I guess my trip downward really was cinched when I met a petty hustler with a very likeable personality. We became best pals. My hustler pal's name was Joe, but everyone knew him as Party Time. By twenty-three he had done four bits in the joint, either strong-arm robbery or till tapping. He got his moniker hung on him because as soon as he scored some scratch he'd make fast tracks to the nearest watering hole. Once inside the door he'd shout, "All right you poor ass bastards, it's party time and Joe Evans is in port with enough scratch to burn up a wet elephant. All you studs stop playing stink finger with these long-cock whores and everybody belly up to the log and get twisted on me."
His flat African features were pasted to a skull that'd have made the most demanding caveman proud. He was short, powerful, shining black. He was also ugly enough to break daylight with his fist, but for some curious reason that made him irresistible to lots of thrill-seeking white women. Plenty of those sneaked into the black side of town panting, chasing after that hoary myth, something about how nigger men do it so good it's life changing. I don't know about that, but there was a fast sheeti joint with the trick rooms in the rear, right on the alley, five or six blocks from where Mama flopped back then. One night I was in that alley, peeping in through a frayed shade when I saw Party Time for the very first time.
My eyes were bugging when I saw the tall viking type white man, his tiny, voluptuous white woman and Party Time taking their clothes off. Finally they stood there naked. I could see their lips moving so I pressed my fingers on the glass pane, trying to lift it. The window gave a coupla inches without complaint. None of them seemed to notice, or care, but I could hear them clearly. The white joker was busy hefting Party Time's weapon tenderly in his hand, like maybe it was Ming Dynasty Pottery. He said excitedly to the broad, "Oh! Honey, can you believe the size, the beauty of it!" She looked really pretty in the red glow, her blue eyes fiery with well stoked passion. She purred and pounced onto the bed, on all fours, dangling her ass at them. She looked back over her shoulder, first at her joker, then at Party Time, then back at her joker. Then she looked straight at me. She smiled like maybe she was selling me an old Chevy for a new Caddy ? I smiled right back at her and waved my hand from across the glass. She winked at me. Party Time was at the side of the bed, looking down at her. He looked kinda like an old time executioner, holding a really short, fat axe of sorts over this convicted white bitch.
My trouser front was tented to hell. I dropped my pants and started rubbing my own shaft lightly, up and down, barely touching it at all. I really liked doing it in that way. I knew it's not enough to make me spit. That's what I liked about it the most. I thought to myself I hope they're never letting her back out of there. Maybe they'll tie her to the bed, or maybe they have chains in the basement. She'll be like in prison, for the rest of her life, just another trick in a cheap fuckshack, unable to ever leave, unable to ever walk on her two feet again. They'd just carry her from bed to bed, her feet soles'd never touch the floor again for the rest of her life. She looked like she'd love something like that, too. I pressed tight against the window. I had never seen anything like this back in Rockford, or since. Yes it's true I had maybe a dozen slain Topsies under my belt by then, sad pickaninnies crowded up in dark corners, raped more or less consensually but always quickly, always furtively, between shifts as it were, their clothes still mostly on, their eyes darting, wild with something a lot like fear. With the exception of the bleeding wonder none of them were anything like this sprawled out whore of a white woman, fucking like it was done on purpose, not a care in the world crossing her blanked out mind. Then the white man started saying the darndest things. He pulled a chair to the end of the bed and sat on the very edge of it. He was breathing hard. "All right now boy, stab it into her. Hurt her, boy, hurt her bad. Punish her, boy. Fuck her up, good boy, just like that. Crucify her, make her feel it. That's right, that's right, good boy! Good boy!"
