|ONCE UPON A TIME IN DETROIT|
by Michael S. Walker She walked through the massive casino, scanning the heads of the people who sat, oblivious, playing slot machines. It was 2:30 pm on a Wednesday, so the casino crowd was (mostly) people who didn’t work for a living. No one to her tastes at all. A lot of black women wearing t. shirts and leopard-skin tights. Gaunt, elderly women in windbreakers and dress slacks, reaching with trembling hands for another quarter from a seemingly endless supply piled high in plastic cups. Gambling addicts, their eyes glazed over, spinning, following the lies of the quarter slots. A room full of sound and fury signifying…nothing.
She stopped and sat in one of the many bars flanking the ground floor of the casino. It was called Motown Sound. On the weekends, local R&B combos played on its tiny, carpeted stage, churning out perfect imitations of the songs that had once made Detroit famous: My Girl; Dancing in the Streets; Where Did Our Love Go? She knew because she had been here before on the weekends. Gotten up and put her lithe body on display. Rocked her hips and her ass under the exacting eye of the strobe light. The weekends were a much better time. Lots of men. Lots of beautiful, leering men. Drawn to her as easily as insects drawn to the nectar bribes of a pitcher plant.
As she drank a Bloody Mary, she stared at her reflection in the long mirror that ran the length of the counter behind the bar. She knew that she looked really sexy today. There was no question. She was wearing one of her favorite outfits—a tight-fitting tank dress whose abbreviated length and loud, black-and-white print made her look like a high-class call girl. On her feet, black, stiletto high heels. Her raven hair fell straight, almost to her waist, caressing her naked back.
She sat on the bar stool, her long legs crossed, indolently pumping. As she continued to stare at her image in the mirror, she pulled the celery stalk from her drink and started to munch on it.
She needed a man. And she needed one NOW. That thought was like a skipping stylus in her mind.
But there was no one in the bar but her and the bartender. And the casino was a bust. She had wandered its three floors for almost two hours, almost disoriented by the combination of her need and the chaotic carnival of computers designed to do one thing only: suck up people’s money. There had been no one to her liking in the whole crass, audacious place. Unbelievable…
She thought briefly of flirting with the bartender. He wasn’t a bad looking man really. A little younger than she liked them, but he was very clean cut and had an easy, pleasing smile. He just seemed so confident and purposeful, as he bustled around behind the bar, cleaning counters with a towel, organizing bottles of tequila and vodka. Yes. He would do very nicely…
As if he was reading her mind, he came down to where she was sitting, and flashed that easy smile at her. His eyes glittered as they played over her black-and-white dress. It was obvious he liked what he saw.
“You want another?” he asked.
She hesitated for a minute. He WOULD do nicely.
She shook her head, and her hair brushed her back in an easy, pleasing way. It would probably be impossible, no matter how hard she flirted, no matter how many pheromones she exuded, to get this guy to leave his work and just go with her now. Fly to her hotel room. Better to look elsewhere…
“Just the bill,” she said, returning his smile with a small sad one of her own.
She found him in the parking garage across the street from the casino. He was dressed impeccably in a gun-metal suit—a tall man with a dimpled chin, square jaw, and a mouth that probably would have done Cupid proud. Once again, he was young—probably in his mid-twenties or thereabouts. But her need was overwhelming, and she had no time to discriminate anymore.
He was standing at the driver’s side door of an immaculately white SUV, trying to insert the key into the lock. He appeared to be a bit drunk. His body swayed perceptibly as he bent to his task.
“Hi,” she said, approaching him. Her stilettos clicked on the cement of the garage, sending up a flurry of echoes through the whole structure.
He looked up at her. His brown eyes went wide, swallowing her whole it seemed. His sensuous mouth broke into a broad grin. One of his front incisor teeth was chipped making him, even with the suit, look like some schoolyard bully.
“Hellooo,” he said in reply. He had a pleasing burr of an accent. Scottish, probably. His eyes continued to roam wildly over her dress.
“I was wondering…are you looking for some company?” she pouted, stepping very close to him now. She could smell the whiskey on his breath, every time he exhaled. He was definitely very drunk. Well, that did not matter…
“Company? You and me, lassie?” he said, shaking his head. Then, his brow furrowed. “And what is your company gonna cost me then?” he asked, warily.
“Nothing,” she whispered, standing inches from him now, trying to dazzle, hypnotize him with her body, with the zebra print of her tight dress. Yes, she looked so good. No man could resist her. “I need a man. That’s all.” And with no further preamble, she brought her long slender fingers down and cupped his crotch, started to rub his cock through the material of his dress pants. He was hard immediately.
