Dark Hunger


Page 36



Liam had it down to a science. He went some extra little distance that I couldn’t bring myself to go, not because it was cheap or because I had any shred of dignity left—I didn’t. The first night I walked home with three-hundred and fifty bucks cash in my pocket and knew that there was a paycheck coming on top of that...dignity went out the door. What Liam had was a natural kind of showmanship, something that I couldn’t create inside.

My pretending meant it was Amy whose fingertips that slid up my muscled arm, whose lips teased at my neck, whose breasts pressed against my back as we fake danced. She became the woman I wished would want me, and so, in that sense we were all fair and balanced, weren’t we? My audience wanted me to be someone else, and I wanted them to be someone else. The difference was...well, maybe there was no difference. We were just trading on each other’s ability to pretend.

It’s not a lie if everyone walks away happy, right? It’s all fun as long as no one gets hurt.

If it wasn’t a lie, and it was fun, then why couldn’t I bring myself to tell Amy? That was the problem. Whenever I imagined telling her what my new job was, all I could imagine was how much she would stop wanting me.

And that’s when it stopped being fun.

And started being a lie.

Amy

The party Darla invited me to was in one of those Brownstones in the Back Bay, the kind of place that looked like it could be in a Sherlock Holmes film just as easily as it could house a Senator. But for tonight, it was a jamming place, full of college students and a group of musicians who had gained international notoriety and that, somehow, Darla had managed to befriend.

She was such an odd duck—her ability to mingle between different classes and different social groups was something I envied. I got quiet, and shy, and tongue-tied around people who were different from me. I didn’t understand how to act around someone who wasn’t part of my social group. Living in my little suburban bubble had seemed like the best way to live, until I’d gone to college and realized that there were lots of other ways to live.

The problem was that I felt stuck between the two right now; realizing that the way I was raised wasn’t the only way and that I had choices, and yet, possessing absolutely no social skills to function outside my own norm. I suppose I was grateful for even having that awareness, but how do you get from point A to point B? How do you go from knowing that about yourself to experiencing life enough to acquire another set of skills in a radically different social milieu? That’s what life is, right? Learning how to be all of the different yous that you can be.

Mom expected one Amy—her Amy. And one Evan, except Evan only knew how to be one kind of Evan, and that was Drunk and High Evan. So, I had to be one kind of Amy, and that was Good Little Girl Amy, because when someone else’s role is already defined you’d better find something very different so that you can get your own sliver of attention that’s just yours. So far, that’s how life had worked...until now.

I watched Darla, who had been living in a trailer park, working in a gas station, leading the way for me to go into a place so fancy that the door itself probably cost as much as my first semester of college. And she just walked in like she owned the place. Not in some cocky way; she wasn’t arrogant. She was just...there, moving through space, taking step by step by step through time, aware and alive. Boy, had I misjudged her. She turned out to be one of the better friends I could imagine having.

Plus, she was the keeper of the secret of my wireless vagina. I had to hold her close.

“It’s way up here, on the fifth floor,” she said, turning behind as we walked up a set of stairs, and then another, and then another. You would think that extraordinarily rich people could afford elevators. Maybe, though, we just weren’t allowed to use them.

When we got to the top floor, I realized that the structure of the townhouse was fascinating. It was one long, narrow home. This was an apartment, not a full townhouse. Imagine a row of ten, or twenty, or more, town homes, all five or six stories tall, it was hard to tell. Some were entire town homes; the richie riches could afford that, to have every single floor to themselves. Other homes were cut up into a combination of apartments. In some cases, people rented entire floors, and in other cases the floors themselves were chopped up into tiny little studios and one-bedrooms. This was a new layout for me, and I studied it avidly.

Living in my own little, quirky apartment meant that I had acquired an eye for the oddities throughout Boston. You take a city that’s nearly four hundred years old and you’re going to find some really strange historical details. That’s the way history worked. If you dug enough, and paid enough attention, you could find just about anything you were looking for, from the mundane to the bizarre, from the horrific to the glorious.

The crowd spilled out already through the threshold of the apartment as Darla wended her way through, moving shoulders and hips in ways that seemed to make people part. She said “hello” here and there to people she recognized, a quick wave of a hand, a glance of a smile, and then we were just suddenly on a back balcony that people seemed to be ignoring. It was small, and before we walked through the threshold, Darla stopped me. “Hey I want you to meet Jane.”

“Jane?”

“Jane Newhouse. This is her place.”


“Oh, Jane.”

A slim woman, with an auburn page-boy greeted me pleasantly. She was a good five to ten years older than us, and had that flawless creamy skin of someone who had been extremely Emo in her teen years. She smiled with her mouth, but her eyes stayed serious and hawk-like, hidden behind rimless glasses. A purple crushed velvet ensemble, I couldn’t think of a different word for it, finished off the look. She could have been the host of Oddities: Boston Edition, and it wouldn’t surprise me if somewhere in the house she had a completely reconstructed rat skeleton, or better yet, that guy Ryan from the television show, chained to a wall in a red room of pain.

