I finish rolling a cigarette and lift it to my tongue to lick the paper but stop. Nurse Betty walks through the front door of Shari's Restaurant, the one on Seventy-Second, just like she said she would. Guaranteed. Her black skirt is so short, the bottom barely peeks out beneath her over-sized, low cut, blood-red V-neck sweater. The scars on her pale thighs glow like little pink halos floating over the heads of hidden angels, just above the ridge of her knee-high, black patent leather boots. Her lips, still painted fuck-me red, pout slightly while she chews on a piece of bubble gum as her blue eyes dart across the restaurant.
Then she flips her thick, poorly dyed black hair.
Our eyes lock when I run my tongue across the cigarette paper in my fingers.
She smiles and walks over. She drops her gym bag next to the booth's bench and says, "Can I ask you a question?" She takes a seat and pulls out a Marlboro Seventy-Two.
I ignite my lighter for her. "Only if I can ask you one first."
She leans forward, puffs once, twice, and blows her smoke into my face. "Give it a whirl." She leans back into her seat.
"What's with all the scars?" I light my cigarette.
"On your arms, your legs."
She looks at them now, eyes them as though they were nothing special. Or maybe they're too special, something she wants to keep secret, something she doesn't want to talk about. But after some careful consideration, inhale, exhale, she pushes her sleeves up to her elbows and shows me her forearms. "These are from Beavis."
"Yeah, and uh, these here." Her cigarette dangles from her mouth, she stands and hikes up her skirt to give me a better look. "These are from Butt-head." Her thighs are beautiful, albeit scarred. My eyes travel upward until they stop at her exposed, shaved pussy.
"Nice," I say.
She drops her skirt, takes a drag, and sits down. She adjusts her sleeves and I say, "You know, if you don't want to tell me the truth, you don't have to… I mean, you don't have to lie to me."
"I don't lie."
She certainly sounds serious enough, looks serious enough but, "Come on, no bullshit. Beavis and Butt-head?"
"They're cartoon characters."
"Fuck you. You don't know me." Puff, inhale, exhale, "I'm outta here. For some reason I thought you were gonna be a pretty cool guy but apparently you're just another asshole." She crushes her cigarette into the ashtray, stands, and snatches up her gym bag.
I jump to grab her by the wrist but instead, "Ow, shit!" My thigh bumps into the edge of the table and knocks the silverware around. The loud clank gets the attention of the other patrons, teenagers wasting their time along with their waitress's patience. "Wait! Don't go."
Nurse Betty stops and turns to look at me in silence. I rub my thigh as one of the kids points at us. "I'm sorry. For what? I really don't know, but whatever."
"I'm not a liar! Take it back."
"I'm sorry. I take it back. I just thought if you didn't want to tell me—"
All at once the restaurant feels packed at 4:20 in the morning. Everybody's eyes are on us now. My skin crawls as I search my brain for a resolution, a quick and quiet solution. Betty looks as though, solution, resolution or not, she doesn't give a fuck. A butterfly loses its wings and dies in my stomach, "You gotta admit, it sounds a little—"
"The truth isn't a sound, it's a statement of fact!" Her eyes blaze with antagonizing hatred as she drops her bag to the floor and hikes up her skirt for the entire restaurant to see. "Fact! I got these from Butt-head!" The skirt drops, her cobalt eyes never release mine. "Fact—” she growls as she pushes her sleeves past her elbows. She rolls her forearms out for me to inspect. "These are from Beavis!"
Scattered among the scars on her left arm, just above the thin, bloody bandage, are a few tiny pink dots that look like needle tracks. Behind her, the restaurant stares at us. The teenage kids drinking their coffee while they smoke clove cigarettes, their waitress with plates of food balanced on one hand, her manager dressed in a suit much too nice for a restaurant like this—they all look like they're about to kick us out.
All of them, each and every one, wait for me to speak.
"Is this a-a date?" I ask her quietly, doing air-quotes.
"What?" She pulls her arms back and looks around, confused. "Is that what you thought? Meeting me here?"
