CHAPTER FOUR: Boy Meets Whirl

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The contrast between the two women was striking. Jillian Silvers was a beautiful blonde, and a great dancer, who took everything serious. She was an ultimate perfectionist, who tirelessly tried to improve herself, and in every area of her life, and not just her dancing, but everything she did.

And she quickly rose head and shoulder above every girl in her field, and after Smokie made her The Star Attraction, and secretly trained her to be his partner, she was on her way.


And then came Shannon. And immediately the trouble began. After Shannon got hired, she immediately started calling Jillian, “Jill,” and never by her Christian name, Jillian.

Jill’s legal name was Jillian Reynolds, but her stage name was Jillian Silvers, and Jillian didn’t care that her first name and her stage name were the same, nor did she try to hide it from the public.

Jillian wanted to be called Jillian and not Jill because that was her preference, but right after Shannon got hired in, she mispronounced it “Jill,” and kept calling her “Jill” even after Jill told her not to.

Now this was before the two of them became friends.  Shannon explained to Jill, that she didn’t look like a Jillian, it didn’t fit her, it was too “formal,” and she said she looked like a “Jill” instead.

As a rule, Jill did not fight with the new girls, most of them didn’t last that long anyway. But Shannon continuing to call her “Jill,” was one of the most disrespectful things a person could do to her, and a pet-peeve of hers. And she cringed every time Shannon said it.  “Hi, Jill.”

Jill would ignore her, and glare, hi dummy, she thought. But when Shannon called her “Jill” there was never any malice behind it. It’s like she didn’t realize she was being offensive. Maybe she was autistic, Jill thought, like Rain-man.

The problem was after Shannon started calling Jillian, Jill, so did everybody else. Even Smokie the manager. The bouncers called her Jill, the waitstaff, and finally the girls she didn’t like, started doing it. That was not so cute.

Shannon had the annoying habit of giving you “her” name, and whatever that was it stuck. When she found out that Jillian’s last name was Reynolds and not really Silvers, she said passing her in the hallway, “You look so fresh “Reynolds Wrap.” And Jillian didn’t know if that was an insult or a compliment.

So, one time when Shannon repeated it, she was afraid one of the other girls would hear it and start calling her that, so she ran after her and spun her around in the deserted hallway.

And then she pointed a long and beautifully manicured finger near her face and said, “Listen New Leaf, It’s Jillian, not Jill, not J-Lo, not J-J, not Jill-ster, and don’t you ever call me “Reynolds Wrap” again or your goose is going to get cooked, you understand me… Dummy!!!

Shannon just starred at her lips the whole time they moved, and very slowly she moved in without taking her eyes off her lips, Jill thought she might attack her, so she moved back, but slowly Shannon move in again, never taking her eyes off her lips, she looked mesmerized, and Jillian, for a second thought maybe she had something stuck on her lip-gloss, and then Shannon kissed her on the lips.

Jillian moved back horrified, and she moved back again until Shannon moved closer to her, still staring at her lips.  Jill didn’t know what to do, she was confused and pinned against the wall, Shannon was absolutely beautiful, but she had no idea she was a lesbian, there were other lesbians in the club, but they avoided Jillian like the black plague.  Shannon kissed her again and moved her lips up and down on Jill’s lips sensually, and then suddenly stopped and licked her lips.

Jillian had her eyes close the entire time hoping that nobody saw them, she was still in shock. This move completely caught Jill off guard, and she was stunned.  Devastated, might be a better word, and afterward, she couldn’t move, when she opened her eyes they suddenly sparkled with a sexual energy now, she wasn’t angry or afraid, and her body temperature ignited in several unexpected places, suddenly she was dizzy, and in the heat of the moment everything was forgotten, when Jill finally recovered from her haze of several conflicting thoughts and emotions, Shannon was gone.

Now Shannon had gotten hired about eighteen months after Jill, but she was roughly five years older.  Jill was much more seasoned and mature, by comparison.  Shannon still seemed green as grass, as least as far as Stilettos was concerned, even thou she had been stripping for over two years.

And she was not up to par, not even close. Shannon had gotten hired in with a bunch of other girls that Smoky hired in a group, then he eventually dwindled them down to maybe one or two who actually stayed.

One time one of the other new girls that got hired in with Shannon’s group screwed up that night, but Smoky went back to the dressing room and took it out on everyone and not just that particular girl. When he “disciplined” the new girls Jill always had to be present. Usually when a woman screwed up, she lied about having experience to get the job, they thought the job was one thing, when it was actually something else. Smoky understood, it took real nerve to walk out onto that stage naked, and into a crowd full of loud, drunk, leering, and obnoxious men who had no respect for their bodies.

But he had raised hell anyway because that was his job. And this was one of those nights. And Shannon was standing in a circle just like the rest of the new girls and being yelled at.

Now the girls were all warned ahead of time about Smokies antics, but when Shannon first got hired, she didn’t know what to make of Smoky. He always seemed to be bellowing at someone, and she erroneously assumed that’s why they called him “Smokie,” because he sounded like a grizzly bear, but that was not the reason.

Shannon had put her fingers in her ears, and plugged them, because the volume of Smokies voice hurt them. And she didn’t take them out again, until after he was done. Smoky didn’t care, he knew Shannon could still hear him. He was supposed to be menacing, but to Shannon he just came across as comical.

Smoky, big as he was, and no matter how mad he got, always looked like a gigantic child having a temper-tantrum. He reminded Shannon of one of the cartoon characters she sometimes watched with her son. She tried not to laugh, but his motions were so exaggerated and ridiculous, that Shannon could not help herself, and always did so at the worst possible time.

When she started laughing, (with her ears still plugged), Smoky stopped yelling, but Shannon was the only one who didn’t realize it. The entire room was horrified because this time Smokies yelling was justified, he was good-natured, and hilarious most of the time, but he was not a man to be made a fool of. And Shannon being new did not know the difference.

And right now, she was making him look like a fool without even knowing it. Smoky walked towards Shannon, with an expression like he was the one who could not believe his ears, she might as well of said, “Hey, why don’t you lighten up Fat Albert!!!”

Because that was the cartoon character he reminded her of. Jill, realizing the situation in a micro-second, immediately ran behind Smoky and desperately tried to get Shannon’s attention by waving her hands feverishly behind him to get her to open her eyes, so she would stop laughing, but the fool still had her eyes closed, so she was completely oblivious, even as Smokie approached.

Smoky would fire a new girl at the drop of a velvet hat, and he had done so many times, even for something as minor as showing up for work late five minutes.

Sometimes when Smokie tried to intimidate a person they would laugh hysterically, other times when he was just fucking around, he saw people leave the bar before they finished their drinks.  His effect on Shannon was the former, not the latter, but she would not stop laughing even when he was so close that he looked at her mouth like a dentist examining her for cavities.

Then she smiled exposing a beautiful set of teeth. They sparkled from the lights overhead. She could have been auditioning for a toothpaste commercial.

And she asked him, very seriously, but in her little girl voice, “Is that why they call you Smoky, because you growl like that bear on TV, after they burn down the   forests???” That was it. Smoky jumped back threw his cigar down on the floor and put it out by stamping on it right in front of her (he was dying to do that to someone ever since Jill did that too him), and he looked just like Smoky the Bear (unintentionally) when he did it.

Except Shannon thought he looked more like a circus elephant who had gone berserk after being mishandled by his trainer. And then he stormed out of the room, screaming gibberish that he didn’t even understand, all the way down the hall, and locked himself in his office for the rest of the night.

As soon as everyone heard Smokies office door slam shut, every girl surrounded her to either praise or curse her.  “Whoa, girl you must be crazy laughing at Smoky like dat, a Mexican dancer named Suzie, who spoke with a broken English and an accent said laughing. Smokie’s the Bear, she mimicked, you are hilarious, still laughing. Oh yea, I remember himz.”

Everyone laughed again. “You go, ice cream colored, sno-ho (whore), an attractive black stripper named Coco Kola smiled, don’t you put up with no shit from that (and she turned around first to make sure Smokie hadn’t double-backed first), fat bag of wind, she finished triumphantly.

A red-head who looked very cultured but was often bitchy, named Cinnamon, spelled with a “S” said sarcastically, “Thank you, now were all going to get it ten times worse.” The girl who screwed up was forgotten about, she had snuck out long ago. That was her first and last night.

One of two identical twins named Dixie, told Sinnamon to give Shannon a break, Trixie the other twin who usually finished her sister’s sentences reminded Sinnamon that she was “new” once too. And then they explained to Shannon, that him yelling was not the reason why Smokie got his name, but it should have been. A very sophisticated brunette, exotic looking, but with ice in her eyes, named Mercedes pointed her finger at Shannon and said, if you cost me money, I’m taking it out of your ass, your stupid blow-doll-looking-bitch.  Jill stepped in at that point, because Shannon looked like she was about to cry.

“Yea, like you never screwed up, Jill said to Mercedes walking in between the two of them.” “Why don’t you just stay out of this, she’s just going to get herself fired anyway, Mercedes snapped?” “Your just jealous because you’ll never going to look half as good as she does with twice the make-up, Jill returned.”

“Mercedes was furious, but she held her tongue. She and Jill had already scrapped about a year ago, with Jill winning the fight, after she hit Mercedes over the head with her heel.

The bouncers were ordered to stand back until a winner was decided, but then break up the fight before one girl seriously hurt the other. Mercedes lost, but she never let Jill forget she was in a fight.

“You don’t belong here, you have your own dressing room, remember, you spoiled cunt, and then she left.” Shannon started crying immediately as soon as she did, “Jill I didn’t mean to laugh at Smokie.” Jill studied her, Jill studied everybody.

Shannon just seemed to want to have a good time, and she didn’t care about the money, not like the other girls. She didn’t realize that this was a business, and a cut-throat business at that.

As long as she made enough to pay her bills, she seemed fine with the other, less attractive women making more money than she did. That was crazy. Shannon seemed clueless, she had a childlike vulnerability, and Jill felt that Shannon needed to be looked after, or she was going to get fucked over by everybody, especially the customers who were going to eat her up alive.  This was a child-woman, and not a clever act. Nobody could be that good. Nobody could be that convincing. Jill knew that without her help, Shannon was never going to make it. Not in Detroit.

But to befriend someone as beautiful as Shannon, who could rise to Jill’s level, and was already showing incredible hype (potential) -was unheard of.

And she should have run out of the dressing room and washed her hands of this train wreck named Shannon forever, go back to her dressing room, and count down the seconds until the next mishap, which would be inevitable.

“I know baby, don’t worry about it, this will all blow over, Smokey’s all bark and no bite.” Jill, the Star Attraction, the number one girl, who everyone had to wait for, and performed last on the roster, was getting ready to perform when Aaron, the new cooler, knocked and waited for her to say, “Come In,” and then he opened her door, just before she was about to go on and told her that Smokey hasn’t come out of his office or answered his door since the incident in the dressing room with Shannon.

Rarely did this type of thing happen, but when it did, Whitty usually handled it, now he was off for an extended time, ready to have hip surgery.

