THE GOOD STUFF - ALBERT TUCHER
“I’ve never had a writer before,” Mary Alice said.
“It’s a special marker,” said Jenna. “Don’t worry. The ink washes right off.”
She stood expectantly with the magic marker in her right hand and a wet washcloth in her left. Mary Alice held her left arm out. Jenna drew a line an inch long on Mary Alice’s wrist and then applied the cloth. The mark disappeared.
“You can wash everything off as soon as we’re done.”
Mary Alice didn’t bother to explain, but she showered only in her own bathroom. She would feel too vulnerable on the client’s territory, which included motel rooms.
She went to the cheap table next to the door and set her bag down. She took off her businesslike white blouse and plain dark skirt and draped them over her coat, which already occupied the back of one of the chairs at the table. It was the kind of motel where no one used the chairs for sitting, or the beds for sleeping. She removed her bra and panties and added them to the pile. Mary Alice caught herself hurrying. Stripping for a woman client felt different, and a smart hooker always tried to keep novelty to a minimum. She made herself take deliberate steps as she walked to the bed.
Jenna opened the squeaky bathroom door and tossed the washcloth inside. It landed in the tub with a wet squelch. She returned to the bed and yanked the dingy green bedspread, the blanket and the top sheet free of the mattress. She threw them toward the wall.
Practice kept Mary Alice from wincing, but she didn’t like clients who made a lot of work for the maids.
Mary Alice sat on the foot of the bed. Jenna knelt between her legs in a position that felt both intimate and impersonal.
“What about my shoes and stockings?”
“Leave them on. He’ll like that.”
Jenna uncapped the marker again and started writing on Mary Alice’s upper chest. She took her work seriously. The slight scrape and squeak of the magic marker on skin soon started to get on Mary Alice’s nerves. She looked once more at her wrist to reassure herself that no ink remained.
When Jenna reached Mary Alice’s breasts, she hesitated.
“They’re real,” said Mary Alice. “Implants would be easier to write on, but I have to admit, I never saw this situation coming.”
Stop motor-mouthing, she told herself.
This date was making her nervous. The problem had started with her friend Diana, who had turned the job down.
“I’ve got a bad feeling about this one,” Diana had said. “I’m passing it on to you because that’s what we agreed to do with clients we don’t want. But I’m telling you, even on the phone they gave me an itch that I couldn’t scratch.”
“Did you talk to both of them?”
“Neither one said anything out of line. But that little voice is telling me to let this one go.”
After that, Mary Alice had to take the job, or admit to herself how much Diana’s opinion mattered to her. But then she spoiled the effect by mentioning to Diana where and when she would be seeing the clients.
Jenna continued writing below Mary Alice‘s breasts. As the message grew longer, and the marker started scratching her abdomen, Mary Alice had a hard time holding still. To distract herself, she looked straight ahead and focused on the door to the parking lot. In an hour she would be on her way through that door.
Just as Mary Alice was about to start squirming, Jenna capped the marker and leaned back to inspect her work.
“Happy birthday, Honey,” she read aloud. “Here is my gift to you. Enjoy her, but remember, she’s only here to warm you up. Save the good stuff for me.”
She gave Mary Alice a look full of false apologies.
“I hope you don’t mind.”
“You’re the boss.”
“Lie on the bed and turn over.”
Mary Alice obeyed. Brusque orders annoyed her when they came from men, but Jenna sounded like a cute, bossy nurse. It was kind of fun.
“I have another message for him to read during the doggie,” said the young woman.
“You’re sure he’ll see it?”
“He never skips the doggie.”
Jenna climbed onto the bed and straddled Mary Alice’s thighs.
“I wish I had your coloring. Dark and mysterious.”
“You do?” said Mary Alice. “I’ve always wanted to be a blonde.”
In fact, she had craved Diana’s dark blond hair since they had met almost ten years earlier.
“Blond is better than mousy brown like me,” said Jenna, “but Mediterranean is best. And you’re aging so well because of it.”
Mary Alice laughed.
“Thanks, I think.”
“You’ll never look any older than this.”
“I don’t know about that.”
“I do,” said Jenna. “There. Finished.”
Mary Alice rolled over and surveyed as much of her front as she could see. The writing didn’t seem to have smeared, which meant that her back would also stay legible.
She looked up at Jenna, who still straddled her. Neither spoke, but after a moment Mary Alice put her hand around Jenna’s neck and pulled her closer. Jenna knew how to kiss. Her lips were soft, and she withheld the tongue until Mary Alice felt desperate for it.