I nod. "Yeah." I lean in for privacy, "I thought I scored a date with a Sirens girl. I was sort of hoping… Well, I was hoping for more."
Like remembering where we'd met previously.
Her face relaxes, then she blows a bubble until it pops. "Sure, whatever. Since we're on a date,” she mimicks my air-quotes sarcastically, “I'm ordering what the fuck-ever I want."
"Yeah, sure. Why not?"
"And you're paying for it."
I look around the restaurant and I'm thankful to see that everybody is back to doing whatever it was they were doing, or not doing, depending on how you look at things. I exhale a deep breath and take my seat after she sits down. My thigh is throbbing with the rhythm of my pulse.
She pulls out another cigarette and puts it to her lips. It takes a moment but I come to my senses and realize she's making zero effort to dig out her own lighter. "Oh, sorry." I flick my Bic and light it for her.
She exhales. "How far do you want to go?"
"How far can I go?" After a moment's thought, I ask, "All the way? How about all the way?"
She smiles something fierce and for a moment I think I see a smidgen of that certain something that was in her eyes just moments ago, like when she growled. But then it's gone and I'm not so sure I saw it to begin with. I’m not so sure I want to see it.
She shrugs her shoulders, "All the way? Sure, why not?" She blows a bubble until it pops, looks me dead in the eyes and says, "We'll see just how far you'll go."
My cock gets hard and painful, pushed against my boxers, twisted and seeking escape. A kid barely old enough to pop his own pimples, let alone collect a paycheck, approaches our table, notepad and pen in hand. At first I thought he was the busboy but he wants to know what we're ordering. He blinks once, twice, then taps his pen on his notepad, tap-tap-tappity-tap, ready to write down our order but he's a little distracted.
I'd like to know what's more important than what we want to eat.
He's staring at her tits and I can't blame him. They're the very same tits I paid $40, plus tip, to see. And that was just this evening, never mind all the other nights I’ve spent hypnotized by her song. Still staring at her chest, he asks, "Are you ready to order?"
Betty follows his gaze. "Are you ready to order?"
His eyes shoot up to make contact with hers. "S-s-sorry, ma'am."
"Quesadillas, please," I interject, doing my best to adjust my cock to a more comfortable and less contortionist position.
Betty says, "I'll have a mushroom burger. With mayo. I want extra mayo." She smiles and winks at our waiter. "Lots of mayo."
He writes down our order and looks back up but can't find her eyes. He's staring at her breasts again. "What would you like to drink with those?"
Like I said, I can't blame him. I paid money to see them unfettered and free. The face-hug was worth every penny. If she asks for money to go all the way, to have sex with her, I'll pay her. No matter what it costs. I'll take out a loan if it gets the memory of her out of my bed and into my head.
Maybe then I'll be able to piece things together.
She orders a, "Diet Coke."
The kid, he looks at me. "I'll have a Coke." He writes it down and with a final glance at her cleavage, he walks away.
"So what were you going to ask me?" I remind her.
"Oh, I was just curious."
"Why you keep coming to the club."
"You mean Tempest's?"
"Not the fag bar. Sirens."
I shrug. "I enjoy modern dance."
"That's cool." She nods knowingly. "I thought you might be fishing."
"Yeah. You know, fishing for some easy tuna to hook? A date?" She bends forward and whispers, "You look like a guy on the prowl for some low-rent pussy." She leans back in her seat, “Turns out I was right.”
Just when I thought I had my cock sorted out, it engorges with blood and contorts painfully again. I adjust, "What's your name, anyway?"
"That the truth?" She gives me that strained look. "Oh yeah, sorry." I hold up my hands. "You don't lie." Then I add, "Just that you sort of look familiar but I can’t—”
"I know who you are," she says, then adds an afterthought, "and not just because you come to Siren's three times a week." She takes a drag off of her cigarette and exhales, "Betty Morata. My stage name is Nurse Betty."
"Yeah, I like watching you dance. You're the reason I keep going back."
