Pimp. By Robert Beck aka Iceberg Slim. Adnotated without permission. Chapter 12 -- To gain a stable.
I heard Silas knock on the door. I went and opened it. Silas was a strange, beautiful sight. The slick sorcerer-bastard had my breakfast on a tray. He had turned himself into a cute black bitch in a red knit suit. It was the runt. I murdered the grin of relief in its jib womb.i I twisted my face into a copy of Sweet's when he bounced my skull off his john wall.
I said, "Bitch, I'm gonna croak you. Since three o'clock I been calling all the hospitals and jails in town. I even called the morgue. Speak up bitch, what's your story?"ii
She looked up at me. She was smiling. She walked past me into the bedroom. I followed her. She sat the tray on the dresser. She ran her fingers deep into her bosom. She brought out a damp wad of bills. She gave it to me.
She said, "Daddy, my last trick was a fifty slat, all night trick. I caught him at two this morning. Baby, I gave you a hundred and twenty eight slats. Silas had your breakfast on the elevator on my way up. With the two slats I gave him, I made a hundred and thirty. Oh, Daddy, I've found some good streets to work a coupla miles from here.iii It's in the neighborhood of a joint called the Roost. You were a sweet daddy to be worried about your baby. Oh! I almost forgot. Keep your fingers crossed. I may bring you a girl one of these mornings. She's wild about me.iv Her old man ain't nothing. He's a burglar."
I said, "Phyllis, there's more than one note in a song. You gotta string together a thousand nights like last night. Now take a bath. I'm gonna treat those scratches. Remember I don't want any junkie bitch. Make sure she's clean before you cop."v
I forgot about my breakfast. I went out and got into the Ford. I drove to the drugstore and got ointments and salves.vi
I called Sweet and told him the runt stood up. He reminded me to send that scratch to myself as soon as possible. I went back to the Haven. I sent Silas for hot food. I dressed her wounds. They sure looked bad.
Those "go" pills she had taken died.vii She fell asleep while I was doctoring her back. I ate and took a nap. By the end of the week, I felt like a pimp. I had an eight-bill bankroll not counting the porker silver.viii
One night about nine I got into the Ford. I drove less than a hundred miles to Terre Haute, a small whore-town.ix I sent five bills to myself at the Haven. I used Christine as the broad's name.
Top was back in town so I stopped on the way home and copped cocaine, yellows, and bennies.x The runt came in that morning around four. She had a hundred-and-five slats. She was on her way to stardom. We were in bed when I cracked on her.
I said, "Baby, I think our luck is changing all around. I'm pretty sure daddy's copped another whore. I met her in a bar about a week ago. It's a small world all right. She said she just moved out of this joint not long ago. She went wild over me. She's a fine young bitch. She begged me to go to Terre Haute with her. She's working a fast house up there. I told her I'd run up there after she sent her first week's scratch. She gave me her phone number up there. I gave her my address. Tonight I called up there. I asked her about my scratch. She told me five bills were on the way. Baby, if she's jiving we ain't hurt. If she sends it and it's respectable scratch your daddy's got a small stable."
She said, "Is she a white bitch? What does the bitch look like?"
I said, "Bitch, don't get shitty now. What's wrong with a white broad helping two spades? She's a boot. She looks like what she is. A scratch-getting fine bitch in love with your man at first sight."
It was a little after noon when the messenger brought the scratch notice. The runt went to the door and brought him into the bedroom.
I opened it. The office was a half-mile away. I asked the runt if she'd like some air. She was eager to go.
It was a good thing I had gotten that driver's license. I had to go through a long routine. They even made me crack the amount I was expecting. I got the cash.
The runt was silent on the way home. Sweet sure knew the angles to put pressure on a whore's skull. In the next month I made two more trips to Terre Haute. Twice I went across town and stayed in a hotel over night until around noon. I was conning the runt I was visiting her stable mate.
The runt was really humping. She was averaging no less than a bill a night. Two months after the hanger whipping I took a furnished three-bedroom vacancy in Top's building.xi It was a gold-and-red dream after the Haven. The runt really freaked this pad off. I guess she felt at home at last. It was on the sixth floor.
