Chapter Seven (Part Three)
I’m bored. Even though I like women, there is nothing sexy about Ebony’s movement. I can tell by the glazed look in her eyes that she’s on something and feeling very little pain. She’s moving her ass mechanically, the same way she’s probably moved it a hundred times before. Whereas Blanche had seemed real and alive, Ebony is merely robotic. There’s no denying her good looks, but there’s very little heart to go with the looks. Not that I blame her for zoning out. Ninety percent of the girls on the street were on something at any given time to get through the night. Those who got a cut of their profits usually snorted that money right up their little noses. I smoked cigarettes, but nothing more potent. Well, OK, heroin every now and again, but not very often. What money I made, I saved. Even when I was working seven nights a week, I knew that I wasn’t going to be in that life forever, no fucking way. Even if I had to kill someone to get out, I would. I was going to get out, and I was going to stay out. Well, I did. And I have. And I will.
Vandalia and Greeley are groping each other under the table. Either they think I can’t see them, or they don’t care that I can. Greeley is close to coming, and it’s amusing to watch him try to keep it under control. Hell, I’m tempted to give his cock a squeeze myself just to cause a little mischief. I want to see the boy squirt all over himself just because. Somehow, I don’t think Vandalia would appreciate it if I lend her a hand, though. She might even kick me out of her apartment, and then I’d be shit out of luck. I can’t go back to my apartment, and I don’t want to stay with Mowgli who is too easily identifiable as my friend. I wonder when—if—there is going to be a connection made between an ‘unidentified Asian woman’ and the dead girl. Angel. And what’s up with the lying? Why is Melody saying that Angel is on vacation, that she’ll be back? Even if they don’t want it known that Angel is dead, why doesn’t Melody say she’s been fired or let go or that she left out of her own volition? Speak of the devil, she’s returning with our drinks.
“Here you go,” she chirps, setting each drink carefully down on the table.
“Melody, you’re an attractive girl,” I say enticingly, crossing and recrossing my legs.
“Thank you,” Melody says automatically, flashing her dimples at me.
“Why don’t you sit a minute?” I pat Mowgli’s empty seat, discreetly placing a twenty dollar bill on the table.
“Oh, I really shouldn’t,” Melody says, her eyes glued to the money.
“I’d really like you to,” I say, adding another twenty to the one already on the table.
“Just for a minute,” Melody agreed, sitting down. The twenties disappear before her ass is even on the chair.
“How did you start working here?” I ask curiously, inching closer to Melody. I can see she’s uncomfortable with the attention, but I pay her no mind. My goal is to make her think that I’m hitting on her so she won’t suspect deeper motives. Vandalia and Greeley are openly making out which seems to add to Melody’s discomfort.
“Um, a friend of mine works here, too. She told me about it. Said I could make good money. I want to go to State and study psychology.” Melody has her arms crossed over her chest, but she drops them when she sees me staring. She must have been told not to cover up her breasts which is a good policy if she wants to make money.
“How do you like it?” I ask, letting my hand casually drop on her leg. I idly trace a line up and down her thigh while appearing not to be looking at her. She squirms minutely but remains still otherwise. Someone has trained her well, though they should have told her not to give it away for so cheap.
“It’s OK. It’s a lot harder work than I thought it would be. But at least I’m not walking the streets.” Melody pastes a smile on her lips as my hand inches further up her leg. She has her legs slightly parted which is probably another dictum.
“Do the girls get along?” I ask in my honeyed drawl, massaging her thigh firmly. When she looks at me, I lick my lips—she quickly turns her head away.
“We’re one happy family,” Melody says brightly, pretending not to notice that my fingers are now at the edge of her shorts.
“Does Angel have any special friends?” I ask, stroking Melody’s thigh in light, feathery strokes. “I seem to remember being told that she and Blanche were really close.” I can tell that Melody wants to close her legs, but she’s too well-trained to do so.
