Chapter 35 ~ A Shot Glass & A Story
Joe picked a small stack of newspapers off a gray metallic folding chair, looked around, and placed them in front of him on the table. Sam pulled a brown metallic folding chair out from the table and stared down at a pile of unopened mail and bulk advertisements. He picked them up, sat down and placed them on his lap.
Monica reached her right arm for the whiskey. She took the bottle and filled a shot glass to where the liquid held tenuously to the shot glass’s edges threatening to spilling over. She carefully lifted the shot glass to her lips. She closed her eyes, drew the shot glass slowly to her lips building the anticipation as if the magic potion were going to turn her in to a princess. She brought the glass to rest against her tongue, which rested on her lower lip then she tilted the glass and her head in a practiced motion and the whiskey flowed like like a river over her tongue and into her mouth, continuing its course through her throat into her stomach. A smile spread cross her face like the rising of the dawn, slowly, gently, peacefully. She ran her tongue softly and seductively over her lips, opened her eyes, and set the empty glass on the table. She said, “I should have offered you a drink. You’ll have to share the glass.”
She reached for the whiskey.
Joe said, “No thank you. We only want a bit of your time. We’re sorry for disturbing you.”
Monica looked away from Joe at Sam, “He speak for you?”
Sam said, “I speak for myself. The answer is no.”
Monica filled her shot glass and took a slow slip. She set the glass down close to her and glanced at an ashtray filled with cigarette butts and roaches. She picked at a roach holding it between her forefinger and thumb, and looked at Sam, “You got a toothpick and a match?”
“No ma’am,” said Sam.
Joe said, “Tell us about Joe Ritchie and we’ll leave.”
“Not without upfront cash. I get a hundred an hour, seventy-five for a half-hour.”
Joe pulled out his wallet. He had one-hundred and sixty dollars in twenties, a five, and four singles. ATM popped into his mind as he took out five twenty dollar bills and set them on the table. Monica reached for them and Joe pulled them away. “When we’re finished you can have them.”
Monica picked up the shot glass and tossed the golden liquid down. She reached for the bottle and Sam pulled it away. “You’re on the clock, no drinking or smoking until we leave.”
“Bastard. You’re all alike.”
Joe and Sam sat with their hands clasped in front of them. Joe’s hands rested on the five twenty dollar bills.
Monica picked up the shot glass and stuck her tongue inside the glass swirling her tongue around the inside edges of the glass. When she finished, she awkwardly placed the shot glass on the table and it fell over lying on its side.
She gestured toward Joe, “You favor him. You got his soft dark brown eyes, nose and shape of the face. In his prime, he musta looked a lot like you. The girls go crazy for you?”
Joe didn’t answer. He watched showing no emotion.
Monica continued, “I was a freshman at UNLV and I still am,” she laughed. “I earned my tuition at a totally nude strip club in Vegas over on Russell. It’s the classy one with columns. I made good money then. Lots of guys wanted me, for a price, but I wasn’t in to that. I’d been through a half dozen boyfriends and they were, you know, too possessive.”
Monica stopped talking and stared at the whiskey. She opened her terrycloth robe and smiled at Joe and Sam gauging the effect she was having on them. “Like what you see?”
Joe turned red and averted his eyes. He said nothing.
Sam kept looking at her and smiling. He said, “You ain’t showing me nothing I ain’t seen before. And, what I’m seeing is nothing special.”
Monica gave Sam the finger and pulled her robe back letting it drape over her thighs and little else. She said, “While I was working at club, they hired a new DJ to play the music for the act. It might be a strip. It might be a pole dancing. It might be a lap dance. The men can’t touch you. If they do, they get arrested. Where I worked, the managers were very strict, no touching, no prostitution. That doesn’t mean some of the girls didn’t free lance and agree to meet a guy after closing. Since it was a totally nude club, they couldn’t serve alcohol, but lots of guys come in carrying and the management always looked the other way. You probably guessed about the DJ. It was Joe Ritchie. All the girls, but me, hit on him. He was getting all he could handle and then some. He had a way with them. But he never stayed with anyone in particular. He was nice to me. He talked to me. He respected me. He dyed his hair, but he looked good, he looked very good. His eyes, and his voice. Then he asked me out. He wasn’t pushy. He didn’t even try to kiss me on the first date. We didn’t sleep together until the third date. Before you can snap your fingers, he was living with me.”
Monica’s eyes glazed over as she brought Joe Ritchie to life. Her left hand reached for the shot glass. She held it as if it were a life preserver.
“The girls at the club couldn’t believe I landed him. I figured I hit the jackpot. Joe told me the DJ job was only part-time. He had this group, Joe and the Flamingos on the verge of a breakthrough. He gave me a song and dance about auditioning to play at Caesars and at the Wynne. You don’t get any better place to play on the strip.
“At first, I really think he loved me. I really do. I loved him like I never loved any other guy. We were only living together a few months when he popped the question. He took me out to dinner at the Venetian. That’s a real classy casino and he had reservations at their best restaurant. He made me feel so special. In the middle of dinner, he asked me. Two days later we got married. That’s when it turned to …”
Joe interrupted, “What happened?”