We were too busy the next day to count the piggy, but when we finally got around to it there were three fundred fifteen dollars in there! I remember the glinting stars of dust whirling like a golden hurricane through a bright shaft of noon sun and the runt's pearly whiteys glimmering at me "That's not bad, Daddy. Almost as good as a bitch's!". I laid into her with the belt, which is what she wanted from the get go. Others drew in and were drawn in, we spent the whole day horsing around and freaking that old circus show. They made a big thing out of it, too, like "Daddy's got a piggy". It became a sort of in joke, they play-acted how it maybe went, they still remembered it for a long time afterwards.
A week or two after getting my head bumped at Sweet's I figured if I don't call him already I might as well never do it. I picked up the phone and didn't have the number. Did that crazy sweet joker tell me to call him but never told me what to call him at ? Or was his piece of paper less lucky than Glass Top's ? Just as I set the receiver down a bottom floor bitch came in from the street. I don't remember her name. There's been so many. She was checking in fifty slats. Pepper had told them to come in when they get forty-fifty together, drop it off, take a load-off, get a rinse maybe. At first only the first floor rooms had tubs put in, but after a few months I had them added to the bottom floor rooms too. It made the place really cramped, but the girls didn't mind. Often they bunked inside, too.
Pepper's idea was to keep the scratch safe, I'm sure. Nobody ever held up a girl in the Heaven, but with them on the street it was different. It seems every other day some freak stud would muscle in on a girl. We tried to keep it in check as best we could, but we never got all of them. It's better they don't make off with all that much when they try it, so the girls checked in every two-three tricks. It grew from there, though, because that's how whores are. Since they'd be over anyway, there was also something they wanted to say to some other one and on it went. Then of course they may as well get a rinse, but they aren't gonna do it in the tub where they bunked because of some other bullshit. Really, they just wanted to sneak up to the first floor and do it there. That first floor was like lettuce to a box of rabbits. They wanted so bad to breathe the same air as those other bitches for five minutes, to show themselves off to those jokers up there, it almost hurt them inside. Of course some suckers were bashful enough they didn't take well to some broad busting in while they're busting some other broad, nked or no. Reminded them too much of their office I guess. Of course the only ones who were anywhere near a position to say whether it'll be okay were the whores they were on top of. From this he dumb bitches made their own life so complicated, they could have spent a whole week yakking to sort out who and how and when goes where to do what. "Oh, I came back to drop the fifty I made" she'd say, to point it out to me. Make sure I didn't miss out on how she, what's-her-name, brought home fifty slats. I looked at her over the receiver. "So whatta you want, bitch ? A medal for doing your whore duty ?" she'd shuffle off, if she had any sense.
If I didn't have any sense and kept after her, she'd let me have it, a full slice of the squirming insanity going on at all times inside their dumb bitch heads. "Oh, she's going to take a rinse but she can't do it in her room". Because Miranda, or Mirella, or whoever the fuck name I couldn't paste a face to if I had twenty years in county to do it in, is bunking in the tub and she didn't roll up the curtain she's using for a blanket or didn't do it right or sideways whatever, and Jenny or Penny or whatsit is in the tub across the hall and she doesn't like going after her anyways because bla bla bla and then maybe Dinah upstairs lets her in with her trick but she doesn't know for sure because the knob is turned half way like if it's ok and maybe the knob is broken so she can't ask her right now but she'll yakkity yakk on and on like that.
If my stars were really poorly aligned that day, they'd cut me in some of their philosophical discoveries made while walking. They'd say, "Daddy, I'm your girl. If I ever stop loving you, I'm gonna quit whoring for you. If you don't croak me I'll get another black man when we're washed up. Right now I'm in your corner all the way. White tricks don't move me. I want to vomit when they paw and slobber over me. I baby talk them, but I hate them. Daddy, I just want their scratch. I get a thrill with them all right. It knocks me out that here I am, a black nigger bitch, taking their scratch. A lot of them are clean-cut high muckty mucks in the white world. Some of them show me pictures of beautiful wives and cute children. It makes me feel greater than those white bitches living in soft luxury. Those white broads got nigger maids they laugh at. They think we ain't good for nothing but clowning and cleaning. It would give them a stroke to see their trick husbands moaning and groaning and licking between a black whore's thighs. I know I ain't got no silky hair and white skin. I'm damn sure hip those white men ain't leaving Heaven to come to Hell every night just for the drive. They coming because those cold-ass white broads in Heaven ain't got what these black whores in Hell got between their legs. Black and low as I am, I got secrets with their white men those high-class white bitches ain't hip to. Now Daddy, we rap so little I got earned away. I ain't nobody's fool but yours."
