I was out cold for most of the next day. When I came around I didn't feel like going out so much. I mostly stuck around the Heaven, going through the morning rundowns, going through the new bitches the runt and Pepper kept lining up, going through the books and the stored hot stuff piling every which way. Delaney was there regular each morning eleven-something to pick up his baley grand, and besides him there were always a few cops hanging around for some reason or other, soaking up my liquor. Them potatos can put it away! I didn't mind it any though. Ain't no two bit nigger gangster gonna try muscle in a joint swarming with cops, and it kept the white tricks much looser and relaxed the way they were stumbling over them bluecoats always in the way. It got to where we made a mock police station locker for them in the storage rooms to the right of the entrance hall. The girls took to calling it "The Blue Heaven Precinct" and then it stuck. That's how it goes, whatever the whores get it in their head to call something, that's what it'll be called.
I finally went out one day, eventually, a week or two after I had the big safe put in upstairs. Between me keeping an eye on things and Pepper and the runt busting their brains along with their asses we had the house in pretty good shape. I don't think the day ever went by that June didn't star at least five bills, and she pulled a grand or even more often enough. Ophelia on the other hand was cleanning out. With the whole stable behind her, to run interference and decoy for her as she needed and to tag team and everything else, she was a money tree alright. She never went out alone, and she never came back empty handed. The trouble in her line is that a good thief always needs support, and no matter how good a thief she is, she never can really trust anyone. It's very different in a house. Having her pick of a dozen girls at the ready transformed her game. Not even the the first week had been a total loss, and things sure picked up from there. Not counting the free drinks, which musta been at least ten-twenty gallons of sour rye and once over that much everything else, and not counting the free pussy, which musta been hundreds of tricks, by the time the potato tribe had leeched a good twenty grand in cold hard cash we were up maybe fifteen or maybe twenty-five even above Frank's fifty, meaning there was a good bundle of cash locked in that big iron jail opposite my bed, plus all the furnishings and upholstery. Most black niggers live their whole lives don't amount to half as much, and ain't no nigger turned eighteen that can say as much. Tell the truth I was feeling pretty warm and happy with myself. Downright satisfied, just like a square with a plush job and a loving wife. I mean a half a dozen loving wives plus some more waiting around the corners to make it in tight, but anyways, the principle's the same.
I took to the street in that bubbly sucker's mood. It was after 1 P.M, more like maybe five or so. The sun was glinting that gilt dust on the sidewalks, the walls, the slants and everything. I felt like I had stepped down from Heaven to look around paradise. I hadn't chomped a greasy rack in who even knows how long. Grinning from ear to ear I went into The Piggy Rest. The itch once scratched, I mothed toward a waggling flash. The "Fun House", it read. It was some kind of bar. I opened the door and stepped inside. It almost busted the gaskets in my bowels. A phosphorescent green skeleton popped up out of the floor in front of me. It screeched a hollow howl and then dived back into the floor through a trap door. I just stood there shaking. I couldn't figure why those crazy jokers at the bar were yukking like pickaninnys. To stay with the program I mastered a King Fish grin. I went to the bar and sat between "Amos and "Andy."
A tall stud in a Frankenstein gedup on stood behind the log. He darted his hand in a sneaky way underneath. There was a wooshing noise like a tire going flat. My stool descended beneath me. I looked up at Amos. My nose was an inch from the log. Amos was grinning down at me. He drawled, "You sho nuff ain't been here befo, is you Slim? You frum de big-foot country?" Andy said, "Wait til he ketch his win. He gonna buy us a pitchuh suds. We gonna lurn ole home boy bout dis big city rigamaro." Everybody at the crowded log yukked in a deep South accent. There musta been a whole confederation of them gathered there. They elbowed each other knowingly like they were all cousins, too. Frankenstein pushed his mercy button. I felt the stool stretching up. This booby-trapped nest of low-life suckers I stumbled into was sure making me miss my Haven.
