Chapter Seven (Part Two)
I’m not at all sure about this Greeley boy. He’s nice enough, but he’s got a touch of the Midwest about him. Stolid, trustworthy, not the quickest guy out of the blocks. He’s also much too innocent for the kind of games I am being forced to play. I don’t know where Vandalia found him, but he’s nothing at all what I imagined would attract a woman like Vandalia. I have enough to think about without worrying about this guy having my back or calling me out by my real name. I don’t like having to improvise, especially when there are players I don’t know. Mowgli and I have been friends long enough that we groove well together, but this is a situation which might not be easily contained. There are too many ways the whole thing could backfire and blow up in our faces, but I’m determined to learn more about Angelica and this mysterious other girl. If that means doing a bit of improv, then that’s what I’m going to have to do.
I use dinner to clear out my head and to practice my new persona. I don’t want to walk into The Roman Empire cold. Sure enough, Mowgli and Vandalia have little problem carrying on the charade, but Greeley slips once or twice, calling me Trip instead of Sherrilee. I solve that problem by simply not answering him—it’s effective; it helps that Trip doesn’t sound like a name. For this persona, I adapt an attitude of sensuality. Sherrilee is a woman made for men and one who makes no bones about it. Sex clings to her, and she’s not above using it to get whatever she wants. She’s the antithesis of the me I am now, but an incarnation of the me I was a lifetime ago. It’s disconcerting how easily I can slip into her skin until I disappear completely. It’s as if the Trip I have worked so hard to become has never been, and will never be. Mowgli squeezes my hand sympathetically, to keep me grounded. For the evening, he is Cesar, my San Francisco lover who pines for me when I’m not here. He adores me, desiring only to lavish me with love and gifts. I, of course, prefer the latter to the former, and am toying with his fragile heart. He is not the only man in my life, but I’m the only woman in his. At least the last part is true. Vandalia and Greeley get to be themselves because I don’t want to complicate matters too much. There is no time to come up with much backstory, so I’m forced to stick as closely to the truth as possible.
I toy with my dinner, not really hungry. We’re at a tacqueria in the Mission where we stick out like a sore thumb. Guys are casting covetous glances at both Vandalia and me, while the boys are also getting their fair share of love-sick gazes as well. We take our time eating because it wouldn’t do to arrive at the club before ten at the very earliest. I force myself to eat a beef burrito with every evidence of enjoyment. I don’t eat much before doing a job, but this time it’s important not to draw attention to myself which not eating would do. I manage to pack away half the burrito before calling it quits. Mowgli finishes a whole chicken burrito while Greeley and Vandalia each eat about two-thirds of their own, vegetarian and chicken respectively. We take our leftovers to Vandalia’s car—she’s driving—and drive around the Mission a bit, rehearsing our roles. When I’m confident Greeley isn’t going to fuck things up, I allow Vandalia to drive us to The Roman Empire. We pay our twenty dollar cover and zip right in. It’s half-full, but will most likely fill up later, even if it is a Wednesday.