Aaron was a big guy, thick and muscular, and Jill had never seen him look scared before, until now. With “Whitty” gone, anytime there was a serious problem, everyone came to her.

“Aaron, I want you to get Diamond to cover for me, and send Shannon back here immediately, but don’t tell anyone who doesn’t already know. Try and keep this as quiet as possible. And be as casual as you can when you tell her, don’t let her in on how serious this is. Got it?” “Got it, and then she thought he was going to salute her, Aaron might have been in the Military. Special Forces she thought he mentioned to her one time. But he double-timed it back to the stage with purpose instead.”

Shortly thereafter, Shannon came scurrying around the corner in a huff, crossing her arms to help keep her enormous breasts from bouncing, as she moved, and she looked scared to death. “Jill what’s was going on, am I in trouble???”

“No, you’re not in trouble, Jill smiled, trying to comfort her, it’s nothing, but Smoky, the Big Baby is pouting, so you have to go into his office and apologize before you go home, that’s all, and she brushed her hair back, do you understand?

“Will you come with me, Shannon begged?” “Of course, and I’ll be right next to you the entire time, but I have to stay out of sight, you have to be the one to apologize by yourself, otherwise Smoky might not think it’s sincere, get it???”

Then Jill nearly dragged Shannon to Smokies office, and told her what to say, knocked on his door and waited, for him to answer.  “Who dat, they heard Smoky yell from within his office.”

Then Jill twisted the knob, opened the door and softly pushed Shannon thru it, even swatting her on her wide bottom when she hesitated. Shannon stumbled a little then looked at her shoe, to make sure that she didn’t break a heel.

Then with her attention refocused, she said, “Mr. Smoky, I just came in to say, I’m sorry for laughing at you, and about your cigar, then Shannon reached into her purse and pulled out a new one, his favorite brand, Cohiba, one of Cuban’s finest. Smoky motioned her back to his side of the desk so she could put it in his mouth, and she did, then he cut the tip off, and lit it taking a long puff, and then after coughing several times he gave her the thumbs up for his approval.

Smoky had been on a long-distance call with a family member who he hadn’t spoken to in years, and one who just happened to call, when he was in his office pretending to be more upset than he actual was. He had just spent the last three hours talking to them non-stop.

“We cool baby, Smoky smiled, exhaling and Shannon even kissed him on the cheek, now that she knew Smokie wasn’t mad at her anymore, and she had seen the “good-natured” Smoky return. How could anybody be afraid of Smokie, Shannon wondered to herself, he’s just a big teddy-bear???

Then she darted out of his office, Smokie checked his watch, he hadn’t realized how much time had passed. Shannon heard him in the background as she was leaving, “Okay, man, listen I gotta get back to work, but I’m going call you this weekend and we gonna hook up….” Shannon grabbed Jill’s hand as she was still crouched down, and they scurried down the hall holding hands and giggling like school girls, instantly Shannon, the new girl, had become one of them. The cool kids, the In-clique.

One of the house-girls. But more than that, she had befriended Jill, Queen of the Hive. Jill even invited her over to her place that night, which was quite an honor because Jill had never invited any of the other girl even to look at her private dressing room, let alone invite them to her house, and they opened a bottle of chilled Chardonnay.

Jill became the friend to Shannon that she herself needed, but never had when she started. Jill finally asked her when half the bottle was gone, “Shannon that one day, in the hallway, “Why did you kiss me on the lips???” “Because I wanted to know what flavor lipstick you were wearing, she laughed.”  She will destroy you bitch, Jill screamed at herself.  ???

That Thursday Jill tried to be pleasant, but she was bitchy, she didn’t even like Shannon’s music, or whatever the hell this depressing shit was called, “Grunge Rock,” what the fuck was that anyway???

Jill listened to whatever was popular on the radio, that was about it. If there was a popular song that she heard she might buy the sound track or download it.

Shannon didn’t know much about Damned-nation, but she was told that they were a throw-back to the heavy-metal bands of the 80’s, Shannon heard from another girl she worked with how good they were, and now she wanted to hear them for herself. Good imitations were hard to find!!!

And they were good, very good, but they had no original songs. They had a singer, but no song-writer, so without that talent, they were doomed to be a glorified bar band.

The two girls were in the front row and they stood out above all the other attractive women, as they bounced and jiggled together in a way that was more erotic and sexual than the rest of the pack. After the show, they had made their way backstage and got past the very limited security with no problems.

Derek, the lead singer was a brunette but dyed his hair blond and thought himself to be the star.  All the band members were attractive, but it was the guitar player named Richard that had caught Shannon’s attention.

She was looking for him even now. On stage she liked his sharp features, even under the house lights that made him look ghoulish, and his aloof manner. He didn’t make a lot of eye contact with the audience, and he stayed focus on his playing instead. She liked that. She figured that this Richard would be nothing but trouble, and she loved bad-boys.

Shannon herself attracted trouble like a magnet and she had been the cause of more than one fist-fight at the strip club. There were always plenty of groupie’s backstage, but when the two of them walked in, they suddenly became the center of attention. It was as if an invisible spot light had been turned on, and suddenly Shannon felt like she was back at work with all eyes on her and Jill.

Derek appraised the two of them and checked which one he had the best chance to score with first. Shannon was an extremely attractive brunette who could give any smoking hot blonde a run for her money, and that included her best friend Jill.

The lead singer Derek abruptly left his bevy of groupies and immediately started in for the duo standing in the middle of the room. Usually he had first choice, and whoever he chose usually accepted. Jill made sure to make eye contact, then she quickly turned away.

Shannon wasn’t interested in Derek, she was still looking around the room for Richard and now she was starting to panic because she had not seen him yet. He damn well better be here, she thought to herself. There were a lot of guys around, but the girls easily outnumbered the guys two to one.

And then she spotted Richard sitting by himself on a small leather sofa, supporting his head with his hand, while talking on a cell phone. Who was he talking to, Shannon wondered, any girlfriend would have been here with him???

She moved around the large rectangular table that was near him, and had food spread over the top of it, mostly cold-cuts, which was nauseating to Shannon, she was a vegetarian, so she grabbed a few cucumber slices, with celery pieces, and carrots instead, and dabbed some sour creme on the side.

She grabbed another handful of Ridged Potato Chips, and two beers out of an ice cooler, which was under the table, one for her and one for Richard, then walked over to join him.

She sat close by and waited patiently, not too close to seem like she was eavesdropping, even thou she would try, but close enough to let him know that he knew someone was there.

She started on her beer, and when he didn’t move she thought he might be totally oblivious of her, so she moved a little closer, and even changed positions. But suddenly, without looking, Richard smoothly stretched out his arm for the beer Shannon had brought him.

He was not so oblivious to her after all, Shannon smiled, as she handed it to him. That was good, as she was not used to being ignored. His voice was low, but loud enough for her to hear bits and pieces of the conversation, even thou it was difficult for her to make out the words, she still heard bits and pieces.

“Yes, I would like that, Richard spoke into the phone.” It sounded like it he was having trouble understanding what the other person was saying or maybe the connection was bad.

There was some noise from the other side of the phone, Shannon could hear the volume on the other end getting louder, but she still, could not make out the words.

“That’s a lot of money, Richard said.” More static. And then the voice on the other end replied. “No, no, I didn’t say that, I just don’t have it all right now that’s all.” The other side responded, but now they sounded agitated. “I’m good for it, hey how about half now, and I can pay you the rest full price and that’s for the remaining half, in say… two months, Richard assured the other party he was good for it.” More Garble.

“Yes, Full price he repeated.” Silence, then a garbled response. “Okay, great, how about if I meet you in about an hour??? And then there was more garble. “Midnight, uh okay, whatever you want, Richard stammered.” Click. They had hung up. Richard responded like he had not been hung up on.

“Goodbye, he said annoyed, and then took a long swallow of his beer.” Finally, he turned for the first time to face Shannon, and even thou he maintained his cool facade, her beauty blew him away. For a moment he even stammered again.

“Uhhhhhh…. thank you, Ms…???” “Shannon, she said. My name is Shannon, she repeated herself, a little shyly.” “Hello Shannon, I’m Richard, he replied.” “Richard, she repeated, as if trying to match his looks to his name.”

“Yea but please just call me Rich.” “Can I call you Richie instead, she asked??” Richie laughed, “Okay, whatever you want, he smiled.” “Thank you, Shannon replied, I’ve heard of you thru one of my friends and that you’re a metal tribute band, but I’ve never heard you guys play live before, she said.”

“Well we’ve only been together for about a year, and most of our hype is word-of-mouth only, and maybe Social Media on the Internet. But yea, were starting to develop a presence, he said.”

“My son’s always on the Internet, Shannon dropped the hint that she had a child. He needs it for kindergarten.” “Well, I’m glad you decided to come out, Richard smiled warmly.”

“Well so am I, because you guys are really good, she complimented.” “We haven’t been together that long, but for the time we have been, I think we’re starting to gel, he said trying to be modest.” “Your lead guitar was excellent, Shannon returned.”

“Thank You, I saw you with your girlfriend, and you girls really know how to shake ass, he said.” “That because we dance for a living she replied.” “Oh yea, where do you work,” “Stilettos, she said.” “The titty-bar, on eight miles, he asked?” Shannon laughed, she was not offended by the reference, but it always amused her whenever guys referred to the strip club she worked at as a “titty-bar.”

“Yep, that’s the titty bar alright, she said.” “Funny I been there lots of times, but I’ve never seen you there, I’m sure I would have remembered, Richard frowned.” “Well, I started work afternoons instead of nights, with my son starting school this fall.” She brought her son up again. He had better acknowledge it, so that they could get it out of the way.

“Single Mom, he asked?”

“Yea, single, Shannon sounded flirty, and I prefer it that way.” “Where’s daddy?”

“I think he’s back in Florida, I haven’t heard from him in over a year. The last I heard he was in jail for drunk-driving, or maybe it was driving with a suspended license, I don’t know for certain, but he called me to bail him out, and I hung up on the creep, I mean can you believe the nerve of that man asking me to give him money, he still owes me from the last time I bailed him out. Damn Fool!!!”

“Maybe the jail time is his Karma for not being a responsible father.” “I hope so, and then she asked, What’s Karma???” Shannon knew what Karma meant, bad luck!!! She had plenty of Karma. “Uh… just a saying, like “Only women bleed, Richard said.” “That’s not Karma, that’s Alice Cooper, Shannon smiled.”

“You know your classic rock, Richie said impressed.” “Why didn’t you play any of his songs, Shannon asked???”

Derek doesn’t like Alice, I guess he doesn’t have the range, but personally, I love him. He’s very satirical with his songs, political, and clever. I meant what I said, so I hope it didn’t sound like a line, Richard hadn’t felt this nervous talking to a girl in a long, time.

“It didn’t, Shannon smiled.” “Good, Richard smiled back.” Richard felt like he was back in high-school again. He didn’t believe that a girl as good looking as Shannon was actually here talking to him backstage, instead of Derek, and she would have to work as a stripper not to already have a boyfriend.

