new fiction by D.Kirk
“Hey babe, I promise, only one drink.” Famous last words from my neighbor as she stepped out of the cab on W. 28th wearing a silver blouse tied at the waist and crisp Jordache jeans. “Trust me, you’re not gonna believe this club. It’s so worth the cab fare and root touch-up.” Tonight was her attempt to cheer me up after another letter from Arkansas had arrived telling me how much I’m killing my Daddy day by day with my little adventure to Gotham City. She thought she was saving me from homesickness. I was more interested in spending the evening getting distracted from anything to do with Daddy.
“So look, Little Joe’s the owner of this club and sometimes he lets us sit in the VIP section to drink for free. But only if we’re looking super hot,” she said reaching over and pulling my blouse apart over my deep cleavage. “Listen to me Lulu, be careful with Joe. He gives nothing away for free. You get me?” She pointed her long shaking finger, tobacco stained around manicured red nails.
Holly had moved into the studio flat next to mine a little over a year ago. She’d been hitching around the country “trying to find herself” she had said. How she made her money, I never asked but I knew she left most nights after 10 and sometimes, I could see bruises on her neck when I’d do her hair the next day.
Finding herself hadn’t quite fallen into the category of learning how to do all things woman, which she now desperately wanted. Sometimes I helped her shop for heels in size 11 and extra long jeans that gave her hips and sometimes a woman’s ass. Lip lining lessons in Rebel Red and eyebrow plucking sessions would end with shots of rum and hilarious stories of her life back in Miami selling strawberries and bags of apples to cars stopped at red lights. A life when her name was Steven and he pretended his Mama didn’t always work on street corners.
I followed the click clack of her stillettos through a non-descript entrance guarded by a bouncer in all black leather. He waved us through with a giant dildo he held like a magic wand granting access to a fantasy kingdom. Holly nodded with her square chin, steam shaved only an hour ago, before we headed down cement stairs that smelled of trying too hard and Aqua Net.
Once my eyes adjusted to the darkness, I realized I was very unprepared for The Velvet Underground.
It was a mirrored club from ceiling to floor, crystal sconces bouncing a soft glow on the patrons that sat in plush velvet booths with soft calfskin seats. A shiny wood dance floor was filled with tall beautiful women and men, men fawning over them. Men with slicked back hair, polyester leisure suits and money clips filled tight with hundreds. My hairdresser salary wasn’t gonna get me more than a club soda with maybe a lime twist, if I was lucky. In here, nobody was interested in buying someone like me a drink. At 5’5″ with heels, I was the shortest person in the room, and the only one with an actual vagina.
Holly knew where she was going and led us through the soft lighted sea of halter jumpsuits and satin wraparound dresses. Some wore Farrah wigs, their hands reaching up to check their feathered curls while they danced, slender hips swaying slow to Olivia Newton John’s Magic.
“Hey darling,” Holly yelled over the music to a dark waitress in a Wonder Woman costume carrying a tray full of martinis.
Candy and Holly had been dating for about a year. Fighting and fucking was how they dated. I could hear it all through my walls but I never told Holly. Her hands shook enough already just trying to eat a plate of eggs and toast in the morning. She said it was from HRT but I was pretty sure it was from HIV.
Candy was from the Dominican Republic and got off on messing with people. People like me that she called gumdrop. Holly said gumdrops reminded her of riding a bike on hot summer days and swimming in ponds. It reminded her of a life before now.
“So, you remember my neighbor, don’t you?” She leaned over and kissed red painted lips to Candy’s cheek while pointing my way.
“Ya, I remember.” She checked me out from head to toe, all 6’3″ of her and her white thigh high super hero boots. “You think you can handle it here tonight Gumdrop?”
I rolled my eyes with shaky confidence and practiced my one eyebrow lift Holly had taught me at a Mervyn’s once. She was always teaching me stuff like how to get a man’s attention with only your eyes. Just like I was always telling her to cross her legs on the subway if she’s gonna wear a dress.
“She’s fine Candy, just fine. Hey, you think Joe will let us sit in there tonight?”
Her eyes led me to a corner booth raised up three stairs and framed in a gauzy black fabric. A balding man with gold necklaces and a cigar was staring at me, the type of stare that made you shudder and kegel. The kind of man you don’t ever want to payback.
“Sure, I’ll ask him. You two stay here, k?” We stood and leaned against the mahogany bar watching Candy sashay over to who I guessed was “Little Joe”.
He “summoned” us with his hand, eyes still on my chest. I took a deep breath, like I always did before I jumped in. Like I did the day I hopped the bus from Hot Springs with nothing but my scissors and combs, some clothes and an address a woman at the shelter had given me. Five hundred miles still didn’t seem far enough from Daddy’s hands but at least now, I slept at night. Sometimes.