So much for Diana’s itch, Mary Alice thought.
After a long moment Jenna pulled away.
“If I’m going to warm him up,” Mary Alice said, “maybe you could warm me up first?”
“No time,” said the young woman. Her tone had become brisk, and Mary Alice wondered whether she had done something wrong. “He’ll be here soon.”
Mary Alice shrugged. “Okay.”
Jenna climbed off the bed and surveyed Mary Alice. “Sit facing the door and cross your legs. No, left over right. Good. That’s his favorite look.”
Mary Alice knew the power of her pose. When the young man entered, she would lift her left thigh slightly and press her calf against her right shin to give her legs their most alluring shape.
Jenna paused at the bathroom door. “I’ll come out when the good stuff starts. His name is Zack, by the way.”
The way yours is Jenna, Mary Alice thought.
She probably waited less than five minutes, but the time felt endless. She filled it by wondering why so many young women these days found porn stars fascinating. Or did Jenna think she had chosen a plausible alias?
The door opened, and a young man entered the room. Mary Alice looked him over and liked what she saw--good cheekbones, spiky sun-bleached hair, and a deep tan despite the time of year.
She gave him a bit more than her professional smile and said, “Happy birthday, Zack.”
She pointed at her chest. “Message from Jenna.”
Zack unzipped his L.L. Bean jacket and let it fall to the floor behind him. He came closer and started to read. She leaned back and rested on her elbows to give him a good view.
Zack took another step, and she sat up again, ready for whatever he wanted. He undid his waistband and dropped his cargo pants and boxers. They were voluminous, and he stepped out of them without bothering with his running shoes and athletic socks.
Mary Alice looked. “Oh. Oh, my. It’s a good thing I love a challenge.”
He didn’t smile or speak, which struck her as strange, but his obvious enthusiasm below the waist trumped whatever might be missing above.
She spread her legs apart, and he stepped between them, where Jenna had been earlier.
He held her head with both hands and attacked. After a few moments of his thrusting against the back of her throat, she did some arithmetic. Mary Alice charged two hundred an hour, but Jenna had doubled it. The clients had bought some leeway to get rough.
But just in case, Mary Alice put her hands on his hips, in position to resist him if he pushed too hard. Zack pulled out of her mouth and shoved her onto her back. He stripped off his dark blue polo shirt and threw it aside. She squirmed farther onto the bed. He climbed between her legs and started to settle on top of her. She reached under the pillow for the condom that she had already opened.
“Here,” she said. “Let me.”
With the condom in place he went to work. At first he seemed to want to set a record for speed, but then he moderated his pace. His had probably remembered his wife’s orders.
Mary Alice put her arms around his neck and smiled up at him. She wouldn’t have minded if he had kissed her, which was something she didn’t let every client do. Instead, her embrace seemed to alarm him. She took the hint and took her arms away. Zack pulled out and raised himself to a praying position between her legs.
“Where are you going?” she said.
Long experience helped her keep the annoyance out of her voice, but she never liked it when she offered more than the minimum effort, and the client rejected her gesture.
Zack walked backward on his knees and climbed off the mattress. He stood at the foot of the bed and waited, as she rolled over and backed up against him.
“There’s some more reading material for you,” she said.
Mary Alice started to wonder when Jenna planned to come out of the bathroom. When exactly did the “good stuff” start?
Zack said nothing, but something he read must have inspired him. He entered her and started thrusting harder. Mary Alice could tell he wasn’t going to last.
Not my fault if he can’t follow orders, she thought.
He groaned. The bathroom door banged open, and Jenna came hurtling out. She screamed at Zack as he bucked and moaned.
Mary Alice felt him begin to sag. He pulled out of her and backed away, as if he couldn’t stand to be in the same room with her. She turned over and sat on the edge of the bed again. Jenna followed Zack, still screaming at him.
Mary Alice knew what she had to do. The clients had tipped very well.
She got up from the bed and went to the table. To finish the job, she needed another condom from her bag. As she went past Zack at an angle, he pivoted on his feet, as if to keep her from seeing his back. What was that about?
“You know,” she said when Jenna finally paused for breath, “maybe we should just wait a few minutes. I can wake the dead. Think what I can do with a hot young guy like Zack.”
“Shut the fuck up,” said Jenna.
“Oh, well,” said Mary Alice.