“Um, yes, they were pretty friendly,” Melody says, clutching the edge of her chair. “They acted like sisters the way they were always giggling and gabbing.”
“Like sisters? Not like lovers? I’m just wondering if Blanche swings both ways.” My hand is caressing her warm flesh at a greater frequency. I teasingly stray further up her leg before returning to her thigh. I don’t want to get her in trouble with the management which probably has a no-touch policy. Of the merchandise, that is.
“Not like lovers, no, Ma’am,” Melody says, her breath starting to become heavy. She has her eyes closed, and her legs part a fraction of an inch more.
“I insist you call me Sherrilee. Ma’am makes me feel like I’m a hundred years old. I declare, do I look that old to you?” I take Melody’s chin in my hand and turn her head towards me. Lust and something else are mixed in her eyes. I inch my face closer to hers until her lips are within kissing range of mine. “Do you think I could arrange a private dance with Blanche? Or does she only do boys?”
“She only does boys, Ma—Sherrilee,” Melody squeaks as my other hand drops casually over her shoulder. I start massaging the area over her breast. “Ever since Angel di—left, Blanche has been more careful about her dance partners.”
“What do you mean since Angel left?” I breathe into Melody’s ear, causing her to shiver. Flicking my tongue into her ear makes her jump, much to my amusement. Greeley has his hand up Vandalia’s shirt who is returning the favor by cramming her hand down his pants. They aren’t paying the slightest bit of attention to me and Melody. “I thought she was on vacation.”
“Oh, I shouldn’t tell you,” Melody moans as I continue to touch her. I can tell by her scent that she is wet, and she spreads her legs further. “Oh, Sherrilee, please,” she gasps, throwing her head back.
“What shouldn’t you tell me, love?” I ask, my mouth right next to Melody’s ear. I don’t want anyone else overhearing our conversation, and I’m thankful that Melody is quiet as well. I allow my lower hand to tease her again before pulling away.
“Angel isn’t on vacation—she’s dead.” She whimpers in frustration as I stay away from her clit. “Blanche is afraid—afraid she’ll be next.”
“What else, pet?” I croon, gliding my fingers all over her body. I’m thankful that she’s new and eager for adventure—or money. Whatever works.
“Blanche, Blanche, Blanche had to be convinced to continue working,” Melody gasps, her pelvis thrusting at my fingers; I’m careful not to touch her clit in order to make sure she tells me everything she knows. “The owner, Mr. Peters had to personally talk to her before she’d come back!” By now, Melody is very close to coming. I’m sure I’m breaking some club rule by bringing her to orgasm—or perhaps she is—but it’s all for a good cause. I pull back slightly so she can’t make herself come. She whimpers in frustration, biting her lip to keep from screaming.
“What else?” I lick her ear delicately, causing her to shudder. Her entire body ripples with pleasure as I watch. “Tell me everything, Melody.”
“That’s all, Sherrilee! Honest.” She is past thinking, but something must have penetrated the fog in her head. “Oh, yeah. I heard Blanche on the phone tonight, talking to someone named Mr. Andretti. She was begging him to leave her alone.”
“You sure that was the name? Andretti?” I am careful to keep all excitement out of my voice.
“Yes! She called him Lucien once. She promised she wouldn’t tell.” Melody is panting, her body so close to orgasm. I pull back, not wanting to make a mess on my fabulous outfit. Melody has her eyes closed and her legs spread wide. She is waiting for me to bring her over the edge, but I don’t. When she opens her eyes, sixty more dollars is sitting on the table in front of her. The look on her face is a study in confusion.
“That’s for being such a good girl,” I say with a lazy smile, pushing it towards her with the tip of my fingers.
“Oh, Ma-I mean, Sherrilee, you shouldn’t! It’s too much!” Melody’s eyes are wide as she stares at the money. “But, aren’t you?” Her voice trails off, but I can tell by her twitching exactly what she means.