“Joe, this is my friend Lulu. Lulu, this is Joe, he owns The Velvet Underground. And half the girls in here.”
Joe didn’t flinch at Holly’s words. He simply took them as a matter of fact. “Well hello there Lulu. Come sit down next to me.”
Holly gave me a warning glance but I didn’t need it. I recognized a pinky ring when I saw one. I knew what they were for. My chin had a scar to prove it.
Sliding in next to him, his arm came down on my shoulder like a thud, fingers dangling near my chest. I could see Holly’s jaw across the table tighten with a cautious smile. Her eyes fixed hard on Joe’s face.
“How’s business tonight Joe?”
“It’s looking pretty good sweetheart. How you been Holly? I haven’t seen you “working” lately. We’ve missed you.”
“I’ve been taking it easy. Lulu and I here have been doing some girl stuff. Isn’t that right Lulu?”
My hands broke out in a sweat. It had been a long time since I had been around this kind of tension and never this kind of club. “Sure Holly, ya, we’ve been doing girl stuff.”
“Lulu here’s a hairdresser. A real good one too.”
“Oh, you don’t say. I could use someone like you around here. Someone good with make-up and wigs. You do wigs?”
“I do. I used to work in a wig shop back home.” He squeezed my shoulder under his hand when Candy walked up with drinks for all of us. She put a rum and coke in front of me with a tight lipped smile, avoiding my eyes but pausing before letting go.
I watched her walk away and then almost lose her balance when someone coming full steam ahead, towards us, ran smack into her shoulder. I saw her muscled arm grab the woman and hold her back. “Jackie, what the hell, Where’ve you been?”
“Get your fuckin’ hands off me Candy. I need to see Joe.”
“Joe’s busy, get outta here and come back when you look decent.”
Candy was right. Jackie, or I would suspect Jack, looked every bit rode hard and put away wet. She hadn’t shaved for days and was sporting a full beard. Her eyes were bugging out of her head and her hair was days old greasy.
“Joe, Joe, make her let go of me, come on man.”
Candy never lost her head. In all the times I’d seen her, she was always the same, cool and aloof.
“It’s OK Candy, let her go.”
Jackie came running towards the table, barely stopping at the edge. I grabbed for my drink hoping to save a spill on my lap when she hit the side. “Joe…Joe, I need something man. Please, I haven’t slept in a couple of days and I’m burnt.”
“Jackie, I told you last time, this wasn’t gonna happen again.”
“I’ll do anything you want Joe. You name it.” She scanned around the club with her eyes before muttering too quick, “somebody here, you got somebody now, I can do it, I can do it right now. You name him.”
Joe glanced over at my drink while I took a sip, watching my lips on the tumbler. “What do you think Lulu, should I help Jackie here?”
My eyes locked on Holly’s. I wasn’t sure how to answer. Jackie was leaning so far over the table I could smell his sweat and alcohol on his breath. My mouth couldn’t seem to form words so they stayed locked an a tight lipped smile.
“Little Lulu here’s put me in a real good mood so how ’bout this Jackie, I’ll give you another chance but you need to fuckin’ crash for awhile. Get your shit together and come back to work. You got me?” At that he pulled out a bag from his suit jacket and handed her a tiny ziploc. “Have some V and sleep it off. I expect you here on Monday, cleaned up and dressed up. You got that?”
“I do Joe, thanks. I…I won’t disappoint you. I promise.”
“No you won’t. Expect payback Jackie. Be prepared.”
“I understand Joe. Yeah, totally. I’ll be here ready to work…Monday.”
He turned and ran out of the club, leaving behind his lingering scent and a few turned heads at what could happen if you weren’t careful.
“Now Lulu, it looks like you and Holly here are my only dates tonight. How about we have some fun. You game?”
I smiled behind the smile of a naive Arkansas girl, hoping it would work, just for tonight. I watched his pinky ring go back to his suit jacket and pull out another tiny ziploc bag.
“Now, how about we take this party somewhere a little bit more fun. I just so happen to have three of these little beauties left.”
“What are they,” Holly asked from across the table, a look of intrigue on her face as she leaned forward.
“Hey honey, you either jump in or you don’t.”
He held up the bag to the light. Inside were three red pills coated with frosty crystals.
“These are called Sugar Plum Fairies. My friend Apollo cooks them up for me special. I only share them when girls like Lulu come in here. Real special girls. So hey sugar, you ready? You ready Lulu to take a walk on the wild side?”
In memory of Lou Reed
D. Kirk spends most months in Stumptown USA and even then, wouldn’t claim it as her home. She spends her winters with her three good looking sons, the result of a marriage with an even better looking husband, across borders where it’s warmer with beaches. While traveling, or not traveling, she mixes vodka with all types of exotic mixers and writes little diddies to avoid running her three real estate investment companies. Which sounds super fancy. Which is why she mentions it in this bio.