“You don’t have a boyfriend, Richard asked doubtfully?” “I have a lot of guys who want to be my boyfriend, for like maybe ten minutes, Shannon said.”

“I bet, Richie smiled.”

“They go home very disappointed thou, Shannon finished.” “Why’s that, he asked.”

“Because I’m not that type of girl, Shannon replied a little offended.”

Wasn’t that obvious, dummy!!! “I respect that, and people shouldn’t be so quick to judge, he said.”

“Yea, I know, when I think about it I guess I’m used to it. I don’t want it affecting my son thou, and then she rifled thru her purse to find him a picture.”

“Yea, you can’t be too careful, too many crazy people in this world.”

“Well you know, parents go to strip-clubs too, and word gets around, she said.”

“Is that the only reason why you do it, Richard asked?”

“You mean dance for money, Shannon asked knowingly???”

“Yea, because you’re a single parent who gets no help, he tried to sound sympathetic?”

“I guess, and then she found a picture and handed it to him. Richard held the picture up next to her face, and he studied the two of them side by side.”

“Very handsome, I can see what features he got from you.” “Do you mean that, she said???”

“I do mean that, he said.”

“Do you have any children, she asked???”

“No, I don’t he replied.”

“Good, Shannon smiled.”

“What do you do for work, she asked.”

“I have a trust fund, so right now I’m just a musician, he said.”

“Trust fund, what are you rich, she asked???”

“No, not quite.” “You have your own apartment, she asked???”

“My parents left me the house, he said.”

“Left you the house, she asked confused???”

“Yes, after they passed, he replied”

“Oh, I’m sorry, Shannon said.”

“No, it’s okay, they were good people.”

“Do you have anyone to take care of you, she asked???”

“What you mean like a maid or a butler, he asked???”

“No, I mean like a girlfriend, she straightened his collar.”

“Do I look like I need to be taken care of???”

“Richie, Shannon looked into his eyes, I think you have great potential, with your guitar and you could go pro, you’re that good.”

“Thank You, he replied.”

Shannon put the picture of her son away and started cozying up to him by leaning forward so that Richard could get an even better view of her incredibly endowment, which was even more heavily accented tonight with her large push-up bra. Richard never took his eyes off hers thou, he knew what she was doing.

“Was there a song in particular you liked, he asked her???”

“No, they were all good, I know you’re a tribute band, but I was wondering if you had any originals?”

“Shannon, it’s funny you ask, because we do, but they’re not quite finished, we were going to play a couple next week, but if you don’t want to wait, and would like to hear what we have so far, I have a recording, and I can play back for you what we mixed so far.

“Yes, I would, she said.”

“I want you to know this is a real honor, as no one outside the band has heard any of these songs yet, so you would be the first.” “Great, give me your demo, I would love to hear them.”

“Oh….uh…. well Shannon, I don’t feel comfortable with that… I meant… if you wanted to hear them, then we could go back to my place… and you can hear what we mixed so far… see, I have a studio… I mean I’m really putting myself out there… because you’re not like the other chicks around here… you seem like you’re really sincere…”

“Leave? Oh no, I don’t think so Richie, Shannon interrupted him. “But you’d actually be doing me the favor, I mean I could really use an honest opinion, from someone outside the band I mean… Richard faltered as he tried to convince her, and he knew it.”

“No, like I said, I don’t pick up guys, and besides I came out with my friend Jill, besides I can’t just go off and ditch her for someone I just met, she would have a fit.” Richie glanced at the blond Shannon indicated, she looked very high-maintenance. She was beautiful, but not his type, she had “bitch” look.

If two hot chicks travelled together, one of them always was. Richard had turned down good-looking chicks before if it meant that he also had to deal with her cock-blocking friend. He had to get Shannon alone, and Derek was a prick when it came to women, and a horrible wing-man.

So, if push came to shove, Richard would just call it a night, he still had a score to make. Then he turned his attention back to Shannon and noticed that she had goosebumps on her arms, even thou they were heavily tattooed in dark colors.

He took off his leather jacket and offered it to her, it was thin but insulated and very expensive.

“You cold, Richard asked standing up?”

And when he took off his coat, Shannon very quickly, but not directly, used her peripheral vision to size up the large bulge in the front of his skin-tight jeans.”

“Yea, I left my coat in the car because I always get so hot in the club.” “Shannon bounced because she stood up too fast to accept his jacket, he thought she did it on purpose, but she didn’t. He held it open and offered it like a gentleman, so that she could slide her arms in the sleeves.

The jacket was a Men’s Large, but she still could not button the front. Even still, it looked very good on her. To an observer they looked like they were a couple who were about ready to leave a party. “Well forget about that then, let’s just hang out, I do need to make a run to the store because I’m out of cigarettes, would you like to come with me, I hate going any place by myself, Richard asked?”

“Just to the store, Shannon asked suspiciously?”

“Well I didn’t want to say anything but right before you came over I was going to make a score, he said.”

“What kind of score, Shannon’s eyes lit up.” All strippers did coke, they were notorious for it, but Richard didn’t want to waste his blow on Shannon and her friend Jill, who would only play him by doing his shit, then leave immediately as soon as they were finished. No fucking chick was worth that.

“Premium grade shit, the best and very expensive but I don’t have enough for everyone, so I was hoping that we could make a private run together, just the two of us, he said.”

“Premium grade shit, Shannon repeated doubtfully, crossing her arms.” “Shhhhh, please keep your voice down Richie whispered, I only do the best, I know as a dancer, so you’ve done coke before, right???” “Of course, Shannon nodded.”

“Why don’t you judge for yourself then, he said.”

“I would feel guilty if my friend wasn’t included, Shannon replied.”

“I have an eighth of medical grade herb you can bring back for your girl, she doesn’t have to know, he said.”

She could try the coke first, it might just be shit, and then she wouldn’t have anything to feel guilty about.

“That’s very generous of you Richie, Shannon said suspiciously.” “Well maybe you can make me dinner sometime, seeing as how you think I need to be looked after, he said.”

“What Grade?”

“Pharmaceutical grade.”

“How much, Shannon asked again???”

“At least an eighth, Richard shrugged.”

“I don’t suppose we could bring her anything else back, Shannon hinted on the coke again?”

“I’m not taking anyone else with me, and that’s final, he said.” Shannon seriously considered his proposal, Cocaine? That was just too good an opportunity to pass up; cocaine was expensive.

Besides, she needed to find another dealer anyway, her current one demanded a blow-job now, on top of her paying him a premium price for second grade shit, and when she refused, he threatened to cut her off for good. Maybe she could use Richard as a new lead instead, but there was no way in hell she was leaving with a guy she just met. “I have to ask my friend, Jill, if she says No, then I can’t.

I mean she drove me here, I don’t have even had a driver’s license anymore.”

“Actually, neither do I, he laughed, just tell her that you’re going to the store for cigarettes and we’ll going to pick up some herb for her and you’ll be right back.

“Well, how far do you live, Shannon asked?”

“Maybe five minutes away, give or take, Ricard said.” “Just to your house, we do a few lines and then come right back, Shannon confirmed.”

“Yea, if that’s all you want… but I guess you didn’t mean what you said earlier when you said you wanted to listen our originals, because I really do have a studio in my basement.”

“Okay, and then we come right back, Shannon repeated pointing at him with her index finger.”

“He offered her his pinky instead, “Pinky Swear, he said, smiling?” Shannon laughed.

“Pinky swear on your life Richie, she asked him?”

And then they both laughed, realizing how ridiculous they were both being.

“Yea, whatever, he said.”

Then Shannon offered him her elbow, so he could escort her to Jill, and he took it, and even bowed first before taking her.

When they approached, despite their attire, they moved and acted like a proper well-bred, well-mannered and well to do, couple. Jill the stunning blond and Derek were looking very chummy as well. Derek had his arms locked around her waist, and Jill was trying to get loose, but she wasn’t trying very hard.

Jill had just bragged about how recently she had gotten a new tattoo from a featured artist in Detroit named Totem Joe, and he was quite famous within that profession, known for only doing woman. Rumor was If the chick was extremely hot, he would also try to get a sexual favor from them as well, but this was an exception and not the rule.

When Totem Joe saw Jill and Shannon walk in together, they instantly became the exception. During the conversation he hinted that Jill would have to be completely naked for him to do the design properly, and after she reluctantly agreed, he kept pushing it, until one thing lead to another and Jill went from uncomfortable to irritated.

She didn’t like the idea of any man seeing her naked unless he was going to pay for it, and that was only within the club where she worked and never on her own time. But when Totem Joe, the famous tattoo artist finally joked about a threesome, Jill lost it, and stormed out of his studio.

Now, Totem Joe was a good-looking guy, but over weight, so by the time he caught up with the two girls they were already half way across the parking lot, and he was out of breath. He begged them to forgive him. “Okay, okay, I’m sorry, can’t you girls take a joke.”

“You weren’t joking asshole, Jill replied.”

“Joe held up his hands defensively.”

“I’m sorry, but don’t have to give me a heart attack neither, he said bending at the waist with both hands on his knees, and now he didn’t look like he was joking.”

Shannon smiled, but Jill was not so forgiving.

“What do you want, I said, No, so now you can go fuck off, Jill repeated.”

“I wanted to apologize to the both of you before you left, that’s all, but I have a professional proposition, that has nothing to do with sex, so please hear me out before you leave, he begged???”

Jill kept walking, but Shannon stayed. “Please, Joe repeated to Jill from behind.” Jill didn’t want to hear it, but Shannon gave her the look to “cool it” and hear him out, Jill had a bad temper and after she realized how badly she embarrassed Shannon in public with it, she asked Shannon to tell her when she felt Jill was carrying things too far.

“I belong to a publication, called Pelt, and it features women, I mean models from all over the world, I will do your tattoo, both of you, for free, if you let me publish those photographs in the publication afterwards.”

“Let me guess you want us both nude?”

“How about just a skimpy bikini instead, Joe countered?”

“A legitimate shoot, Jill asked?”

“Yes, but can we discuss it inside, it’s too hot out here to discuss business and if you do, I will give each of you a diet Pepsi, there my last two because I haven’t gone shopping yet, and I can show you the layout on my computer.”

Totem Joe said he switched from Regular Soda to Diet Soda, but he still hadn’t lost any weight.

“You can keep your last diet Pepsi but give the other one to my friend Shannon, she drinks Pepsi, not me.”

“I’ll have diet coke for you next time then, Totem Joe promised.”

“What are you saying, that I need to lose weight, Jill started bitching again, it was just a joke and she was starting to lighten up, but she was sensitive about her weight because she started throwing up, after she ate to help keep her weight down, but Shannon was the only one who knew it.  Shannon even offered to throw up with her just to make her feel better afterwards.

“No, no, of course not, Totem Joe said laughing, putting his hands up again defensively…”

“C’mon Jill, this guy’s okay, and then she started walking back to his studio.”