I could hit them back with something like "You square-ass stupid bitch. You think you're a brain because you're hip that white men sneak through the stockade to lay black whores. Ain't a nigger sealed in here that don't know that. It don't make you great because those white sick fools leave that fine pussy in Heaven to find your stinking black ass in Hell." and for the first few years I might've even tried, but it don't do one bit of good. It's like talking back into the phonograph cone, ain't no one listening in there, it just plays the record like it is and that's all it does, scratches and all. Ain't no joker yet invented a way to fix a scratched record by yelling the right music into the cone, at the right time or any time.
That day early on I just picked the receiver right back up. I had figured might as well see what Glass Top's up to. One of his broads picked up. She said he was out of town. He wouldn't be back for a week. I said "Is that you, Radell ?" She asked who's asking. I told her it's the joker that was there for five minutes before Top sent her to the Franklin Arms. She said "Oh." like she had no idea what I'm talking about. I didn't press her on that. What was I going to say, "Hey babe, remember when you hooked your leg over mine and your skirt up to show off your cat" like some god-damned square ? She'd remember that like a waitress remembers scrambled eggs. Instead, I asked her if she had Sweet's phone number. She said she did, but that she couldn't just give it out. I said "Well call him then, would you. Say Iceberg's trying to get in touch. Been trying for two weeks. But he ain't ever gave me his phone number or nothing." She called back in ten minutes, and gave it to me. I asked her if he said anything else ? She said "Yeah. He said 'Tell him it's listed, sucker.'" It was, too. We didn't even have a god damned phone book, but I sent Hubert out to get one and found it in there later, by his address.
I called him. I could tell right off he was in a good mood. I went with the flow. I said to him, "Sweet, I copped a beautiful yellow bitch tonight. I got her humping on the track with my girls. Sweet, the bitch is crazy about me. I know I'll hold her for years." He said, "Kid, a pretty nigger bitch and a white whore are just alike. They both will get in a stable to wreck it. They'll leave the pimp on his ass with no whore. You gotta make 'em hump hard and fast. Stick 'em for long scratch quick. Slim, pimping ain't no game of love. Prat 'em and keep your swipe outta 'em. Any sucker who believes a whore loves him shouldn't a fell outta his mammy's ass. Slim, I hope you ain't sexed that pretty bitch yet. Believe me, Slim, a pimp is really a whore who's reversed the game on whores. Slim, be as sweet as the scratch. Don't be no sweeter. Always stick a whore for a bundle before you sex her. A whore ain't nothing but a trick to a pimp. Don't let 'em Georgia you. Always get your money in front just like a whore. Whores in a stable are like working chumps in the white man's factory. They know in their sucker tickers they're chumping. They both gotta have horns to blow their beefs into. They gotta have someone to listen while they bad mouth that Goddamn boss. A good pimp is like a slick white boss. He don't ever pair two of a kind for long. He don't ever pair two new bitches. He ain't stuck 'em for no long scratch. A pair of new bitches got too much in common. They'll beef to each other and pool their skull, plots, and split to the wind together. The real glue that holds any bitch to a pimp is the long scratch she's hip she's stuck for. A good pimp could cut his swipe off and still pimp his ass off. Pimping ain't no sex game. It's a skull game. A pimp with a shaky bottom woman is like a sucker with a lit firecracker stuck in his ass. When his boss bitch turns sour and blows, all the other bitches in the stable flee to the wind behind her. There ain't more than three or four good bottom women promised a pimp in his lifetime. I don't care if he cops three hundred whores before he croaks. A good pimp has gotta have like a farm system for bottom women. He's gotta know what bitch in the family could be the bottom bitch when mama bitch goes sour. He's gotta keep his game tighter on his bottom bitch than on any bitch in the stable. He's gotta peep around her ass while she's taking a crap. He's gotta know if it's got the same stink and color it had yesterday. Slim, you're in trouble until you