When I woke up, it was one P.M. I turned on my side. Two big brown eyes were looking at me. I closed my eyes. The mouth that went with them started kissing my eyelids. She licked the dried out snot in the corners of my eyes. I held my forehead. There were three or four trucks crashed into each other in a parking lot inside my head. They couldn't agree who crashed into who first, so they kept backing out and doing it again. "Who're you, bitch ?" I mumbled. She giggled and whispered in my ear "Daddy, I'm Ophelia. Phyllis said to come put my nose up your ass." I felt her straighten out and then there was a warm softness caressing and drowning me. I fell asleep.
When I woke up again, it was still one P.M. Ophelia was still kissing my eyelids. She said, "Daddy, you're so pretty. You got eyelashes just like a bitch's. Phyllis took Chris to visit some sucker in the shit-house. The boss bitch took that pretty young one out somewhere. It's just us here. Daddy, I don't like eating ass so much. May I kiss my candy instead ?" I said, "Christ in Heaven. Ain't I got a whore in this family without a hot jib." I spread my legs, turning on my back. "Go on, bitch. Then get your kit and trim my toenails and paint 'em. We're all going to get pretty for my birthday party tonight." She clapped and giggled. She asked "How old are you, Daddy? I bet you're nineteen." I tried to look at her but it was asking too much. I said "I ain't nineteen. I ain't even whoreteen. I don't got no clue what I'm at. I just got a pretty baby face, that's all." She said "Daddy, I didn't know it was your birthday, but I got you a present anyhow." It took her a good minute to get it all out, taking breaks every other word to kiss my dick all around.
When Chris and the runt got back from scarface hornblower storage, it was still one P.M. A gauze of light purple was just starting to close down the sky. Night's gonna fall in less than an hour at one P.M. ? I hooked an elbow under my still pulsing head. "That clock right ?" The runt looked at it and shook her head. "Twice a day." Chris had a serious look on her face. I laid into her, "Where the hell you've been, stray bitch ?" She rapped like Glass Top drives : "Daddy, when Leroy heard I'm back on the street he got in a fight. He punched the square that let him know. I never seen him punch no one in his life before, Daddy. That one he hit, was twice his size. Would have stomped him into dust but other people held him back. Leroy was still snarling and clawing at the guy when the beat cop took him in on a disorderly. Then downtown he slugged the guy booking him. They ain't figured what to do with him yet. He wasn't drunk. Maybe they drop it. They would, if he talked sense to them. As it is he might go for even a fin." I called her over with my hand. When she kneeled by the bed facing me I put my hand around her throat. "Well, how did he take the news? Did he hang himself from the bars before your eyes?" She started weeping and said, "Daddy, he fell apart. He would have killed me if he could have reached me. He cried like his heart was broken. He said he was going to kill you wherever he saw you. I feel bad, Daddy. He really upset me. I'm going to lie down." I thought, "She's a dumb broad alright. She ain't got that sweet whore honey in her, where she makes it better for the chumps she's with. This bitch is straight poison, she fucks them up." I made a mental note to tell Delaney when he showed next ain't no good reason for that Leroy chump to walk.
The three whores crowded into bed with me. They were stroking and kissing me all over. By the time Glass Top called it was one P.M. I said "Sweetheart, if you'd have given me your number I'd have called you myself. What's up ?" He laughed like I said something funny. Then later when I reached into my vine pocket and pulled out the paper he had written his number on I got the joke I didn't know I made. I came back to me, how on my way out he slipped it to me like a square broad in Sunday school. "Here's my phone number in case you wanta ring me for something." No matter, I didn't want anything. He did, though. "Kid, Sweet said he wants to take a better look at you. He said for me to pick you up. I'm going that way anyways. You good to pick up ?" I said "Man, how about give me till one P.M. ?" He laughed again and hung up. I turned around to Phyllis and said "Damn." "What's the trouble Daddy-o ?" she warbled back at me. "Those jokers want to sit down, and I ain't got but the one vine from last night. They'll laugh me out of town." Ophelia bounced out, gurgling "Hang on, Daddy. Hang on." as she went. She was back in a flash with a flashy vine alright. "This is my present Daddy, how you like it ?" I said "What's your story, bitch ?" The runt filled me in. Ophelia and her met in school, but she'd been turning tricks for most of the year, and she was a slick booster, too. She picked up the vine on their way over, to tribute me.