The broad looked so fragile and helpless to my naive eyes that I felt a pang of pity pulse inside me as she moaned and whimpered in painful pleasure. The black demon pile driving into her must've been four times her weight, and all muscle, somehow. He had her half lifted off the bed, his big gangly hands clasped together on the small of her back, his forearms holding her thighs up and far apart at the same time. He just fucked himself with her like she was little more than a sleeve or something. She was panting for breath, her hands clawing all over the bed like he was tearing her in half. Now and again her slender white legs gave jerks like she was a trapped little frog he was electrocuting for pleasure. Party Time kept asking in a hoarse voice over and over, "Beautiful bitch, is it good? Beautiful bitch, is it good?" like he was trying to make a home or something. The white man had an odd look on him as he raced around the bed like a demented Roman emperor cheering on his merciless black gladiator.
He worked her over a good while, but finally, once the show was done and they were starting to dress I went to the front and sat on a stoop next door to the joint. I wanted to get a close up of the freaks. When they got to the sidewalk, in their street clothes, they were disappointingly normal. They didn't stand out at all. I was hoping for something wild, something out there, but they just looked like a car mechanic and his housewife or something. She didn't even look at me. Maybe she hadn't even really winked at me. Maybe I was imagining things, the bitch had a nervous tic or something. All the while watching them I had racing, daring thoughts about just walking in there and helping out. I had never been with a white woman before in my life. I didn't have the guts to do it though.
The mixed-up couple went down the sidewalk away from me. Party Time came toward me. He didn't notice me sitting on the stoop either, but I was itching with curiosity. I hit on him when he came abreast. It startled him. His face got stiff. I said, "Hey Jack, how you doing? That sure is a fine silk girl, huh? You got a square to spare?"
He fished a cigarette from his red shirt pocket, handed it to me and said, "Yeh kid, she's fine as a Valentine. Two sights I ain't never seen and that is a pretty bulldog and an ugly white woman." He was spouting cliches, but to a small town boy he came off witty as could be. I wish I could say I was faking it, but really there was no snow coming out that snow machine. My eyes bucked in genuine awe as I lit his square. I said, "Thanks man, for the square. Christ! That's a sporty vine you got on. I wish I could dress like you. You sure are clean aplenty."
He took the bait I didn't know I was putting out like he didn't know either. He flopped himself down on the stoop next to me. He poked his chest out, his eyes flashing like a pin-ball machine gone haywire, getting himself ready to open up. He hiked the pants legs of his green checked suit to his calves to show his blood red socks. The huge zircon on his right pinky glittered under the street lamp as he cracked his knuckles and said, "Kid, I'm Party Time, the best flat-footed hustler in town. Money loves me and can't stay away from me. You saw that fine silk broad ? I got a double saw to lay her. Course that ain't nothing, it happens all the time. I could be one of the greatest pimps in the country if I was lazy and didn't have so much good hustler in me."
I sat there listening to his bullshit until two A.M. He was likable, easy going and talkative. I was hungry for a pal. For the right kind of pal. He was an orphan. He had just done a two-year bit straight up, his fourth, two months before. He had a head full of wild risky hustles he claimed to want to try. They didn't seem so much idiotic to me then, though they were, but more in the vein of fascinating tales. A whole new world of possibilities was opening up under my very eyes. I never gave the till any thought before, certainly not anything like his. It was like the moon coming out, giving everything new shapes and contours that in the daytime never seem to be there. It was like the whole world caught on a secret second shape, invisible to all but the most initiated, the secret society of wise guys who knew where to look.
I got home at two-twenty. About one minute later I heard Mama's key in the door. She was out late serving a banquet for her white folks, which is why I was out so late in the first place. I had just made it into bed, all my clothes still on under the cover, when she came to look in on me. I was snoring my best as she kissed me goodnight. I don't think she caught on. After she left I took off my shoes, still under the sheets, and then bit by bit everything else until I was buck naked under there. I went back to lightly stroking my desperate erection, carefully constructing its agony for myself. I went one by one through all of Party Time's wild stories and schemes, and through the scenes I saw in the room, jumping from one to the other until they started mixing in together. I sniffed my socks pretending I'm the white guy and me and Joe jumped me and made me trade out my wife and smell our socks, or maybe she did. Or maybe we were really rich and every girl in the county had to come work as maids for us, and we made them do things. I lay there in the darkness, the knotting ache ever building, not letting me get a wink sleep. Until daybreak and past, watching the Sun rise inch by inch I couldn't stop putting myself into all sort and manner of situation, trying tall tales for size while delicately stroking myself into a frenzy, and back down again from the ledge.