Frankie walked down the log to me. He said, "It's all in fun. Welcome to the ‘Fun House.' What'll it be?" I ignored him. I got off the stool. I looked down at it. Its metal legs were tubular and anchored to the floor. It had to be a compressed air gizmo. I stepped back and looked at the two ex-cotton pickers. I twitched my nose. I looked down and around them, then the length of the log. I fingered the button on that sling shot in my raise. I said, "King Fished, Holy mackul, boys. You smell dat? I'se wunder iffen some po stupid nigger's funky-ass, nappy-head Southern Mammy ain't dose shit out anuther square-ass, ugly bastard turd?" Amos and Andy dropped their jibs like plantation idiots. They shot an anguished look at the white joker behind the log. I walked out the door. They didn't dig my humor. Maybe it was too "in".
As I made my exit I slammed into a perfumed line-backer. In reflex, I threw my arms around her soft shoulders. She had the flawless face of some starlet on the silver screen, only bigger, and maybe prettier. I felt the fabric of her tailored black suit petal stroke across my fingertips. She was the finest broad I'd seen since I last saw a movie. I wondered if she was a whore or what. It was worth it to hit on her just to find out. I said, "I'm sorry. Ain't it a bitch baby, the first time we meet it had to be in a collision like two-square?" She looked at me like she couldn't quite put what I said together. I went on "Sugar, were you going into this tramp joint? Believe me there's no action inside for a package like you. I just stopped in to make a call. I'm Iceberg. What about yourself ?"
Her big curvy legs were wide tracked. I saw the fabulous shadow of her rear end on the sidewalk. Through the filmy orange blouse I saw a pink mole on her milk-white midriff. She brushed back a wayward lock of silky black hair from those big electric blue eyes of hers. Her even choppers gleamed like rare china. Her crimson tongue doodled across the cupid bow lips. She was doing a pretty good bit, at least for an amateur. She said, "Iceberg! How quaint, yet frigid. Your idiom is fascinating. My name is Melody. I don't drink in bars. Occasionally I go to a supper club. I am not looking for action. As a matter of fact my car is disabled. I was going inside to call for help when our heavenly bodies collided. Is it possible that you're not oblivious to the esoteric aspects of car repair? Mine is there at the curb."
My eyes followed her manicured finger to the brand new Lincoln sedan. She sure could park better than I could, to leave Glass Top out of this. Everything about her hollered class and affluence. I thought, "That's not usual for class and afluence. I thought they're supposed to whisper instead." She did sound just like a consecrated egghead, though, and with wheels like that it's conceivable she had a bundle in a darner somewhere. Maybe she's got some rich sucker in her web, like for a persay her dad, I thought. It all put larceny in my heart. I wanted to walk in with her and walk out with their kitty bundled in crisp fresh bills. To get to where I was going I went Sweet William on her, all the while thinking maybe I string her out, get all that scratch she's got, then make a whore outta her. Why not ? With that rear end, she could sure butt a prick or two.
I said, "Darling, I'm not a mechanic. But I did learn a little about cars, from a buddy in a prep school I just came out of. You get in. I'll raise the hood and have a look." She got in. I raised the hood and had a look. I spotted the trouble right away. A battery cable had jarred loose. I guess that shoulda tipped me right then and there, but somehow it did not. Not even the thought that "Hey Iceberg, remember what last happened when you parked one of these ? Why do you wanna go repairing 'em now ?" crossed my mind. Somehow a car broken down such that even I could repair it didn't smell funky at all. I put the sparky thing back on. I looked around the hood and signaled her for the starter try. She turned the key, the engine turned with it, she smiled happily and waved me to her. I stuck my head through the open window.