"Well, thank you, I guess." She puts out her cigarette, "So you like my act?"
"Yeah, I really like your, uh, choreography." I point to the various scars on her forearms. "I thought all the bandages and streaks of blood were fake."
"Nope, they're the real deal." She rubs her arms. "Did the AC just kick on?"
"It's December, so I doubt it."
"Aren't you cold?" She doesn't let me respond. "What's your name, Romeo?"
"I thought you knew who I was?"
I blink once, twice. "Yeah."
"How'd you know? Let me guess, the doorman, right? He's freaking relentless about checking IDs."
She shakes her head, takes in a breath, and asks me as she pulls off her thigh-high boots, "So what do you do for a living these days, Chase?"
The fantasy of customer service.
The reality of debt collection.
"You don't sound too sure about that."
"I'm in customer service," I say with feigned confidence.
She nods but I'm not sure she believes me. She seems ready to ask me to elaborate but doesn't get the chance because our waiter arrives with our food. He's so distracted by her tits that he almost dumps my quesadillas on my lap. But I catch the plate and set it on the table for him.
He offers me an embarrassed, "S-s-sorry, sir."
I open my mouth to say something but Betty's unfettered foot crushes my voice box by gently pressing against my hard cock. Her toes slide down and slip beneath my crotch. She curls her toes and cups my balls. I look at her and she just sort of shakes her head like it's not worth it, but I don't even know what isn't worth what because all I can think about is her foot and my dick.
When the kid is good and gone, she takes her piece of gum and sticks it to the underside of the table. She grabs her burger with the extra mayo, lots of mayo, which mostly spills out before she can get it off the plate.
As she takes a bite, the condiment oozes and drizzles over her fingers. She sets the burger down carefully and when I look up, her sapphire eyes paralyze me. She picks up the longest French fry she can find and violates it with the slowest and sexiest lick I've ever had the privilege to see. The tip of her tongue starts at the bottom and climbs to the top, slowly removing grain after grain of salt on the way up. She gives the top of the fried potato a playful peck kiss, then winks as she pops it into her mouth. Still chewing, she does her best Joey Tribbiani, "So, how you doin'?"
I smile, blush. "I'm cool." I want to play along so I bite into my quesadilla and with my mouth full, I try but fail miserably. "How ya doing?"
She takes the Diet Coke and wraps her lips, painted fuck-me red, around the straw, her eyes never drop from mine. She winks at me as she sucks on the straw.
The fantasy of sex.
The reality of food.
I take another bite as her name echoes through my mind, searching my memory for her. She pulls her burger to her mouth and takes another bite. When she pulls it away from her mouth, her face, I can't help but concentrate on the extra mayonnaise as it drips down her chin. I'm thinking about her foot and my balls, about her French fry and my hard-on. Her lips, painted fuck-me red, wrapped around that straw.
I'm thinking about her wink, her scars, and scratches.
I wonder if her scars have any emotional ones to match.
And if so, could I kiss each and every one of them?
"So why is it when guys talk to girls they can never look them in the eye?" she says, breaking my concentration.
"That waiter of ours."
I shrug. "I didn't think that bothered you?"
"It didn't bother me, because I'm used to it. Shit, I get paid for it. But that still doesn't answer the question."
"What was your question?"
"Why can't guys take their eyes off of women's tits?"
"Well, you do have nice tits."
"Seriously, how come guys can't look girls in the eye?"
"Maybe it has to do with some infantile memory of breastfeeding." I finish my quesadilla with one last bite. "I don't know. Maybe it's because they're just there. Maybe it's because we don't have them."
She ponders this for a moment, takes a bite, then asks with her mouth full, "So, do you wanna fuck me later? You know, just for fun? I could use a quickie. No charge."
My dick throbs once, twice, a third time. I may have sprung a leak, I'm not entirely sure. Her toes press into my crotch and she rubs me expertly. She knows I'm not being nonchalant even though I do my best when I shrug and say, "Sure. Why not?"
"Can we go to your place?"