Totem Joe showed them the digital magazine layout on his laptop with a holographic display. When he laid out exactly what he wanted and how her design was going to fit in with that month’s theme, Jill saw how appropriate it would be, and then she looked at Shannon, which she knew was a mistake, because Shannon was already nodding her head that she approved.

“If you still want to leave now, I’ll never bother the two of you again, Totem Joe promise, at least you heard me out.”

“Leave, what are you crazy, Shannon blurted out, let’s talk about that threesome now big-boy, and then she mussed up his hair, then he and Shannon started laughing hysterically.”

Jill just shook her head. She was not amused, she just waited patiently until they were both finished, and then she made arrangements for the three of them to start.

While he worked Totem-Joe told fascinating stories; but the stories were so crazy, that you didn’t know if they were real or if he just made them up as he went along. For example: Totem Joe said that he still held the record for the most arrests in the city for indecent exposure. Apparently, he used to do a mix of cocaine and heroin, but he had to quit because he got tired of waking up in the police car naked.

He said it was the same two officers that arrested him almost every time, one was a skinny white cop named Sgt. Frank Diller, and the other a fat one like himself, but black named Det. Frank Thompson, and even thou they had two different last names, they had the same first name; Frank. Now Totem-Joe was heavy, but he wore very trendy, expensive shirts. Fight Club*, On-Guard, Nike Street-wear, and whatever was popular at the time.

But whenever he woke up naked, he was always covered in the same wool, blanket that smelled like puke, compliments from the “City of Detroit” which was stamped on the front of it. It felt like steel wool and always gave him a full body rash.

One time he asked the two “Franks” whatever happened to his clothes? The two arresting officers said they didn’t know, they always found him naked, either rolling around in someone’s yard or skinny dipping in their pool, but Totem became suspicious because in almost twelve arrests, they had never once recovered any of his missing clothes.

Totem Joe, finally decided to clean up his act, when a newly elected judge, after reviewing his file, told him that if he saw him in his court room again, he would be doing some serious time in Jackson. He would not tolerate one more indecent exposure incidents. Totem stopped doing drugs, went to rehab, and tried to lose weight. He even joined a gym. But it was a gym that was outside the city, because his cousin had gotten a job there. This was a swanky gym and way out of the city where Totem himself worked and lived.

But Gyms made money by selling memberships, so Totem joined that gym to help his cousin out. And that’s when he saw the two “Franks” walking out of the gym he just joined. And suddenly he realized that Black Frank, was wearing one of his shirts!!! He knew it was one of his because he had that one special made with his Shop Name stenciled on the back: Totem Joe’s Tattoo and Designs.  “Hey Detective Thompson, I see you found my shirt as he ran out the exit, trying to catch up with him as he ran down the parking lot.” Totem Joe said it was felt weird chasing a cop, instead of it being the other way around.

Skinny Frank tried to block Joe from approaching Fat Frank, as he put his XXX Detroit Lions Jacket over the shirt to try and hide it. “Give me back my shirt, Fat Frank,” Joe shouted.  “Don’t be acting like you know me, and whose you calling fat, if that aint the brown pot calling the kettle black, whoever you is, I’m just big boned anyways punk, any fools can see that.” The cops in Detroit spoke just as ghetto as the suspects they arrested.

Totem Joe was of full blooded Mexican decent, but he had an exotic look to his appearance, and he also wore a lot of Hawaiian shirt to perpetrate like he was Samoan or Pacific Easterner instead, mainly because of his weight.  But he was not ashamed of being Mexican, he just did not like all the racial baggage that went with it, so if people thought he was a Fijian, so be it, anything that gave him less grief, the Mexican people had enough.

Totem Joe would not be defined by his skin color, race, weight or income. He was above that, even if no one else in his family understood. He wanted to define himself by his profession, something done as an individual, and not something that you just happened to be born as. He once said that he would not let the world define him or tell him what he could or could not do, that was their (the world’s) job, and it was his job to prove them wrong. Totem Joe as an artist, was one of the best, he was head and shoulders above every other professional in his field, hence his handle, Totem Pole Joe, because it was his head on the top. And that was symbolic. And it didn’t matter who he spoke to, white, black, Mexican, alien, professional, illiterate, he took everyone on an individual basis, because everyone was an individual, and not a group, race, sex or religion.

And if everyone stated thinking like the individuals they were, the world would be a much different place, and probably a better one!!! He lived by that philosophy, and it eventually got him off drugs and saved his life, because he never gave up on himself. “Now I know why you two guys never found any of my clothes, Totem Joe said, turning red, as he pushed up against the skinny cop, pushing him backwards.   “Did you file a police report, skinny frank asked?” “No, but that shirt he’s wearing has my name on the back, tell him to take his jacket off and I’ll prove it.”

Both “Franks” were in plains clothes, not in uniform. “I can’t be taking off my clothes in public, that’s something a creep would do, and a junkie creep at that. Don’t be trying to besmirch my good name, Fat Frank said, whoever you is, cuz you sound like some crazy nut higher than a kite, and we know what to do with junkies, right Frank???”

And with that, skinny frank nailed Totem Joe in the groin with a knee shot that dropped him to the side walk with one blow. Totem Joe was still down when skinny frank whispered to him, “And don’t let us see you at this gym again, A guy like you could wind up paralyzed if someone trips and drops a weight on your head. I mean I wouldn’t want you to have an accident because accidents happen all the time at gyms. And you look clumsy, and then he cuffed him on the back of his head for emphasis.

You report this fat-boy, and the next time we catch your naked ass, it’ll be than just your clothes that end up missing.” People say your supposed to lose weight on Heroine, but I never did, anyway, I never went back to that gym again either, I did stick with my rehab and I’ve been clean for almost three years since.”

“I’m sorry the police stole your shirts, Shannon started crying.” He handed her some tissue, “That’s when I started Drinking Diet Soda. Then Shannon started laughing again. Joe had the rare ability to make you laugh and cry. By the end of the first session, all three had already become friends, but Joe much more so with Shannon than Jill.

Shannon even called him one time secretly to ask how he was doing, and they talked, and he told her to call him anytime.  Another time she did when Jill and her were fighting because Totem Joe was very sympathetic, and he always gave her great advise. He would even listen to her problems, while he was doing one of his regulars, if they gave him permission too. Shannon was just as fascinating to Joe, as he was to her.

And he always made her feel better by the end of the call. Sometimes he would call her just to say “Good-night” before she went to bed, so she wouldn’t have bad dreams. “How did you know Joe, she would always ask him.” Shannon loved to watch sad dramas and when she mentioned that she waiting was a cable movie to come on, he would remember how said they made her, even if she couldn’t stop herself from watching them, and he would jot down the dates she mentioned they were on.  Sometimes he would catch her just as she started, because the show had just ended.

And he asked he if she was okay.  After the photo shoot, Totem Joe wanted to show the girls the pictures before he sent them on for final submission to Pelt. They were beautiful, even Jill was impressed. And she had seen hundreds of pictures of herself. Another employee took a picture of the three of them together with Totem-Joe in the middle. He said, he had gotten his threesome after all, even if it was only “PG” Rated.

The two girls looked at each other and then they both quickly jumped in front of him and flashed their boobs at the same time, but only facing him with their backs to the rest of the group, so only he could see them, the rest of the room laughed and cheered. Totem Joe turned beet red and bent over once again, placing his hands on his knees just like he had when he first met them, “pretending” to catch his breath like before, and then both girls bent down and kissed him simultaneously on both sides of his cheeks when he did.

As they left the studio, Shannon mentioned that Jill looked like she was really sad to be leaving now that it was all over, and even looked like she was about to cry.

“I’m sad she admitted, but not about to cry.”

Then Shannon kept teasing her until she admitted that she was wrong about “Totem-Joe.” “I just not as trusting as you are Shannon, okay???”

Then she said maybe Jill the Ice Queen, was getting soft, and had finally grown a heart, and that’s when Jill glared at her. Jill still had that magnificent, ice bitch glare, the one that Shannon had seen only one other time, and immediately Shannon was horrified, and apologized, changing the subject immediately, and hoping that she was only joking with her and had not gone too far by teasing her.”

When Jill told Derek the name of the artist Derek said he didn’t believe her and demanded to see the tattoo. She said she couldn’t because it was too low on her bikini line.

“Just a little he begged, so I know you’re telling the truth.” Jill had been drinking tequila straight, not a good idea with her body chemistry. Derek eventually talked her into pulling down her thong just enough so that he could see the top of the design (and nothing else), but suddenly he playfully snapped the front of her tight thong like a rubber band, and they both started laughing hysterically. As Shannon approached with Richard, Jill slapped Derek’s hands away playfully, pulled up whatever was showing and smoothed out her short mini-skirt. “Hey Jill, I’m out of cigarettes, so were going to the liquor store on the corner, do you need anything, Shannon asked?”

Jill checked her purse which she always kept close to her, she rifled thru it quickly, and said, No, I still have half a pack left from yesterday, more than enough to last us. You can wait until tomorrow, she replied.” “But Jill, Shannon was already whining, you know I can’t smoke Menthol, and then Shannon gave her the look, I need herbal. Herbal?

Jill stared at her friend, and then at Richard, and then back at Shannon knowingly, “You just make sure you have your cell-phone on you, Jill warned. I’m calling you in half-an hour.” “Shannon ran over to hug her friend, and then held up her cell phone by the wrist-strap to show her, Jill checked the battery status, because Shannon was notorious for not charging her phone.  For any other woman that was inexcusable.

And it pissed off the rest of her friends, but for Jill, who considered herself more like a sister, it was intolerable. Jill expected Shannon to pick up where-ever she was, no-matter the circumstances, and answer the phone when she called, she didn’t even like to wait for Shannon to call her back and she hated leaving messages on her voice mail, which she never returned anyway. Shannon complained that her cell phone was junk, so Jill ran out and bought Shannon a brand-new cell phone by Apple, and even put Shannon on her plan. Now she had no excuses for not answering, even forgetting to pay the bill.

A few months later, after she bought the new phone, Jill tried desperately to call Shannon, because there was an emergency, and she could not reach her all afternoon, Jill had been crying almost hysterically, unable to reach and worried about her as well until she took a cab to work on her day off.  Shannon had used “their” car that day. Shannon just arrived, and was in the center of several admiring females, Jill could not believe it.

She thought something had happened to Shannon. She was not only unharmed, but laughing, smiling, joking, and even posing, in a beautiful, brand new dress, that made her look like a movie star.  Jill had feared Shannon might have died. Now, she was going to make her wish she was!!! Slowly Jill made her way thru the girls until he got to Shannon. Then she just started at her with an ice glaze Shannon had never seen before. “Jesus Bitch, what happened to you, Shannon asked???”

Jill pounced on top of Shannon and knocked her to the floor and started ripping that dress off of her until it was nothing but shreds, “What happened to me???” “What happened to me!!!” “I’m going to show you exactly what happened to me, she screamed???” Shannon was bewildered and tried to roll her over, she figured Jill might have just been high because this was the week-end, and she had to drop her son Rob off to see his father, and she always got high right before she did.