“Wouldn’t want to get you in trouble, you know,” I say, smiling with just my lips. “Maybe you can take care of yourself on your next break.” I push the money even closer to her, waiting to see her reaction. For a minute, she doesn’t touch it as she stares at me in disappointment, but finally she does the wise thing. She grabs the money, tucks it away, then sashays off after thanking me. I have no doubt that she will make a detour to the bathroom to finish what I started.
Vandalia and Greeley, who have been sucking face this entire time, miss the interplay. I watch as Ebony is replaced with a Chinese girl who is working the China doll-theme, even using that insipid David Bowie song in her set. I hate that song, but there’s little I can do but grit my teeth and tolerate it. Five minutes later, just as the girl on stage has stripped naked, Mowgli saunters back, Blanche draped from his arm. She’s holding on as if she can’t bear to be parted from him. He whispers something in her ear which elicits a giggle from her. She plants a big wet one on his cheek before floating away. He waits until she is out of sight before discreetly wiping the lipstick mark from his cheek.
“You missed some,” I say as Mowgli reseats himself. I lean over and wipe the remnants of pink as best I can.
“You owe me,” Mowgli says, a smirk tugging at his lips. “The things I do for my best friend.” He rolls his eyes at Vandalia and Greeley who haven’t come up for air and are in danger of dying from lack of oxygen.
Mowgli sips at his beer as he describes how Blanche led him to a private corner and started rubbing between his thighs. In order to be a trooper about the situation, Mowgli had to think about the guy at work he has a crush on before his cock would respond accordingly. As Blanche pressed her tits in his face, however, he began to have doubts that he’d be able to see the situation through. It’s not that he hasn’t been with women before because he has—it’s her specifically. She is gorgeous, but so plastic and calculated. He can’t help but think of a living Barbie doll as she began kissing his neck. After putting up with her attention for a few minutes, he asked her if Angel was dancing later on. He explained, half-apologetically, that he really came to see Angel dance. At first, Blanche was offended artistically as she considered herself the best dancer in the stable. Then, she had to break it to him gently that Angel was not there tonight and most likely would not be in for some time. She tried to apply herself to him again, but he stopped her.
She was wary of him because let’s face it, most guys aren’t in the joint to talk. It was his dime, however, and as long as he was paying for the privilege of her company, she didn’t much care what they did. In fact, it was something of a relief for her not to have to perform for ten minutes and still get paid. She fluffed out her blond hair and waited to hear what he had to say. He asked about Angel again, confessing to having a crush on her. ‘You’re a special friend of hers, right?’ He asked the question guilelessly, but carefully watched for a reaction. Before she can censor herself, Blanche flinched. She tried to lay some story on him, but wasn’t quick enough to come up with something plausible. She finally admitted that she and Angel were good friends and that they saw each other outside the club. They weren’t lovers, Blanche was very clear on that, but girlfriends in the old-fashioned sense of the word. They went shopping together or to the movies or dinner. They talked about their love lives and yes, they even dreamed together.
After her first nervous reaction, Blanche relaxed as she continued to talk about Angel. It’s clear to Mowgli that she wanted, no, needed to talk about her friend despite the gag rule concerning Angel. However, when Mowgli asked where Angel was, Blanche shut down. Her eyes filled with pain and something that Mowgli diagnosed as fear. It took all his persuasive charm to convince Blanche not to flee. That and the extra fifty he plopped down on the table. Hey, in the land of whores, money is the only thing that speaks. After Mowgli spent several minutes reassuring her that she was safe, that he was someone she could trust, she unbent a little. There’s something about Mowgli that inspires confidences. When he’s optimistic, he sees this as one of his greatest assets; when he’s depressed, it’s more of a curse. He doesn’t always feel comfortable using this trait to worm information out of people, but this time he squelched his finer instincts and plied Blanche with the charm.