She reached for her clothes on the chair. She would feel more confident dressed.
“Do it,” said Jenna.
Surprised for a moment, Zack turned toward his wife. Mary Alice saw a vicious-looking knife in a sheath duct-taped to his back. Now she knew what holding her wrists had been about. He had wanted to prevent her from finding the weapon.
Too late, he remembered the knife and turned back toward Mary Alice, as if he could erase her memory of what she had seen. But she had already reacted. Her right foot in its pointed shoe shot up between his thighs. He hunched over and hugged himself. Mary Alice reached over his shoulder and ripped the knife out of the sheath.
Zack dropped to his knees. That was fine. If he was out of action, Mary Alice had no more time to waste on him. Jenna took a step toward her, but Mary Alice warned her out of the way with several slashes of the knife.
Mary Alice grabbed her bag from the table. It might be a brisk March day outside, but she needed her car keys more than her clothes. She yanked the door open and started to run. She knew how to do it in heels.
Jenna tackled her from behind. The two women toppled onto the concrete walkway, with Jenna on top. Mary Alice realized that she had lost the knife. She twisted onto her back and tried a head butt. She flattened the young woman’s nose, which gushed blood. Mary Alice snarled in disgust and spat the blood out. Then Zack emerged from the room, still naked except for his shoes and socks. He must have recovered from Mary Alice’s kick, because he dove into the pileup.
Under her shoulder, Mary Alice could feel the hilt of the knife. Zack groped for it. He found the blade, cursed, and shook blood from his fingers. Before Mary Alice could react, he thrust the same hand back under her. Soon he would get a good grip, and she would die.
But then he screamed and rolled off the pile of bodies. With the odds evened, Mary Alice jabbed a finger into Jenna’s eye and pushed the young woman aside.
Another man, a stranger, stood over Zack with his fists clenched. Zack rocked left and right in agony. He tried to defy anatomy and hug his own back. He vomited, and Mary Alice wondered what had happened. She knew the symptoms of a kidney punch when she saw them, but she didn’t know who the new man was, and why he cared what happened to some whore. Most people who used this motel would have walked right by her death struggle.
“That’s good,” said a familiar voice.
Mary Alice’s eyes followed the voice. Diana stood in the doorway of a room across the courtyard parking lot. She must have grasped the situation and, in a moment, turned to her client for help. When Diana asked, men jumped to please her.
She came closer.
“You two stay where you are.”
The clients were in no shape to move, anyway.
Diana reached a hand down to Mary Alice, who took it and pulled herself upright.
“You two okay?” said Diana’s client. “Because I’m kind of allergic to cops, if you know what I mean.”
“Sure, Frank. Thanks again.”
The man headed for an Impala parked in the corner of the lot. Diana studied Mary Alice.
“Not yet. Too much adrenaline.”
“They probably have a first aid kit in the office. You need it.”
Mary Alice knew she must have cuts and scrapes, but she felt nothing yet.
Diana looked some more and smiled.
“You could also use a shower. I’ve never had a writer.”
“That’s what I told her,” said Mary Alice. “I hope I never get another one.”
Anger flared. Mary Alice turned and kicked Jenna in the thigh. The young woman groaned.
“Now I know why you’re such a good tipper. You were going to get the money back.”
Mary Alice turned to show Diana her back.
“There’s more. What does it say?”
“Honey,” Diana read aloud, “this is what we’ve dreamed of. Now is the time for you to become my ruthless killer, and I will be your slave slut. Strike hard. Make me proud to serve you.”
Diana laughed without humor.
“Isn’t that cute? She even drew a little bull’s eye.”
Mary Alice decided that Zack also needed a kick.
“Is that the best you could do? Killing a hooker? Every creep on the planet thinks he’s the first one who ever thought of it.”
“From what I hear,” said Diana, “that’s always the way with psycho killers. If you ask them, they’re Superman, but they’re boring as hell.”
“I wasn’t exactly bored a few minutes ago.”
“No, I guess not.”
“So what do we do now?”
“Frank’s right. We need to call the cops. I know a couple who won’t give us a hard time.”
“Can’t we just kill them?”
Zack started to cry.
“Oh, stop,” Diana told him. “No, we can’t just kill them.”
“I’ll be your slave slut.”
“Now you stop.”
BIO: Albert Tucher is the author of over twenty published stories and four unpublished novels about prostitute Diana Andrews. Like most authors of hardboiled crime fiction, he is a librarian in his day job.