Maybe she was on some bad shit. She and Shannon had fought and wrestled to the ground with Jill breaking a heel, and Shannon’s new outfit ruined. A thousand-dollar dress destroyed in less than ten seconds. The bouncers finally came rushing in and grabbed each girl and separated them but not until both were crying miserably and exhausted. Except for Shannon none of the other girls had ever seen Jill cry before. They didn’t know she could cry!!!

Shannon wasn’t hurt so much as she was shocked, and she looked bewildered, trying to figure out “What the fuck just happened???” But Jill looked bad. Shannon accidentally pushed Jill back with both her legs trying to get Jill off her, and Jill was thrown back and hit her head against the corner ledge, and she hit it hard, Jill didn’t even realize how bad she was hurt, until she couldn’t stand up when she tried.  And that’s when Smoky the coal black manager walked in like Darth Vader, demanding to know who started the fight and why? Nobody said a word.

Shannon was up, but Jill was still kneeling, and coughing, then Smoky started yelling again, Shannon continued crying, but nobody said nothing. Smoky looked at Shannon and then he looked at Jill, normally he would have made a remark, but this cat fight was serious.  Jill and Shannon never fought, not over anything!!! Most if not all of the times Jill called the shots and that was it. When he saw Jill grab the ledge to keep from falling over, he knew it was bad.

Smoky knelt down, and asked her, Jill are you hurt.  She pulled away from him, without answering, then he picked her up and carried her back to her private dressing room.  Jill didn’t say a word, she didn’t try to stop him, embarrassing as it was, she still couldn’t walk, she just let the hulking figure pick her up and carry her out. When they were alone he asked her again what happened, and Jill said she would handle it. Smoky offered to let her borrow his car, but she called a cab again and left. The next day, the two didn’t speak, and then they had to work again.

On that day the two girls would not speak or even acknowledge each other. Shannon wouldn’t work or go back into Jill’s dressing room that they shared now.  The next day when Smoky found out the two girls were still feuding, he called them both into his office, “This bullshit is affecting my money, and he looked at Jill knowingly, and then he looked at Shannon, “Now let’s try this again, what the fuck is going on???” “You two is supposed to be best friends… what, you start fucking the same dude?”

Neither girl said a word. “Is it that Aaron guy, Smokie asked taunting Jill???” Jill jumped up to defend him immediately, “Aaron has nothing to do with this and you know it, she was still angry about Steve, Smokie made her fire him, and he would make her fire Shannon to if that’s what it took to end this feud.”

“Then who does it, Smokie growled???” Jill sat down again refusing to answer, not looking at Shannon or Smoky, suddenly Smoky got a call from the hard-wire phone that sat on top of his desk, and after a few sentences he hung-up and said. “You two bitches stay sitting, I got to go up front for a minute, but when I get back, we gonna get all this shit straight, and then he left.” About thirty seconds of silence (which was an eternity for women), Shannon got up and said, “I have nothing to say to you until you apologize for ruining my new dress and slapping me.”

Then she walked away and tried the door, but it was locked from the outside.

“Hey, let us out of here Smokie, Shannon whined.” Then she turned to Jill for help, “The doors locked, and I can’t open it, Shannon said.”

“Then Jill got up, here move dummy, she said gently pushing Shannon out of the way, and trying the door herself.” She even pulled the knob instead of twisting it, as if that would help. Then she beat against the thick glass pane with the flat of her hand.” “Hey, Smokey this isn’t funny, let us out of here, she said.”

“He locked us in, Shannon said, but why? And then the two women looked at each other, and both crossed their arms simultaneously, holding their ground.

“You had no right ruining that beautiful new dress, I have never seen you jealous before Jill, you’re really losing it, you know that, I should have told Smokey and gotten you fired.”

Yea, you do that dumb-ass, I saved you a million times over, I’m the only reason you still have a fucking job!!! “Ha, that’s a laugh, everyone knows I’m Smokey’s favorite, Jill replied.”

“Yea, and everyone tells me what a bitch, you’ve become since you’re made Star Attraction, Shannon said.” “I was Star Attraction long before you got hired baby, and I’ve been Star Attraction every day !!!”

“But you were never a bitch, Shannon said.” “I’ve had always been a bitch, Jill yelled back.” “Not to me, Shannon started to cry, I thought you were my friend, someone I could look up too, not someone who attacks me like a psycho for no reason.” “Don’t say that, Jill said sadly.” “It’s true, everyone thinks you’re crazy.”

Jill stared crying too, then she said, “It wasn’t for no reason.”  “You tell me then, Shannon asked???”

“You need to grow up, little girl, Jill said.” “I have to grow up, you showed up at work on your day off just to start a fight with me, you’re such a drama queen Jill.” “Drama? Let me tell you about drama, I bought you that damn phone because every fucking time it rings, it’s you on the other end, Shannon, begging me to save you, from another one of your “emergencies,” which is always “fucking-nothing” but the one time I call you when I’m the one who needs help, you can’t be bothered.”

Emergency. Jill used the word emergency. That meant something happened, something serious. Jill never minced words. “What emergency, Shannon asked???” When Jill didn’t answer Shannon ran over, grabbed her by the both shoulders and gently shook her, “Jill, what happened???”

Jill started crying, “I tried to call you because I needed a ride is all, she said wiping her tears.” “A ride where, Shannon asked???” “And I was worried about you when you didn’t answer your phone.”  “Jill what happened???” “Forget it, okay, I’m sorry.” “I did charge my phone, but I turned it off because I was getting too many messages from other people, and I forgot to turn it back on right away, but when I remembered, I tried to call you back, but you didn’t answer your phone, Shannon said.”  “I was at the hospital, and they made me turn it off at the door, Jill stopped herself, but it was too late.” “Hospital why were at the hospital, you got hurt, Shannon asked?”

“No, Jill said, shaking her head, I’m fine.” “Was it the bump on you head from yesterday, here let me see it, Shannon asked???” “No, not me, one of the kids got a scrape is all, Jill tried to play it down.” “Who, Shannon sounded panicked?” Jill was still trying to catch her breath. She was looking for tissue in her purse, but she might have been stalling. She was passive aggressive like that especially when it came to the children because she knew it hurt Shannon, and Shannon knew she did it on purpose.  “Jill, don’t you dare do this to me, not when the children are involved, please, Shannon starting to shake her again. Under any other circumstances, Jill could have whooped Shannon’s ass with one hand tied behind her back, drunk, and blind-folded.

Jill was that scrappy, but when it came to the children, Shannon would have had that woman begging for her life in less than thirty seconds. Jill had foolishly tried to punish her through the children once before, until she saw Shannon absolutely lose it.  Shannon only lost it when it came to the children, she became like another person, a mother Grizzle Bear trying to save its cub. It was a terrifying and awesome spectacle to see her transform.

A few weeks right after they had become best friends, Shannon brought over her son Cody, so that her son and Jill’s boy Rob, who were about the same age, could play together. Jill had already stopped breastfeeding, (actually she never really started), but Shannon continued to breastfeed her son almost up until he started kindergarten.

While she was breastfeeding her son Cody, Jill’s son kept staring at her because he drank formula out of a bottle. Shannon asked Jill when she stopped breast feeding and Jill said she never really started because she read that beast-feeding made large breasted women sag. Something to do with the constant expanding-contracting. Shannon was horrified. She was into natural foods, and she herself rarely ate meat. She hated all the artificial chemicals, colors, preservatives, and multi-syllable additives that she couldn’t even pronounce. “Jill, Cody needs you, not some chemical formula manufactured in a Chinese roach-factory, Shannon argued.” “He’s fine, Jill said, unimpressed.”

“Jill your son Robert is older than my son Cody, but he looks much smaller by comparison, aren’t you concerned.” “I don’t like it doing it, okay, Jill replied???” “No, it’s not okay, I wasn’t going to say anything, but I’m worried about his weight, Shannon was starting to get upset.” “Well you’re not his mother, Jill said absently and continued searching thru the messages on her cell-phone.

Jill should never have said that, that was an act of war.  Shannon just shook her head and continued to breast feed her own son until he slept. It was their day off, so they discussed what they were going have for lunch and watch on television that afternoon. Then they gossiped about the other girls at work, and the money they should have been making, but weren’t.

Finally, Cody was asleep, and Shannon asked if she would put her son Cody in Roberts bed, Jill happily obliged. Cody may have fallen asleep, but Robert was still up, and Shannon looked spent.

“I’ll do the dishes, and clean up the table, Shannon said, while Jill took her son, and gently tucked him in her son’s bed. But when Jill returned, she was horrified to see Shannon breast- feeding her son and nursing him with her other breast.  Jill was behind Shannon at the time, so Shannon couldn’t see her startled reaction, but she could feel it, when Jill was back in the room. “Jill wanted to scream, when he saw her little boy being nurtured by another woman, even if it was by her best friend.

And who said this woman qualified to be even that now, she hadn’t known her that long. A couple of weeks maybe.  Yea, she had to have a physical before she could officially be hired, and an AIDS test and a blood test and screened for hepatitis, and no she didn’t sleep around or fuck her clients, in fact Jill still thought she was a lesbian, or at least bi-sexual, but so what??? She could have a million other things wrong with her.

She was obviously crazy???

Shannon knew she was risking a severe ass-whooping, maybe Jill would even kick her out of her apartment, and never allow her to be friends again.

But if she could get Jill to breastfeed her own son, that was worth more to Shannon than even their own friendship. The children would always come first. Like her mother said long ago, men come, and men go, but your children are forever. The same could be said about friends, and that included Jill, children are forever, and nothing more precious.

How ironic that Shannon had not spoken to her own mother since she moved out, and neither woman had ever attempted to contact the other. Shannon was not her mother, she would lay down her life in a heartbeat for her son, and without a second thought. Jill was horrified while she watched her son try to wrestle away from Shannon until finally exhausted, she forced herself into his mouth.

Shannon had gently cooed him down until Rob had finally surrendered. She traced the outside of his small mouth with her erected nipple until Rob opened wide, and when he did, Shannan forced herself in, and gently squeezed the sides of her breasts to flooded his mouth with her milk. His little cheeks expanded to capacity then she forced it downward from the pressure, Rob could not keep up with her flow, he could only swallow in reflex, and by the time he was able to suck in a slow and comfortable rhythm his eyes had already started to glaze over, and soon he was fast asleep, just like Cody before him.

But unlike Cody, Shannon continued to hold Rob, because he was known to stir in his sleep and Shannon wanted to kiss and comfort him thru any bad dreams he might be having.

Especially since this was his first breast feeding (at least with her), and he didn’t want him to twitch or stir, that really bothered Shannon because her own son, rarely if ever did. “Shhhh, Hush little baby, don’t say a word… she cooed Little Rob to sleep.” Shannon started breastfeeding her child to provoke Jill, she wanted her to become jealous, outraged, even violent.

She was trying to trick Jill into wanting to breast-feeding her own son, if only so another woman couldn’t do it. By making her so damn jealous, and angry she would grab Shannon by the hair, snatch her hungry child straight from the arms of another woman, and kick her over on the chair she was sitting on, then clamp it straight down on Shannon’s neck while she was doing it!!! That’s all Shannon wanted Jill to do… fight for her child, and nurse him, be the same mother to Rob that she was to Cody.

