she doesn’t have time to indulge in.  She parks her car across from O’Reilly’s office and waits.  As she thinks of what has happened, she grows angrier.  It’s bad enough that this Andretti killed Angel for his boss, whoever that may be, most likely because the girl was having an affair with him, but to kill Evelyn to stop her from divulging what she knew steps firmly across the line.  Trip has a hunch that Blanche will be added to that list if she doesn’t spill her guts.  Blanche probably thinks she’s safer not telling what she knows, but she’s wrong.  It’s up to Trip and Mowgli to convince Blanche to talk to them before O’Reilly and Andretti decide it’s easier to permanently shut Blanche up than it is to continually intimidate her into being quiet.

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Trip on This: Chapter Seven (Part Five)

Chapter Seven (Part Five)

“Hey, girls,” I say, pulling Mowgli’s blazer closer to my body.  It’s not

“What are you doing here,” Snow asks belligerently, sticking out her chin.  “Fucking bitch thinks she can just come here and get up in our grill.”  Some of the newer hookers look puzzled, but most of the older girls—the ones who didn’t like me because I was younger and prettier—are ready to back Snow up.  It’s clear that Snow is hopped up on something—probably meth—and spoiling for a fight.  “This ain’t your turf any more, China Doll, so beat it.”

“Where’s Mona Lisa?”  I ask, refusing to let Snow intimidate me.  I use to eat hos like her for lunch when I was hooking, and she knows it.

“That bitch is doing a trick,” Snow says, still not willing to back off.  I’m about to teach her a lesson when Mona Lisa comes sauntering down the street.

“Hey, girl,” Mona Lisa smiles, her eyes glassy.  “Who is this hunka hunka burnin’ love?”  She tilts her head to get a better look at Mowgli who is doing his best to blend with the scenery.  He isn’t succeeding, of course, as he’s big, gorgeous, and a male among whores.  “Hey, sugar, you like Elvis?”

“He’s the king, isn’t he?”  Mowgli answers easily.

“No, you’re the king,” Mona Lisa banters, licking her lips.  After the scum she deals with, Mona Lisa must look at Mowgli as a starving dog upon a steak.

“M.L., I need to talk to you again,” I say, cutting short the flirtation.  I don’t have time to deal with a strung-out whore’s ramblings.  “Same deal as before.”

“Well, I don’t know,” Mona Lisa says.  “Seems I should get more since it’s two-for-one this time.”  The other hookers snigger.

“You tell her, Mona,” a tiny black hooker cheers, raising her fist in the air.  “You ain’t nobody’s fool.”

“Let’s go, M.L.,” I say through gritted teeth.  I hate a whore who’s on something because she can turn mean on a dime.  I grab her by the arm and start herding her away.

“I can walk by myself,” Mona Lisa huffs, pulling away.  I sigh and rub my forehead as we make our way to the Phoenix again.  This is becoming a habit I don’t wish to endure for long.  I hate reminders of my past with a passion.  I used to get along with the girls even after I gave up the life, but I’m finding that I have less in common with them as time passes.  Mona Lisa is stumbling on her heels, and Mowgli gallantly offers his arm.

“Madame, may I?”  He bows theatrically, eliciting a giggle.

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