Chapter Two (Part Two)
It’s almost dusk, which is my favorite time of day. I love the changeover from light into dark for all the promises the night holds. I am outside Gina’s apartment complex which, of course, has a security system. It is two days after my nightmarish experience with aerobics, and I spent yesterday recovering. This is the first time I’ve been able to walk without limping. I’m still not a hundred percent, but I’m not expecting any difficulties. I’m wearing all black which is the norm for San Francisco, and I’m carrying my workout bag. Gina is yet again at the club, and if she follows her pattern, she’ll be going out with ‘the girls’ afterwards. Probably go to some fucking bar in the Mission, perhaps even the Lex—slumming it. Would be just like the bitch. I press the button to her apartment to make sure she’s not there, wait a full minute, then press a button at random. I bullshit my way in by reciting a garbled message about my being worried about my mother who lives in the building. I make my voice as soft and weak as possible, and I’m in. It continually astounds me that even in high-class areas such as this, it’s easy to get into a secured building with a well-crafted lie and a feminine voice. I trot up the stairs to the third floor where Gina resides, use my handy-dandy set of lock picks from my workout bag, and I’m in. It takes me a grand total of thirty seconds.
I stand for a minute, soaking up the atmosphere. I love standing just inside the door of an apartment I’ve broken in for no other purpose than to remind everyone else that I am, indeed, the woman. When I’ve had my fill of gloating, I flip on a light. The hallway is short and a lemony-yellow. It leads to the living room which is a sunshine yellow with abstract paintings on the wall. I can tell from the signature that they were done by Gina herself, and some are quite good. Most are shit, of course, but I wouldn’t mind one or two of them. Momentarily, I consider boosting the one resembling the Golden Gate Bridge, but that wouldn’t be professional. Besides, chances are she’s not going to the cops if I just take what I’m after. I lift her painting, and all bets are off. Artists are hell on wheels when protecting their creative property.
The room is beginning to depress me with its unrelenting cheerfulness, so I cross over to the kitchen which is the size of a postage stamp. I can tell from the pots and pans and the condition of her stove that Ms. Gina is not one to cook. I open the freezer and there in plain sight is what I’ve come for. Four test tubes. I slip them into my bag and substitute the four test tubes nestled in my bag. I shut the door quickly and head for the door. One of my strengths is that I have no interest in anything other than finishing my job, so I’m not going to steal any other valuables. Clients trust that I will go in, get what they need, then get out. Since I get most of my clients by word of mouth, I have to be trustworthy. It’s not worth it to me to slip a little something extra in my pocket because then I have an unhappy client if he finds out about it. I take what I come for and not a penny more.
“A round for everyone, on me!” I cry, thumping the bar triumphantly. I’m at The Savage on Guerrero and 22nd, the bar I always visit after I finish a job. It’s not even ten o’clock on a Thursday night, but the place is swamped, anyway. It’s a dive filled mostly with bikers and assorted bad boys, but the occasionally yuppie or frat boy will wander in to experience the wild side. I am smoking as I consider it my reward for a job well done. Yes, it’s true that bars are smoke-free in California as mandated by state law, but there are still bars that’ll avert their eyes when you light up, and The Savage is one of them.
“Tell us about it, Trip!” A dark, obese man in his forties, hunched over his never-ending beer, cries out. That’s Stump—so nicknamed because rumor has it he was castrated by a jealous husband—and this is part of my after-job ritual. I’m a creature of habit and wouldn’t dream of missing this step. I come into the Savage to buy everyone a round and to crow. I suppose there is some risk that somebody in the bar will be somehow connected to the job I just finished, but my clientele usually has me working in different neighborhoods than this one. Stump is slurping at his beer and fondling his crotch at the same time. I’ve yet to visit The Savage and not see Stump sitting in the exact same stool—which is one reason I like the place.