I said "Bitch, you've got to hip these other dogs to doing that trick. We're raggedy as a pack of shipwrecked rats over here". She nodded "Yes Daddy. Though it's not for everyone." I said "Now bitch, bend over and let me put my foot in your ass." She turned her back to me, legs straight, hands on her knees. I went over and got my belt out of my pants. I looped it in my hand in front of her. I said "Now bitch, after every whack, you say 'Thank you Daddy for hurting me. Please let me be your whore, Daddy, and hurt me more.' You got that ?" She nodded, trembling with fear or excitement, I can't tell them apart. Phyllis went over and put Ophelia's head on her belly, holding it in her hands. I craked her a good dozen stripes, and pretty hard, too. She wanted to take her hands offa those knees, but didn't. She said just like I told her, but she was tearing up. I walked over to the nightstand. I said "You're a good whore, Ophelia. You can stay. Here's a saw for you." Chris went woo-hoo but the runt frowned. "Daddy, how come you didn't crack on my ass like that ?" Ophelia was whimpering in her lap, but the runt drove hard. "Look how pretty it makes it!" and grabbed those welts on the young whore butt. Chris winced. Ophelia howled. I said "Bitch, I turned you out with all those jokers. It ain't the same for everyone." Chris was struggling with herself. Eventually she won the battle that she lost. "Can I have one, Daddy ?" I nodded my head. "Not right now though. That freak's coming to pick me up."
When he showed up Glass Top was pretty well cooked out. He stopped by a chicken joint three blocks down damn well near driving flush on top of an old Buick parked at the curb. "Sweet move ?" I asked him. He shook his head, his eyes straight ahead. I sat there a minute observing the sounds of silence with him, then I cracked "Hey Top! What's up ?" He turned his dreamy eyes to me, "You got it ?" "Got what, you beautiful cocksucker ? I ain't got anything I didn't have before." He nodded. "The chicken. Did you cop ?" It was freaky, like a reefer dream. I didn't smoke any, but maybe those bitches going at it with eight mouths between the three of them got some in me anyhow. "No I didn't cop no chicken. What chicken ?" He bristled as much as a hype cruising steady ever can. "Go cop it then! Ain't I told you fifty times Sweet said he and Miss Peaches got a taste for some of that barbecued chicken down there in Hell ? He said to bring some with you when you come, so git!" I jumped out of the car, thinking to myself ain't no way in blue heavens he told me fifty times. Forty-nine I could've even believed, but fifty straight up ain't no way.
A black stud in a tall white cap was stabbing chickens onto a turning spit in the window. I went in. I came out with two birds. Peaches might be really hungry for barbequed chicken. It made solid sense to brown-nose Miss Peaches. As we drove a while he came back to his senses a little more. Not that much, though. At one point he turned to me, leaving the hog to howl down the empty road all by itself. "Say listen, kid, don't ever forget to keep that rundown on Sweet under your lid. I'm the only stud he told. He'd twist my skull off and play soccer with it." I said, grabbing the wheel with my left "Now Top, that's a helluva crack to make. Do I look like the kind of rat square that would cross a pal? Now keep an eye on the road, or you've decided to make this hog a plane for real ?" As we pulled by Sweet's place there was no doorman anywhere. I thought to myself "Shieet! This crazy nigger's gonna try to park by himself, and when Sweet comes back home it'll be three floors shortened and the whole block mowed down." Just when I was scraping my skull, desperately trying to come up with an angle, Glass Top said "Kid listen, I ain't got it in my heart to park. You mind putting the kitten in the garage and come right up ? I gotsa go take a leak." I sighed my relief. "Sure, pal. Anything you say." He got out of the hog and started walking down the street. He went past the awning and kept going. As I was easing into the garage he was crossing over to the next block. Now a Hog's not exactly a bitch to drive, that's true, but it does help if you ever drove anything before. Even a rowboat I guess would help. Me, I ain't driven even my dick anywhere long as I could remember, I always let the bitches to the work. Took me a while to figure all the sticks out you could pull, and tell the truth maybe it wasn't arranged inside exactly how it started out by the time I was done parking it ; but all in all I think I did okay. A little crooked maybe, and the engine did make some noises I ain't ever hear it make before, or anything outside a junkyard, but I still think it was a damn sight better than anything Glass Top'd have managed on his own. Who even knows where he had walked himself by the time I got out. He could've been half way to Michigan the way he walked stubborn straight, waving his arms about like it helped with the paddling.
