Thursday, February 12, 2009

Busy as a Call Girl on Valentine's Day - 2 of 4

Next morning, Janey and I loitered in bed. Sun through the windows splashed her uncovered body.

You’re beautiful.

What’s beautiful? Some guys like chocolate, some, vanilla. You like Rocky Road.

Are you kidding? You could be a movie star.

I know. Maybe I had a chance a long time ago, but I blew it, always pissing my karma away.

What are you saying? You're a beautiful young woman with your whole life ahead of you. I’m happy you’re here now.

I wish I didn’t stay over. I’m trying to break my pattern sleeping with men the first night.

Suddenly hungover, I rested my head between her full breasts that smelled like peaches.

You touch me like it’s no big deal. You should hesitate a little. I mean, I wish my skin felt too good for a man to stand so much pleasure at once. I hope someday some guy will feel like that about me. Let’s get out, she said abruptly. I’m hungry.

I tagged after her into the shower. Don’t be mad. I’d do anything for you, I said, poking my head in under the spray.

Shampoo my hair. Wash me.

I lathered Janey up and down and kissed her sweet toes. Where do you live? I asked. I want to send you flowers.

I’m not the kind of girl men give flowers to.

I don’t believe that.

She lifted my face in her hands and kissed me with pity in her eyes before she stepped out of the shower and left to dry off in the other room. Suddenly, Smells Like Teen Spirit exploded from the CD player.

Sorry! Janey shouted over the thumping bass, lowering the volume.

Toweling off, I squinted out the bathroom door at Janey on the couch at the far end of the loft, naked from the waist down in one of my old UNC T shirts. She pulled one sock on, then the other.

You’re too good to be true, I said, yanking my shorts up. I’m starving!

I don’t want to go to some stuffy restaurant where I can’t be myself dressed like I am.

I think I know a close place that’s not too bad. If we don’t like it, we can leave. Don't worry. We can go anywhere. I have money.

Bundled up, we held hands all the way from Chatham Square to the Odeon in Tribeca, sun rising on our backs.

Just like I pictured, Janey said in the foyer. White tablecloths, peaked napkins, and clean pitchers of clear ice water to cleanse our dirty shame. You like nice places. We look out of place in these giant mirrors.

A waiter in a starched white smock showed us to the back where we smeared in the same side of a booth. After long silence, I asked, does your family know you strip?

Everyone knows what I do. Daddy’s a pervert.

Whada’ya mean? Something happen?

Nah, don’t get crazy. Daddy’s proud of me. He used to say I’m so beautiful, boys would pay to see me and take my picture. He was right.

What about the rest of your family?

I love my sister. Her husband’s a biker. He abandons her and their kids for weeks at a time to orgy in the Massachusetts woods with the Sons of Excellence motorcycle club. Once he got up drunk in the middle of dinner and said he was going to rob a convenience store. Sissy cried and begged him to stay at the table, but the badass was back in time for pie and ice cream, his pockets stuffed with cash. All kinds in my family. Got a brother’s a preacher. He tried to stop me from stripping my first time, came to the joint and caused a scene. We ain’t talked since.

How’d you start stripping?

Got fired from my job by my boyfriend, then he kicked me out of his house. Left high and dry, I thought of a place I could make money, just like Daddy said, just outside the city limits. Mrs. Peleg, sweet lady that owned the bar, paid me by the hour. She didn’t have to.

She didn’t have to pay you?

That’s the diff between stripping in the city and in the country. In the city, you gotta pay the house fee to use the stage and dance the floor. Mrs. Peleg didn’t charge the girls; she paid us five dollars an hour. Also, farm boys are different than city men. Those farm boys felt blessed, grateful to see a naked woman. They happily tipped all they could. They were sweet. Businessmen treat women like whores. Everyone knows salesmen don’t know the difference between right and wrong.

You still see your family?

My mom and dad, my sister last Christmas. Hey! I got an idea! Let’s surprise my brother, go see him sermonize. I never saw him preach. I bet he’s good! We could camp out, sleep in the woods.

Maybe we could, I said, proud of our fast intimacy, and traced my finger in the air after breakfast to tell the waiter to bring the bill.

Back on the sidewalk, I remembered the seven hundred bucks I gave Janey last night. I couldn’t remember if she gave me the money back or not, but couldn’t bring myself to ask or even check my knee pocket in front of her, and so I put her in a taxi headed uptown.

I’ll call you later! she shouted, hanging out the cab window to her waist, blowing kisses.

Tramping my way home, I tore into the Velcro pocket on my knee and found the crisp seven hundred simoleons deep inside. Janey didn't care about my money. We were together because we were both born outsiders who needed each other.

©2009 Daryl Edelman

To be continued…

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