“Number One with a Bullet”
She stared at the mysterious, sleeping, total stranger she’d just had sex with. He looked like a biker, but talked and acted like a fag, and made love like a virgin at an eighth grade dance. She didn’t know what to make of him. He had huge mutton chops that merged into a meticulous and waxed mustache, and coal-black hair that was a bit longer than normal, and feathered in the current style, but that was obviously a recent addition to his look. His clothes were normal enough - leisure suits, bell-bottom jeans - but he had seemed uncomfortable in them when she picked him up last night. He was obviously educated, and had a monied-but-bemused look about him. A rich dude slumming? Probably. She knew he wanted her, and that was all she’d really needed at that moment.
She rolled silently out of bed to pee, and then snooped around for a bit. She didn’t bother with clothes or draping a sheet about her, she liked to be naked when she was being surreptitious. It heightened the naughty feeling, and she was still young enough that this sort of thing was exciting. She liked feeling naughty. The apartment was large, but apart from the tatty gilded age furniture, there was nothing remarkable about it. Generic landscapes hanging on the walls, no personal photographs, nothing of a personal nature at all, excepting a collection of snuff boxes. Disappointingly, most were empting. More disappointingly, none of the ones that weren’t empty held any coke. The building itself was pretty old, but well maintained. She figured it for a corporate love next: the kind of place a fortune 500 company kept for execs who needed to dip the wick without leaving a paper trail behind.
She was wrong.
She wasn’t particularly bright, but she was far from stupid, and she was possessed of a kind of ruthless pragmatism that gave her a calculating look many mistook for intelligence. She wasn’t particularly gorgeous, either, but she was better-than-average looking. The nose was a little severe, she was a bit too thin, a bit on the short side, but she had a sumptuous set of breasts that tended to draw the eyes away from her not-particularly-awful flaws. She wasn’t a particularly good singer or dancer, but she was young and cute enough that people liked to watch her fronting bar bands. She wasn’t particularly a prostitute, but, as she edged closer to her nineteenth birthday, she realized it was only a matter of time until she crossed the line on that one.
She’d left Philly for New York City not quite a year before, with dreams of…what, exactly? She didn’t know. “Broadway Star” seemed like an old people dream. A disco diva? That seemed unattainable. A brilliant dancer? Well, she liked it, but she was just good enough to recognize she didn’t have the chops to be great, and how many superstar dancer jobs were there, anyway? Artist? Who even knew what art was anymore? Fashion design? Maybe, but, it didn’t pop her cork. She liked wearing fashionable clothes more than figuring them out. Had she hoped to find love and have kids? Ha! Love is for stupid hippies, and a kid? God, no! Did she want to get a real job like normal people? Super extra special God, no!
She’d been semi-homeless all that time, bouncing around between live-in boyfriends for as long as she could milk them and hold their interest, calling on friends when she didn’t have a guy, or some prospect on the hook. There was a gay guy named “Marco” who owned a bar called “The Juicy Fruit” in Greenwich Village who had decided he was her unofficial big sister; sometimes he let her crash in the bar, sleeping on a couch in the foyer when things were really rough and she had nowhere else to go. That didn’t happen much, but it did happen. It happened tonight: big blowout with her latest beau (A self-important artist named ‘Devon.’ She liked his type because even though they never had any money, they were very easy to manipulate), her suitcases on the landing when she got home, a lot of screaming and acrimony, and her pounding the pavement.
When she got to the bar, Marco was being hauled off on drug charges. Cursing, she stashed her bags in a bus locker, and wandered around, trying to figure out what to do. She had about a hundred bucks