Just as I was about to spit in delight at the job well done, something took to crushing my jaw. A blinding spotlight burned off my eyeballs. I heard a fog-horn voice blasting, "Police officers! What the hell you doing, god damned crazy nigger ?! What's your name? Show us your identification." I couldn't answer with my jaw crushed in a vise. To tell it true I wasn't even sure what an identification is, right then. I was dazed, I couldn't remember my name. It wasn't Prissenberg, was it ? I knew it was with words in it, I just didn't remember which damned ones. I lowered my eyes below the inferno of light. I saw a white brutish wrist, like an animated anchovy going for my throat, thick black hair bristling on it. I saw muscles cord and ripple across it as the vise tightened around my jawbone. I thought maybe it's for the eggs ? I said "I didn't have any eggs this breakfast, officer." It came to me maybe I croaked while parking and didn't know it. Maybe this is just how Satan goes. Though I still didn't have any eggs, honest I didn't. I couldn't figure out what the beef was about.
The wrist let go of my jaw, spun me around and pushed me to the car. I hit my head against the frame. My wet palms skidded on the top. Somebody punched me all over from breast to ankle. An finger like an octopus salad poked inside my shoe. I felt a tickle in the arch of my instep. I sneezed. I said, "My Albert Thomas' name. Is it ?" They stopped. I said "I wasn't doing anything, just parking. I'm here for my uncle. He's lost. He walked down west and then he's gone." I didn't get to finish what I was saying, whatever it might've been. A galaxy of shooting stars orbited my head. It was like a flame-hot poker was imbedded in that sore bump at the back of my skull. I heard the tinkle of glass against the hood. I puked and nosedived to the hood. I felt the warm stinking mess against my cheek as I lay across the hood gasping. Glass splinters sparkled happily on the hood. I thought "Good thing Glass Top ain't here to snort any of that, we'd never make it back alive." The two blue whales went inside the hog. They were frisking it, too. One of them propping me on my feet so I don't slide over said "Nigger, you got a sheet downtown? Whatta you do for a living?" I said "I don't care what I do for a living, I'm a beautiful dancer." He shook his hat with his head in it, "You nigger-black conning bastard. How in the fuck do you know what a sheet is? You been mugged, nigger. Stand up straight. I'm gonna take you downtown. You can jig a few steps on the 'show up' stage."
That's when I heard Glass Top. He said, "What's the beef, officer? This is my nephew and that's my Cadillac. The kid was parking it for me. He's clean. We're here to see Sweet Jones. You know Mr Jones ? We're personal friends of his, you dig ?" The octopus in a hat let go of me like I'd gone a thousand degrees and it burned his mitt. I dutifully slid to the side and fell lengthwise by a wheel. The burnt whale rapped on the windshield. I saw a demonic starch-white face peer over the rear seat. They clambered out of what was left of the Hog. Someone said "Looks like we made a slight mistake, Johnnie. These gentlemen are pals of Mr. Jones. Mister, all your nephew had to do to beat the roust was mention a name. Christ, we have to do our job. There's a cat burglar operating in this district. The lieutenant is riding our asses to nab him. Sorry about the whole thing, gents."
