When the stripper came in and sat four booths down Dwayne took it as a sign, a blessing. He’d watched her perform at Silver Cage just before midnight. She hadn’t tried to swab the pole with her pudenda or anything like that. Classy.
The Blackberry was next to his short-stack of cinnamon and chocolate chip pancakes. He tweeted: MAKIN’ MY MOVE ON THE NEXT MRS. DWAYNE NIELSON. DEETS 2 FOLLOW. Then he gathered up the pancakes, the cherry-stuffed French toast with whipped cream, his cup of emaciated coffee, the Blackberry, and trundled down the aisle.
“You look like you could use some company.”
She gave him only a brief glance. Exhaled. He set the plates down and slid across from her. “Name’s Dwayne,” he said, extending his hand.
“Do I know you?”
“No, but I know you.” What was her stage name? Chastity? Something like that. She had dark hair crimped in frizzy curls. Olive complexion. “Really enjoyed your routine.”
His hand hovered, untouched. She looked down at her menu. He drew back and tweeted: OPENING MOVE. REBUFFED. THE DWAYNESTER IS NOT DETERRED.
“My boyfriend’s meeting me here,” she said.
“Uh-huh. Can I get you something? The crepes kick ass.”
The stripper looked like she was about to cry.
Dwayne had never had, in his own estimation, a really good sexual experience. One he’d be proud to blog about, say.
He’d been with the same girl for three years. A cat-hoarder, like the ones on TV. Only all her cats had chronic medical conditions. Feline leukemia, arthritis, diabetes, viral encephalopathy--she rescued the sickies. About two dozen in her one-bedroom apartment. Every time he came over they’d be surrounded by these shaking, sore-covered creatures, and every fifteen minutes she’d have to get up and give Tabby a shot, or Chester a pill.
Then there was the sex part.
Mostly she just let him go down on her. Which would’ve been okay, but with all the cat-hair and wet cat-food smells in the cramped apartment she sometimes . . . tasted funny.
Kind of a turn-off.
The stripper, who said her name was Lisa, let him buy her an overstuffed omelet with steak and hash browns inside. He watched her breasts as she ate.
STRICTLY B-CUP, he typed. NO SILICON. WEARING BLACK SPANDEX. ME LIKES.
“You’re on that thing a lot.” She pointed her fork at the Blackberry.
“God yes. I’m a social media specialist. Twitter, Facebook, that sort of thing.”
“Sounds like a man’s life,” she snorted.
“What do you mean by that?”
She had about half the omelet to go, plus her fruit assortment was untouched. Dwayne weighed the risks of reaching across the table. “You know, some representation on the net could really boost your career. I’d help you. We could build a fan-base, post regular tweets about upcoming gigs--”
A shadow fell across the booth. Dwayne looked up at an older man, dark-complexioned, wearing a blazer and a lot of gold jewelry. He curled his lip at Dwayne.
“Time to go, Lisa.”
She stared at her hands.
Dwayne tweeted: UH-OH. PSYCHO-PIMP OR BOYFRIENDS SHOWN UP. NOT SURE WHICH.
“The car’s waiting outside. Let’s be civil about this, okay?” The man reached over and grabbed her wrist. She rose, unresisting. Let the guy drag her down the aisle like she was sleep-walking.
Dwayne watched her rounded ass recede. Then he glanced across the table at the steak and hash browns omelet.
DECISIONS, he tweeted.
The IHOP sign cast a white glow over the parking lot. Dwayne cleared the doors in time to see the guy stuffing Lisa into a Buick Regal with tinted windows. None of this was his business, but he could’ve sworn she was warming to him. He huffed across the lot.
“Hold it. Hold on there.”
The older guy settled his hands on his hips. “What do you want?”
“She’s not property. You can’t just grab people against their will.”
Lisa stuck her head out of the backseat. “Go away, Dwayne.”
“You heard her.” The older guy turned around, unlocked the driver’s side door.
Maybe it was too much coffee. A sugar-high from all those pancakes. Dwayne watched in horror as his own right foot lashed out and kicked the back of the man’s knee. Not much force, but accurate. The guy slumped over the Buick’s hood. Still standing, he managed to turn and draw back the hem of his blazer. White light gleamed off an automatic, jammed just above his belt.
“I thought there might be trouble,” the man said.
The Buick’s rear passenger door opened. Out poured a fat blonde in a floral-print dress. Her hair was lacquered up into a bun. She wore a crucifix studded with giant rhinestones. Dwayne felt himself backing away.
Not fast enough: the blonde slapped him. Multiple rings slashed his cheek, tore his skin. Her knee found his crotch. Dwayne dropped to the pavement.
“Pervert.” The woman spat. “I’m sure you got your sick pleasure, ogling my daughter.”
The older man limped into the front seat, slammed the door. Dwayne caught the words “church” and “last time” over the Buick’s engine.
He clawed the Blackberry from his pocket and started to tweet. ASSAULTED. FEELING SICK--
The heel of the fat lady’s size ten pumps came crashing down, impaling the small screen.
He watched the Buick drive away. Then he reached for his cell-phone so he could take a picture of his face.
Garnett Elliott lives and works in Tucson, Arizona. He’s a veteran of noir standards like Plots With Guns, Thuglit, Crimefactory, and even Out of the Gutter. Recent stories have appeared or are slated to appear in Beat to a Pulp and Shotgun Honey.