Blood-red neon outside makes liquid demands. Haul-It Inn.
So I do, pushing my way through frosted plate-glass doors to strike a pose upon dented hardwood floor. Black take-me pumps and high-gloss cherry lips and Chip and Pepper blue jeans. A high-end whore; come and get me if you can afford me. Just the mask I want.
A brushed-steel and padded-leather bar hurries along the wall to my left, running the length of the room. Industrial chic, once upon a time, but flecks of rust and rough-stitched ridges tell tales of careless maintenance.
The jake behind the bar glances up when the door pops closed, skewering me with a single glance and lingering upon my ins and outs as if I had picked the outfit just for his appreciation. Not. I consider flipping him the bird but decide it’s more attention than he deserves. Instead, I peruse the place as if it — and everything in it — is kitty litter and I’m about to make it clump.
Halfway through that long disdainful glance, I spot the man I’m after, sitting at something too small to be called a table. Alone. Waiting. Not ashamed to show it. The sort who needs to be cranked in, every night of his life, and I am just the girl to trim his sails. He studies me, liking what he sees; he should. The outfit is tailored to his tastes.
I sashay across the room, legs and hips and gluteal muscles working together like a NASCAR pit crew. All the women hate me; all the men have forgotten who they came in with. One poor jerk stands, to follow me; his woman puts him back into his place.
Another fool is stuck with his jaw dropped open. I ease it closed, with a lacquered-nail fingertip, as I pass by.
The man I’m after watches it all, enjoying the floor show. I stop, just outside his reach. Standing, of course. There’s only one chair and he’s not about to offer it to me.
“Want some company?” My voice is smoky and low, Lauren Bacall and Susan Sarandon and Sigourney Weaver rolled into one sweet sound.
He snubs out his cigarette, a filthy unfiltered Turkish brand, and gives me the once over; two times.
“Sure,” he says. In no hurry. “Got a friend I might like?”
If it were just for me, I’d tell him what to do with his burnt-out butt. But it isn’t just for me; not tonight. I have to get in close, got to finish the job I agreed to do, so I work it again.
“You’re a funny man. I like funny men.” Purring.
“Everybody tells me that,” he says. He yawns and gives it a five-count. “All right, you can stay.” I smile, in that evil way I learned from watching Bacall, and take a step closer. He shows me the palm of his hand.
“If you go down on your knees and beg,” he says. Eyes lit in anticipation. I give him the five-count right back, and then nod.
“All right,” I say. “If that’s how we’re going to play this.” He grins like a circus clown, as I step in close and kneel before him. He’ll be sorry; what’s sauce for the gander is good with the goose, too.
Next month, come my fantasy night, I’ll make the bastard pay.
K.C. Ball is a retired newspaper reporter and media relations coordinator. She lives in Seattle, a stone’s throw from Puget Sound, and she writes because if she doesn’t, she’ll just burst.