Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Introduction to the "Dover Street" Stories, Chapter Six

The following is a true story. However, quite a few of the names and other identifying details have been changed, and some dialogue has been re-written accordingly, because of that fact. Some characters are composites.

* * * * *

Wow. I almost feel like I've got Quentin Tarantino for a co-writer on this one.

Look at it this way: I'm sitting here writing this in 2009. My main storyline -- which left off with a drug addict/dealer named Jeff pointing a so-called "throwout knife" at me -- took place in 1994. However, before the chapter break, I was side-stepping a bit to tell of a series of events which began only a few weeks before Jeff's knife-wielding...

Well, it reminds me of when I first watched Reservoir Dogs, and realized at one point that I was watching a flashback sequence contained in yet another flashback sequence.

* * * * *

So, in my screwed-up timeline, Jeff didn't threaten -- or should I say, won't be threatening -- me with that knife for another seven weeks or so. Which gave -- or will give me! -- plenty of time to get to know Bella.


So -- he said again -- there was something about Bella and myself that "clicked" on a personal level. Despite the warnings I'd gotten from Julia and Catherine, not to mention the fact that Bella had tried to steal from me, I wanted to see her again.

In our second little "session" -- as well as our third, and fourth, etc. -- Bella ended up telling me a lot about her personal life, past and present. And for some unfathomable reason, this adorable-looking little rip-off artist felt like she could answer my questions with as much openness and honesty as she was able to bring forth.

Of course, the money which I gave her admittedly helped in terms of explaining why she'd spend so much time with me, but that's as far as it goes. Someone who talked as quickly and artfully as she did could have easily given me a lot less information -- or at least, information of a much less personal nature -- than she did. The "openness and honesty" I mentioned weren't insured by the amount of time we spent together. Conversations are malleable; try engaging me in a conversation about something I'd rather not be discussing, and then think back on how much of substance you actually learned from me.

Bella told me about her childhood, her two sons (who lived with Bella's mother), her sister Corrinne, and a lot of other things which I'm willing to bet that the other girls in Worcester didn't get to hear much about. (They did know about Corrinne, I should mention. Corrinne was a slightly less attractive streetwalker with the same M.O. as her older sister: Steal from the John if you can, rather than give him what he'd paid for.)

One day Bella looked at me and very seriously said, "You know, David, sometimes I think you're my only real friend out here."

I'd really like to speculate on why Bella ended up trusting me, but I have no idea. And I'm not going to make light of the situation by joking about how wonderful or special I am, either. I'll just repeat that I really have no idea.

Julia was angry when she learned that I was seeing so much of Bella. She assumed that maybe I was actually having sex with Bella, that I was one of the "lucky" ones who'd backed her into a corner -- figuratively or literally -- and made her "give" me something in return for the money I was giving her.

But it didn't stop with Julia. Catherine, whom I've mentioned before, also told me not to trust Bella. Other girls out there, many of whom didn't really know me (or what I was really doing while associating with them), would see me with Bella, and then warn me about her when they saw me alone at a later date.

It got worse. One day, Bella and I were in a pizza parlor, sharing a meal. She excused herself to go to the ladies room, and no sooner had she left than a tall, beefy African-American guy in a cap and an overcoat walked over to my table.

"Yo, man, watch out for that chick. She poison." I stared up at him. He looked familiar, somehow.

I didn't want to sound so airheadedly sappy as to say "Oh, no, she's different when she's with me," nor so cocky as to say "Don't worry, she won't rip me off." I merely replied, "Thanks, I know about her."

He looked at me and shook his head, as if to say "Then why are you even with her?" but instead, said "Just don't give her no money."

I couldn't resist being a smartass. I indicated the large pizza Bella and I were sharing, and said, "Not a problem. I paid for this with my last dollar."

He probably figured I was just a trick who didn't want to admit to being one. He shook his head again and walked away.

Much later that day, it occurred to me where I'd seen him before. He was Sheila's boyfriend, the one I'd seen that one time only, months earlier.