Even so, she didn’t tell him much. She said that Angel wasn’t around any more and that she wouldn’t be back. There wasn’t much Mowgli could do with that without giving away what he knew, so he let it slide. Blanche went on to confess that she was uneasy about something, but she wouldn’t go further than that, either. She would only say that something had caused trouble for Angel and that the same something was bothering Blanche as well. She refused to give specifics; she wasn’t comfortable talking about it at all and kept glancing around her as she talked, fearful of who might be listening. She jumped at the slightest sound, shrinking in her seat. She was jittery—much different than her public persona. Against his will, Mowgli felt protective about her. He wanted to be skeptical and to grill her about Angel, but found that he couldn’t do that to her. In the end, he paid her a hundred dollars just as Trip had done to Melody, but for less information.
Just as he was about to give up on her, for it was clear that she had no intention of saying anything of real interest, she blurted out that she was so afraid. They had killed Angel as a warning to her, and she was afraid that she was next. She leaned forward, placing a hand on Mowgli’s leg, but not seductively. Her shiver wasn’t planned, either, and Mowgli found himself patting her hand comfortingly. Her big, wounded eyes were like those of a deer, and he wanted to save her from whatever was troubling her. Immediately after divulging this information, she pulled herself together and refused to talk any more. She pulled out a compact from the pocket of her robe and powdered her nose in order to put some distance between the two of them. In the end, she allowed him to give her his cell phone number and even gave him hers in exchange. Before parting from him, she implored him to forget what she told him, then thanked him for listening. He slipped her the hundred for her time which she didn’t turn down. First lesson a working girl learns: never turn down money when it’s offered to you—much like cops.
When Mowgli finishes his piece, Trip tells him what she’s learned from Melody. It is clear that there is a clamp-down on information about Angel from staff to patrons, and Trip is curious about Mr. Peters, the owner. Does he know Andretti and/or O’Reilly? Is the club a cover for something more nefarious? Trip leans towards thinking that Peters is more than just an innocent bystander whereas Mowgli disagrees. He thinks it’s perfectly logical that Peters wouldn’t want to reveal that Angel had been murdered and that he fabricated a story of Angel being on vacation. Trip counters that he could only use that fiction for so long, and what would have been so difficult about saying she no longer worked at the club or that she had died? They agree to disagree and turn to break up the kissing couple who provide difficult to separate. They are so horny that they want to return home right away, much to Trip’s disapproval. To her, the night is still young, and she needs to work the streets a little more. To Mowgli’s credit, he doesn’t even point out that he has to work tomorrow, but declares himself up for whatever Trip has in mind.
It’s decided. Vandalia and Greeley split after Mowgli assures them that he and Trip will take a taxi cab wherever they need to go. Or walk. No one is going to fuck with Mowgli without provocation. The frat boys at the next table have long since lost their minds which means they are more interested in securing a bit of pussy rather than antagonizing Mowgli and Trip. Mowgli is for splitting and perhaps going back to the hookers, but Trip wants to catch Blanche’s second act, more out of curiosity than for any professional reason.
Mowgli and Trip each order a beer and sit back to watch the show. The next three girls are uninspired and a dime-a-dozen. The patrons pay little attention except to boo when one girl actually uses a Britney Spears montage as her centerpiece; she exits the stage in tears. There is a rustling in the audience, an impatience for something bigger. In a joint where you have to buy three drinks as part of the cover charge, guys aren’t apt to forgive shoddy performances. Especially when the drinks are watered-down and most likely seven or eight bucks a pop. The next two girls are improvements, and the natives aren’t so restless. Trip watches them with a jaundiced eyes. She knows that many of the dancers think of themselves as a different class of girls than hookers, but as far as Trip is concerned, there isn’t much separating the two. In fact, she thinks the hookers have it easier because they don’t have to spend hours thinking up a fucking routine or have expensive hair weaves. At least not the girls in the Tenderloin.