Her foot delivers ecstasy as her toes press, crush, twist, and rub me the right way. I shrug. "I can't think of any place better."
"So what's your dad like?" she asks me. She's sitting on my bed, two beers later. Her third beer is half gone and my first is only a sip away from meeting the same fate. I look at her and I'm so turned on by her body, her scars. I want to take her by the ankles and spread her open and taste her. I want to kiss and suck on her lips, painted fuck-me red. I want to drag my tongue across each and every scratch and scar on her body.
Ripples of torment, so beautiful and innocent.
What I want is a fantasy.
A lie, a dream without reality.
"My dad, he's cool."
She lights a Marlboro Seventy-Two and hands it to me. I take it and watch as she lights another. She leans her head back and exhales a long plume of smoke toward the ceiling. Her legs, concealed by her black knee-high boots, spread out. Underneath her skirt, there is nothing but skin. A vertical smile hides within the shadows.
I turn my head instinctively. I look out the window, fourteen floors below, out in the distance, Commencement Bay. I say to my reflection in the window, "My dad, you know, he's all right. My mother is pretty sick though, so I try to help him as much as I can."
I turn back to her when I hear the soft thud of one of her boots drop to the floor. She puffs on her cigarette and reaches for the other one. She tugs once, then twice, and the other boot is liberated from the bondage of her flesh.
"Shit. I ran away and started dancing. Exotic is the word for it but it's really just a matter of time before you jab a needle in your arm and find yourself sucking some loser's dick in an alley." She puts her fingers up to air-quote. "Just to pay rent."
She drops the other boot to the floor. Her hands fall to her sides. She blinks, puffs, then says, "Fuck it. It's all about the rainbow connection." A moment passes and she asks me, "Your dad, what's he do for a living?" She pulls her sweater up over her head and drops it to the floor.
Nurse Betty is half naked before me and all I can think about is Jared and how I can't forget to call him because I really want to see him again. I've got a half-naked stripper in my bedroom but all I can think about is how much I want to fuck some guy I just met. I want all of my fantasies to become realities. There is something about him… his eyes maybe.
"He drives a bus for the city." I add, "He doesn't know I'm bi." A pause, a thought, a touch of guilt. "Neither does my mom now that I think about it." Why am I telling her this?
She slides her thumbs into the waistband of her skirt but stops and says, "Are you gonna take your clothes off or what?" In one swift motion, she pulls her skirt off and drops it to the floor.
The fantasy of perfection.
The reality of imperfection.
I look at her, naked before me, beautiful skin, perfect skin. Except for those scars from Beavis and Butt-head. I'm not sure why, but they seem to add a sensuousness to the way she looks. I stop thinking about Jared and realize I'm not moving.
Reality sets in. "Um, I've never been with a stripper before."
"There's a first time for everything, Romeo." She blows a bubble until it pops. "The equipment is pretty much the same on us strippers as your average chick." Her lips, painted fuck-me red, slowly curve into a smile when she notices my gaze drifting across her body, from her sapphire eyes to her large breasts to her near-emaciated flat tummy, her silver naval-ring, her hairless vagina, down her long, bare legs, then back up again. "Maybe a little tweaked but pretty much the same."
I take my time to look at her, stopping here and there on the various scars and scratches from Beavis and Butt-head. My eyes track back to her mouth, her nose, then her eyes, into her eyes.
"Besides, you're in good hands."
"How do you mean?"
"I'm a professional."
"You are a hooker. I knew it."
"You're not a cop, are you?" she asks with a smirk.
I shake my head, unable to speak.
She winks. "Don't panic, Romeo. I'm just fucking with you." She walks up to me, loosens my tie, and pulls it off. "But for now," she drops my tie and reaches down to my belt buckle, "I'm just gonna fuck you." She unbuckles my belt, unbuttons my pants, and slides my zipper down, "I'm just a girl who takes her clothes off for money. But I also enjoy long walks on the beach, chick-flicks, loud music, and sport-fucking." My pants and boxers gravity-drop to my ankles and she drops to her knees. "I want world peace—for the children, of course." She laughs, then says, "Fuck it, it's all about the rainbow connection."