They walked away. I tried to count their legs to see if they were chickens or what. I think it musta been three of them. All three both climbed into a black Chevrolet and gunned it away. I thought to myself it's going very remarkably straight for a car. They should try that in a Hog sometime. I took a handkerchief from my back pocket, and wiped my face. Glass Top was gazing wistfully upon the bits of loose glass and all the puke on the hood. "Christ, nigger!" he said at last. "I asked you to park it, not redecorate it." I put my finger out like to say something, but my eyes closed and I fell like a lug. My elbow went through the back window. The glass sparked happily like small cold fireworks. I said "Listen Top, if it gets any rougher on this track, I'll be punchy before long. Maybe I better take Preston's advice and go back to the sticks."
He dragged me upstairs by my collar. The Filipino broad popped it back down on sight, then took me into a bathroom and hosed me down bit by bit for half an hour. When I came out the floor was in its right place again. I saw Glass Top over towards the other end of the room. I said, "Jeez, Sweet sure has got pull. It was like magic when you cracked his name." walking towards him debonaire and at ease again. It wasn't that bad, I could walk at least as good as I could park, if not a shade better even. Sweet bellowed from behind me "Magic your black ass. The only magic is in that C note a week Sweet lays on 'em. Every copper in the district from Captain down greases his mitts in that lard bucket in Sweet's pocket." I turned to him, and that's when I walked over where the livingroom sunk. I wasn't hip it's sinking until it sunk me. I groaned, stretched out like an eager corpse on his soft shag. They came around to me like lumberjacks around a fallen pine tree. "Mary, mammy of Jesus, you stink. You shat your pants, Grinberg ?" I said "It's Icepick, Mr. Sweet." He shook his head. "You sure getting funky breaks, kid. Too bad you couldn't handle Red Cora. She's one of the fastest thieves in the country."
I said, "If that crazy bitch had a tunnel straight into Fort Knox, I wouldn't fart in her jib. That cat she drags behind her scares me." They laughed. Sweet said "That's a chump crack. After you get hip to the pimp game you'll take scratch from a gold-toothed, three-legged bulldog with two heads." I nodded. "Show me the three headed pimp with a gold-game toothed three bull doglegs on its heads. I'll take the scratch. How come Red Cora ain't got a pimp ?" They looked at each other. Sweet cracked "You done him like this ?" Glass Mop shook his top. "He was this way when I picked him up." Sweet poked me with his stomper in the rib, lightly. "What got into you, kid ?" I said "When Glop Tass colled I was with my bitches celebratin'. Today's my birthday." Sweet shook his head. "Ain't that so! I bet you turn ten years old!" He whistled and next thing I know Lulu and sweetslit were dragging me towards a bed somewhere in there. I blinked out.
When I woke up, musta been 1 P.M, I heard a squad of rats or something in the direction of the closet. I turned and looked. It was the runt, on her knees in the closet, scraping and pulling suitcases and shoes around. The back of my skull was sore and throbbing. I touched it, and felt a crusty cap over the bump. I thought as I watched the runt's rear end, "What the hell is she doing? And what she do to her ass ?!" I said, "Damn bitch, can't you put a damper on that racket? I gotta aching skull. I wake up, the first living thing I pin is the rusty black ass of a dizzy whore. She's digging a ditch in the closet. Now there's gotta be a prettier way to start a day." She snapped her head around and said, "Sorry, precious. I didn't bank on you being in bed. Who're you, anyways ?" I said "I'm Iceberg, pleased to meet you. What the hell got into you ?" She said she's Suzy. Then it all came to me. She wasn't the runt at all. I wasn't home, either. This is Sweet's joint. Ow!
