I he night was frigid and the coffee so strong you could use it to flush a carburetor. I sat at the counter of the L.A. Diner (That's Last America, not Los Angeles, by the way) and checked out the only other patron, a balding, thick-waisted guy sitting with his back to the wall, going over some books. Tried to calm my nerves by making a game of guessing how big his dick was.
I started with his hands, which were big, thick-wristed, and peppered with dark hair. Full lips and the kind of proboscis people usually buy in a dimestore on Halloween. And when he'd got up to use the restroom earlier, I'd noticed a cowboy jut to his pelvis, like he was either hauling some serious cargo or trying to give that impression.
I figured him for an eight- or nine-incher.
But what the hell, even though I was dressed for the possibility, I didn't plan on fucking Barney McGuire.
Not if I could possibly avoid it.
I glanced at the clock above the door. Ten after one in the morning. Not a lot of time to accomplish what I needed to.
Outside snow drifted past the window, small steady flakes that would add up to a foot or more by daylight. Detroit winters can be brutal. I was thankful to be wearing the full-length fur coat that I'd been nagging Donny to buy me next time he got paid for a smack shipment. He always said no dame needed such an expensive coat, but on a night like this, maybe he would've understood.
The counter girl, Myrna, was coming out of the kitchen with a pot of coffee in one hand and my breakfast in the other. There was a sway to her walk and a droop to her lids that gave her that freshly fucked look. Which, since her boss Barney was here doing his weekly accounting, she might well have been.
Long witchy-looking black hair, a valentine-shaped butt, tits that, from the two inches of cleavage showing at the neckline of her uniform, must be perched on some serious underwire. As usual, she was painted up like a ten-dollar whore-crimson lipstick, kohl eyeliner, gold shadow-and hobbling around in a pair of towering spike heels that gave a succulent jut to her ass.
I'd had the hots for Myrna since we both waited tables at one of Donny's nightclubs and sneaked opportunities to make out in the ladies' room when we could. Then I got a chance at better things with Donny and, not long after that, Myrna went to work for Barney McGuire. Funny, huh? Two nice Detroit gals ending up in the employ of rivals in the numbers, whore, and drug trade.
Myrna slid a plate of grease-drenched eggs and hash browns in front of me. As always, my eyes went to the pattern of raised red scars on the back of her wrists-reminders that Barney, like his buddy the Marlboro Man, had a thing for branding.
"So when do you get off work?"
"When Barney says."
"Depends on whether or not he's in the mood for any dessert." She seemed to want to change the subject. "So how's Donny? He okay with you bein' here?"
"Donny don't need to know every time I take a piss."
Myrna shrugged. "Your neck."
She reached over and ran her hand over my fur with the mingled lust and timidity of a girl about to give her first blow job. "Mink?"
"Lucky girl. Donny must be a generous guy."
"He can afford to be. Every few weeks, he does a transaction, he takes in fifty or sixty grand."
She picked up my cup of coffee and refilled it. I reached for it just in time to let our fingers brush, nails clinking lightly together. Then I couldn't stop myself from glancing at the clock. Myrna saw me, and her scarlet mouth pouted up like maybe I'd hurt her feelings. Maybe she thought I had a hot date. Night like this, most people aren't in a rush to be anywhere.
I looked around the empty diner. "Weather keeping people home tonight, I guess."
She nodded. "Yeah. Everybody but Barney, I guess, but he's gotta finish the damn books."
It was common knowledge how grumpy Barney got if he had to deviate from any of his comfortable routines. Going over the books at the Diner Saturday night was one of them. Arty Cohen, Donny's right-hand man, used to say Barney would wait to take a shit if it weren't written down on his schedule.
"He's been checkin' you out since you got here," said Myrna. "You don't want him to hit on you, you better leave."
I sipped my coffee. I didn't care what Barney did, as long as he stayed where he was a little longer.
When I set the coffee cup back down, I let my hand stray across the counter and brush hers. She jerked her hand away and glanced over at Barney to make sure he hadn't seen.
"You know what, these eggs just ain't doing it for me this morning. What I really want is something hotter, sweeter."
Underneath the makeup, her cheeks actually darkened to a deeper shade of pink. "Jeez, Viv, this ain't the time. He'll kill us both."
"Nobody lives forever. Don't you have a storage room or a basement? And stop lookin' over at Barney, he'll think some-thin's goin' on."
She giggled, scowled, and glanced at Barney all in the space of an eyeblink. "No shit, Viv. We can't. Barney, he don't like games if he ain't winnin'."
I was ready to risk scribbling something on a napkin or whispering in her ear when Barney yelled, "Hey, Myrna, what the hell's going on over there. Do I pay you to make out with my customers?"
Myrna jumped back like he'd jabbed her with a cigarette.
He pushed back his chair and strode over to the counter. He was dressed like a banker who had a thing for Liberace. Nice suit, silk tie. Gold cigarette holder and a diamond big as a Chiclet on his right hand. Smile rehearsed and phony as a Fuller Brush salesman about to fuck the farmer's daughter.