"Uh, hang on." But she's not listening to me. Her mouth is working on my shaft. I tap her on top of her head, "Um, hello?"
She comes up for just enough air to tell me to, "Shut up, I'm working."
"But we haven't—" I try to force myself to push her back, to push her off of me but I fail miserably because it feels so damned good. "Um, hey! We haven't talked about money or anything."
Pop! "Who said you were paying for this?" She winks, "Just for fun, remember? This one’s for me. So shut the fuck up, Romeo."
My crotch goes warm and wet again. I think I'm supposed to close my eyes but I can't take them off of her lips, painted fuck-me red, wrapped around my cock like that straw. I try to close my eyes but Betty, Nurse Betty, beautifully scarred and naked Nurse Betty, she looks up at me and makes eye contact. My dick pulsates inside her mouth. I feel each and every taste bud on her tongue as she drags it all over me. The wad of chewing gum rolls up and down my shaft like some sort of homoerotic Ben Wa ball. She cups my ass with her hands and pulls me deeper into her mouth.
I raise my bottle of beer and toast her. I toss it back to finish it off but something happens. A shock of electricity shoots up my spine as my entire body twitches, then goes stiff. She's humming some tune, some forgotten childhood melody. It sounds familiar but I can't seem to place it.
Her middle finger presses into my anus. That mushroom burger pops into my mind and then the bottle drops from my hand. It misses her head by inches. One by one my muscles, starting with my legs, twitch and spasm.
I start to shake.
I can't stop.
I drop to the floor next to a spilling bottle of beer.
I'm sweaty, clammy, dirty, unclean.
But I've been baptized.
Two minutes later, she spits into the bathroom sink, and hollers, "By the way, you're not gay." Then she steps out of the bathroom and giggles when she sees my twitching, perspiration-laden body. "Jesus Christ, you'd think you've never had a blow job before."
My throat is dry, my words come out raspy, desert-like. "I didn't say I was gay. I, wow, never have I, so animalistic."
And the fantasy begins.
"Grow up, Chase. It isn't that big a deal." She bends over and reaches down to help me up. "It's just sex. Come on," she urges. "Sit up," she demands.
So I do.
I lean against the bed and watch her leave the bedroom. She returns with a small baggie in her left hand. "Wow," is still all I can say.
"Here," she says, "do some crystal." She holds out a pinky nail filled with a mound of white powder in front of my nose. "Come on, you haven’t fucked me yet."
The fantasy of being chicken.
The reality of crossing the road.
I've always been too chicken to try new things but I breathe out deeply and snort in her white magic mystery powder. It begins at my groin, then my stomach feels like it's swirling around, fire and warmth and beautiful sweat. Then it shoots right up, straight up, right into my brain. All my thoughts, words, images, everything's whirling around and around and around. I can't make sense of a single one.
Every sensation in my body wakes up into a hyper-reality of third dimensions and all those thoughts and images. They move at light speed but I'm able to grab one or two. It is at this moment I realize I've stepped across some invisible line, a line that blurs fantasy and reality, lie from truth, heaven from hell. My mouth has trouble keeping up with the words inside it. "I've never done meth before."
I've stepped from one side to the other and the sad thing is I'm not sure which way it was I came. I feel like I'm living in some weird twisted fantasy.
I crossed the road.
I want to be at the wheel of the car that runs over the chicken when it crosses the road. She was right because here I am, back on my feet kicking my pants the rest of the way off, knocking the spilled bottle of beer into the wall. I rip my shirt off over my head and let buttons fly off in all different directions. They ricochet off the walls like machine-gun fire as the beer bottle gives a soft, final, resonant tink.
My eyes are open and I feel as though I have just woken from a deep coma. I want to fuck her. I want to fuck her hard. I need to feel the warm moisture of her pussy around my cock but more importantly, "I need a cigarette," I say as my right hand drops to my dick.
