A New Occupation
This is a fictional short, and one of a non-sequential series.
Nobody ever said that I was a good girl, but I look the part and it works for me.
When I first saw him, sitting next to his buddy at the table at the Balboa Bay Club, I took his measure. Nobody would call him a good boy. Nobody would call him a boy either. They were both shirtless, but his shoulders were somewhere around a yard wide and his friend was one of those smaller men, built like weasels, wiry and nasty. You can’t miss the scars. They’re not the sort of marks that soft men have. The ink was all devil dog, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines.
They were drinking Mai Tais, and I drank his. He ordered another one and asked my name. I asked him if he wanted my stripper name or the name I was born with. I’m not a stripper or a whore, though, I’ve been called the latter by men I didn’t screw.
They didn’t have jar head hair cuts and didn’t have the disciplined vibe and jibe of the recently discharged, so I figured that they’d been out long enough to hang out with. He told me that his name was Jack, and I knew that he lied to me, but it worked well enough. I knew that I would sleep with him after the first five minutes. The next six hours was all kabuki theater on both our parts. The love making had that hard, intense quality, which defines the difference between fucking and intercourse. When he went for fourths, and handcuffed me, I knew that it would be love.
He lived in one of those high-rise luxury places across Pacific Coast Highway from the beach, all chrome, glass and leather. When I woke up, he’d left, but since I lounged in his place, I knew that he’d be back. I opened his best bottle of champagne, found a box of berries and waited. While waiting, I searched the place out of curiosity. Women leave their marks on men. Even if it’s panties left behind in a drawer or a toothbrush in the medicine cabinet. We claim turf. There was no sign of another woman, and Jack, or whatever his parents named him, wasn’t queer. The art was tasteful, but had an aggressive masculine quality to it. I found knives with wicked, sharp blades and loaded handguns spread around the condo in unusual places. There are two kinds of people who do that, those who are clinically paranoid and those who have a reason to be. Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean that they're not out to get you.
Nothing about him spoke to life as a government drone or yardbird thug. This guy definitely did not lap at the taxpayer’s trough and his friends were all like him - definitely not ex-cons. Still, how could I help but be suspicious? He had too much money and way too much time on his hands. We dropped the top on his Maserati and cruised the beach scene, we climbed half dome in Yosemite and we scuba’d in the Sea of Cortez. The credit cards all belonged to foreign banks from places like Monte Negro and Grand Cayman, all in the name of Jack Smith.
The hook came when we were staying in mother’s apartment and an ambulance hauled another suicide attempt out to the local hospital. I commented that there were a lot of them here. The wheels turned. Keep in mind that with Jack, they always turned. I found it attractive, and not usually sinister, but this time, there was a darkness to his concentration. “Would you spill coffee on a guy and offer to bring him home to wash his pants?”
“Just what I said, would you?”
“Because I’m going to put a rope around his neck,” he pointed to my climbing gear, fresh from an ascent in Arizona, waiting in the corner to be washed and put away, “and drop him off the balcony.”
I thought it was one of those sick jokes that he played on his buddies but when he actually did it, I lost my lunch right there on the floor. He liked it, said that it played well, and that the cops would like the barf too.
A drug dealer keeps my mother, and I asked him if he was in the same business. He said that he wasn’t precisely in that line of work, but close enough. I pointed out that I’d seen too much to be left behind. He replied, “who’s leaving you?"