At Thirsty Liquors, I flapped eyelashes at the
belly-heavy man behind the counter, handing over money for two bottles of
Sassy Bitch pinot. I slid the dude our newly minted business card. His eyes
popped out of their bags when he read it, then he gawked at my boobs. Behind
him, Jess smuggled Bourbon into her beach bag. I bit my lip and treated him to
my bikini-clad backside. We howled all the way to her old Buick Rendezvous.
We’d dropped out of community college and moved
beach—well, toward the beach—because Jessica wanted to ditch her
hound-dog dad. The queen-sized bed
barely fit into the one small bedroom. Our costumes hung on a rack in the hall.
We crammed everything else into the closet.
The love seat we salvaged from a curb got Febreezed
topped with my mother’s faux-fur bedspread, then we smoked the joint we found
under the cushion. We giggled, high-fived. We’d soon have enough money to
vacay in Aruba.
We made a video on my iPhone, me prancing around
clothing rack, peeking between schoolgirl uniform, can-can outfit, and Daenerys
Targaryen’s leathers, not a stitch on. I recorded Jess in a bubble bath wearing
nothing but cat ears. We posted our ad online, sipped wine, and waited for the
phone to ring.
It took a day. Jess answered the first phone call.
“He asked for you.” Her face scrunched
“Stalker weird? Serial killer weird?”
I was teasing, but
not really. We’d talked about the potential danger of launching our website.
I snatched the phone, and purred, “Your pleasure
“I saw your ad.”
His voice was weird, robotic, like that crippled
genius my old boyfriend used to be obsessed with. Maybe this was my old
boyfriend. “Is this Joe?”
that little schoolgirl outfit you weren’t wearing in your video.”
“Use your own voice or I’m hanging up.”
“I’ll pay you $100 just to rip that plaid
skirt off of
The science-guy-in-a-wheelchair voice made my neck
rise. I hung up.
Jessica asked what happened and I told her.
She said, “Dodged a bullet,” and I rolled
We got three more calls, one phone and one email
Jess, one email for me. Claimed his name was “Walter,” and I figured him to be
the Thirsty Liquor clerk. Then I remembered Jessica stealing his booze. Maybe
he saw her. Maybe he wanted revenge. Wishing I hadn’t given him my business
card, I lay awake that night wondering if what we were doing was a really
The morning sun shone on the taped-up picture of
Aruban beach, palm trees like flags in the sand. I grinned, forgetting last
At four Jess went out, and I put on my can-can outfit,
all that tulle making me feel light-hearted and French. I tidied up. Snatching
the corkscrew left out after last night’s wine, I wondered how effective it
might be as a weapon. We’d done this all wrong. We should not have given
our address to strangers. The rat-a-tat-tat at the door made me grab a handful
of frothy skirt, flashing on all the dead hookers I’d ever seen on TV crime
I summoned up sandy beaches, daiquiris under Tiki
hot bartenders under cool sheets. These were the adventures Jessica and I both
wanted so badly. She was counting on me. We were counting on me. No way
was I going back to that greasy restaurant job, toting trays for dollar tips.
Besides it was just that liquor store guy, wasn’t it?
I opened the door. The man’s back was turned,
but I knew
right away this wasn’t my clerk. The polo shirt, rumpled and worn, was
familiar, the sandy hair mixed with gray. He turned toward me, that
voice-changing gadget at his throat.
It was that raunchy man-whore, Jess’s father.
“You’re not wearing that little schoolgirl uniform.”
He sounded like a robot in a bad movie. “I guess ripping off your tutu will
have to do.”
Gay Degani writes flash fiction, longer
short stories, and novels. She writes mysteries, science fiction, and what she
hopes could be considered “literary.” She has been published online, and in
print, and has won, placed, or been nominated for awards.