Every child deserved that much from its mother.  Shannon had seen her fight for everything else. Everything except her own son, which should have been the most important thing in her life… but she never did. After Jill composed herself, the ice queen sat down as if nothing had changed and continued reading thru her text messages. When Shannon saw her sit down, composed and unmoved, tears fell down her cheeks. Heartless Bitch!!! And Shannon never let her forget it, not one day thereafter. Now it was her turn to pretend not to be bothered.

So, she continued breast-feeding, and she even pretended that Rob was her own son, while she did it. But what Shannon didn’t know was that Jill had an alternative reason for letting her breastfeed her son, and it had nothing to do with sagging breasts.” “Jill secretly had a recurring premonition that she would not live to see thirty. And Jill was secretly very superstitious, she had been since childhood, and even thou she tried to hide it, she could not overcome this daunting vision of an early death, despite being logical and practical in almost every other part of her life.

That is why she tried to be so perfect and prepared, it was the only way she knew to protect herself. And if something did happen to her, she wanted Shannon to take care of her son, Rob.  And to be his substitute mother, or surrogate mother. Whatever.  Shannon would be an excellent mother to him, in her absence, even better than Jill was to him herself. She had just proved that with the Breast-feeding.

Jill didn’t care what her tits looked like, saggy or otherwise, she could always get plastic surgery. Jill was testing Shannon’s heart, not her breasts, to see if they were in the right place as well. She instinctively knew she was a kind and warm-hearted person. And she suspected that Shannon was deceptively intelligent, but Jill never let on, frequently calling her “Dummy.”

Jill’s methods were questionable but guaranteed not to backfire. Jill was smart, shrewd, practical, and business savvy. But she was not nurturing, she was an ice-queen, a bitch, and even thou, she bought little Rob everything he wanted, she never considered herself to be a good mother.

She bought him whatever toys he wanted to keep him preoccupied so that she didn’t have to spend time with him. Shannon on the other hand was constantly on the floor playing with the both of them. When the boys were up Jill never even saw Shannon, she had time to take a bath, do her nails, clean the house, do the shopping. It was amazing. Jill did not have the warmth that children needed.

Her pregnancy was an accident, birth control made her sick, and the condom broke during intercourse (very common for large men especially when it dries out), but her boyfriend at the time convinced her to keep the baby. Dillon her boyfriend at the time, said he would do anything if she kept it, and he did, until the baby was born, and then he slowly reverted back to his old ways again. Jill was not an easy person to live with, she knew that, but when she found him in bed with another woman she broke off their engagement with him for good.

Her ex Dillion and the other women were still together and had even gotten married since, and now they wanted custody, but Jill fought them tooth and nail, just because she hated the other women and she didn’t want her son raised by another woman. Not that woman anyway. Not the woman her boyfriend cheated on her with.

That was insult to injury. If it had to be another woman, it would be a woman of Jill’s choice, and not Dillon’s. That was her mission. Dillon threatened custody for his son Rob many times but always backed down, because he had beaten Jill when they were still together. Dillon had a bad temper, but Dillon had never hit a woman in his life, but Jill had provoked that man to physical violence even while pregnant, she never pressed charges at the time, even when the hospital called the police, but she threatened to use those medical records against him if he ever tried to get custody of Rob.

At the same time Jill herself, didn’t want to spend any time with her own son, if she could help it, she would rather just put him in front of the television. Shannon wanted to do nothing but spend time with the children when they were home.

Shannon was the missing piece of the puzzle that Rob needed to have, in order to have a complete mom, the perfect mom if you could have combined Jill and Shannon together, one with a heart and soul, and not just a brain and guts.  If something happened to Jill, she wanted Shannon to be his parent, and not her ex Dillon.

At the very least he could be a mother that he needed now. In time Shannon would become that full-time surrogate. After the breast-feeding Shannon didn’t call Rob, Robert, but Lil-Rob instead, that her way of re-naming him so that he would be her son, and besides it seemed to fit because he was much smaller than her own son.

Rob would eventually call Shannon “mommy,” instead of Jill. And whenever he did, Shannon would answer him immediately, “Yes baby???”  Shannon thought she had initiated the whole thing, but it was Jill who wanted Shannon to love her son as much as her own, so she was the one who baited Shannon, and not the other way around.

But when she saw Shannon breast-feeding, she was shocked, because her plan had actually worked. She didn’t think it would, and when it did, she wasn’t prepared for how she felt. The backlash. Jill cried herself to sleep that night, and she could never get Shannon’s teasing voice out of her head. It played over and over like a skipping cd… “You’re such a hungry little boy, yes you are, but your new mommies going to feed you proper, whether you like it or not, oh yes I am.”

When Rob stopped struggling, it was almost sexual. He seemed to be in a kind of a feeding extasy and after he was nursed, his entire demeanor seemed to change. Rob would return to Shannon when her own son had finished and almost demanded that Shannon feed him immediately afterward, whether he still had a bottle left or not. Then he would start suckling on the other breast that was as of yet unused, claiming it as his own.

He would just pull up her shirt, so once a routine was established, Shannon just removed her bra, or unbuttoned her shirt.  Once she was in Jill apartment, she would immediately take off her bra, and throw it in Jill’s washer machine. Over the next several weeks not only did Rob look healthier, and less anemic, but his weight shot up by almost 20 pounds that year alone. He never went to his own mother for anything again after that.

She had been replaced. “…but she didn’t have to rub it in my face, Jill cried out loud that night, the same way she (sobbing) rubbed her tits in my son’s face.” Jill was so loud that she had to bury her face into her pillow, just to make sure that she did not wake Rob up that night. She was near hysterical, talking to herself in a low growl, alone in her bedroom. It was frightening.

She checked the clock, it was near midnight, and many hours after Shannon had left, Jill had swallowed almost a dozen Xanax. She considered killing herself. “You’re the heartless bitch, Jill sobbed, burying her face again, everyone only see the good in you Shannon, only the good, but nobody sees the bad, nobody except me, I can see through you. Everyone thinks you’re so perfect, but you’re a wolf in sheep’s clothing, and that’s the worst kind of person, I don’t hide who I am.

Everyone knows what I am, but nobody knows the real you, nobody, except ME, she screamed!!! You hide away that ugly side of yourself, but I have seen it. In your own way you are worse than I am, Jill silently cursed her. But if I told anyone what you did, no one would believe it. Not even Smokie, and Smokie loves me, and then she stopped herself, I mean Smokie chose me, he didn’t choose you, did he, he never choose any woman before me, you know why??? Because I’m fucking special, that’s why……. dummy!!! You have everybody fooled, don’t you???

Everybody just loves Shannon, don’t they, even the customers??? Then how come I out earn you every night bitch??? How come I earn more than you and every other fucking bitch in that club, and every club I ever worked at. I have always been the best, from day one. And always will be!!! You have never been the best, and you never will be. NEVER!!!

Jill was drifting off now, the medication she took was on an empty stomach, she had thrown up again before she took them, and except for a glass of red wine, she had nothing else in her. She stared at the ceiling it was white but slowly it was being surrounded by a fuzzy circle of black. “But even if I told them what you did, they would still love you, wouldn’t they, and they would still hate me, Jill said out loud. They would forgive you anything Shannon, anything, even thou you were wrong.

I could never do what you did to me. I could never do to any women, what you did to me, not even my ex’s wife, and I hate her Shannon. And I hate you.  Mission accomplished. It was Robert, Jill screamed, while Shannon was still shaking her, “He tripped climbing up the steps -that’s all, but when he fell he cut his chin, and it wouldn’t stop bleeding because he needed eight stitches. I had to take him to the hospital, you know how clumsy that boy is, Jill said.”

“How did you get him to hospital when I had the car, Shannon asked falling to her knees, like she had semi-fainted???” Jill didn’t have a car, she used to have one, but her ex Dillon called her and asked if he could borrow it one time, so he could get to work. And he just found out his wife was pregnant.

Unlike Tommy, Shannon’s Ex, Dillon tried very hard to be responsible, he was a skilled as a welder, so he had a steady job, made good money, and did pay his child support regular, but he had terrible luck, so when he said, that he needed to borrow her vehicle, because it was an emergency, Jill believed him, otherwise he would never have asked her.

He had his pride and it killed him to do so. But it was only supposed to be for two weeks, just long enough for him to get his car fixed, and that was two months ago. Normally, Jill would have raised Hell, but it just so happened that Shannon already owned a new car and Shannon was a horrible driver who lost her license the first year due to excessive speeding tickets and parking violations. One-time Shannon parked half on and half off the sidewalk near a fire hydrant, and when the police officer saw that, he didn’t just bother leaving a ticket, he just called in a wrecker and had it towed.

Shannon told her to let Dillon use her car because she didn’t have a license anymore anyway, and if Jill drove them around she could use her car instead. “No Shannon, it never works out, it would just give us something to fight over, Jill said.” “Not borrow it, you can have it Jill, just drive me and the kids around, I don’t hardly ever use the damn thing anyway, and everything I do, I either get a ticket or they tow it, Shannon said.”

“I can’t take your car Shannon, that’s a brand-new Mustang, are you fucking crazy???” “I don’t want Dillion to be without a car now that his wife is pregnant, Shannon begged.” “Fuck that cunt and his pregnant wife, Jill screamed!!!” “This isn’t about Dillon or his wife Kelly, I don’t want the baby to suffer, and then Shannon took the title out of her purse (where she always kept it), and asked Jill where to sign on the spot to sign it over to her???”

Jill was stunned, only Shannon could shame her into doing something she didn’t want to. “No, Jill said firmly, and crossed her arms, God Shannon was beautiful, but this time she was showing her inside beauty.”  “The lawyer said that if I get any more tickets there going to force me to sell my car… and then how are we going to get the kids to school???” Jill was dumbfounded. Was this Shannon O’Bannon actually making sense and talking Jill into giving her a brand-new mustang, to prevent her from driving and losing it??? “I can’t take advantage of you like this child, Jill said dreamily.”

“I’m too dumb to have a license, Jillian Reynolds, Shannon smiled.” She going to destroy you… “I don’t believe you, Jill replied.” “My license is already suspended, and if I get pulled-over with the children in the car, I would be arrested, and the kids would be taken away by social services while I’m in a jail-cell, having a melt-down.”

“You wouldn’t drive with the kids, Jill said.” “Even if they begged me for ice-cream, she replied???”

Jill had tears falling down her cheeks now, she was vaguely aware of it.  And with that Jill pulled the title and had Jill show her where to sign it.  “I had to call a cab, Jill said raising her voice.”

“What happened to Rob, is he really okay… Shannon bawled???” “Yes, he’s fine, Jill said.” “I am so sorry, I had no idea Lil Rob got hurt, I’m a terrible friend, I should have known it was bad by the way you reacted. I’m just like you’re always calling me, an inconsiderate dummy, and now the children suffered because of it.”