I outline the case, telling them about Harrington and what a pussy he is, about Gina and what a cunt she is. I even tell them about the aerobic class, though I skip over the part about how I thought I was going to die. I’m not above a bit of bragging when it’s warranted. The boys chortle when I regale them with the details of how I scammed Harrington for more money than I’ve ever made for such an easy case. I embroider how grateful he is, so much so, he adds five thousand on top of the five thousand as a bonus so in total, I’ve made thirty-thousand on this case. Not bad for three fucking days of work and to be more precise, an hour on each of the two days I actually worked. Oh sure, I had to figure out a plan and to prepare the substitute test tubes, but that hadn’t taken more than two hours, three at the most. Thirty thou for at the outside most, ten hours of work? You couldn’t ask for better wages.
“So what was the property you repo’ed this time?” Buzz, a burly guy with tattoos choking both arms and torso—so he’s said, not that I know by personal experience—a gut to rival Kevin James’, a beard that hides his chin, his mouth, and half his cheeks, asks, his eyes avid. Buzz used to be in the business before he got so fucking fat. It’s a shame to see a good man go to seed, but it’s his own damn fault. He is inhaling my story, living vicariously, so to speak.
“It’s killer, man,” I assure him. Most of the other patrons are hanging on to my every word, as is the cute bartender. He’s an ex-football player with golden hair and violet eyes, but he’s as dumb as a brick. “You know how every client says his case is different and special and all that other shit?” Buzz nods. It’s astonishing how mundane people are. “Well, this one, really was.” I smirk, marveling at the chutzpah of Gina.
“Come on, Trip, tell us already,” a thin, short, rat-faced guy whines. “What’d the bitch take?” I pause a beat longer, just for effect. I can feel the crowd growing restive, so I tell them. The response is absolute silence.
“Say what?” One guy says what everyone is thinking so I say it again.
What did Gina take from Harrington? His jism. His spunk, his sperm, his cum, his semen. She had truly planned ahead, that one, no pun intended. It seems that Miss Gina had thought from the very beginning that there was something a bit off about our Mr. Harrington. Since she’s a girl who likes to look out for herself, she decided that she needed herself some insurance. Now, most ladies on the take would purloin underwear or a credit card or money or something of that ilk. Others would ask their beaus to write little mementos of their affection. Not our Miss Gina. This forward-thinking gal saved the condom after they had sex, pouring the contents into a test tube after Harrington left, then placed said test tube in the freezer. She did this four times. Harrington didn’t know if the buggers were still alive and kicking, but he couldn’t afford to take that chance. This is what he paid me thirty-thousand dollars to retrieve—four test tubes of his best swimmers.
Gina told me she wasn’t thinking of blackmail at first, though I can’t help but doubt her word. Why else keep your lover’s sperm if you weren’t going to do a spot of blackmail? Some of the details I got from her, but most of the story came from Harrington himself. He told me that when he first broke up with Gina, she simply laughed, thinking it was a joke. When she realized that he wasn’t kidding, she threatened to tell his wife. When he said Fiona wouldn’t believe her, she told him that she had something of his that would make the missus believe her. She refused to tell him what she had, but after he got a bit physical with her—the boy had some spine after all!—she caved. She told him she had his sperm, and she was going to tell his wife unless he paid her five thousand per tube, which was how he came up with my fee.
Harrington considered paying, but realized that if he did, she’d just jack up the price again, so he told her he’d have to think about it. Then she changed her mind. She was going to keep the sperm and squirt it up herself, get pregnant, and then sue him for paternity. By this time, she was wild out of her mind. Harrington was the richest man she’d ever dated, and she didn’t want to see her meal ticket wasted. Harrington himself was becoming agitated as well. He had never considered that the break-up would be so difficult because he’s a man used to having life roll over and play dead for him. By this time, Gina was screaming and throwing things at him. Again, I don’t think it’s because she cared one whit about him but because she was pissed that her free ride was coming to an end. She probably turned down half his gifts early on in anticipation that she would reap a larger reward later on.
