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.”
“Here you go,” Melody chirps, setting two flutes of champagne down along with a bottle. “Again, I am so sorry that your evening was ruined.”
“Not your fault, Melody,” Mowgli says warmly. “You’ve been nothing less than wonderful.” He flashes his teeth at her, and she melts.
“It’s so nice of you to say so. I can’t get used to some aspects of this job, I’ll tell you that much. Oh, Mr. Peters is glaring at me. I gotta go.” She swishes off as a tall, balding man with bulging eyes glares at her.
“I think the honors are yours,” Mowgli says, nodding in the direction of Peters who is still scowling at Melody. “I also think Miss Melody isn’t going to last here much longer.”
“Too bad,” Trip says standing up. “I like her. Let’s take her home, shall we?” Without waiting for a response, she sails over to Peters who does his best to put on a welcoming expression as she approaches. “Mr. Peters!” Trip extends her hand, palm down. Peters is forced to take it and bring it to lips, whether he wants to or not. “I love this little club. The girls are so beautiful. And that darling little Melody is simply a treasure.”
“Um, thank you, Ms.?” Peters smiles a genuine smile, not letting go of her hand. She deftly removes it without making it seem like she is doing so.
“You must call me Sherrilee, sugar. All mah friends do.” Suddenly, Trip is steel magnolia personified. “You must be so proud of your baby.”
“I am, Sherrilee!” Peters is positively beaming. “I’m so glad you’re enjoying yourself. Call me Bill, by the way.”
“Thanks, Bill. I surely am enjoying myself,” Trip says slowly, running her tongue over her lips. “I must say, I’m a tiny bit upset, though.” She bats her eyelashes and leans forward so Billy boy gets a healthy glimpse of her cleavage. He doesn’t seem too impressed, however, which doesn’t sit well with Trip. She gives herself a little shake to snap out of it.
“Why is that, Sherrilee?” Bill’s voice is perfunctory, but there is a hint of a gleam in his eyes. “And what can I do to correct it? It would never do to have you unhappy.”
“Why, you see, I came all this way, and a little bird told me about a dancer named Angel. Said I simply had to see this girl dance. Imagine my disappointment when I found out she’s not here.” The response is immediate. Peters turns white, and his forehead starts perspiring. A hunted look enters his eyes, though he tries to cover it up.
“Angel? She’s on vacation. An extended vacation. We have many other girls, though, who are just as good. Have you seen our Blanche? She’s sensational.” Mr. Peters is tapping his foot and edging away from Trip.
“Oh, Billy, I don’t mean to complain, I truly don’t.” Trip wriggles her shoulder so her neckline is even lower. Almost against his will, Peters’ eyes drop to her cleavage, but they immediately move up again. “It’s just, how often do I travel to San Francisco? Not very often at all, and I had my little old heart set on seeing this Angel girl dance.” Trip trails her fingers down her chest, right between her breasts, then starts stroking her skin lightly. Peters watches, but his face is impassive. Trip leans forward and adopts a little-girl voice. “Maybe you could give me her address, and maybe I could persuade her to do a little private dance for me, if you catch my meaning. Maybe you can set it up and play with us a little while.” She opens her eyes wide and clutches at Peters’ arm.
“Angel is out of town,” Peters blurts out, his voice a bit ragged. Trip blinks innocently at Peters, dialing back the sexiness. Interestingly, Peters seems more interested in the innocent ingénue than the sexy tigress. “Besides, she doesn’t do girls. Ebony! She does girls. Maybe I can set something up with her.”
“No, I don’t think so,” Trip shakes her head regretfully. “What about Blanche? Does she do girls?” Trip slithers her free hand behind the owner’s neck and pulls him a little closer. She is careful not to use too much pressure, though, because she doesn’t want to scare off her prey.
“No, Blanche doesn’t, either.” Peters doesn’t move, but he stiffens slightly. Trip immediately lets go and steps back. She softens her stance and casts her eyes down.
“I really like Blanche,” Trip murmurs, peeking up at Peters from under her eyelashes. “Does she have any special friends? I reckon she would play with a girl for the right price.”
“Blanche doesn’t do outside business,” Peters rasps, his voice getting husky. “None of my girls do.”
“That’s not what I hear,” Trip whispers, careful to keep her voice soft and non-threatening.
“OK, Blanche has a special friend who comes every now and then, two of them, actually. One steady one and one sometimes one.”
“Who are they?” Trip asks. “Perhaps I can strike a deal with them.”
“No, no, no,” Peters shakes his head. His voice doesn’t sound confident, though, so Trip ups the heat. She thrusts out her lower lip and pouts fetchingly. She slowly blinks her eyelashes at Peters as if he is a cat. It’s not surprising that he unconsciously matches her blink rate. Trip places her hands behind her waist and says nothing. She doesn’t have long to wait. “Lucien Andretti is one,” Peters finally says. She nods, but he doesn’t give her the other name. Trip sighs sadly, bringing her thumbnail up to nibble delicately on it. By now, she realizes that Peters likes his women demur. She’s willing to play the game if it gets her what she wants. “I don’t know the name of the other one, but he’s older. Tall, white hair. Blue eyes. Irish, I think.” O’Reilly. Trip is careful not to let her satisfaction show.
“Why, I surely thank you,” Trip says briskly, straightening her shoulders. “You have a great club here. I’ll surely find my way back here next time I’m round the way.” She nods briskly at Peters then walks back to her table—Peters watching her dumbfounded. Peters frowns slightly before wheeling around and walking off in the other direction.
“Girl, you get an Oscar for that performance,” Mowgli chuckles when she returns to the table. “Who were you channeling this time? That poor man didn’t know what to do with you.”
