Chapter 36 ~ Hell’s Too Good For Him
Monica made a slow motion sweep of her arm reaching for the whiskey. Sam pulled the bottle to edge of the table. “Bastard,” she screamed. “One tiny taste, that’s all. I’ll spill my guts.”
Monica’s face held the hungry look of of someone who’s dream, like a raw egg tossed at a wall was shattered. She leaned over the table top, her breast resting nearly on the center of the table and tried to grab the bottle. Sam lifted the bottle over his head. Monica laid her head on the table, both arms outstretched toward Sam as if she were pleading to an ancient God for one last drink.
Joe turned to Sam, “Let’s give her a little and we’ll get out of her.”
“No,” said Sam adamantly. He glared at Monica, “I’ll bet a hundred dollars you got track marks on your arms.”
Joe said, “Sam, you’re too rough. We’re not here to save her. We’re here to get information to lead us to Joe Ritchie.”
Sam didn’t take his eyes off of Monica. We watched Monica slowly slide back the way to her chair as if she were being retrieved by a rope attached to her back and unseen force was reeling her backward. When she sat down at glared at Sam eyes cold enough to pierce steel, he set the bottle on the edge of the table out of her reach. He said, “Tell us about Joe Ritchie and Joe will throw in an extra twenty.”
Monica took a deep breath and leaned forward, placing her elbows on the table and her hands clenched into fists, knuckles touching in front of her. She said, “The first month we was married it was great. Joe and I worked the same hours. He got a kick out of the guys and women who came to the club who liked my body.You’d be surprised how many women come to these clubs. It went to hell all of sudden. I never met any of the guys he said he played with the Flamingos. I don’t believe he ever was such a group. What a stupid name. It was a story he made up. He’d go out about ten in the morning and not come back until we went to the club about nine at night. It was a Friday night. On the way home, it was Saturday morning, about two, we went by a bar and went in for drinks. We got a table and we were talking. There were two guys at a table who kept looking at me. I told Joe about it. He looked at them and laughed. They kept looking and he got up and went to their table. He pulled up a chair and they started to talk. Five minutes later he came back. I said, ‘What was that about?’ He said, ‘The tall guy with the dark blue shirt, he’ll pay a thousand dollars to have sex with him.”
Joe turned his head toward Sam. He’d only known Sam a little over a week, but he hadn’t seen this side of him. Sam had the look rattlesnake who wanted to strike the first thing that moved across its path.
Sam softly said, “What did you say?”
“I said no. I’m not a whore,” Monica started to laugh. Well look at me now. It’s not so bad.”
“Well?” Sam encouraged.
“Promise you’ll give me the bottle when I finish. You won’t take it with you, give me your word,” she pleaded.
Monica pulled her hand back, “Joe said it would only be an hour. If I liked it, we both could quit and he’d manage me making sure I only got decent guys. He threw numbers at me and said we could leave Vegas and go to Hollywood and get a fresh start in three months. He held my hand and gave me the Joe look. He told me to pretend I was making love to him. That’s what he said. I told him to tell the guy it was twelve hundred and I’d give him the time of his life. That’s how it started. Joe was my pimp, but he called himself my manager. I was doing two or three guys a night. Our sex life went down to zero. Joe was making it with one of the girls back at the club. When I found out about it, I screamed. There was glass vase my grandmother gave me. It was close by and I threw it at him. He ducked and it shattered all over. He came over and grabbed me tight. I tried to fight, but he laughed. I told him I’d scream and people would call the cops. He dared me. I didn’t. I melted.We made love. I told him I needed a week off, could we go on a trip. We flew to San Francisco. I was so excited I forgot to pack my pills. You can guess the rest.
He told me to have an abortion. I didn’t. He left me. I had a little girl, Nicole. I was all alone with Nicole. Joe moved out. He’d wouldn’t come by. He wouldn’t answer my texts. He never wanted to see Nicole. That’s when I met Leo. I work for him now. The county took Nicole away from me because they declared me unfit. So, I was busted a few times for drugs. Maybe I had a couple of STDs but they’re under control. That’s the great Joe Ritchie for you.”
“Any idea where he might be?” said Joe.
“In hell, I hope. Hell might be too good for him. Where’s my money?”
Joe took another twenty out of his wallet and slid the six twenty-dollar bills toward Monica.
Monica grabbed at the money as if it held an invisible magnetic attraction for her. Joe squeezed the money in his fist and lifted it in his hand over his head.
“Son of a bitch. You promised.”
“It’s yours. I promised you the money, I won’t go back on my word.”
“What more do you want,” Monica’s voice carried a tone of desperation. It was almost as if she were dangling from the 21st floor by a rung on a fire escape and her fingers were letting go one at a time.
“Let Sam and me find you some help. You can start over. It’s never too late. Don’t quit on yourself. Don’t quit on Nicole. She needs a real mother,” said Joe.
Sam half turned toward Joe. He knew Joe wasn’t kidding. Joe wanted to help.
“I want my money. I don’t need you. I don’t need help. When I quit the business, I’ll get Nicole back. Give me my money and my whiskey and get the hell out,” she screamed.
Sam tapped Joe on the arm and nodded. Joe placed the money in the center of the table. Sam put the whiskey bottle on top of the money.
Sam said, “Thank you.”
Sam and Joe walked out of the trailer. When the reached the BMW, Monica stood in the open doorway, the bottle in her right hand, the money crumbled in her fist, and her rob lying at her feet. She uttered a series of words Joe and Sam heard before and hoped they never heard again.
“You did what you could, Joe. Monica’s got to crash and get knocked flat on her back. I only hope she still got a bit of life and fight in her, and there’s somebody close by to offer a hand.”