Shit. It was almost one-twenty. I didn't have time for this crap.
"Ain't you one of Donny Marshak's girls?"
"He know you're here in my establishment?"
"Me and Donny, we had what you call a partin' of the ways. We're not so close no more, you know."
"He let you go? The man's a bigger dickhead than I figured him for."
"He got a short attention span, Donny does."
"So you're a free woman?"
"You could say."
Barney's expression went cool as a corpse. Like if he let anything show, his skin would crack. But I saw the tiniest, secret smile. Nothing you could even swear for sure was there. Like the smile of a man who's just seen his mistress across the room when he's got his wife on his arm.
He whisked out a card for Jules' Liquor Store and scrawled a number on the back. "Look, hon, I'm takin' off now before I get snowed in. You call me, though. Beautiful woman like you never has to worry where her next meal's comin' from as long as Barney McGuire's around."
I stroked the collar of my fur. "You don't gotta go right now, do you?"
He shrugged, looked almost embarrassed. "My daughter's gettin' baptized tomorrow morning. Don't wanna run the chance of missin' it, you know. Disappointin' her and her mama."
A kid? Funny, but I never thought of guys like Barney havin' kids. Not legit ones, anyways. Or going to baptisms, for God's sake.
"Hey, don't worry, though. I'm a man of my word. You want a job, doll, you got a place with me."
I imagined I could hear the clock over the door ticking. Like it was daring me to do something.
I put a hand on his lapel. "Before you go promising to buy the merchandise, ain't you gonna ask for a sample?"
"Hey, do I look like a guy who'd ask a woman to elope if I didn't plan to marry her?"
"I don't know. What does a guy like that look like?"
The bags below his eyes puckered with irritation. "Look, honey, Donny may go for pushy broads, but-"
I opened the fur coat and let it slither onto the countertop behind me. All I had on underneath was a garter belt and black stockings. I heard the sharp intake of Myrna's breath. Barney's eyes got big as my nipples. His gaze went to my tits, then did a quick up-down of my silk-clad legs and platinum snatch.
He glared at Myrna. "What you starin' at? This is between me and her. Go clean out the freezer. Scrub the John. You wor\ here, don't you?"
I couldn't tell if Myrna's eyes were green with jealousy or if she was just pissed because he might get cum on the floor. If it was jealousy, that came as a shock. Barney was as sadistic a bastard as Donny. I hadn't known she cared.
Barney unzipped his fly, grabbed my hair, and shoved me to my knees. His cock sprang out like a party favor, not as outstanding as I'd guessed in the length department, but thick as a rolling pin. When I took him in my mouth, it was like trying to suck down a rolled-up copy of the Detroit Times. I risked a look at his face and saw his eyes. They were mean and greedy, like his cock. Full of venom and guile.
You don't work the streets, then become the girlfriend of a mobster, without developing a throat like a vacuum pump and a gag reflex so numbed-out you could swallow swords.
I knew I was doing a great job on Barney. His cock was swollen and stiff and he was ramming himself past my teeth the way men do when they're ready to come. But nothing was happening.
I came up for air. "What do you like, baby? Tell me what you want."
"Hey, take your time. Now that you got my interest, I ain't in that big a rush."
He pushed me down onto the grimy floor, my legs up over his shoulders, bending me back so far that I thought his cock would ram into my tonsils.
A door slammed and I got a glimpse of Myrna disappearing into the kitchen. Good, I thought. Just stay there.
Meanwhile Barney was fucking with workmanlike concentration, grunting and sweating and pounding away like a carpenter hammering nails with my feet in their four-inch stilettos up over his shoulders.
I thought how I'd been thinking about Barney when I'd gone into my closet to find that pair of silver fuck-me pumps last night. Shoes, everybody knew Barney loved shoes.
I leaned back and arched my pelvis so his cock popped out of me with a sound like a cork leaving a wine bottle.
Before he could reinsert himself, I pulled off one of my pumps, held it to my mouth and ran my tongue, long and strum-mingly, up the heel. Put the heel in my mouth, sucked on it.
Barney sat back on his ankles. Bug-eyed and unblinking.
I slid the saliva-slick heel up my pussy and twisted it around. Pulled the shoe out so he could see that the leather was shined with my juices, and popped it back inside. He licked his lips and squeezed his dick so hard that the veins on the back of his hand showed.
I bucked my hips and fucked myself faster. I wanted to look at the clock, I wanted to see if Myrna was still in the back, but to know either of these things would distract me, break my rhythm.
Barney groaned and clenched his jaw. He was one of those men who would split a gut before he made a sound during orgasm. Then his cum spurted forward, not onto my pussy or tits as I was expecting, but onto the bar stool where I'd been sitting.
He grabbed me by the hair and jerked my head up, positioned my face over the chair.
"Lick it up, doll. Get every drop or next time I'll cum on the floor."
Not exactly my idea of dessert, but I did what he wanted, lapping the pearlescent ooze while faking little noises of enjoyment.
"You wait here, baby," I told Barney.