Just about that time a new dish served itself up in school. Her name was Vera. She was tall and slender, but rounded too. She must've been twelve, thirteen maybe. Her parents moved into Southside from somewhere down south, could've been Kentucky, I don't remember. She had a drawl on her like you couldn't believe. I took it from her on her first day of school, just like that. Must've been first or second break, she was out there with some girls she was talking to, her age. I just walked up to them, they said hi but I just grabbed her by the hand and dragged her away. I pushed her face against a wall behind some coal piles in the back of the courtyard, around a corner. It went right in like it was buttered on both sides. She just let out an "Ooh." and that was that. She didn't bleed much, but then she got the virgin itch like I'd never seen before. She wanted it every time, all the time. I don't think she ever thought about anything else. Two weeks later I met her parents, too. She told me they were coming when I asked her about the welts on her ass. She told me she's in big trouble, and they wouldn't even let her back to school if it wasn't that her Daddy has to be in Chicago for work, he can't find anything back home. I told her "I'm your only Daddy now, bitch!" and she said "Yes, Daddy" so sweet and loving like I guess she had a lot of practice saying it. She was right, too, they were whining at the school principal about her grades and crap like that. A coupla funny looking squares, kept getting themselves excited and then tearing up then right back again. Her mom had a daisy or something on her hat, it kept trembling and dancing in the air. The principal told them she just doesn't seem to be paying any attention, and that she's in no great danger of graduating at this rate. I think he couldn't care less, maybe a girl in eight graduated back then, and none of them black. Vera was shiny black, like polished bakelite. I still think of her every time I see a girl like that. It's very pretty but damned rare nowadays. All the race mixing ruined it, I guess. A high yellow bitch can be fine too, no doubt about it, but there's so many of them everywhere now, the supply kinda ruins the demand. At least for me. Back then you could see the shiny black ones on every street corner, and look that it didn't ruin anything.
After running into Vera one of those quick buck schemes that Party yakked began keeping me up at night. Eventually I knew I'd have to give the ole' Murphy a whirl. I didn't know then our version was crude and dangerous, a weak imitation of the real Murphy at best. Years later I figured out the Murphy better. When played by experts it's a smooth enough short con. There's a slight risk, but nothing that can't be fixed.
The thing of it is, in any section where Negro whores operate there'll be plenty of loser white men flocking to trick with them. You know they're losers because what god damned whitey hangs around waiting for the nigger ? Normal white men just get the bitches delivered on a silver platter at their parties when they want them, or buy long term and call them maids or whatever. The punters wandering about the nigger district are the losers, they're the blackest white men that ever lived. That much's a given. There's always going to be more of them than there's whores, too, because there's nothing in this world more abundant than the loser. This means some'll have to kill some time, and that in turn means more black whores will be drawn in, bringing quality down. Because that's how this life works, every time you add more of something, you'll be adding less of that something. It stands to reason, if it were better not worse it'd have been there already. Right ? This means the punters face not only the obvious danger of missing out altogether, because that's the problem with waiting : for as long as you're waiting you don't know if you're waiting for something or just waiting. Once the waiting's done you know what you were waiting for, but while you're waiting you have no idea.