“No, Shannon, he’s fine.” She was struggling for the words, it was hot in the office and being trapped with Shannon in such a small proximity was taking its toll. “How can he be fine when I’m never there for you, I hope you never forgive me, I don’t deserve to have a great friend like you, Shannon was still on her knees, I want you to slap me again, Jill begged, wrapping her arms around Jill’s knees, knocking her off balance and almost tripping her.”

Shannon was unintentional hilarious whenever she started freaking out because of the children, and very dramatically. Jill was exhausted, it had already been a horrible day, and Shannon was working her last nerve, now she was tempted.

“Shannon I was only teasing when I said that, I didn’t mean it, it’s just sometimes I fly off the handle…” “Who could blame you, I’m always doing something stupid, just like you’re always saying. Costing you money, embarrassing you in front of the other girls, when you try to act so perfect… that’s the only reason like me, Shannon bawled.”

“I was worried about you too… Jill said”  Now Shannon was talking faster, and seemed to be working herself up to hysteria, she even threw herself on the floor, and looked up at Jill like a dazed prize fighter demanding Jill kick her in the chin, and in the same spot where Lil Rob got hurt, just so she would have to go to the hospital and get stitches, and that way when she saw him tonight, he would feel better for  not being the only one with stitches.

And then she started bawling again. Jill could not believe it, just when she thought she had heard it all from this psycho bitch, Shannon never ceased to amaze her. “Shannon, don’t you dare start acting crazy on me, not after all the bullshit I’ve already been through today, and I don’t mean just with you.

If Smokie came and in and saw her on the floor she was afraid that he would them another ticket that she always paid the greater amount of.  I already have a migraine from Smokies idiot nephew, the new DJ (Sic-Pup), who keeps blasting that horrible rap-shit that nobody wants to here, except you.

I already complained to him to turn down it down ten fucking times, because I have a migraine, but unlike you, he’s not just dumb, he’s deaf and dumb.  She Jill would continue to get migraines and much easier now since the fight until… “Now, you get your big, double-wide trailer up off the floor, before that horrible Smoky the Clown, comes back in here, and see’s you acting like a fool. Do you hear me, Jill sounded like she was starting to lose it herself???”

“No, no, you’re right, I’m never there for you, I have irresponsibility, Shannon said.” Irresponsibility??? “What the hell are you talking about, Jill said???” “I don’t have any consideration for you, Shannon said, and that’s why I get myself in all kinds of trouble because I take advantage of you, I lean on you, when I know better and now the children suffered, she started bawling.” “Okay, fine, then, STOP FUCKING DOING IT, she screamed!!!!

Shannon nodded hugging her still kneeling from the waist, like a child hugging its mother.  But I was equally wrong for the way I reacted. What you did was by accident, what I did was on purpose, and that’s worse. “What do you mean, Jill helped her up, she couldn’t believe what she was hearing, an apology from Jill???”

“I had to think about it, and when I did, it was stupid of me to call you in the first place, the Fair-lane Town Center in Dear born was over an hour away, I had someone from Uber in less at the house in less than ten.  “No, Jill, your making excuses for me, and it has to stop, I should have been available for you, and all the time, Shannon disagreed.”

“You are Shannon, you gave me your car, the one time you use it… and Jill trailed off. Excuses for you, what excuse did I have to hit you???  I should have tried to explain everything to you first, especially after I knew that everything was okay, but like always, when I saw you in that new dress, after worrying about  you day, and yes Shannon, you were right, I was jealous, you are the only woman that I have ever been jealous of, Jill screamed, I flew off the fucking handle… again, and I was wrong!!!

Now Shannon was stunned.  Wrong, wrong, wrong, Jill sobbed out loud!!! “Jealous, why are you jealous, I love you Jill, Shannon said.” I love you too… dummy. “You have to be there for me, but I have to control my temper, I can’t make excuses for you, or myself.

I can’t hurt the people I love anymore, especially when I have so few of them to begin with, and then she collapsed on the floor with Shannon and into her arms.  “No women here is as pretty as you, or as smart as you Jill, everyone wants to be you, don’t you know that??? Instantly Jill was reminded of a line sung from the “The Wizard of Oz” “…If I only had a heart.” The Scarecrow needed a brain. The Cowardly Lion his courage.

But she was the tin-man. “If anyone can help me become more responsible, it’s you Jill, I might be smart in some, more so than I let on, but I know I can never be as smart as you are, maybe if you help me, I can stop disappointing you so much, Shannon said sincerely. Jill touched her cheek, she loved Shannon, she always loved Shannon, everybody loved Shannon, the worlds sexist child-women??? She hated Shannon for not loving her the same way Jill loved her.

The following weekend, they went back to the mall together, with Jill driving of course, and Jill bought Shannon a new dress, one that looked just as good on her as the previous one, if that was possible. The store was up-scale but having a huge sale and it was during the weekend and very crowded.

Almost every female in the store stole glances to look at Shannon, who tried on outfit after outfit like a beauty queen on the fourth of July, and each outfit looked better than the next. She couldn’t decide on which one was her favorite, so Jill offered to buy her more than one. Shannon refused and when Jill put them on the counter, Shannon said, “Stop Enabling Jill.”  Reluctantly she told the sales girl to put the rest back.

Both women had been crying and working each other up so bad, that they had ruined their make-up with their tears and trying to comfort each other until the heavy mascara, blush, eye-liner, etc. ran down their cheeks and they looked like a couple of waterboarded raccoons. That’s when “Smoky” suddenly returned swinging open his office door open with a bang, as if on cue. He was listening from behind and just out of sight the entire time.

And when he saw the two women embraced, hugging and crying miserably he said in a loud, booming, and almost comical voice, “You two rabid racoon looking bitches, get da fuck out my office, before I call animal controls on you fucking Hoes!!!” Both women immediately got up, and hurried past Smokey, Jill in front, with Shannon in tow, holding hands and slouching, Smoky, was standing over them like a statute, just watching and shaking his head disgustedly as they left.

Then when they were gone he shut the door behind them and immediately got on the Intercom Phone and called the DJ booth, his nephew answered on the first ring as he was instructed to, whenever it was “Smokies” line that called, “Sic Pup in the mother-fucking house.” “You don’t turn that bullshit down you gonna get neutered, then you really gonna be hurting, “Sic-Pup, Smoky growled angrily, then slammed the phone down before “Sic-Pup, could apologize. Smoky lit up a fresh cigar. Time to celebrate. Sometimes Smoky even impressed himself.

Shannon never forgot to answer her phone again after that, she even slept with it under her pillow. Jill still drove Shannon’s car, and she used her car charger as well.  When Shannon left with Richard, Jill still had the keys in her purse. She could drive herself home or pick Shannon up if she needed to. Derek looked at Jill, “You didn’t want to go home yet did you baby?” Jill shook her head laughing. Shannon whispered in Jill’s ear, “We should be back in thirty minutes.”

Jill just waved her on, she knew better, but she had already finished her second drink, and she was feeling good. Richard put his arm around Shannon as they walked out, usually Shannon hated men who started touching her right away, but she felt comfortable with Richie, as if she had known him much longer.

He had heard what she said to Jill, “That’s twenty minutes longer than I need he joked, and Shannon blushed. CHAPTER FIVE No Sympathy for the Devil Richard took Shannon back to his house and turned on the lights but even in the dark, she could tell it was a beautiful house.

And big, he led her upstairs to the bedroom, where he stashed an impressive assortment of drugs in the back of his closet shelf. “This your room Shannon asked.” “This is my house, he replied.”  “May I ask how long since your parents passing???” “Over a year, he said.” “How you doing, she asked???” “One day at a time, he said.” Shannon was impressed for a single guy he had his own house and it was clean. At least by guy-standards.

He didn’t have any pets, and the carpets looked not only vacuumed but scrubbed. She wondered how he could afford such an expensive, furnished home, being just a musician, and then when he said he had inherited it, it all made sense. “You mentioned your mom earlier, Shannon offered.” I think she may have been the only person who ever loved me Richard said casually. That made Shannon very sad. Richard had delivered on the cocaine just as he promised, and they both did two lines, each. Afterwards, Richard put on the music, the originals were okay, but bland, nothing commercial.

It was just like she thought before, they didn’t have a song writer. Eventually sensing her disappointment, he put on a song by the Rolling Stones instead, it was on a digital file and re-sampled from the Masters, Beast of Burden, suddenly played in the Background. His second favorite song by the Stones.

He dimmed the room lights and turned on the colored lights that shown from a small globe that hung from the ceiling, he even had a remote control for it, and it slowly revolved and then made abstract patterns of light.

There was a scented oil plug-in somewhere else that went off periodically; it was supposed to smell like the ocean. Shannon bobbed and swayed her body rhythmically to the music, she started to slowly get into it. She was just trying to match the beat, and she was seductive without even trying to be, right now she played with his hair.

Then she draped her long hair over his face with just the ends of its length barely touching his face with its tips, teasing him. “Do you like the Stones, he asked?” “Yes, she smiled.”  “Do you like my hair, she asked?” “Yes, he smiled.” “Shannon smiled back. Maybe she could help Richard write some of his own songs, all he needed was a little inspiration, and then she slowly took off her clothes. The Rolling Stones continued to play without interrupting them.

I’ll never be your beast of burden So let’s go home and draw the curtains Put some music on the radio Come on baby make sweet love to me ??? The next couple weeks afterward, Shannon kept calling until Richard answered her calls, finally he answered, “I don’t have any more drugs.” And then he expected Shannon to hang up on him. Richard didn’t plan on seeing her again, but he foolishly gave her his number when he knew better.

All strippers were trouble. “What, she asked?” “After that last score, I’m out, I’m sorry, he said.” “I want you to come over, she said.” “Why, he asked confused?” So, you can try my Lasonya, Shannon answered.” “Why Lasonya, he asked?” “You said something about making you dinner sometime, Shannon said.”

“Look I was joking, you don’t owe me anything, you uh… you came thru for me, okay???”  “Five o’clock, she replied. He laughed.  “What time is it now, he asked???” “Almost two she replied.”

“Two, he repeated.” “Are you just now getting up, Shannon asked unbelieving.” “I’m still not up, he replied.”  “Five is when dinner will be served.” “You know how to make Lasonya, he asked???”

“Why don’t you be the judge she replied.”  Like Richard, Shannon was part Italian, “Yes I do, and you better not tell me your mothers was better, she warned him.” “I won’t he laughed, besides yours might be better.”  “Your too skinny, she said.” “What???” “And don’t be late, she warned.” “But that only gives me three hours.”

“I will call you every ten minutes for the next three hours…”

“Okay, okay, I’ll be there…”

“Pinky swear, she asked???”

She could hear him making the gesture over the phone, “Lasonya my favorite Richard answered.”

“So, you’ll be here on time, she warned again.”

“Pinky swear, she asked again.”

“Yes, Pinky Swear, he finally agreed.”

He heard Shannon clap.  “Did you want me to pick anything up, he asked???” “Uhhhhhh, we’ll how about garlic toast she said, and he could hear her going thru her refrigerator and freezer, no forget it, just be here at five.