cop the fourth whore. A stable is sets of teams playing against each other to stuff the pimp's pockets with scratch. You got a odd bitch. You ain't got but a team and a half. A young pimp like you is gotta learn not to cop blind. Your fourth bitch is gotta be right to pair with the third whore. She can't be no ugly bitch unless she likes pussy. She can't be smarter than the pretty bitch. She can be younger, even prettier, but she's gotta be dumber. Slim, all whores have one thing in common just like the chumps humping for the white boss. It thrills 'em when the pimp makes mistakes. They watch and wait for his downfall. A pimp is the loneliest bastard on Earth. He's gotta know his whores. He can't let them know him. He's gotta be God all the way. The poor sonuvabitch has joined a hate club he can't quit. He can't do a turn around and be a whore himself in the white boss's stable unless he was never a pimp in the first place. So, kid, rest and dress and pimp till you croak."
When he finally shut up about it I thanked him very much, and let him know I'm sure to get right on it. The damndest thing, my Pepper knew his stable well enough by then. With time she got to where she knew it inside out, and Phyllis too. Ophelia also marked his fat-ass yellow broads, in the store, paying for things. That gave her a laugh. She was still laughing by the time she got home. She said "Ain't no whore worth two shits that reaches in her own pocket for retail price." I said to her "Is that right ?" She said "Retail's for suckers, Daddy baby. Ain't your whores taught you nothing yet ?" She had a point, too. If a whore ain't got a fence connection it's one thing. If she ain't got no thief in her book, that's another thing. Bitch oughta get out more. But that she can't make a trick buy it for her, that's outright out-and-out. The day Ophelia made those cracks I bought her a car. She'd never had a car in her life, it almost stopped her ticker when I let on.
The way it played out, a crazy fruit by the name of Louie ran a big time crap game on the side. Now this guy, they called him "Two Gun". He was obsessed with the Frontier, and things he read, all about fifty years ago and five hundred miles west. He didn't leave the bed without he had a pair of old Cold 45 clunkers strapped to him. He might as well went by with spears, or a bow. What's Civil War weaponry to do against the Tommy gun ? He went everywhere with a galon hat. I don't know what he did about that hat. Musta been glued on with rug adhesive, Chicago gets pretty windy. Everyone held him in great esteem though, because once at the track he punched out a horse, and some other time he got blind drunk and called people out, like he thought it went in Tombstone, Arizona. Far as he was concerned, he saw no big problems stopping traffic on State Street for half an hour while he and some other jokers take potshots at each other down the road a block.
A black stud, went by Mickey Mack, thought he was a pimp but I never seen him with two broads, lost a bundle in Two Gun's game. The stud had a black LaSalle, brand new, in mint condition. He was desperate for cash, so he dialed in. I wasn't so desperate for cash. When I hung up with him I asked where's Ophelia at ? Phyl said she's sleeping, I said go get her. She gave me the "Daddy, she's tired, let her sleep, she's been out working all night" but I told her not to make me put my boot in her ass. She dragged Ophelia over eyes half closed and I said to her "Bitch, take these six bills, hop in a cab, go over to Louie's joint by Navy Pier and bring back the LaSalle." She nodded then hung around for a beat, like I'd give her cab fare or something. I said "Bitch, you ain't got a cab fare saved up ?" She nodded and huffed out of there. An hour later she told me she parked it on the curb and should she do anything with it ? I said she can do anything she wants with it, it's her god damned car. That put her on her ass. I told her first thing go cop a driver's license. Harvey knew a place that did it without a test for a sawbuck under the counter. I gave her the saw, and told her she'd better not wreck it neither, I ain't getting her another one. Then I looked at her from the side of my eye and said "See, bitch ? You were right, ain't no whore worth her salt can't get a sucker buy it for her." That year's hogs went for fifteen to twenty bills, that LaSalle was a cinch for twelve, thirteen easy. We had a laugh out of it, anyhow.