I stood up and took myself in. Other than the green silk robe, I seemed mostly the same. That head bump sure hurt, though. I paddled out, past the bathroom with the urinals and back into the livingroom. Sweet bellowed when he saw me. "Well, whatta you know, if it ain't Grinning Slim. You still got that one whore or have you grinned yourself whoreless yet ?" He was in a good mood. He was wearing only a pair of polka-dot shorts. Two rollers from Sweet's precinct were drinking and horsing around with two of Sweet's yellow whores. Sweet told them I was his son. It tickled them witless when Sweet told them what the two pigs had done to me. They told me not to worry. They would remember me and would wire the other precinct rollers not to roust me. They finally got crocked. The whores took them around the Chinese screen into bedrooms.
I said, "Sweet, my one bitch is falling apart. She's playing dead. If you don't pull my coat I'm gonna starve to death. You gotta help me, Sweet." He said, "Nigger, you ain't cracking to nick me for scratch, are you ? I don't loan my scratch to suckers who got whores and can't pimp on 'em. I ain't gonna support you and that lazy bitch." I said, "No Sweet, I don't want scratch. I mean I'd take some from a three-niggered bullhorse with two dogs, but I don't want any scratch from you, that's what I mean. I want you to run the game through my skull. I gotta get my coat pulled before I tap out." My ticker was pounding like June had walked in the door naked pushing a bale of a million dollars in slats and fins.
Mimi the blonde was coming up from the cage towards the pit. She flicked her green eyes across my face. They were cold as a frozen French lake. She passed me. She looked like a fancy French pastry in her sable stole. I wondered if I got the stupid courage to turn down her freak off for real. There ain't gonna be no roust up to get me out of it here in Sweet Jones' penthouse, that's for sure. Miss Peaches came slinking by. She looked at me, got close, then came in to lick my face. It was like a rotissery chicken smooched me out. Sweet said "Kid, your map sure looks like that bullshit bitch you got is been shooting you through hot grease. I like that look you got today. Maybe you're getting hip the pimp game ain't for grinning jackasses. Get over here and sit on this couch. Rundown you and your whore. I wanta know where and how you copped her. Tell me everything you can remember about her and what's happened since you copped her. Rundown your whole life as far back as you remember. It don't matter which is first."
I ran down for him, leaving out some parts. It took me a while. One by one his whores came in, sitting their asses around the coach. Sweet leaned back on the couch. He put his bare feet on the top of the cocktail table. Mimi took to rubbing them lightly. She'd stop now and again to give his size 24 stompers a tiny little kiss. He said, "Sweetheart, you a lucky nigger to get your coat pulled by me. I love you, but you ain't got the hate to pimp. You ain't got the drive. Flap your horns good and remember what I'm gonna spiel to you. There are thousands of niggers in this country who think they're pimps. The pussy-weak white pimps ain't worth mentioning on top. Don't none of them pimp by the book. They ain't even heard about it. If they was black, they'd starve stiff. There ain't more than six of 'em who are hip to the book and pimp right. You won't find it in the square-nigger or white history books. The truth is that book was written in the skulls of proud slick Niggers freed from slavery. They wasn't lazy. They was puking sick of picking white man's cotton and kissing his nasty ass. The slave days stuck in their skulls. They went to the cities. They got hip fast. The conning bastard white man hadn't freed the niggers. The cities was like the plantations down South only worse. Jeffing Uncle Toms still did all the white man's hard and filthy work. Those slick nigger heroes bawled like crumb crushers. They saw the white man just like on the plantations still ramming it into the finest black broads. The broads were stupid squares. They still freaked for free with the white man. They wasn't hip to the scratch in their hot black asses. Those first nigger pimps started hipping the dumb bitches to the gold mines between their legs. They hipped them to stick their mitts out for the white man's scratch. Them first nigger pimps and sure-shot gamblers was the only nigger big shots in the country. They wore fine threads and had blooded horses. Those pimps was black geniuses. They wrote that skull book on pimping. Even now if it wasn't for that frantic army of white