“Aaayeah,” he said, staring at her as if she were just some fevered whiskey dream, his keys still clutched in his hand. “Aaayeah…”
The bar was called Bright Moments, an upscale bar that featured jazz combos on the weekend. On the cramped wooden stage at the front of the dining room, a four-piece was soloing its way through some old-school hard bop tune. The cornetist was now taking his turn, the shiny bell of his horn pointed toward a microphone. He had his eyes closed as he soloed, and his fingers flew up and down over the instrument’s pistons, sending a shiver of blues echoing through the small, brightly lit club. The place was packed, as it always was on a Friday night. The upscale clientele, Detroit’s discerning one-percenters, sat at tables shrouded in blazing white table cloths, eating shrimp cocktails and guzzling martinis. Occasionally they stopped to see if music was still being played…
She sat alone, in a corner of the club, drinking a mai tai. She knew that she looked really sexy. Occasionally, she would pick up the butter knife from the mostly empty table top to stare at her face—her dazzling blue eyes, the irises shot through with specks of silver, the short blond hair curling at her cheeks. Before leaving the hotel room, she had daubed her lips with a bright orange-red lipstick. Like the focal point of some sensual painting. She was wearing a black cocktail number with a gauzy, frilly skirt. On her feet, a pair of black leather mules with spindly heels. The overall effect made her look like one of those Vargas pinup girls from the 1950s.
She sat at the table, half-listening to the music, letting its shifting, erratic vibrations just wash through her body like a long pleasurable orgasm. There was no need to move, to seek, to do anything really. Her need was palpable again. As always. No matter how much she fed it, it never abated, never faded. But this place, unlike some of her haunts was crowded with men. Men on the prowl. And she was a beautiful woman, drinking alone. It would be very soon…
The waiter approached her table. He was a burly black man wearing an orange vest and a white shirt that was as immaculate as the table cloth. He had a wiry neatly trimmed afro, and a broad, dimpled chin. He had been to her table to check on her like four times in the last hour. And there seemed to be more to his fevered interest in her than increasing his tip. Oh yes…She knew his look very well.
“You doin’ OK Miss?” he asked, pointing at her mostly untouched drink. His almost yellow eyes danced over her black confection of a dress.
“Fine…” she sighed. Men were all the same. Everywhere. Rich. Poor. Old. Young. Beautiful. Ugly. They just wanted the BRASS BOOTY. No matter how much they rationalized. No matter how much they denied. No matter what godawful things they tried to channel that grasping need into. The BRASS BOOTY. Well, she had that in spades, of course. Sometimes though, it was amusing. What gibbering fools it made of these creatures…
“Let me know if you want anything…” he said, towering over her, his wild eyes looking for some egress to her dress. On the stage, the horn player swayed and fingered like he was possessed.
“I will,” she said, coolly, not looking at him. There was no need to turn it on for this menial, this waiter. The room was too fertile with men for that.
She hoisted her mai tai to her bright lips and took a long swig, as the waiter stood there watching her. He opened his mouth as if he were going to say something else. And then, abruptly, he walked away, toward the kitchen’s swinging doors.
“Thank God,” she thought, letting the alcohol warm her.
She placed the drink on the table and closed her eyes, just trying to recapture the pleasurable vibrations of the music. The horn player was done soloing. The tenor saxophone player had now picked up the melody of the tune, and was putting it through some heady variations, like some yo yo champion going through his dizzying menu of tricks.
“Excuse me, miss?” a gruff voice said, as if from far away.
She slowly opened her eyes. Standing in front of her, where the waiter had just been, was an older man, about fifty-five or so. His short, thick hair and neatly trimmed beard were shot through with white. On his hirsute wrist, an expensive-looking Rolex flashed and glittered.
“Yes?” She smiled, turning it on now, bringing her heavy pheromones into play. It was HER turn to solo now. This was the one…
“Are you enjoying the music?” he asked. She could tell that her soloing was having the desired effect. Very gratifying. She could sense that this was someone who prided himself on his self-control, on his command in most situations. And with a red-orange smile, she was quickly undermining that…
“I am. But what I really would enjoy right now is a good fucking,” she whispered, leaning toward him.
“What?” he said. As if he had not quite understood what she had said. As if the music had drowned her out or something. He had heard all right. She could see his black wool pants quiver. His crotch had gotten the message immediately…
“I said what I really would enjoy is a good fucking. My hotel is two blocks from here. Do you want to help me out?” she said, looking at him as if he was the only thing in the world that mattered.