She said, "Are you driving? If not I should love to take you wherever you want to go." I said, "Honey, I'm not driving. It's a long sad story. You don't need to hear my troubles. Just drop me off at some nice bar. I promise not to bore you on the way." I got in. She pulled out into traffic. We cruised along. For two minutes we both kept silent. I was working on the opener for that long sad story. She said "Iceberg, doesn't fate puppeteer humans in a strange way ? There you were, coming out of that bar. If it wasn't for that small event I wouldn't be driving now. Who knows what I would be doing instead ?" I said "Ain't that damn right! You shoulda seen it from my side. There you were, as I was coming out of that bar. If it wasn't for you, I sure wouldn't be riding now." She glanced at me "What happened to your car ? Please confide in me." I shook my hand just like the judge did. "The engine burned away." She glanced at me again. I went "poof, gone" with my hands away from my lap, and said "Poof, gone. No more engine." She let out an "Oh, my!" and I went on "The mechanic said a new engine goes for a hundred fifty. Not a new one, neither. I've got fifty, or rather forty-eight. I need that car to work. My mother needs her eye operated on. She's going blind. I got a job I can't get to, that pays forty-five a week. If I don't eat anything and sleep in the car I don't have, in two weeks I'm almost where I can decide if I want a car with an engine so I don't lug it around with my feet dug through the floor, or for my Mamy to ever see me again." I shook my head. She teared up. She asked me what I was going to do ? I said "Didn't I tell you ? I'm going to find myself a nice bar, and fix that fifty, or forty-eight. That's hope, I don't want hope right now." She was now weeping proper. I said "The strange thing is, darling, with all these problems I feel so good now. It's wonderful. I want to climb up on those rooftops and cry out to the stars. I have met, I have found the beautiful Melody. Surely I'm the luckiest man alive. Convince me you're real. Don't evaporate like a beautiful mirage. I'd die if you did."
I saw those awesome thighs quivering from the corner of my eye. She almost crashed the Lincoln into the rear end of the gray Studebaker ahead of us trying to park. She cut in sharply, grating the Lincoln's wheels against the curb. She shut the motor off and turned toward me. Her eyes were blue bonfires of passion. The pulse on her satin throat was speed riffing "Tea for Two" She slid close to me. She zippered her scarlet mouth to mine. That confection tongue flooded my mouth with sugar. Her nails dug into my thighs. She gazed into my eyes then she said, "Iceberg, you sweet black poetic panther. Does that prove I'm real ? No, I know I don't want to evaporate. Not ever. Please, let's don't go to a bar. You can't solve anyone's problems with alcohol, much less your own. My parents are out of the city until tomorrow noon. Settle for coffee and conversation at my place. Will you, Iceberg ? Perhaps we can find solutions to your problems there. Besides, I'm expecting Mother to call me at home later this evening. I must be in."
I said, "Angel of mercy, I'm putting myself in your tender hands." She lived a ways from the black concentration camp. She drove for almost an hour. Eventually we turned into her driveway. She parked the Lincoln in a pink stucco garage that matched the house. We walked in directly from the garage. I followed her through the kitchen. We moved like burglars through the half-darkened house, eventually taking to deep-pile carpet up a stairway. We got to the top. She stopped. She whispered, "Iceberg, I was born in this house. Everybody in the kooldeigh-sack knows me. If some friend passed and knew someone was at home, we might get an unwelcome visitor. We don't want that, do we darling ? Let's then go to my bedroom, in the rear." I followed to her bedroom thinking all the while the rear's just what I had in mind. She flipped on a row of tiny lights going around a mirrored dressing table. The bedroom was done in pale blue and off-white. The queen-sized bed had a blue satin awing over it, like a circus tent. I sat down on a white silk chaise next to the dressing table. She switched on an ivory radio. Debussy's "Clare de Lune" sweet-noted gently through the room.
She kicked off her surprizingly large black calfskin shoes. She was even more beautiful here than she had been in the street. She stroked my ear lobes with her fingertips. She said, "Mommy's pretty black panther! Don't run away now. I'll be back in two lambs of a shake's tail." She went through a door to the side. I could hear water gurgling. In my mind I saw the runt socking her armpits and cat. Was this upscale silk broad hungry for love or what ? I thought, "I ain't gonna square with her. I'm gonna crack on her for scratch. She should be good for a C note at least. A C note ain't bad to break the ice with. If she springs for it, I'll tie her to that bed and put my mark on her. The mark of the beast, hope her old man didn't take all his belts with him on that trip. It's certain to flip a young broad like her who's lived in white Heaven all her life! Besides, I ain't never sloughed around in a bed with no tent on it before. Especially one with a silk broad in it."
I heard the faint bounce of her feet. She came into the bedroom in a red babydoll. It looked just like Pepper
s! It made me woozy. Her very small bosom straight-jutted against the red gauze. She sat on the foot of the bed facing me, and crossed her legs. She said, "So. You're going to stay in town for a while?" I said, "Baby, if I get strong enough encouragement I'll stay all my life. So far I've been getting plenty of encouragement. It's a pity I had to meet you when I'm in bad shape." Her ringers snapped "eureka." She got off the bed and went to the dresser across the room. She opened the top drawer and took out a bankbook. She came back and sat on the bed. She tapped the red nail of her left index finger against her white teeth. She studied the book's figures. I saw a frown hedgerow her brow. She got up and went to the dresser and threw the book into the open drawer and banged it shut. I thought, "This broad has over-drawn. Means she's drawn before. Is she wise enough to try the check con on me ?"