Then there was this Sweet joker, giving me good advice on three-whore stables like that's what I had under me. Like he didn't even know the first thing about my operation. By then I had the Heaven going for more than a month, lots of people knew. Over time I got to where I knew his well enough, too. Bitches run into each other, and they never stop yakking like their life depends on keeping the flaps moving. Who knows, maybe it does. I figure he should've known better. Much better. Maybe his old bitches were worthless, or maybe he didn't even have anything. Maybe there wasn't any convent. I knew he didn't have any old bitches worth the name later on. Maybe it's not that they cut out. Maybe his whole thing from the get-go was just the young broads. That sure ain't what he rapped about, though. He says not to pair like broads, and new broads together, then does just that ? The whole cop and blow angle, it ain't ever how it worked for me. It'd have been though, it'd have had to be, if I just paired pretty broads with short mileage and prayed for rain. Sweet's bitches were great in the sack though. Lots of technique, all of them. Maybe the crazy stud just didn't figure there's a deeper game to pimping than piling a bunch of six month old angels that could make a sucker squirt his swipe whether he wanted or not in a large car and driving them around town like that.
I thanked him anyway, and then I said "I'm going to drop by Glass Top." The girl was running short. Those first two pieces I took off of him early on were long gone, what I copped since running dry. I didn't let the bitches snort mostly none of it. The tricks though, they had a thirst up their nose like you couldn't quench. I was thinking maybe we park more cars together, but he said "Man, you ain't heard ? Top's pinched on a narcotics rap. The federal heat tricked him into a four-piece sale to an undercover agent." I flapped my lips silently like a black stranded fish. "Say what ?!" I couldn't get my head around it. "What you rappin', nigger ? Glass Top ain't never dumb enough to dump four piece on some stud he don't know. No-way no-how. When I bought from him first time, new in town, I still sent a bitch over to cop." It's true, too. No stud but pigs buy by the piece. If a stud's got enough bankroll to chip a grand or two offa it, that stud can afford a bitch. The heat ain't got no bitches to send on a cop, at least none who don't look just like those square broads at Sweet's party trying to get out from under their pile of duds. Sweet sucked his tongue in his cheek. "Hype" he said. The god damned horse, the greatest bang there is. The worst for business, too. In his own way Glass Top had hipped me alright : after mink comes sable and after sable comes dropping four piece on the pigs in exchange for a fin bit in the special pen. I said "Man, I gots to see him. Poor Glass Top. Where's he at ?" Turns out they had him downtown for the Grand Jury. Sweet said to drop by his place after, he got a thing to rundown. I had some too, I mean with Top gone where the hell to cop ? I was hurting for an angle, I didn't think it's even possible to run a dry house just like that. I could have a riot on my hands in a few days, when it's run out for good.
After I got off the phone with Sweet I hit on Frank Ibbetts for a lip, and then went down to see Glass Top with that lip. I roused Radell too, I called her back and said "Listen smalltits, I'm taking a trip downtown, to rap with Top. You wanta I take you along ?" She started crying. She'd never managed to get in to see him before. The feds were holding him pretty tight. Poor Radell, she was trying to hold the house down as best she could. She had the crazy idea to tell the rest of his stable that he'd found a way to print money, and that's where he's gone. She got them all lined up, then pratted them with some crazy talk about what a genius poor Glass Top is. That he and some engraver pal of his that used to be an engraver for the government got some plates they just finished, and they already made a half-dozen of the prettiest hundred-slat bills the human eye has ever seen. She picked aforehand through the stash, took out the newest bills, and showed them that. Didn't even bother to get them in serial order or anything, not even from the same bank. She was too out of her mind to think of all that, she said when I asked her. Lucky for her, Top's stable was too much like him to notice that those magic plates are from all over the place. They got excited, they ate it up when she told them they're perfect and even the government couldn't get hip to a difference from real scratch bcause there ain't any. How dumb can a whore get, they're printing circulated bills or what ?