I tease myself as she lights a Marlboro Seventy-Two and hands it to me. My right hand, my cock, already hard, busy in conversation. My left hand, shaky and unsure of what the future now holds, it reaches to take the cigarette from her. My left hand, cigarette to mouth, inhale and exhale, right lung and left lung, inhale and exhale, inhale and it's as if I'd been doing crystal meth all my life.
"I've never done meth. I'm a pot smoker by trade. Know what I mean? Weed? I like weed. Weed is good. But this isn't too bad either," I ramble.
"So what're you doing tomorrow?"
"Nothing." Inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale. "Nothing. I'm not, um—uh, no, I don't think I'm doing anything, yeah, not doing anything tomorrow I guess. I mean that I know of, nothing planned. Nothing gained." I giggle. "I mean, nothing. Why?"
"I have an offer you can't refuse," she says, doing her best Brando.
I don't say anything because it's all I can do to not say anything.
She answers my tweaking silence, "You can fuck me any time you want. But I have one condition."
"Sure, yeah, whatever." Inhale, exhale. "What is it? Can we fuck now? I'm pretty horny. But what's your con-con-condition?"
"All of it has to be photographed for my website."
My dick goes limp. "Huh?"
"But just to show you I'm a good sport, Romeo, we’ll fuck tonight, you know, no camera. Sport-fucking." She reminds me, "I still haven't got my quickie."
My cock rises to her command, "Um, okay. Sure. Cool."
Holy crap! I can't believe I could make a woman sound like that. It was like every porno movie I'd ever watched, rewound, and watched again.
I stare into the mirror, giddy as a schoolgirl on prom night the moment before she gets her cherry popped. I flex and inspect my non-existent muscles: biceps, triceps, gluteus maximus. "You are one sexy bitch," I compliment the fine male specimen in the reflection.
"What are you doing in there?" Betty calls from the bedroom.
"Uh, nothing! Nothing. I'll be right there."
I drop the condom into the toilet and notice it's green. I say, "Cool," then I grab some toilet paper, dry off, and drop the soiled paper on top of the spent condom.
I flush the toilet and turn around to head back to Betty, back to my bedroom, back to the room where I was a stallion. I look in the mirror one last time. "You are so hot." Stud.
In my head, visions dance of what it may have looked like when my tongue dragged across her clitoris or when it slid down, past her pussy and into her anus. I imagine her feet shooting straight up to the heavens, all her little piggies in the air as she pulled her ass cheeks apart, moaning and groaning them all the way home. In the darkness of my bedroom, I couldn't see a thing but I could feel it all, taste it all, smell it all.
The salty, the sweet, the ambrosial.
I never get hard this soon after sex.
I wonder if she wants to go again. A real quickie this time because what we did wasn't very quick. Right now, I really don't care. Just quick, wham-bam-doggie-style-ma'am! What I want to do is grab her robust tits and squeeze the fuck out of them. I want to suck on her nipples, drag my tongue down and around them. I want to drink her saliva and taste her sweat. I need my cock inside her, legs high up so I can suck on those little piggies as my hips ram and pound.
I want to hear her scream my name again.
I need to remember hers, her real name, where I know her from.
She knocks on the bathroom door, shave-and-a-hair-cut. "Do you want another line?"
I open the door. "Absolutely!"
She hands me a small mirror, a broken shard of a mirror with a million little scratches chopped into it. A line of meth is placed dead center on it and as I bend over to snort it in, she asks, "Do you mind if I crash here?"
I cough and then my nose catches fire. I clench my eyes as the beginning of some sort of postnasal drip from hell coats the back of my throat. My jaw is tender but my mind is on her, on what I want to do to her, everything I can do to her, and then déjà vu strikes, "Don't I know you from somewhere?"
"Yeah. We met at Sirens, remember?"
"No, no. It's driving me fucking nuts. I mean from before or something. You seem really familiar to me."
"Can I crash or not?"
"Sure. Why not?"
She looks at my erection. "Does it matter if we knew each other from before?"
"No. Maybe. I guess not. Not really. No."
"Shut up and fuck me, then."