That's not so bad though, because it's easy for them to figure out if they missed out altogether or not, just by holding their prick in their hand : if it's dry they missed the wet. Simple enough even they can find their way through, and it doesn't require exerting themselves or doing anything they wouldn't normally do. Heck, they'd be holding their pricks all day long if there was some way to work it into a schedule. The real bad part is that as far as they know they're missing out on the top shelf, and that really kills them. They could, as far as they know, spend their whole life wandering the red lit streets and never find their way into quality, even if they got the pecker wet every night thrice over. How would they know ? You never know, nobody ever does, however fine the bitch on her knees before you might be, as you're holding on to that great ass and swiping her the old in and out you're thinking... there could be better. Right ? She's fine, alright. But there's better. Isn't there ? There's better somewhere, and if there is you'd never know. After all, these pricks aren't there fucking their wives. If they could be happy with whatever it is they have they wouldn't be there in the first place, ain't that so. You know it itches them, because they're there. That's the only way a man who's worked for his sawbuck will let it drop like it's nothing. Whores don't work the same hours for the buck as punters do, ain't that right ? Well... how come ? Sure as sugar their work's a lot more fun than theirs, and easier to do. Easy enough even they can do it. What gives ?
That's what the real Murphy's all about : there's a man who's waiting who doesn't want to, and all the while he's waiting he worries himself whether he might be missing out on quality. He can tell whether he's fucking or waiting, but he can't tell whether he's fucking quality or what, because he doesn't trust himself. He knows he's a loser. He can look at himself just as well as you can, it's no secret to him where he is or why he's there. He just can't admit it to himself, that's all. The only way he can find out is if someone tells him, and it can't be the broad. He doesn't trust her either, and why should he ? She's out there fucking him and calling him Daddy for a buck, what won't she do or say ? The Murphy operator, if he's any good, relieves the dumb punter not just of his money, that's not what the con game's all about. The conman takes the punter's worry away, that's what he does. He doesn't have to worry anymore, now, and for a while he won't have what to wait for, either, until he builds his chump wad back. That's why the punter loves the con man even more than a fine whore. The whore, however fine she might be, only gets his prick wet, removes the waiting for him. But the worrying's still there, and with many of these perverse morons it gets worse, even, for now they can give it their undivided attention. They're that fucked in the head, I swear. I've seen it a million times.
As in all other things there are many Murphy's, though they're all the same. There's many portraits in painting, though they're all the head of some young white bitch, too. Real Murphy players use great finesse to do their deed and in the process trim the mark of his scratch, and his jewelry too. Its too much to talk of every straight-and-narrow angle ; the primrose path is to have the trick hit on them. That puts the Murphy player in a position to force the sucker to qualify himself. When approached and quizzed by a mark as to where a girl can be found, the Murphy man will come back with something like "Look buddy, I know a fabulous house not more than two blocks away. Brother, you ain't never seen more beautiful, freakier broads than are in that house. One of them, the prettiest one, can do more with a swipe than a monkey can with a banana. She's like a rubber doll, she can take a hundred positions." Comparisons work well, and scattershot, so there's something in there for the punter to hang on to. The con man gotta look earnest, a bit simple maybe, he needs a big smile and a clueless air about him like the burlesque gals need legs to their throat. He's also gotta cold read, and ply his mark with whatever it is they want to hear. If done right, the sucker is so wild to get to the house of pure joy he all but begs the con player to walk him there, not just direct him. It might not be exactly his idea to do that, but he'll do it anyways, and think it was his idea like they do, because the Murphy man can use the time walking to prat him silly. He'll say, "Man, don't be offended, but Aunt Kate, that runs the house, don't have nothing but high-class white men coming to her place. No Niggers or poor white trash. You know, doctors, lawyers, bigshot politicians. You look like a clean-cut white man, but you ain't in that league, are you?" Pricking his ego right where it's hollow is always the right way to send the mark into the loser frenzy. He will protest his worth as a person and his right to go where any other son-of-a-bitch can go. Hell, for a high class lay a double saw wouldn't faze him. Few can resist the charm of exclusivity in its myriad forms, and imaginary exclusivity's no worse than any other kind, seeing how they're all the same thing.
