Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Oak Cliff Confidential: Chapter 31

  April tapped her foot impatiently, while Sharon and Alejandro stood mutely, staring into the darkness where Not-Hexom had disappeared. She cleared her throat. She picked up a pebble and dinged it off Alejandro’s head. Still nothing. Fine. “You people can stay here and get sober but I’ve still got some drink in me.” She turned and started marching toward the corner.

  Sharon finally noticed her presence. “April, wait up. We’ll go with you. Don’t be so demanding. I said I’d pay you.”

  April instantly stopped moving. “Oh. I sort of forgot about that part. I can stay here all night. How can I please you?”

  “So money is the be all with you?” asked Sharon, finally catching up to and standing beside April.

  April snorted. “I don’t know about be all. I know about paid all. And you gotta have money to do that.” Then her tone softened, fishing. “Exactly how much were you planning to pay me?”

  “That depends,” said Sharon, “on what you can do for me. How much does Alistair pay you?”

  April shook her head. “Alistair doesn’t pay me. The checks come from a ‘John Doe’. People don’t use real names in this game. Usually.”

  “Interesting,” commented Sharon. “And the banks will cash a check like that?”

  “Direct deposit,” clarified April. “Never had a problem. Can we get back to how much you’re gonna pay me?”

  Sharon smiled. “Can we get back to how much John Doe pays you? I’m not interested in wasting money, here, just need a baseline.”

  April straightened her shoulders proudly. “Last month I got almost a thousand bucks. Plus expenses.”

  Sharon laughed. “Really? I’ve spent more than that on suppositories in Tijuana. I’ll give you ten thousand to start, assuming that you’re straight with me. We’ll negotiate after that.”

  April was stunned. “Ten thousand dollars? To do what? Because I really would like to be straight with you, and that means I don’t wanna have to sleep with you. I’ve tried it. It just didn’t work.”

  Sharon concurred. “No, no sleeping, not interested in the least. No offense.”

  April’s face brightened. “Can I do it with Alejandro?”

  Sharon shook her head. “No, dear, that wouldn’t work either. You’re twig-like. Allie wants something that won’t snap in two when we hit a speed bump.”

  Speaking of, Alejandro joined them. “Sharon, what do you want me to do with the car? We can’t leave it here.”

  Sharon considered. “Well, move it somewhere else. The whole street can’t be a no parking zone. Take care of that and meet us back at Theresa’s.”

  Alejandro scurried one way, the girls scurried the other.

  A minute later, Sharon was knocking on Theresa’s screen door. “Anybody home? All done with the deep-sea diving?”

  Theresa appeared, face flushed. “Sure, all finished. It’s amazing what can be accomplished when you’re on a tight schedule and you have the appropriate tools right there in the drawer.”

  April’s eyes widened in fear. Sharon’s narrowed in interest. “Really? You’ll have to tell me where you shop some time. Anyway, may we enter your lovely home?”

  Theresa swung the door wide. “Certainly, please enter.”

  The trio moved to the living room, where they discovered Raz collapsed in a chair, smoking a cigarette, her eyes unfocused as she apparently reveled in very recent memories of battery-operated appliances and a loved one who knew all the right settings. She noticed the returning company and suddenly sat upright in the chair. “Oh! Welcome back!”

  Sharon plopped into a nearby chair, expertly moving the conversation beyond any potential embarrassing potholes. “Thank God you smoke in the house. Care if I join you?”

  “Not at all,” said Raz, “although I normally try to step outside. Besides, I really only want one when the contractions won’t stop on their own.”

  “Oh?” asked Sharon, more intrigued than ever. “Exactly what is your boudoir technique. Pray tell. I might need to train some people.”

  April spoke up. “I really don’t need to know this.”

  Sharon glanced at her. “Ten thousand dollars, sweetie. Pretend that you care.”

  April still fought. “But the blog readers. Not all of them want to learn about cooter maneuvers.”

  Sharon scoffed. “Of course they do. You never know when a question on the subject might pop up on ‘Jeopardy’. Alex Trebek doesn’t know everything, despite his firm belief that he does. The answers are right there in his hand. Of course it’s easy to look smart.” She turned back to Theresa and Raz. “Continue. Act it out if that makes you more comfortable.”

  Theresa smiled awkwardly. “Perhaps another time. Like an evening when April and her closed mind are off doing something safe and biblical. Can I fix you a drink?”

  “Hey!” said April. “I don’t have a closed mind. I cut hair, people. You hear some weird-ass stuff from the people in your chair.” Then she pondered another possibility. “Did you wash your hands after you… you know.”

  Theresa looked at her with barely disguised frustration. “Of course we did. Do you rinse off the messiness after you’ve banged a gong?”

  (Editor’s Note: I really didn’t know these people were going to go so far with this. You create these children, and then they run amuck.)

  Sharon decided to end the potential civil war. “Well, if it’s just me and some stud, I really don’t care about the after-party. I’ll pass out like a beached whale. But if I’ve got guests in the other room, of course I’ll splash a bit in the bathroom. No need to be all drippy while serving canapés. It’s hell on the carpet. Now, about The Game.”

  “Yes?” asked Theresa, taking a seat beside Raz.

  “Hexom warned me that I have to be very careful around other players. You swear you’re not playing?”

  Theresa shook her head. “No. I would love to, because that’s right up my alley, but from what I gather, they aren’t real crazy about lesbians getting to play.”

  “Oh?” asked Sharon, graciously accepting a fresh lemonade vodka from Theresa. “And why is that?”

  “Because we play to win,” said Raz, stubbing out her cigarette. “No offense. But we don’t mess around. You show me the finish line, and I’ll get there.”

  “Sounds like I need you on my team,” said Sharon, lighting her own cigarette. “Care to join me?”

  “Hey!” interrupted April. “Are you going to pay them, too? Is that going to come out of my cut?”

  Sharon turned and looked at April with exasperation. “Dear child, what part of ‘I have enough money to buy a small country’ do you not understand? Quit being so selfish.”

  Theresa leaned forward. “You don’t have to pay us. We just want to help you figure it out. A woman has never made it to the end.”

  Sharon paused with her cigarette halfway to the ashtray. “How do you know that?”

  There was a knock at the screen door.

  Alejandro’s voice came through the mesh wire. “Can I come in?”

  “Sure,” said Theresa, leaping up and heading that way. “Join us.”

  A few seconds later, she and Allie entered the dining room. He walked up to Sharon. “I think there’s something you should see.”

  Sharon set her drink aside. “What is it?”

  “Alistair left us a present in the car. I think it’s a clue.”

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