She stooped and reached around, her ass under my nose. It smelled just like nothing in spades. I was wondering whether silk broads really are that flat when she came back out holding a foot-long, foot-tall metal pig. She walked to the dressing table and put the porker down with both hands. She said, "Iceberg, this is the best I can do to help you right now. I don't get my allowance for a week. I have less than a hundred dollars left in my account. But cheer up! There must be at least two hundred dollars's worth of just quarters and halves in this bank. Believe me, I can vividly imagine what it's like to be colored and faced with your problems. Let's say it is a loan." I hefted the poker for a moment to check its gross weight. It was heavy all right. I reached out and took her hand. I guided her to my side on the chaise. I put my arms around her. I kissed her and sucked at that sugary tongue like a diabetic with a deathwish. I leaned back from her. I looked into the heart of the blue fire. I said, "Baby, it's a wonderful secret that you've discovered. Not many people know it's better to give than to receive. Maybe it sounds crazy, but I wish you weren't so beautiful and generous, so perfect. I don't see how you can miss capturing my foolish heart. You're a cinch to make me yours forever. Baby, I'm just a poor black country boy. Please don't hurt my feelings."
She sure had an appetite for the Jeff con. The blue fire softened. Her eyes were misty and serious. She held my head between her dove-soft palms. She said, "Ice baby, I have been more unhappy than anyone all my life. My parents have never understood me. When my whole being cried out for tender love and caring understanding, they gave me shiny things to stop my tears. They are narrow and cold. If they found out you had been here they would disown me and then drop dead." I shook my head and puckered my lips. Poor baby, stuck with just shiny things to stop her tears. She went on "There's a sweet warmth that you have. I know that you can make me happy. I am so desperate for love and understanding. Please give it to me." I said, "Baby, you can dump all you've got on the dark horse to win. I'm gonna win it all for you, beautiful." She said, "Icey love, you're a black panther. I'm a white lamb. I know nothing can stop that panther from taking the lamb. Soul and body, whenever it wants. Whatever it wants. The lamb will bide her time to take the panther. The lamb needs and wants it that way. Now listen carefully and please catch the clue of my tragedy, so nothing will shock you in our life together. Ice, perhaps you are aware of the structural flaws built into the columns of the world's most famous building, the Parthenon ? That flaw is called entasis. This contrived flaw is necessary so that the fickle human eye sees only perfection. I am a lot like those columns. Maybe not as old, but I am beautiful. My tragedy is that unlike the entasis that gives perfection to the columns, my entasis must be concealed to protect my perfection. Can you understand what I mean?"
I sure couldn't. I beat my brains, "What the hell's she got ? Maybe she means a prematurely-gray cat ? Who cares, anyhow. Maybe hers is off-center. Can a slit even be sideways instead of along ? Maybe it's shallow as a thimble, I heard about that once. I guess if it's odd it will be a novelty kick for me. She's so beautiful and white, plenty of tricks won't notice a tiny irregularity after I've turned her out." I said, "Baby Melody, you haven't opened the door to a square. As fine as you are I wish you had two heads. Now get on that bed on your back. I'm gonna make love to you like the black panthers do it." I took off all the drape ropes and came back to her laying on her back in bed. I finally saw her flaw. Was the hell entasis is this supposed to be ? She had no crotch hair, at all. She was completely bald downstairs. I thought bitch should get out more, lots of the second floor whores were doing their cat just like the runt and Chris, almost completely or even completely bald. I never heard a trick complain.
