Simmons was drinking alone and waiting for opportunity, which soon arrived in the form of a slim dark-haired beauty who brushed past him – deliberately he thought – then sat at a stool one over from his.
The first thing that struck him was her scent, probably some fancy perfume – fresh, floral but not heavy. It reminded him of something, but he couldn’t place it. Subtle. She looked his way. Their eyes met briefly, and she turned her head.
“Could I buy you a drink?” He asked.
“I suppose,” she said, in a tone that implied surprise at finding herself in a hotel bar in midtown at two in the morning on a weeknight, as though the whole concept was somehow amusing.
He took in more of her as the bartender came over. Her dark hair had a hint of auburn, more visible when the light hit it or when she moved her head. She wore it loose, below her shoulders, slightly unkempt, but in a way that seemed deliberate. Bedroom hair, he thought. She was leggy, though not exceptionally tall. He didn’t know much about clothes, but sensed her black dress wasn’t cheap. Nothing about her seemed cheap, but he knew she was a whore nevertheless.
“The lady’ll have …” he looked at her, waiting.
“Whisky,” she said, “double, straight up.”
“And I’ll have another. What you got on tap.” He was glad he’d ordered the beer. He wanted her to see him as an ordinary guy, a beer drinker, not one of her fancy johns. “With a whiskey on the side,” he added.
“I’m Joe,” he said.
“Violetta,” she said, opening her mouth to reveal the most perfect set of teeth he’d ever seen, glistening white against the pink tongue and red lips. She couldn’t have been much older than twenty-one. Maybe she was even younger than that.
“Violetta,” he repeated. He figured it was probably her whore name. Her real one might have been something more prosaic, like Marie.
“Violetta Valéry,” she said. Her voice was wispy, soft, girlish. He wondered if she was putting it on.
“What is that? French or something?” He was staring at her eyes. They were so large and dark it was hard to pick out the pupil from the iris, which made her look at once childlike and mysterious.
She laughed. There was nothing cruel in the sound of it, but he felt like she was laughing at him, and that made him want to grab her by the throat.
“I’m sorry,” she said.
It took him aback she’d read something in his face. He’d been taking too many risks lately. He knew the ride would be over soon, but he didn’t want it to end tonight, not when he had a chance of bagging the prize before him.
“Where are you from, Joe?”
“Here, there, everywhere. And you?”
“Have you ever been to,” she hesitated a moment, “Saskatchewan?”
“That’s where I’m from, Saskatchewan.”
He smiled. He wanted her to know he was in on the joke. He figured she didn’t think he had enough cash for a girl like her. They were only a block from the UN. Maybe she’d just left some visiting diplomat’s hotel room after giving him a two-grand blowjob. He had a vision of punching in that lovely mouth and taking out all those pretty teeth, smashing them down like bowling pins.
“Tourist?” He asked.
“No, I live here now.”
The bartender put the drinks in front of them. He picked up his glass and nodded towards hers. She caught his cue. The glasses clinked. “To Monday nights,” he said.
He watched her gulp down her drink. Saw the movement in her thin neck as the liquid went down her pretty throat.
“What are you? An actress? A model. You look like you could be a model.”
She smiled just slightly. She didn’t answer the question.
“You’re really beautiful,” he said.
She looked at him in a way women didn’t often look at men, fully appraising his assets. He felt his anger rising, as well as the need to suppress it. There’d be time later.
“You’re not so bad yourself,” she said in that wispy little girl voice. She reached out a hand, leaned over, touched his arm. “So strong and big. Like a wrestler.”
“High school team,” he said.
She smiled again showing off those teeth. He imagined she had them bleached regularly.
“I knew it,” she squealed. “A girl could feel safe with you.” Up close even her breath smelled good.
Joe didn’t think she was lying. He couldn’t have gotten as far as he had if he didn’t look trustworthy, if they didn’t find him attractive. But he also knew she was plying her trade. She’d say anything for a buck. Do anything you paid her to. She might not even like men. But still, she was different from the others. No needle marks on those arms. Though she was pale, there was a rosiness to her complexion – the bloom of youth. She took care of herself. She was classy. He could see why men would pay a lot to be with her, but in his eyes that didn’t make her any “better” than her sisters.
He grabbed her smooth little hand. It felt cold, a sign of nerves. He wondered if there was a pimp, someone who would beat her if she didn’t bring back enough. She might “act” different, but they were all the same. He started to kiss the hand, ran his tongue over the fingertips.
She wriggled slightly, tilted her head back, her mouth half opened as though she were already in ecstasy.
“I got a bottle up in my room,” he said. “Imported. The good stuff. We could take the party up there.”
“We could,” she said uncertainly.
“It’s late, and uh,” she leaned toward him, “I like you. I really, really like you.”
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