#The place was called The Book Worm, and it was an old brownstone house (about three blocks from her hotel room) that had been converted once upon a time into a used book haven. If you were looking at the structure from the outside, it seemed very narrow and insignificant—just some crumbling old house, its rust-colored bricks almost concealed behind a green patina of ivy. But that was deceiving. Inside, The Book Worm was a vast labyrinth—a veritable maze of old books and rooms full of old books. A very easy task to become lost there, in those rooms. Signs at each narrow doorway not really aiding in the least. Just indicating a new destination, dissociated from the last, in the empire of books. Nonfiction. Fiction. Travel. History. Horror. True Crime. Etc. etc… And no arrows pointing hopefully toward exits.
She wandered through the vast square room labeled Art, occasionally pulling a title out to look at the pictures. She knew that she looked really good today, really sexy. Her long red hair hung down in a very tight braid on one side of her face. She was wearing an indigo-colored blouse, very low- cut of course, that showed off her breasts quite nicely. And a pair of jeans that were shot through with holes in all the right (or wrong ) places. Her fingernails were painted a warm lavender, as were her pretty toes, showing through the open-toed boots that she was wearing.
She pulled an oversized tome from one of the peeling bookshelves: a collection of nudes by Renoir. She thumbed through the book rapidly, admiring the soft colors of the models, their rounded forms and curves, the way they just seemed to morph from the wild, stormy backgrounds of the oil paintings. Something to keep in mind for future reference. For a future hunt…
The Book Worm was not a good place to find a man at all, particularly at 11:00 AM on a Monday morning. If it happened, it happened. But she had had a very good weekend, and her need was nowhere near insistent. It never really abated of course, but her eyes were not on fire like they usually were when she was wanton. And there was no roaring sound in her ears.
She placed the Renoir portfolio back on the shelf and wandered on to the next room in the labyrinth. Gray light sloped down into the store, from slits of windows that edged the fiberboard ceiling. An overcast Detroit morning. Probably a storm later on…
The next room that she came to was labeled Erotica. It really meant nothing to her. The room could have been labeled tax forms for all she cared.
The room was exactly the same as the one before it—a square, its four walls flanked with bookshelves. And there were three or four squat shelves in the center of the room, arranged in a row.
Bookshelves crammed with smut. With desire. With all the lizard-brained base fantasies some ugly, frustrated artist had never been able to turn into gold, into reality.
Well. That was a good thing…
She was reality. She did not need to read about it…
She did pause before a dusty glass counter to examine a squeaky, spindle rack displaying postcards—the kind that once been euphemistically described as “French” postcards. They held her attention for several minutes. They were obviously reprints. But the sepia-toned images of models, most of them in various stages of undress, interested her. They were incredibly tame by today’s standards (particularly if one spent even a minute clicking through the porn that clotted the Internet) but the message was the same. Sex sex sex sex. How do we get it? How do we keep getting it? She imagined that the first Cro-Magnon sculptor who fashioned a figurine of Venus just could not wait for the clay to dry, so he could jerk off repeatedly over that plump little icon.
She kept turning the postcard rack around, causing it to let out a slow-motion squeak. She was half-expecting to see an old picture of herself –in one of her myriad disguises–her breasts on display above some lacy chemise. Or reclining nude on some divan, like Degas’s rendering of Olympia. It was entirely possible. She had done many things in her long, long life.
“Excuse me, Miss?”
She turned from the rack, to the doorway she had just come through a few minutes before. A man was standing there, one slender hand resting on the jamb. He was about thirty or so, his long blond hair pulled back tightly in a ponytail, a pair of tortoise shell glasses sliding down his aquiline nose. A hunky, nerdy type.
“I seem to be lost,” he said, half-smiling. “Can you help me out?”
She could tell by the way that his blue eyes gleamed, by the way that he kept coming back to the many places where her tight jeans were torn, that he was anything but lost. He knew what he wanted. Oh yes…
Why not? she thought.
She returned his half- smile with a full, inviting one of her own. Then she started to walk slowly toward him… About the Author:Michael Walker is a writer living and working in Columbus Ohio. He is the author of two novels: 7-22, a young adult fantasy novel, and The Vampire Henry, a “literary” horror novel. He has also seen his fiction and poetry appear in numerous magazines including PIF, Fiction Southeast, and Weirdbook.