I tied both her legs to the posts at the foot of the bed. I tied her left arm to a post at the head. The phone jangled on a nightstand at her side. She picked up the receiver with her free right hand. She said, "Hi Mother. Yes, I'm fine. Are you and Dad still having fun? Mother, I miss you both so terribly. Are you coming home tomorrow as planned? Oh good, I'll be at the airport on time. I've gone to bed. I've gotten out that ‘Anthology of Africa.' I'm going to have a wild time researching the Watusi Warrior. Good night, Mother. Yes, sweet dreams!" She made some sucking noises in the receiver. She kept doing them, getting louder and saucier, long after the dial tone came in. I thought this is a freakish broad alright. I lashed her free arm to the fourth bedpost and then I looked down at her. Her eyes were pleading. She said, "Remember now, Ice darling. You are not an unsophisticated bumpkin. You are not prone to shock states. I know you are going to find my entasis as sweet and desirable as the rest of me."
I wondered why she still worried about her entasis. She musta known I saw she was hairless downstairs. I put my knee on the bed and stroked her belly. That's when I felt cloth. I went in for a close look. A custom, flesh-colored jock belt bandied her crotch. I reached under the elastic top and ripped it down over her round hips. I jumped back a yard, my rear end bouncing on the floor. I struggled to my feet, screaming "You stinking sissy sonuvabitch!" His real entasis had popped up, pink and stiff. It was as long as a short thumb, and about as thick. He was crying like I stuffed pickles down the peehole in his "entasis". He sobbed, "You promised to understand. Please, keep your promise. You don't know what you're missing. It's delicious, you fool!"
I said, "Look man, I made my promises to a broad, not a stud. I'm a pimp, not a faggot. I'm getting the hell out of here. And I'm charging you the porker for my time and your bullshit." He lay there blubbering. I took the porker off the table and stuck it under my arm. I walked toward the stairway. I looked back. His beautiful face was ugly in anger and hate. He screamed, "You dirty nigger liar, thief! Untie me you dirty coon bastard! Oh, how I wish I had your black ass, tied here on your belly!" I said, "Man, as slick as you are you'll untie yourself before long. I don't know what you'd do anyway, I've never seen a swipe less likely candidate to doing any damage." He started crying, frustration and despair melding inside his beak into a huge ball of teary snot. He whispered "Please don't leave me here like this. Please. Not like this." I said "What the hell do you want me to do, pin a blue ribbon on it ?" then the idea struck me.
I said "I could call someone if you want, have a little party thrown for your entasis ?" He stoped blubbering, eyes trained on me. I went on, "Ever been worked over by a gang, sissy faggot ?" He fixed me without saying a word for a long moment, then whispered "I've never had one", his low voice full of hesitation. "So, you ready to start ? I can't guarantee you'll have fun, but I'm pretty sure they won't croak you. Not right off, anyhow. I guess you'll never be able to put a stop to it, either. I mean they'll keep on coming, at least for as long as you live here. But then again, that's what being a sissy is all about. Ain't it ?" He wasn't saying anything, just looked at me with peepers about to jump out of his skull. I said "Which is it, pretty boy, yes or no ? I'm not standing here all night watching your precious ass squirm." He nodded at first, then said "yes" with the voice of a starling that's been run over by a truck. I said "You sure ? Best be sure now, there ain't no backsies. Once you go in there's no coming back out." He whispered his ok and I went over to the phone.
"Hey Pep ? Yeah, put her on. Yeah Pep ? Listen gorgeous, you know any faggots ? Right, right. No, I know. Anyone who'd like to pay a visit to a little sissy all tied up in bed, give him what for ? Yeah ? Ah, yeah. No, we're throwing a party for Melody. Aha ?" Then I yelled out, hey, what's here ? The tied up faggot yelled back the address, loud and clear. Somehow in there he got back his voice. I passed it along to Pepper and then said "Door'll be open. The party girl's in a back bedroom, I guess tell them 'follow the squeals'." I hung up and walked down the stairway without paying any attention to the squirming Melody. He was trashing in bed like I dropped a whole nest of fireants in there with him. Some Watusi warriors! It sure was going to be a warm, wild, tender time. I went through the house to the back door, walked down the driveway to the street and then kept walking. I think it was a good hour before I got out of the residential sprawl and there was a cab to hail. I didn't mind the walking any, it's good for the soul. When it got me to the Haven the meter read fourteen-thirty. The runt opened the door. She was grinning. She said, "Hello, Daddy-angel. Your dog bitch bumped her black ass off tonight. Gotta piggy bank, huh?"