Then she pratted them about small problems and this and that, it was the paper, it was the ink, she figured she could string it out forever. The guy could get busted on another beef. He could even croak while doing his bit. Or they'd be playing it cool, and biding the right time. She was right in that there's ten thousand ways to spin a dumb bitch by the nose, I give her that much. The hard part is to get her to swallow the bait, after that it's all smooth sailing. Glass Top was tearing up. He held Radell up like she's at least a real genius. I didn't say anything about it. I didn't want to spoil his time any. Behind those bars, what else's he got ? I could tell he didn't leave himself any outs. I coulda asked what sense does it make for them bitches to keep humping if he'll just print the bills, or what happens if anyone but a dumb whore under Radell's spell should hear of this story. All it took was to hear of his rap, it'd have fallen in place well enough for any pimp worth half a slat.
I said to him, "Glass Top honey, here's where it's at. First things first, here's a grand." I pressed ten bills in front of me. I said "Free and clear, just because I'm the kind of sucker to love you. You take it or Radell takes it or you tell me what you want done with it. It's yours." That broke him up. Then I said "Now, if you're happy with Radell's prat I ain't got no bother there. Those bitches you got waiting for a beach and a mansion in Hawaii will flow to the winds in a month, if that. Clear as day, but it ain't gonna be me to open their peepers for them. Poison can do it well enough, or any of six dozen pimps out there hungry for a cop. I ain't looking to cop. I got bitches in line, waiting to get in." I looked at Pepper. She looked back at me. Then she looked at him. I could tell he could tell she's in my corner all the way. He said, still teared up, "Iceberg, you're a real pal. I believe you like the good book. Any pimp can put Pepper on the street like you have can't never hurt for no pussy, no matter what." I said "Alright, nigger. You wanta put those bitches you got down with me, there's another bill coming your way, each week, each girl, as long as they don't split. And when you get out, if you still got the urge in you, I'll give you two of mine, to help you start again. Not raggedy bitches neither. Pretty enough and skilled enough to start your stable going again with them. A month or two you give them back." He started crying in earnest, now. Pepper turned to look at me. She gave me her "Stop being crazy, kid" look through her peepers smoldering green. I turned to face her. "Heel, bitch. He's my pal. He helped me when I was hurting for some help. If I can't help him when he's hurting I ain't got no use for all the scratch in this world. You take it all and go drown in it." She shook her hand. Radell was bawling like a country girl found out she's pregnant the first time.
I got out. Pepper followed, head down, like a bitch on heel. We talked to Frank's lip. He said it's airtight, ain't no way short of shooting the agent that'll crack it, and even that likely won't. He said it ain't worth bothering with, two bit mack man can do his fin. He can push some levers make it lighter for him, three-four year he maybe gets parole anyhow. I tried to drop a bill on him but he wouldn't take it. Said Frank's taken care of him and ain't no way. Radell was waiting by the car. I said "Where to, bitch ?" She looked at me like a kid caught in the cookie jar. "Daddy, anywhere you say." I looked at Pepper. "You got room on the bottom ?" She shook her head. "Ain't no way." I told her to run it down for me. "In A there's Betty, Dora, Joan they call Hoan and Patty. In B you got Shirley, Nancy, Betty, Ruth and Virginia. In C Marylin, Lizzie, Carol, Nancy and Pat. In D Lois, Norma, Evelyn, Gloria and Ruby." I shook my head. How in hell she remember all that ? I turned to Radell, "Bitch, how many you got ?" She said it's her and five girls. I said "I gotta figure something out. I guess I didn't think things through so well when I talked to Top. I'll take you back there, you hold the house down. I'm going to figure something out." She deflated visibly. I said "Don't go soft on me, bitch. I said I'm gonna figure something out." She nodded "Yes, Daddy." Pepper shook her head. I said "Motherfucker." Radell just looked at me.