Darla made quick small chat with Jane, who exchanged two or three sentences with her and then was off working her own crowd, while I marveled at the view from the giant French doors that were open. I had full access to the balcony until Darla grabbed me and said, “Once we have more than eight people out there, we need to leave. It’s an old building.”

I nodded, drawn magnetically to that space. The view was incredible. The Charles River gleamed with the moon smiling down on it. Entranced, I couldn’t see any stars tonight, not from cloud cover but from city lights. You take the glow of a few million people in Boston proper, Cambridge, and the suburbs, and you don’t get to see much of the heavens at night. But what you do get, instead, is one hell of a trade off. Cambridge beckoned, and over to the left, if I peered hard enough, I could probably see the very edge of my hometown. I didn’t peer very hard.

“This is beautiful,” I whispered to Darla who leaned against the railing and nodded quietly.

“Yeah” she thumbed the apartment “but that’s where all the fun is.”

And then, flashing me a wicked grin, she walked back in.

Sam

Sometimes Louise sent me and Liam together as two cops on jobs, and other times, like tonight, the party organizer had ordered a foursome. We dressed like that group from the ’70’s, The Village People, and Liam always chose to be the construction dude. He never explained why. I was always the cop.

This building was fancier than most, although we’d done a couple of jobs in Beacon Hill at those giant Brownstones where one of the old shimmering windows cost about as much as my entire college career. But here on the Back Bay, we were in one of those old brick buildings that stretched up high. This was a first floor apartment, which meant rent cost less than some of the others because there wasn’t a view of the river. Instead, they got a view of Storrow Drive. That didn’t seem to stop anyone, though. There must have been seventy-five women crammed into the joint.

Antiques cluttered the space, a lot of the furniture pushed up against the walls to accommodate the huge number of people there. Music blared; that was the whole point. I was supposed to walk up to the door and pretend to be a cop answering a noise complaint. And then, the party really began. Liam, waited around the corner with Aaron and Jack in full costume as I marched up to the door and pounded loudly.

“Police! Open up!” I said in my most authoritative voice, and this was the part where something inside me clicked. I became the cop, I became this other Sam who got to strut, and dance, and show these ladies a good time.

Was this what I aspired to when I went off to UMass and worked three or four jobs for four years trying desperately to finish a degree that my father had told me I was too much of a loser to ever get on my own? Hell, no.

Would my dad have a heart attack if he knew what I was doing now? Maybe. I think my mom would stroke out and be dead before she hit the floor if she knew that I was dry humping women her age as they tucked $5 and $10 bills into a piece of underwear that was so thin it told people my religion.

Those thoughts had haunted me after my first night. They stopped, though, when I saw the smiles and counted the money. And so, here I was, pounding on the door and announcing that these women had been very, very bad.

The door opened and the woman who I could only guess was the future bride answered, flustered and worried. It was the same look I’d seen in the eyes of plenty of hosts and brides as we played out this game. She really thought I was a cop. Again, that burst of energy inside me, that sense that I could play someone other than me, that I could try on a different personality with no risk, fueled something inside me.

“Y- yes, Officer?” she stammered, “I- I’m so sorry. We...we’ll turn the music down.”

“I’m afraid that’s not enough,” I said, my voice deepening, turning into a growl. I reached down to my waistband and her eyes followed, and then her tongue parted her lips as she licked them. It was a move I’d also noticed so many times before, and one that couldn’t help but remind me of Amy. As my hand reached for the handcuffs on my belt I unclicked them and held them up, letting them dangle from one finger as her eyes searched for mine and widened. It was fear, but there was always something else in their eyes. I started to twirl the handcuffs around my finger lazily. “I’m afraid you’ve been a very, very naughty girl.”

And then Liam, and Aaron, and Jack came from around the corner and we burst into the room. Showtime.

A woman in the back with long, straight brown hair, large black rimmed glasses, and bright red painted lips waved frantically, arms sweeping in the air like someone trying to alert a search plane. I knew to pay attention to the room and to follow that cue because that was probably the person who had paid for our performance. Liam and Aaron followed; Jack just sort of looked around clueless. I couldn’t blame him—it was his first time. I had to remind myself that this was only my seventh performance. I, too, had been that green.

But how quickly, how startlingly quickly, this had become second nature.

We followed her out onto a larger-than-expected patio with a pergola, with beams wrapped in Christmas lights and some kind of vine I couldn’t identify. It gave the whole outside a European feel, as if we were sitting in some sort of a beer pub in Germany. There were picnic tables everywhere, elegant picnic tables, the kind of thing that you would find at an antique store, or some high end place on Newbury Street.

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