It suddenly struck me that I hadn't seen Sheila herself in weeks, and I hadn't even realized it since Bella and the others had been taking up so much of the time I spent in Worcester. And just as an FYI, in case you've gotten the wrong impression, I should point out that all the days and nights doing my "research" made up a very small chunk of my social life, only a few hours a week.

But I digress. Again.

* * * * *

My "friend" Bella was the one who was suddenly caressing me and nuzzling my ear as Jeff -- and, I assume, everyone else who was watching -- stared at her... well, at us... in amazement.

"I hope he's talkin' about me," she'd told Jeff.

"What the hell is that supposed to mean?"

Her hands had snaked into my t-shirt at the neck and had made their way down toward my chest. She laughed. "I told him I don't mind if he indulges his hooker fetish to the point of hangin' out with these other hoes, and talkin' with them, as long as he saves his money for me."

Jeff's eyes narrowed. "You tellin' me he's your trick? Bullshit. You don't even do dates. Everybody knows that."

"I do sometimes," she replied defensively. "and you know it." She started playing with the hair on my chest. This was all too surreal. Ordinarily, never mind publicly, Bella was not the touchy-feely type. "When I have to. Or when I want to."

Jeff sneered as he looked at me. "Oh, and you just can't keep your hands off this one?"

"Don't be an asshole!" she snapped. "He's a nice guy, not like you. And he's generous." Bella suddenly put her lips right against my ear and whispered, "Make believe I am making you the filthiest offer you've ever heard in your life, and we can get out of here."

My eyes widened accordingly, and I attempted a perverted leer. "Really? All of that?" I said, getting up from the floor.

Bella brought her face close to mine yet again, and whispered -- this time loudly enough for some of the others to hear -- "If you got the money, baby."

She and I left the smoky confines of the sparsely-decorated living room. I didn't turn back to see if Jeff was coming after us, but I listened to hear if he was going to get up. He didn't.

As we walked through the small kitchen toward the front door (and toward freedom, relatively speaking), I quickly looked around and saw four or five other people standing there, drinking beer and smoking.

One of them was Julia. How long had she been at this little gathering? I couldn't read the expression on her face -- disgust, disappointment, anger? -- but it was obvious that she'd heard the conversation in the other room between Jeff, Bella, and myself.

She shook her head as I walked past her. "I fuckin' knew it," was all she said.

Bella and I walked to my car without a word, and I unlocked the passenger-side door for her, opened it, and watched her get in. I walked around to the driver's side, which she'd unlocked for me by the time I got there -- you know, the "Bronx Tale Test?" -- and got in next to her.

"Bella... " I began.

"Shut up. And let's go to Store 24. I need cigarettes."

"Yeah, yeah, yeah. Newport."

"Newport 100s. Box."

"I know."

"And do you also know, you gotta cut down on your little fact-finding missions, now? Tonight was too hairy. Maybe your luck's running out. What would you have done if I hadn't spotted your car tonight and come lookin' for you?"

"Good question. Why did you come looking for me, anyway? Just for cigarettes?" She laughed at that last part. She wasn't humor-impaired after all. She just needed a few weeks to understand my sense of humor.

"I just wanted to see you. You're my amigo. My friend... "

"You don't have to translate that word for me. Geez."

"So, now you believe me, finally? I really do think of you like that. You're my friend, my real friend. Not a vic. And not a trick." She paused. "Not like Jeff."

As that little fact sank in, I realized she was right about what she'd called my "little fact-finding missions." They had to end. I certainly didn't plan on not seeing Bella any more, but I was going to have to wean myself from the sleazy streets of Worcester in general.

* * * * *

Next time, as soon as I can post it -- hopefully by Monday -- the storyline reaches its... well, it'll be a combination of a conclusion and an epilogue! Join me here, and you'll see what I mean.

Thanks for your time.
.. amigos.

1 comment:

  1. At least Bella got you out of a, possibly messy, situation...and I'm not talking about a food fight...amigo...


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