"Where you think you're goin'? You don't go nowhere until I tell you to."
"I want to go find Myrna. Make it a three-way."
"Oh." He looked surprised that such an idea could originate from a woman. "Okay, then. Tell that slut she don't act nice, then I won't act nice, either. And believe me, she don't want that."
"Sure, baby." I paused just long enough to pick up my fur from the countertop and put it on. "Cold night, huh?"
"Make it quick. I still gotta get home."
I searched the back room, but didn't find Myrna, so I followed some rickety stairs to the basement. She was slumped on the floor next to a shelf full of canned goods. Tears tracked her face and smudged mascara blackened her eyes.
When she saw me, she grabbed a can of baked beans off the shelf and threw it at me. "You bitch, it's bad enough seeing you again after all these months without having to watch you fuck that scumbag."
I dodged another can. "Stop it! What's wrong with you? I thought you hated Barney."
"What is this, your revenge because I didn't trot after you the minute you winked? What are you doing down here, anyway? Why aren't you with him? He needs cream for his coffee, tell him to jerk off in it."
"I told him I was gonna bring you back for a three-way."
"Are you fuckin' crazy?"
"I wanted an excuse to come talk to you."
"We got nothin' to say."
I reached over and tried to wipe away the tear stains. She pulled away.
"Fuck you, now what kind of game are you playing?"
"It's not a game. It's serious."
"Fuck you. I'm going back upstairs."
"No, wait." I grabbed Myrna and forced my mouth against her darkly painted lips. She tasted of mint and just the faintest aftertaste of Marlboro.
"Leave me alone."
I started unbuttoning the black plastic buttons on her uniform. Yanked her bra up and buried my face in her cleavage while I ran my other hand up underneath her skirt. She wasn't wearing panties-probably a concession to Barney's need for instant gratification. I found her clit and rubbed it with my thumb while I slid my fingers up inside her pussy.
"Don't you know why I came here tonight? I came to get you."
"What d'you mean?"
"Didn't we always talk about gettin' out of here? Going someplace warm? Maybe Mexico. Tahiti."
Upstairs I heard the front door open. Footsteps.
"Don't kid yourself. We'll be stuck here till the day we die."
More noise above us. A chair scraped back across the floor. Then shattering, as though a glass had fallen.
"What the hell is that?"
She started to get up.
"No! Stay here!"
I bit down on her nipple. She stiffened, gasped, and then relaxed. I hurt her just a little bit, then moved up to her ear, tonguing the lobe, exploring the folds and whorls inside while I moved my fingers up inside her cunt.
She started to lean back and thrust her hips against me. "Oh, God, Viv!" My first thought was that this was a comment on my pussy-eating skills, but then I saw her eyes.
I twisted around and saw the blood trickling down from the ceiling. First a single stream, then two more. The streams split as they slithered toward the floor, candystriping the grimy, pockmarked wall.
Myrna began to cross herself. "Holy Mary Mother of God…"
I put my hand across her mouth and we held on to each other, watching the crimson rivulets come down the wall.
When the front door shut, we waited a few minutes before we went upstairs.
They'd used silencers, Donny's boys, and they'd been right on time. One forty-five, just like Mac Cohen had said they'd do it when I told him how I'd walked into Donny's place last night and found him dead with one of Barney McGuire's calling cards up his ass.
"We can't let that fucker get away with this," Mac had said, and thank God he had meant it.
Barney's body was laid out across the table where he'd eaten his last meal. His face and chest looked like they'd been run over by a streetcar and then snacked on by vultures.
And then that little touch of humor-the heel of a silver fuck-me pump plunged into Barney's eye. Maybe even the same one I stuck up Donny's ass right after I shot him.
Everyone knew that Barney's trademark was a high-heeled shoe-in the eye, up the ass, puncturing a ballsack. Nobody in Detroit finds Donny Marshak with a shoe heel up his ass got any doubts that it was Barney McGuire done it.
"Come on," I said to Myrna. "My car's up the street. We gotta go."
"How? Where'll we go? We don't have any money."
I squeezed her hand. "Hey, would I ask you to elope if I didn't think I could support you?"
I drove. Even wearing a fur coat, with nothing else on underneath, I was starting to get cold. Detroit winters can be brutal, but then, so can Detroit dykes.
Donny hadn't understood why I needed a full length fur, but on a cold January night, holding Myrna's hand and knowing the coat was lined with fifty grand of Donny's money, it went a long way toward warming my heart.
Lucy Taylor's work includes the collections Close to the Bone, Unnatural Acts and Other Stories, Painted in Blood, and The Flesh Artist, as well as the Stoker-winning novel The Safety of Unknown Cities. Her latest book is a suspense thriller called Nailed. Taylor shares a home with her husband, Don, five cats, and a springer spaniel named Zeb in Mead, Colorado.
"Stiletto," by Lucy Taylor, © 2000 by Lucy Taylor, first appeared in Noirotica 3, edited by Thomas Roche (Black Books, 2000). Reprinted by permission of the author.