I said to Pepper, "Which of those bottom floor bitches you wanna push uptop ?" The thing of it is, that morning Pepper had run down on me about vents. She came in when I woke up and said "Daddy, we gots to talk about vents." I thought she's had one too many farts or something, but what she had in mind made lots of sense. She said "Daddy, lotta bitches in the street hump their asses off to star. They do that to move up." I nodded, yeah bitch, I'm hip to that. She went on "Where's they from floor one move on ? At first it looked like maybe you'll move them up a floor too, but that ain't happened yet. It ain't ever gonna happen fast enough anyhow. Young whores with ambition, lots of them. Sooner than later they're bound to get salty." She had a point. I turned it around on her now. "Bitch, when's the last time June whored out at the Heaven ? Like two weeks ago ?" She nodded. "She wanted to go with the girls, yeah." I said "Then there's Ophelia, that lanky bitch with the big ass, the pretty redhead bitch, Miriam or what's her name." She nodded. I said "We get swank pads all over the nice parts of town. Nice pads, two-three bedrooms. We put them down there, two or three to the pad. We kick up six whores from the first floor now. We kick up six from the bottom floor to the first. We take this raggidy bunch in. There's your vents. You want one too ?" She gave me her slinking look she got when she'd like something I dangle before her face, and she thinks she earned it too, and she hopes it's alright to bite. I said "That's what you do today. Get me a four bedroom pad. You, Phyllis and June bunk there. You split the Junebug between you two. I'll crash there now and again too, so make it nice for me. Then get three more with two bedrooms and two with three. Move the bitches in tomorrow. Don't let none single. Got that ?"
She did it, too. By noon next day the bitches were moved out. The mugs on them were something else. Like they got college degrees or maybe flew on their own power to the Moon, every last one of 'em. I guess in a way they had. Pepper scared up a nice little house out in the suburbs for us four. It had a pool and everything, sat on twenty acres of orchard. How bad is that ? The bite was pretty terrible to go with it, though. Twelve for the house, and that without furnishings, just the fireplaces and things like that. She copped the pads in new buildings that did the condo scheme, she blew another nine grand and change on the five. The worst part of it was, the resale value wasn't even as much as she paid for it, the first time we ever did anything as dumb as that. To spend over twenty-two thousand bucks on something that's maybe not even worth the twenty, that was a new concept for me. I felt like whupping her guts out of her. I didn't do anything, I didn't want her confused. Besides, she did good, just as I told her to. But hot damn...
The way we worked it out, the girls did rotations. They'd work out of their pads half the week, they'd come in for two-three days at the Heaven to stay trim and track fit. That way keeping even two dozen girls bunked on the first floor wasn't hard : most of them weren't there in the first place. If you figure it out, twelve girls doing two and a half days a week only comes to about four girls doing the whole week. We emptied the first floor out, whore by whore, all the while filling in from the bottom. Now we had vents alright. A new girl freshly copped would spend a while bunking four whores to the room, often with a fifth in the tub. She spent her day walking the street, turning for ten, twenty bucks. Between the walking and the tricks, she'd go to bed beat. If she made her chops and got to the first floor, she'd be with just another whore, and often they were friends, very close friends. She'd get to order food, not beg the girls above for a bite. The tricks would do the walking now, to come to her. They paid better, they dropped reefer and small gifts on her. She'd have her pick of vines, both from storage and going out to boost. They always loved doing that, like it was an adventure for them. She was sure hitting the gravy train now ; but if she made her chops again, well go-ly! Her own room, was that fancy! A much better class of punter, too. The girls in the plush pads had a lot of very upscale trade. The way it worked out they'd end up with a short stable of tricks from the offices around, real top tier stuff. A girl could clean out like that, and very many did. They bought their own cars, and their own minks. The tricks were tight with them in a way the tricks coming to the Heaven never got. They treated them more like daughters they loved dearly, not so much like daughters they just wanted to fuck. Like I told Pepper one day, "Your vent idea's making a bunch of small Peppers out of all these dumb bitches all around". It was, too.