The con player finally has something now to offer in trade : his own favour, valuable because the mark says so. He says so because he was given the opportunity and he took it like fish take hook, it's true, but it also doesn't matter. The player will say, "Man, I believe you and everything you say is true as gospel. In fact, I like you like a pal. But try to see my side of it. First, to show you I trust you, I'll tell you a secret. I been working for Aunt Kate's house for many years now as her outside man, you know, making sure only nice dates went up there. Aunt Kate and I got an air tight system. Friend, I know you won't make me get the boot, so damn it, let's go. I am taking you to the thrill of your life." Now the two newfound best friends walk a while, and make no mistake about it, it's the best five minutes the mark's had in weeks. Months, maybe. He's not waiting, he's not worried, and he's got a friend, a true and honest friend right there by his side. They say that wine's only as good as the company you drink it in, and let me tell you walks are no different. Nothing in this life is different ; but no man ever walked the earth in better company than the sucker with his Murphy player. No little kid, hands in hands with his Dad who just broke up a fight, rescued him from the bully, sucker punched the school principal. No man walking with a cop, or a priest, or his loved bride's father, or anyone else ever is half nearly as happy as the punter going to Aunt Kate's. It's just human nature.
While keeping up the inflaming description of the whores and sexual delights to be found only at Aunt Kate's as taylored to the punter's own secret desires he won't even admit to himself, the Murphy player steers the sucker to a pre-chosen neat, attractive apartment building. In the foyer, in a subtle but compelling manner, the con player nudges the mark into a fast meeting of minds, the question agreed on. You see, it's Aunt Kate's unshakeable rule, unmentioned before through being so matter-of-coursedly self-obvious, that no punter could ever go up before checking in all his valuables. Aunt Kate's rock right never to tempt a whore. Only fools trusted whores, right? The mark wasn't a fool, right? Right! The con player produces a sturdy brown envelope. It's best if there's some sleepy geezer behind a desk in the foyer. The player, who didn't as much as bother to nod hello before, extends a hand and the envelope's right there, in his mitt, like the workings of a well-oiled machine. The sucker counts all the scratch in his pocket into the hand of Aunt Kate's "outside" business manager, plus any watches, rings, you know, the works like with any hold-up. The efficient, affable manager shoves it all into the envelope, licks it, seals it, and gestures with it : third floor, first apartment to the left, number nine to be specific. The mark gets into the elevator if there's one, or makes for the stairs more like it, while the player takes the envelope safeguarding the sucker's fleece from the possible larceny in the hearts of the gorgeous dolls upstairs to greener pastures.
The sucker, in a bubbly mood to last yet for a minute or two takes the stairs three at a time. Truth be told he liked that nigger down there, protecting his money. What had he told him, when he gave him that shiny gold colored metal check? "Harry, pal, this one is on me, just go up and hand it to Aunt Kate. Everything is going to be all right. If you want you can buy me a drink when you come down." He doesn't know this yet, but he'll find out soon enough : if anyone should be coming asking questions, the geezer's never seen either of the two before, they came in talking about something, one of them asked for an envelope, he handed it over, then they left. He doesn't remember if together or not, he thinks together though, he doesn't remember who this angry fella yelling is, he doesn't think it's one of the guys, though maybe, he didn't get that good a look. He thinks the guy that went up the stairs' maybe taller, or had red hair, or was bald, or whatever the mark's preferred description of the player. The mark yells more, no that was me, he gets abusive, the beat cop laughs his ass off and takes the guy down to the precinct to write his complaint. He's greased anyhow, for him all the flailing and yelling comes in honeydewed tints and rings with the happy brass ring of a saw or two coming his way soon enough, leaving the sucker to reel from disbelief that the "black boy" before him was in the end clever and driven enough to fool him, to fashion the Murphy dialogue for him, made to order.———
- Whore flophouse. [↩]