BY MARK T CONARD
Waking across the airport motel parking lot, Sheri-Lynn spotted two girls. She recognized them as Chrystal and Champagne, regulars at the motel. They both seemed like nice girls, Sheri-Lynn thought, even though Champagne was black.
Sheri-Lynn originally hailed from North Carolina, but she’d come up north six years ago. At the time, she thought it would be nice to have a change of scenery.
“Hi, Sheri-Lynn,” said the two girls.
They leaned up against an old Ford Escort, underneath a streetlamp. They looked sexy in their cut-off jeans and halter tops.
Sheri-Lynn said hi to them.
Chrystal said, “Where you been?”
“Oh, I had an office call,” said Sheri-Lynn. “You know that insurance salesman, the one with the funny hair, calls himself Snarky?”
“Ooh,” said Champagne, crinkling her nose. “He’s gross.”
“Yeah, I suppose,” said Sheri-Lynn.
“We were just going to have a little smoke,” said Chrystal, holding up a joint. “Care to join us?”
“Sure,” said Sheri-Lynn.
Champagne held out the lighter and lit the joint for Chrystal. She took a hit, and passed it to Champagne.
“How’ve things been around here?” said Sheri-Lynn.
“Slow,” said Chrystal, letting out the smoke. “Real slow. Some college boys wanted to pull a train, and then Mr. Allen, works for the Eagles—you know him?”
Sheri-Lynn nodded, taking the joint from Champagne.
“He had me come to his office once, after hours,” said Sheri-Lynn. “It was pretty neat being there, but the place was kind of spooky when it was deserted, and he wanted to do it on the desk. That was uncomfortable. His stapler kept poking me in the butt.”
“You have such a cute accent—‘it was pretty neat being there’,” Chrystal said, trying to imitate Sheri-Lynn.
She and Champagne laughed.
Sheri-Lynn shrugged. “I guess. I know I don’t talk like you city girls.”
“Anyways, that’s all we seen tonight,” said Chrystal. “Hardly worth leaving the house for. Might as well have stayed home and watched the Home Shopping Network.”
“Me, I like game shows,” said Sheri-Lynn.
She took a hit of the reefer, then passed it back to Chrystal.
Breathing out the smoke, Sheri-Lynn said, “Wheel—Of—Fortune!”
Champagne laughed and said, “We were talking earlier about how we got started in this business. How’d you get into it, Sheri-Lynn?”
Sheri-Lynn shrugged again. “Oh, I don’t know. I guess I was just born for it.”
“Why don’t you quit and do something else?” said Chrystal.
“I guess I just don’t know what else to do with myself. I don’t really have no ambitions to do anything in particular, so I might as well do this. Better than nothing, I guess.”
“You could be a waitress, or maybe even a hostess at a restaurant,” said Chrystal.
“Oh, shoot, I don’t think I could do anything like that,” said Sheri-Lynn.
“Maybe you could get Vanna White’s job turning letters.”
The three of them started laughing, and Sheri-Lynn blushed.
Champagne said, “Did your father love you?”
“He sure did,” said Sheri-Lynn. “He was a good Christian and tried to make me into a good Christian, so he beat me something awful, on account of my bad disposition. He beat me, and I pretended like I didn’t care any when I was younger, but I really hated it. He even broke my arm this one time. I understand now why he did it. He loved me, and there was just nothing else he could do with me. I mean, what do you do with a girl with a naturally bad disposition? You got to at least try to set her right. But, unfortunately, it didn’t take. I’ll never be a good Christian. I know that.”
“My father used to rape me,” said Champagne. “Then he’d give me presents afterwards, so I wouldn’t tell anyone.”
“What kind of presents?”
“Oh, different things,” she said. “Cute little jewelry, or bags of candy. But one time he bought me a new bike.”
“Wow,” said Chrystal. “That must’ve been nice.”
“It was,” said Champagne. “It was really nice, but it turned out to be stolen, so the cops came and took it away.”
“Shoot!” said Sheri-Lynn. “Did your daddy get in trouble?”
“Oh, no. He just told the cops that I stole it. That was the first time I got arrested.”
“Too bad about the bike,” said Chrystal.
A car pulled into the parking lot, and its headlights lit up the three girls and the Escort. It was a newish-looking Buick with out of state license plates. It parked two spaces away from the Ford.
“I guess I’m up,” said Chrystal, and she walked over to the driver’s side of the car and bent down to talk to the man.
“Neat car,” said Sheri-Lynn. “I like the color—green.”
“Yeah, and from Jersey,” said Champagne.
They watched Chrystal nod, as the man pointed towards Sheri-Lynn. Chrystal walked back to them.
“He wants you,” she said to Sheri-Lynn. “Partial to blonds, I guess.”
Sheri-Lynn walked to the car and bent down to get a look at the guy. She took him for a businessman on a trip. In his thirties, he wore glasses, had a round face, and looked nervous, like this might’ve been his first time.
“Hi, honey,” said Sheri-Lynn. “What’s your name?”
“John,” he said.
She snickered. “Well, that works out, now, don’t it?”
“No, it really is my name,” he said, trying to smile.
“Well, relax. You don’t need to be scared. What can I do for you tonight?”
“Well,” he said, lowering his voice. “I…”
“C’mon, now, don’t be shy,” she said. “You want the whole works? You want something fancy? You just want a header?”
He started nodding. “Yeah…Yeah, that’s what I want!”
“Okay, no problem at all,” she said. “That’ll cost you twenty—that okay with you?”
Normally, she’d only charge ten, but since he was out of state and probably didn’t know any better, she thought she’d see if he’d go for more.
“Oh, yeah, that’s…that’s terrific,” he said, hunching up to pull out his wallet. He handed her a twenty-dollar bill.
She put it into the little black purse she carried.
“Now scoot on over,” she said, opening the car door.
“No!” he said, pulling the door closed again. “Not here! Not out here! I paid for a room!”
She frowned. “Well, you didn’t have to go and do that. I could’ve taken care of you right here and saved you the money.”
“Well, it’s already paid for,” he said, showing her the key with the green plastic diamond attached to it. The plastic diamond read ‘10’ in white numerals.
“Ten’s right over here,” said Sheri-Lynn, pointing over her shoulder. “So just shut off your car and come with me.”
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