I copped six two-hundred-dollar vines at sixty slats a piece.xii The boosterxiii lived on the second floor beneath me. The same week Top cut me into a stud who had a black LaSalle car in mint condition.
He was out on an appeal bond and his lip wired him he was joint bound. I gave the stud four bills in his mitt. I paid off the last two notes on the wheels.
I had two cars. I gave the runt her Ford back. She could cover and get down in a wider area.xiv
I started hanging around out at Sweet's pad, sucking up the pimp game. I got home from Sweet's one morning around five. I heard the runt rapping to someone in one of the bedrooms. I pushed the door open. The runt was in bed with a tall, pretty brown-skin broad. She looked fifteen. They were naked. They stopped kissing and looked at me.xv
The runt said, "Daddy this is Ophelia. I told you about her in the Haven. Her old man got one-to-three in the joint for burglary. She wants to join our family. Can she?"
I said, "Ophelia, if you're not full of shit and you obey my rules you're welcome. Have you bitches been in the streets working tonight? I hope you just got in that bed to freak off. Phyllis, get outta that bed and get my double-action scratch."
The runt went into the closet and brought me a roll of bills.
She said, "A bill of this I made."
I fast counted a yard and seventy-five slats. I took off my clothes and got between them. I spent an hour quizzing Ophelia and running down my rules. She was eighteen.xvi The circus started. I was circus master. I had become too much pimp to freak off with a new package. They were the performers. She had put only six bits in my pocket. How cheaply did she get me if she blew tomorrow.
It was the night before my twentieth birthday in August. I had gone to the West Side to cop some dresses for Phyllis and Ophelia. I had left the booster's pad. I was loading the dozen or so pieces in the trunk of the LaSalle. I slammed the trunk lid shut and locked it.xvii
I heard screaming and smashing sounds coming from a cabaret just down the street. I saw a hatless, gray-haired man come staggering to the sidewalk. He was holding his head. The side of his head looked shiny. I walked down the sidewalk toward him.
He was bleeding from a deep cut in his head. He was moaning and trying to stop the flow of blood with his hands. A dark thin joker ran out behind the old man. I saw something gleam in his hand as he raised his arm again and again.
I moved closer. The thin joker was savagely pistol whipping the old stud. He was beaten to his knees. He looked like someone had painted his face red.
The thin joker turned his face. The light coming from the open door of the cabaret shone on it. It was Chris' Leroy beating the old man.xviii Twenty customers had come out. They formed a circle around the massacre. I moved to the outside of the circle.
Then I saw Chris standing on the other side of the circle. She was screaming and tugging at Leroy's pistol arm. Leroy had gone insane.
I moved around the circle closer to Chris. I stood behind her. I saw greasy stains on the back of her dress collar. Her hair looked frowsy and dull. Scarface was sure taking her to the dogs. I heard the screech of brakes. I saw two huge white rollers muscle through the crowd. Leroy was astraddle the unconscious figure, still pounding his pistol against it.
They shoved Chris backward. One of them put an armlock on Leroy's gun arm and took the pistol. The other vised his neck in a strangle hold. They dragged him to the prowl car and threw him into the back seat.
A short middle-aged white broad stepped to the side of the fallen figure. She was wringing her hands. She was wearing a bar apron. She stooped and stroked the figure's brow.
One of them got on the front seat. He turned sideways guarding Leroy. He put a microphone to his lips. He was calling an ambulance, no doubt. The other roller came back and stopped beside the white woman.
He said, "Anybody you know?"
She sobbed. "Yes, he's my father-in-law."
He said, "What happened?"
She said, "Everybody knows Papa Tony loves to kid around the girls. He's got a heart as big as New York. Everybody loves and understands him.xix Papa Tony came in the bar. He started kissing the cheek of all the girls at the bar. He kissed that one behind you. That maniac man of hers stopped singing. He leaped off the stage. He started to beat poor Papa Tony with his pistol. It's the first night the maniac has worked for my husband. If my husband, Vince, had been here that jerk's brains would splatter the sidewalk."
The roller looked back at Chris. He started making notes in a small book. I knew he'd quiz her after he got the full picture. I touched Chris lightly on the shoulder. She turned and looked up at me. She got weak in the knees. She slumped against me. I took her arm and steered her down the sidewalk. I heard the distant whine of an ambulance siren.xx
I said, "Chris, you had better split. That's a white man Leroy beat up. The white folks are going to cross you into it. After all you're the reason he nipped."
