Chapter Seven (Part Four)
“How much for your bitch?” Frat boy number one suddenly appears, leering down at Trip, but talking to Mowgli. “I ain’t never had yellow pussy before.” His buddies are sniggering as they watch the show. Trip narrows her eyes, but allows Mowgli to respond.
“You can’t afford her,” he says without missing a beat. “She’s got more class in her little toe than you do in your whole body.”
“Shit, no pussy is that classy,” frat boy says contemptuously, digging his wallet out of his pocket. He pulls out a wad of bills and fans them. Glancing at Trip, he leans forward so his face is in her space. “I hear that chinks have slanted pussies, just like their eyes. Is that true?” He doesn’t even see her fist before it connects with his eye. “You fucking bitch!” He roars, staggering back a few feet. He quickly recovers and lunges at her again. His coordination is off, and she moves to the side causing him to topple face first into the table. Mowgli is up in a second and grabs him by his hair and jerks his head back.
“Like I said, you can’t afford her,” he growls into frat boy’s ear before banging his head sharply on the table. The boy lets out a groan, and Mowgli allows him to slither onto the floor. Trip takes out a compact from her purse and powders her nose. The buddies at the next table are suddenly engrossed in the girl on stage. Mowgli catches Melody’s eyes, and she hurries over.
“What can I…” Her voice trails off as she catches sight of the frat boy knocked out under the table.
“Get security to take out the trash,” Mowgli says coldly. “If he wakes up before security gets here, I’m not responsible for what I’ll do to him.” Melody rushes off, returning in minutes with a bouncer. He’s so huge, he makes Mowgli look, well, normal.
“What’s the problem here,” the bouncer rumbles, crossing his tattooed arms in front of his chest. “This boy been bothering you?”
“He propositioned my woman,” Mowgli explains. “I took exception.”
“I would, too,” the bouncer nods his bovine head—his bald, bovine head. “He’s out of here.” Scooping up the frat boy as if he is a sack of potatoes, the bouncer throws frat boy over his shoulder and marches towards the door. The other frat boys don’t even blink as their brethren is carted away. So much for bros before hos.
“I’m so sorry that awful man bothered you,” Melody says, biting her lips. “The management told me to comp you for the rest of the night.”
“That’s mighty nice of you, Melody,” Trip drawls, her lips curving into a smile. “Make yourself one while you’re at it. I swain, you’re as white as a sheet. Are you OK, darling?”
“I hate that stuff,” Melody says venomously, but she’s careful to keep her voice low. “All that macho crap.” She shudders. “I make sure Randy, that’s the bouncer, walks me to my car when I leave.” She blushes as she realizes that she’s unloading onto customers. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t be babbling like this. I don’t know what’s the matter with me. Ever since Angel…”
“How has Blanche seemed the last few days?” Trip asks, sensing that there’s something on Melody’s mind.
“Real nervous. Especially when that man bothered her after her set.” Melody hesitates, then spills the rest of the story. “He’s one of her regulars, and sometimes he comes with other guys. Well, a couple days ago, he was talking to her, and he made her cry! Right in front of the customers. Mr. Peters didn’t like that at all. I’m pretty sure it’s the same guy she was talking to on the phone tonight.” She shuts up abruptly. “Uh, I’ll bring you some champagne.” She hurries away as if she’s afraid she’ll say other things that Blanche would not want known.
“Seems like both these girls know more than they’ve told us,” Mowgli says under his breath to Trip who is looking disgruntled.
“A hundred bucks sure don’t buy much these days,” Trip grumbles. “That Melody is better at keeping secrets than I gave her credit for.”
“The hundred did its job,” Mowgli counters. “She wouldn’t be talking to us now without it. Blanche on the other hand, it’ll take more than a hundred to pry those lips loose.”
“I wonder.” Trip looks at Mowgli speculatively.
“Oh, no, Del—Sherrilee. Definitely not. Don’t even think it.” Mowgli knows Trip well, and he is repulsed at the idea of sleeping with Blanche. “Not even for you would I cross the fence.” He’s shaking his head adamantly in the way that means definitively no.
“I wonder if Greeley would do it,” Trip muses.
“Sherrilee! No! Vandalia would kill him. Then you.”
“It’s for a good cause,” Trip says stubbornly. “We need to know what Blanche knows. She’s tied in with Andretti, which makes it likely that she knows more about Angel’s death than she’s telling. Too bad Blanche doesn’t do females, or I’d do her myself.”
“Well, shit, Del,” Mowgli says, immediately correcting himself when Trip glares at him. “Sherrilee. There are ways to get information out of people without using sex. I think she’s ready to talk to someone—she almost spilled her guts to me.”
“You’ll call her tomorrow,” Trip decides. “Set up a meeting, and we’ll talk to her.”
“No offense, Sher, but I think I’ll get more out of her than you.”