tricks, nigger pimps would starve to death. Greenie, the white man has been pig-greedy for nigger broads ever since his first whiff of black pussy. Black whores con themselves the only reason he sniffs his way to 'em is white broads ain't got what it takes to please him. I'm hip he's got two other secret sick reasons. White women ain't hip to his secret reasons. The dumb white broads ain't even hip to why he locks all niggers inside tight stockades. He'd love it if the nigger broads wasn't locked in there. The white man is scared shitless. He don't want them humping bucks coming out there in the white world rubbing their bellies against those soft white bellies on his wife an' daughters. That's the real reason for keeping all the niggers locked up. To show you how sick in the head he is, he thinks black broads are dirt beneath his feet, but still his balls would bust if he don't sneak through that stockade, to those half-savage, less than human, black broads. You know, Greenie, why he's gotta come to 'em? The silly sick bastard is like a whore that needs and loves punishment. He's a joke with scratch in his mitt. As great as he thinks he is, he can't keep his beak and swipe outta the stink of a black ass. He wallows and stains himself. The poor freak's joy is in his suffering. The chump believes he's done something dirty to himself, that's what he likes about it. He slips back into his white world. He goes on conning himself he's God and niggers are wild filthy animals he has to keep in the stockades. The sad thing is, he don't even know he's sick in the skull. Greenie, I'm pulling your coat from the bottom to the top. That rundown on the first nigger pimps will make you proud to be a pimp. Square-ass niggers will try to put shame inside of you, but you remember ain't one among 'em wouldn't suck a mule's ass to be a real pimp. They can't, because they square, and a square ain't nothing but a pussy. He cons like he lets some square bitch pimp on him, but that ain't the truth. He makes her to, where she didn't wanta in the first place. Now you, you gotta pimp by the rules of that pimp book those noble studs wrote a hundred years ago. When you look in a mirror you gotta know that cold-hearted bastard looking at you is real. Remember no whore's scratch ain't never longer than a pimp's cold game. You gotta have strict rules for a whore. She's gotta respect you to hump her heart out in the street. One whore ain't got but one pussy and one jib. You got to get what there is in her fast as you can. You gotta get sixteen hours a day outta her. There ain't no guarantee you going to keep any bitch for long. The name of the pimp game is 'Cop and Blow.' It's better to have no whore than a piece of whore, so when any one gets lazy you take a wire coat hanger and twist it into a whip. Ain't no bitch, freak or not, can stand up to that hanger twist. Maybe your foot and fist can't move that young whore anymore. Maybe she's a freak to them. Believe me, Greenie, that coat hanger will blow her or straighten her out. Greenie, you listen to Sweet Jones. You'll be a helluva pimp. Never get friendly and confide in your whores. You got twenty whores, don't forget your thoughts are secret. A good pimp is always really alone. You gotta always be a puzzle, a mystery to them. That's how you hold a whore. Don't get sour. Tell them something new and confusing every day. You can hold 'em as long as you can do it. Sweet is hipping you to pimp by the book. I'm the greatest nigger pimp in the world. Now Greenie, is your skull going to hold everything I told you?"
I said, "Thirty years from now I'll still remember every word, just maybe not in order. Sweet you won't be sorry you helped me. I'm gonna pimp my black ass off. I'll make you proud of me. I'll call you later. He said, "You know kid, I don't ever think I'm gonna grin in your face. I love you like a son. Any time I grin in a sucker's face I'm gonna cross him or croak him. Call me any time you need a rundown. Good luck, Greenie. Call me tomorrow, late. Oh yeah, happy birthday, Kid. That rundown was a birthday present." I walked across the pit. I stepped up to the doorway. I glanced back. Sweet had Peaches in his arms. She was purring like a new bride. Sweet was squeezing her in a lover's embrace. He was covering her laughing face with kisses.
My skull was reeling from his rundown on the way home. The cabbie wanted to rap, but I didn't have it in me for him. When I got back dawn was breaking. The runt and Ophelia were asleep, locked together like Siamese twins. Pepper put me to bed. June was soaking up Chris' tears with her tits. Then after that, I was eighteen years old.