Wednesday, March 15, 2017
EVES IN THE FLESH
"How you doing?"
"Great, I'm opening a Milk Bar in Beverly Hills. How'd you like to be the doorman?" The ex-lightweight mentioned the numbers. The salary was on par with what I earned selling diamonds for Manny on West 47th Street.
"What's the weather like?" Gray snow covered the sidewalks of the Diamond District and icy slush filled the gutters. The temperature hovered well below freezing. Business was dead this time of year and I calculated that I could double my salary on tips at an LA nightclub.
"Any rain?" This time of year Pacific monsoons splashed the Santa Monica Mountains and transformed the yellow slopes to gold.
"Sometimes, but not enough to cause any floods."
"We got a place to live?" I had never lived in California.
"A pool house in North Hollywood. My friend Dennis owns it and a go-go club too."
"Go-Go bar?" I had been a big supporter of the exotic arts ever since frequenting Boston's Naked I in 1970 and honestly preferred stripping to ballet.
"Best in LA. Every morning the girls come over to touch up their tan."
Strippers sunning around a swimming pool under palm trees fleshed out several unfulfilled California fantasies. Outside Lenny the Hassidic Bum shuffled by the window, his yamaka buried under snow. Scottie's offer was sounding better and better.
"These girls don't believe in tan lines.
"Do you have a car?" Cars were LA's status meter. The better the car, the better your position on the feeding chain.
"A Pinto?" The Ford compact was a death trap.
"You got a problem with that?"
"As long as I don't have to drive it, no." Scottie didn't drink like me.
"I'll be your chauffeur back and forth to work."
"Great. When do we open?" I lifted my head.
My boss was listening to my every word. Manny considered any diversion from the working day as theft.
"Count me in." I hung up the phone.
"And?" asked Manny. The sixty year-old diamond dealer had yet to knot his tie. Sweat dampened his balding head. His blood ran hot all year long.
"That was LA. I'm going out to work at a nightclub," I explained that I would be making more money. "Of course you could offer me more to stay."
"Have a good trip." Manny was notoriously tight with commissions and salary.
"I will." I hadn't had a raise in years. "As always I go where the money is, plus my friend owns a strip club and the dancers sun by the pool every day."
"Yes and blonde with big breasts."
"Paradise." Manny loved blonde schitzahs, although his present love interest was an Italian mother of two from Staten Island.
"Aren't you too old for this?"
"Maybe." Working nightclubs took a toll on the young and buried the old. "I'll work six months and then head out to Tibet."
"Yes." Visiting the top of the world had been a dream for a long time.
"What's Ms. Carolina going to say about the naked strippers?"
Manny knew my girlfriend. Babs had been his customer.
I had been seeing the married southerner for over two years.
"She wants to leave her husband.
"Not if I can help it." Breaking the 7th Commandment with the lovely blonde actually felt like a sin, because Ms. Carolina's husband was a good man. "I'm just figuring out the best way to end it."
"Spare me the drama and get back to work."
I obeyed his command, thinking how happy I would be not to work for the old miser.
That evening I closed the safe in the vault and told Manny that I was quitting at the end of the week.
"Why wait?" He peeled off my salary in c-notes. "Sie gesund."
Manny liked his good-byes short and cheap.
Ms. Carolina came up from the South for a few days. I didn't have the heart to tell her that 'we' were over. She bid good-bye, saying she'd see me in California.
A day later I flew west to LAX. I stepped out of the terminal. The sky was clear and the temperature was pleasant. Scottie sat on his brown Pinto. The car was a homage to Jed Clampett's old wreck, but the dented compact hit 70 on the Freeway, as we drove to the Milk Bar in Beverly Hills.
Palm trees stalked the skyline. The HOLLYWOOD sign spanned the hill. The freeway was crowded with new cars. The drivers looked happy. I was happy too, until we arrived at the club on South Canon. Wires hung from the ceiling and the floor was unpainted concrete.
"What's the problem?"
"We have to find some extra money to make the bathroom and entrance compatible with the state's handicap regulations. 40 Gs for the bathroom and 30 Gs for the entrance ramp. It's only a temporary delay. Two weeks at the most."
"Okay." I had worked construction. This job was two months from the finish line, but I was in LA. Scottie had a car and I had a little money in the bank.
We stopped at Dennis' Club on Santa Monica. The young tanned girls were picture perfect version of Malibu Barbie. Men slipped bills into their g-strings. The DJ played rap. Dennis the owner offered us a lap dance on the house. They normally cost $20. Scottie and I shook our heads. Nothing was free in a go-go bar.
The sun was setting, as we crossed the Hollywood Hills. Cars snaked up the canyon. The Pinto was the worst one on the road. It didn't even have a radio.
Behind us LA glowed in a reddish smog. I yawned and leaned against the window. I didn't wake until Scottie parked in the driveway of a one-story bungalow enveloped by ivy.
I grabbed my bag and stepped outside. The dark suburban street was quiet, but I could hear the traffic from the Ventura Freeway. Rush hour lasted deep into the LA night.
"Curly from the Three Stooges lived across the street."
"Moe, Larry, Cheese." I loved the Stooges's manic vaudeville comedy. "Is he still alive?"
"No, he died years ago. C'mon, I'll show you the studio."
"Studio?" Somehow I had planned on having my own room.
"It's a big studio."
"I haven't lived with another man since living home." That had been in 1970.
"Don't worry, I don't snore."
At least none of my girlfriends had ever complained about it.
Scottie opened the gate and we walked across a manicured carpet of grass past a pool lit by underwater lamps. The concrete border was lined with lawn chairs. Towels lay crumpled on the ground. They smelled of suntan lotion.
"Yes." Scottie nodded, as we entered the roomy pool house.
"I can deal with this." I sat on the bed farthest from the door. The mattress was firm and the blankets were clean.
We ordered in Chinese, smoked a joint, and watched the latest developments of the OJ Simpson murder trial.
I fell asleep and dreamed of a high-speed chase.
The cops caught me in a hail of bullets and I woke in a sweat.
It was well past dawn.
Scottie was still out cold, however the murmur of female voices baffled through the open window. I could not make out the words, although it sounded like several women were repeating the same thing. I walked out of the pool house into the bright sunlight. Every lawn chair was occupied by a beautiful naked blonde and I thought about Adam in paradise having the option to choose more than one Eve until I noticed they were all reading Revelations from black-covered Bibles.
"Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life."
"Chapter 10." I had been an altar boy as a child.
"You know your New Testament." A platinum-haired vixen smiled with glittering white teeth. Her nipples grew erect, as I recited the next passage, "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death."
"Are you a believer?" asked a silver-maned dancer with mammoth breasts. "This city is filled with sinners."
"I'm no sinner." I never had wicked dreams only deeply rooted fantasies.
"You want to sun with us?" the colony of God worshippers demanded in unison. "You can lead us in prayer."
I was a not a bad man, but even Adam had not been exposed to such temptation in the Garden of Eden.
"Not today, but maybe tomorrow morning."
"We're here every day."
I skipped a few passages and said, "Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth."
"He knows the word," cooed the silver-haired vixen.
"And the deeds too." More of the Satan than the Son of God and I returned inside the bungalow.
"You meet the girls?"
The New Testament.