We got into the La Salle. I moved it down the street toward the prowl car. I put on the brakes. A couple came from in front of the prowl car. They crossed the street in front of me. I was stopped beside the prowl car, Chris could have reached out and touched it.
I turned my head and looked into the rear seat of the prowl car.xxi Leroy was staring at Chris. His eyes shifted to me. He leaped toward the front seat. The roller backhanded him. I saw Leroy's head dip out of sight as I pulled away.
I made from that frantic leap of his that he remembered me.xxii The LaSalle moved quickly away from the West Side. Chris was crying. I stayed silent until I hit the fringe of the South Side.
Then I said, "All right, Chris, I got you away from the heat. Tell me where you live and I'll take you home. Don't cry. You can bail him out when they book him."
She sobbed, "All right, you want to take me home? Turn around and take me to Leroy's jalopy.xxiii It's parked behind the bar where he blew his silly top. We got in town broke this afternoon. He didn't get the settlement. Maybe he'll never get it. I'm so disgusted. He was to get paid nightly for the gig. He does a blues singing bit now."xxiv
I said, "Bitch, you look like a bum. You conned me you'd keep in touch. You were gonna be my whore, remember? I shoulda left you back there to go to jail with your sucker-man."
I realized I had a solid chance to cop her now. All I had to do was stay strong and bluff her.
I coasted into the curb. I left the engine running. We were parked in front of a fleabag hotel. I had maybe a twenty-five-hundred-slat roll in my pocket I flashed for her. I peeled off a saw buck. I held it toward her. She ignored it.
She said, "Blood, it wasn't that I didn't think about you. I wanted to call you. I wanted to keep my word. Leroy never let me out of his sight. He would even follow me to the toilet.xxvii You don't know how much I hate him.xxviii I hope he gets life. Don't cut me loose, Blood. I'll keep my promises. I'm free now. I'm yours, baby. Tell me to jump in the river. I'll do it."xxix
I said, "No Chris, I'm afraid of you. I think Leroy has made a tramp jive-bitchxxx outta you. I'm pimping too good to bring a headache into the stable. I'll always be your friend, Chris. My ticker is bleeding for you, baby. I gotta think of number one. My whores are humping sixteen hours a day in the street. They love it. I don't figure you got the guts and heart for the street trackxxxi. Chris, for the rest of my life I'll be sad when I think of you. I'll have a lump in my throat when I think of what might have been. Take this saw buck, baby, and the best of luck always. Goodbye, Chris. Please split before I get weak and let you be my whore."xxxii
I reached across her and opened the car door. My skull was hitting on all hundred-and-seventy-five cylinders. I was cinching her.
I remembered her name, Christine, on those Terre Haute money orders I'd been sending myself. She was the runt's ghost gadfly come to life.
She pulled the door shut. She hurled herself against me. She held on to me and wailed like maybe I was her dead mama on the way back to the grave after a brief visit.
She blubbered, "Blood, please don't cut me loose. I'm not a lazy bitch. Give me a chance. I want to amount to something. Please take me with you. I won't let you down. I can hold my own against any bitch."
I pulled out. I was headed home. I was a fox with a rare, pretty hen in my jib. I knew the runt and Ophelia were in the street. In the trunk I had six dresses I'd copped for Ophelia. I was sure they'd fit Chris.