Harrington had retreated in a panic, managing to put her off for a few days. He was at the club playing racquetball with his buddy, Archibald, when he just blurted out all his trouble without specifying what it was, exactly, Gina had of his. After listening to Harrington, Archibald had related his own tale and recommended me. That’s the only part of the deal that made me suspicious because I had cracked Regan’s jaw after finishing the job for him, and yeah, he did pay me. He had grabbed my ass right before I hauled off and decked him, so he must have figured he had it coming to him. Maybe he wasn’t as much a jerk as I thought he was if he was willing to recommend me after what happened, especially as it seems he kept his mouth shut. That’s why I wondered if perhaps he harbored some secret dislike for Harrington and was being malicious when he recommended me. On the other hand, I don’t hit clients unless they are asking for it.
“What a conniving bitch!” Someone says, admiration lacing his voice. “Details, Wire. Tell us everything!”
“Not much more to tell. I figured it had to be in the freezer, but chatted up the vic to make sure. I mixed up some milk and starch to look like semen, filled four test tubes with it because that’s how many she had of the real thing, then made the substitution. Voila!” I wave grandly, absurdly pleased with myself. Though it was by far one of the easiest assignments I’ve ever had, it’s also one of the most bizarre.
“Jesus,” Buzz mutters under his breath. “She stole his fucking jizz. If that doesn’t just beat all.” All the men in the place are shaking their heads in disbelief while the three or four women present are smirking openly.
“I almost hated to pull the switch,” I sigh. “It was a brilliant plan.” I pause a minute, a bubble of laughter welling up inside of me. I hadn’t intend to tell the last part, but I had to—it is too good to keep to myself. “Want to know the best part, guys?” Everyone nods eagerly, wrapped up in my story. “The shit dies when you freeze it!” I crack up. “So Harrington was shitting his pants for nothing!”
“Wait, what about sperm banks?” Buzz protests, downing his beer. He motions for another one and takes the head off it. “They freeze their shit.”
“With a special machine,” I say, finally allowing myself to howl. “Fucking Harrington could have saved himself a bundle if he’d just let his fingers do the walking on the internet!” Everyone bust a gut laughing at that one as I motion to Rock, the bartender, to pour me another one. I am fast on my way to crocked, but I figure I well and truly earned it.
“Hey, Trip, I got a special drink for ya.” Rock whips together a concoction and sets it in front of me. I eye it suspiciously. “Go on, drink it.” I taste it. It’s frothy and sweet, but with a dash of saltiness.
“That’s not bad, Rock,” I say cautiously, looking at the glass. Rock has a weird sense of humor, and I wouldn’t put it past him to try to pull a fast one. “What’s in it?”
“That’s not what you’re supposed to ask,” Rock says, frowning at me. “You’re supposed to ask what it’s called.”
“OK, Rock, what’s it called?” God, men can be such babies; I hate coddling them.
“Trip’s Freezin’ Seamen!” Rock crows, throwing his head back and laughing. After a minute of silence, the whole crowd joins him. “In honor of a job well done. Only, it’s got to be s-e-a-m-e-n, you understand, delicate sensibilities and all.”
“Hot damn! I got me a drink now! Fucking A!” My lips twitch in a smile as I down the Seamen. Maybe Rock isn’t so dumb after all. “But drop my name off of it, ok? I can’t afford to get caught.” We agree that it’ll be called Freezin’ Seamen and that it’ll be my signature drink. I ask again what’s in it; I think I should know what makes up my signature drink.
“Milk, Kahlua, and Bailey’s,” Rock offers. “With a dash of salt.” After that, the whole crowd orders Freezin’ Seamen for me and for themselves until the bar closes. I don’t have to pay for a single drink the rest of the night. I take Rock home with me when I finally stagger out the door—a satisfactory end to a satisfactory night.