“That poor man pimps women,” Trip sniffs before remembering her character. “Why, I surely was just thanking Billy for having such a wonderful time in his little old club.” She bats her eyelashes at an amused Mowgli. “I certainly was not surprised to discover that Mr. Andretti and Mr. O’Reilly have been bothering poor Blanche right here at the club. It seems Miss Blanche and I will have that talk after all.”
“I say leave it to me, Senorita,” Mowgli says in a bad Mexican accent. “I have my ways with zee women.” He twirls an imaginary mustache which causes Trip to giggle.
“I will attest to that, Cesar, I surely will.” She snuggles close to Mowgli, stroking the arm of his shirt possessively. The few other women who aren’t workers cast envious glances her way. She pecks Mowgli on the cheek before flicking her tongue in his ear—marking her territory so to speak.
They wait patiently to see Blanche again. As the night wears on, the acts improve dramatically. Even the same girls from earlier do better sets. All around Mowgli and Trip, the alcohol is flowing and the testosterone is growing. Since the drinks are free and they don’t have to drive, Mowgli and Trip are imbibing as fast as they can. Trip defies her Asian gene and is able to drink to her heart’s content without turning red or being affected other than feeling warm and fuzzy. She enjoys drinking the boys under the table, especially the ones who think she’s an easy mark. They are amazed how much she can pack away and still remain standing. Sometimes during her darker nights, she wished for the oblivion that alcohol is kind enough to bring others, but she was never granted that particular wish. Those were the nights she accepted a hit of weed or on the very worse nights, some smack. These days—nothing harder than booze and cigarettes because she can’t stand being out of control.
“Here comes Blanche,” Mowgli comments, half-closing his eyes. Everyone in the place perks up as Aerosmith’s Walk This Way pumps out over the sound system. Fog covers the stage as Blanche struts out in another all-white outfit. This time, it’s white leather. Bustier, mini-skirt, elbow-length gloves, thigh-high boots with stiletto heels, motorcycle cap. She’s carrying a crop in one hand and is lazily slapping it against the other. She is eye-catching, Trip has to give her that.
“Yeah, baby,” a guy catcalls from the audience.
“Shake that ass,” another guy hoots.
“Take it off, honey!” A third voice calls out before a cacophony of voices shout out suggestions. Blanche is strutting around the stage like she owns it. She’s not doing any drugs—not for her the false confidence so many girls need to get through the night. She surveys the crowd with a slight sneer on her reddened lips. She slashes her crop in the air, and the guys just eat it up.
“Yeah, baby. You can whip me any time!” That is one of the cleaner suggestions shouted out to Blanche as she slowly peels off one glove before tossing it behind her.
“This is depressing,” Trip mutters under her breath. Mowgli is watching Blanche with polite interest, but more to pick up tips than anything else. He hasn’t done drag in a while, but it doesn’t hurt to keep up-to-date. “Men are so pathetic.”
“Aren’t they just?” Mowgli agreed, rolling his eyes. Blanche has denuded herself of her gloves and is working on her bustier. She has it unhooked and drops it on the floor, revealing pasties glued to her nipples. She wiggles and struts, every eye on her. She slowly unzips the mini skirt before stepping out of it. Underneath is the requisite thong—white, of course—and garter belt. She is all lush flesh just itching to be caressed. She turns so her back is to the audience, then leans forward, placing her hands on the ground. Her legs are spread wide so she is mooning the joint, and the guys go wild. Dollar bills are showered onto the stage as Blanche moves her ass around in a circle.
“Oh, Lord,” Trip sighs, suddenly feeling old. She watches with a jaundiced eye as Blanche straightens up and turns so she’s facing the audience. The look on her face is coy as she easily raises one leg above her head.
“Ready to jet?” Mowgli asks, downing his umpteenth beer of the night.
“Let’s finish her set,” Trip says grimly. By now, Blanche has lost the pasties on her nipples and is about to take off her thong so that all she has left on is her cap and her boots. The music changes to Angel by Aerosmith—she must be doing an Aerosmith set—and every girl in the place freezes. Some look angry; some look appalled; the rest look upset. Trip flags down Melody who is one of the upset ones.
“I can’t believe she’s using this song,” Melody fumes as she sets down a shot of Jack for Mowgli and a Sam Adams for Trip. “That was Angel’s song. Everybody knows that! It’s so rude of her.” Her breasts are quivering with indignation.
“Maybe it’s a tribute, darlin’,” Trip drawls, sucking at her Sam Adams. “Ever think of that? They were friends, correct?”
“Oh, my god! You’re so right!” Melody’s eyes go wide. “I bet that’s what it is. Sort of an homage to a fallen comrade.” She nods her head wisely, then goes to spread the word to her colleagues.
“A tribute?” Mowgli, who has been holding his tongue until this point, bursts out laughing. “Darlin’, you are simply too much.” He tosses back his shot of Jack and returns to watching Blanche. She is, indeed, doing an Aerosmith montage which seems to please her fans. By the end of her set, the stage is littered with money.
“Let’s get out of here,” Trip says, standing up abruptly. Suddenly, she is sick and tired of broken-down men who find their dreams in settings like these. She and Mowgli sweep out of the room after settling their bill which isn’t bad despite the prolific amount they drank.
“Where next?” Mowgli asks, glancing at his watch. It is well after midnight, but he’s made Trip a promise that he intends to keep. For as long as she needs him, he is hers.
“I want to talk to the girls again,” Trip says, shivering slightly in the night air. No matter what the weather during the day, the air is always chilled at night. Trip wishes she had brought a coat, but it would have ruined her image. Mowgli takes off his blazer and carefully wraps it around her shoulders. They walk silently down the street.