I said, "Bitch, I'm gonna gamble on you. I'm taking you to your new pad. You gotta understand one thing. You can't bring in scratch under a bill a night. You do, I may light my cigarettes with it or use it to wipe my ass. You're gonna meet and work in the street tonight with your sisters. I'm gonna give you a rundown. Flap your horns and remember it. It will bring you into the family with some stardust on your tail. Chris, you're lucky. A whore of mine croaked in Terre Haute just a week ago. Her heart stopped while she was turning a trick. She was a martyr. Her name was Christine. I went up there and blew a coupla grand on her funeral. I guess I felt guilty about blowing all that scratch on a broad I'd had for only a coupla months or so. I didn't tell the stable about her death. Maybe I went all out on her funeral because she had your name. I just don't know. Anyway, the stable never met her. They sure have a lot of respect for that long scratch she sent me every week from the whorehouse.xxxiii Chris, you're [gonna be] that great humping bitch reborn. A week before she croaked she begged me to turn her loose here in the street. I turned her down because I knew she had a screwy ticker. So, Chris, I know you'll prove to the stable you are just as great in the street as you were in the house in Terre Haute. I'm taking you home to get pretty for the trick people, baby-bitch."xxxiv
- If grins live such that they can be murdered, then they must be born somewhere in the mouth, also known as a jib. The jib must have a grin womb, where it conceives the grins to be, and where they can be murdered if murdering grins ever came to be. [↩]
- Now you know why da fuzz won't entertain "missing persons" reports less than a day old. "Bitch's on her way home, simmer down and wait for her there." [↩]
- How long do you figure it'll take her to figure out the reason she's in the Haven is specifically so she can discover the good streets a coupla miles down in her own time ? [↩]
- Now that's definitely what I like to hear. I don't particularly need a hundy for anything, but bitch quarry's the sweetest thing. [↩]
- Word. [↩]
- Ahahaha imagine the dialogue in there, if you will.
"Good morning sir, how may I help you ?"
"Yeah... bitch, listen, get me some ointments. And salves." [↩]
- "Diet" pills aka amphetamine-something, you figure ? [↩]
- New record cash position for him, is it. [↩]
- Bwahahahaha. So now you know. [↩]
- Yeah. [↩]
- Really humping, but never came through on the burglar's girl, huh. [↩]
- Which is how you get things, if you know what you're doing. [↩]
- A sort of fence, except he sells on the street. [↩]
I truly fail to be impressed with the "piled five in so-and-so supervancar" stories like the Sweet intro early on. Five chicks, all automobile, way the fuck more impressive. [↩]
- Ah, best thing in the world, waking up to discover some unknown chick asleep in a slavegirl's bed. [↩]
- Right. [↩]
- I much prefer doing this with the girls present. Why the fuck would you buy dresses sight unseen, then dump the purchase on the recipients out of the blue, and in the (ill-advised) process miss out on having them paraded nude through the store for the fitting and so on ? How's the fifteen year olds to catch on, anyways ? How's the world to change under your weight ? [↩]
- Come the fuck on, what's the population of period Chicago, like ninety-six people total ?! [↩]
- Ha. [↩]
- He's kinda slow. [↩]
- Stupid move. What's there to see, Grinfucks ? [↩]
- Yeah, now he has someone to remember and you've got someone to have to kill later. A real pro, what, Rrrrico fucken' Suave over here.
Don't look where you've got nothing to see. [↩]
- Jalopy!!! [↩]
- So technically... she's pimping him. Right ?
- At least a year for crazy auslander bullshit like that, attacking randos out of the blue and from a weak hand. He's fucking black on top of everything for fuck's sake, talk about a deathwish, he's precisely what the law exists to stomp, down to the minutest detail. [↩]
- Well... there's always La Strada, of course. But... yeah. [↩]
- Off the stage ? Really ?
How did this dude sleep ? Who tasted his fried chicken for dream pills ? Get the fuck out with the mendacious bullshit, there's no "I wanted to". That's good for one day, maybe two. Months ? Forget about it. [↩]
- Who gives a shit about some broke-ass nobody cricket on a stick. [↩]
- Dumb bitch, god she's infuriating. "Hurr durr, tell me to do something stupid and pointless!!!" What the fuck. There's no money in jumping in rivers, whatever her deeply conceited self-absorbtion may suggest. [↩]
- As in the Romanian jivina heh. [↩]
- [because if you did you'd have come to me, not wait around like a retarded princess to be "saved", fuck that dumb shit]. [↩]
- This joker doesn't know when to stop. That last sentence is way the fuck out. [↩]
- The fuck sense would this make, anyways. Whorehouse itself splits the cash and sends it over, doesn't it. If the girls get to touch it what kinda whorehouse is it, more like a present-day strip joint. [↩]
- The best thing a book can do for the reader is exhilirate him quite so ; in this facet Beck stands up there with Clemens and few others, I don't recall being this excited at life in general since reading all about the Mississippi life, a young squirt of maybe fourteen. Glory be! [↩]