Then she gave her the address and waited for him to get a pen and paper to write it down. She didn’t trust his memory.

Then she had him repeat it back to her and told him to come a little early, so he could meet her son. Then he heard a child crying in the background and Shannon said she had to go, Bye, she said hurriedly. Bye, he replied.

The nerve of this chick, leaving message after message until he answered, waking him out of a dead sleep, at two o’ clock in the afternoon, and offering to make him a home cooked meal, while he was still half-asleep. She obviously didn’t know who she was dealing with. She was just damned lucky he loved Lasonya. Actually, it was favorite.

Richard bought the garlic bread and stopped by a party store to get a bottle of Morellino di Scansano, he was not a big wine drinker, but considering the sauce it was very appropriate for the occasion.

He had also brought over a new video game system that he recently purchased but never used, so that he and her son had something to do while she was in the kitchen.  Richard was a people person, and great with even kids, and he hit it off with her son Cody right from the start.

Cody needed a male presence, and Richard was most certainly that. Not the most mature, by any means, but when he and Cody were together, they were like too best friends, with Richard acting more like Cody’s age, than his own. He brought the video game system, so he and Cody could bond while Shannon was busy making dinner. Guy things.

Unlike Jill’s son, Tommy, Cody never got to see his father, and even became jealous on week-end when Rob had to spend it with his father. Cody never saw his father and was too young to remember who he was. Then he asked her why he couldn’t see his daddy, was he dead??? And Shannon broke down crying. Yes, baby he his!!! That broke Shannon’s heart. Now that she was had a “boyfriend” again, Cody would have a male presence.

Richard knew about cartoon shows, trading cards, video games, and Star Wars. They had a lot in common, they both of them liked the same characters, from all the same movies. That night after dinner she let Cody stay up late (on a school night) and the three of them watch a preview for a new remake of a Harry Potter Sequel.

Cody begged his Mom if she would take him to see the movie when it came out, until she finally agreed. Even Richard said that the commercial for the new movie looked pretty good, and maybe they could all go together. After Cody was in bed, Richard got up and Shannon followed him to the door, it was obvious that he wanted to stay, and she wanted him to stay, but being a first date, it would have been much more appropriate for him to leave when he did.

Shannon was an excellent mother, and she would have to be “Proper,” in front of her son at all times.  “Thank You for dinner Richard said as he opened the door.” “Oh, you’re welcome, Shannon said sadly that he was leaving, and she wished he would ask if he could stay, even thou, Shannon would have to tell him “No.”  She tried not to cry.”

“You’re an excellent cook, I loved you’re Lasonya, he said honestly.” “Really, you mean it, she asked fearfully???” “Yea, but my mom’s was better.” And then Shannon laughed, and she hugged him tightly, and never wanted to let him go, when she did he wiped the tears from her eyes. “I haven’t had a home-cook meal since… and then he trailed off.”

Shannon tried to change the subject.  “It’s too bad I couldn’t offer you desert, she indicated again that she had a son who was still up watching tv in his bedroom.”  He wrapped his hands around her waist and gently pulled her close staring down into her eyes, Shannon felt like she was being hypnotized, he always had his eyes squinted, but now they were open.

They were a very dark color, a combination of brown and purple, and she studied them.  Oh, I don’t know he said, I might just steal a kiss. But when he tried she turned her cheek, then he tried again, and she did the same.

“Shannon would not let Richard kiss her on the lips not even while they made love, not before, during or after, yet she refused to explain, Why.” Don’t you even think about kissing me on the lips, Richard Poor, or I can promise you will never have Lasonya, or anything else again, she warned him. “You would be that cruel, he asked?”

“To a man who doesn’t even return a girl’s phone calls… after they had… and then she whispered so her son wouldn’t hear, been together… knowing that she likes you…. making her feel like a…”

“I didn’t know, he said.”  She laughed trying not to cry again, she looked vulnerable.  “Well maybe I though you called me for another reason (drugs), and when I didn’t have any more “stuff,” he whispered, and when you found out you were going to hang up on me anyway.”

“I met a guy backstage and he told me that recently that people shouldn’t be so judgmental… you should talk to him sometime, Shannon replied.” “Everyone knows that people never follow their own advice, Richard smile.”

“If I let you kiss me on the lips will you call me, she asked???”  Then without asking, he kissed her on the lips, she could hear her heart beat pounding inside her head. And it was loud.

She was starry-eyed when he let her go, “I guess you better wait by your phone to find out then, he said, letting her go, and then he walked out and disappeared into the darkness. Shannon was stunned. No man had ever just walked out on her before, he didn’t even say goodbye, “Who did this creep think he was… Dracula??? And then she gently shut the door between them locking it. Shannon was up half the night thinking about him. And staring at her phone. Was she in love???

Whenever Richard was invited over, he always brought Justin a little gift, maybe just a toy car, or an action figure but always something. Justin may have mentioned that he needed a trading card for his collection to be complete, and Richard would magically have it for him the next time he appeared. And always something for Shannon as well. Usually just a card, or a small box of chocolates that Cody wound up eating instead.

A cute stuffed animal, or a single red rose, but as they became more serious, he would buy her an entire dozen. And every time Richard was over, he would come over on times as promised, he seemed to be a man of his word, and Shannon kept testing him.

She would secretly watch him and her son from a distance desperately trying to remain hidden in the background unnoticed, just to make sure Richard was genuine, and not perpetrating an act to win Shannon over her over by befriending her son.  Men frequently used that tactic with single moms to get them into bed and that wasn’t fair.

But the more she observed the more Shannon saw how badly Cody needed a father figure, and a few months later when Cody and Richard were alone, Cody asked if “Richie” could be his daddy, and Richard said (just loud enough for Shannon to hear), I was hoping you’d ask, but I have to ask you mom permission first, just so were cool, and then Richard winked at him. Cody winked back. Deal, Richard offered his hand? Deal, Cody shook it. It was a guy thing. She was his.

Shannon went to the bathroom because she started bawling, but she didn’t want either one of them to know it.  After Richard said that and saw how her little boys face lit up, and how he jumped to hug him, Shannon instantly fell in love with Richard, and afterward he could do no wrong.

When Richard was getting up to leave at his usually time, Shannon stopped him, “I don’t want you leaving, I want you hear with us, she almost begged.” Richard noticed that she was crying.

“Shannon you time to think about things.”  “Please don’t go, she begged.” There was no sex, but when she woke up in his arms she made them both breakfasts, it was pancakes, and then sent Cody off to school. Both of them waving to him from the bus stop.  Then they made love, I can’t make love to you with my son in the house, she explained.

“I have to set a good example, she said.” “You’re an excellent mother, he agreed.” “You’re not mad, she asked???”

“I’ve never been prouder.” Shannon melted right there. They made love all afternoon and didn’t stop until her son was ready to come home from school.  Richard had never had a woman so good in bed, rarely could he even find a girl to keep up with him. No matter how many times he could go, Shannon was always ready, willing and able, to continue. Sometimes Shannon even scared him. When they made love, she was the one who seemed possessed.

And now that she had sucked him in, he had made the mistake of going back to the well once too often, and now he was hooked. Shannon was as addicting as any drug. And he had done many.  She always left him exhausted, until he was too drained to even get up, and she let him sleep and do whatever he wanted, those were on days when she didn’t have to work. Before, on the night shift, she worked Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.

But on the day shift she had the weekend off but had to work every day of the work-week, Mon-Fri. She was thinking of switching back to nights, just so she could spend more time with Richie.  But he told her “No,” her son had to come first, and he would work around her schedule and not the other way around, besides how could she see him play on the weakens, if she was working week-ends.  “God, she loved a man (that she loved), telling her what to do!!!”

Shannon usually kept both boys, so she could work nights, she hated the day shift, she was only in it for the money, but she noticed that “Smokie” had her also working behind the bar as well, she was filling it for “Whitty,” until he returned, but nobody knew when that was supposed to be.  Shannon had Richard sleep over every night, and in her bed. She even asked her son if Richie could “visit” them overnight, and Cody, said, “Yes, because he didn’t want his mom to be afraid, no more.”

If her son accepted him, then Shannon was obligated to as well. She was warned by the other band member, especially Derek (who she didn’t like), that Richard, was not the type of guy to stick around, and actually had a lot of another woman on stand-by. He was selfish, and one time they were backstage waiting for Richie, he had her alone, and he told her that she should forget all about him, because she would have no future with him.

And when she closed her eyes, he put his hand to her chin gently, lifted it to meet his eyes, and when she opened them again, he said “You can do better, he smiled.” Shannon didn’t like Derek, he was good looking but creepy, and always tried to get her alone, and now that things had not worked out with Jill, he had set his (very hungry) eyes on her, and she didn’t like the way he looked at her. Then Derek started in about his constant drug use and criminal history.

No matter his past, no matter his reputation, Shannon was going to start Richard with a clean slate, everyone deserved a second chance. “She could easily ignore Derek, but Jill was not so easy, He’s a junkie Shannon, a God-damn junkie, do you understand???”  “I love him Jill, Shannon said sadly.” Jill just shook her head. “You have a child, Jill warned her.”  “You don’t know that, she said.” “I do know that, just like I knew with you, Shannon countered.”

“You’re going to wind up supporting his ass, Jill said.”   “I going to get him help, Shannon replied.” “You can’t help him Shannon, he doesn’t even have a job, and with his past, he can never get a legitimate one.” “He had a trust fund, Shannon said.” “I heard that’s how he supports his drug habit, and now he’s even about to lose that, she screamed.”    “He’s a musician Jill, and entertainer, and like us, he’s troubled, all entertainers are, Shannon said.”

“Playing in a band on the weekend part-time is not a job, it’s a hobby. And he’s lucky to get paid for that. You’re an adult Shannon, and you have a child, one whose had a child in school now, and asking question, he told me you moved him in, is that true???” “I’m not like you Jill, I’m not strong, I need somebody to love me, she wept.” I love you!!!

Why can’t that be enough!!! Jill and Shannon got drunk sometimes after the kids had fallen asleep and they would drink, and take a hot bath together, Shannon would wash and pamper every part of her body. Sometimes if Jill could get Shannon drunk enough, they would retire to the bedroom, lock the door, take off their matching pink cloth robes, and lay on the bed together.  Sometimes they would just fall asleep with Jill spooning Shannon.

But other times before they did, Jill would climb on top, and made Shannon orgasm until she called out her name and made her say that she loved her.  Then Jill would lie on the bottom and watch Shannon perform oral sex on her as she ran her fingers thru her hair. Shannon would try to leave and wash her face, brush her teeth and gargle, but Jill would never let her. Shannon would laugh embarrassed, “Jill let me wash. ”

She felt guilty and didn’t want to sleep like that. But then Jill pulled her up and kissed her open-mouthed instead. Then she would wrestle with Shannon until she stopped trying to leave, and just sleep, “as she was,” for the night. Then Jill would spoon just like before. “Jill you can be so weird sometimes, Shannon would say before they drifted off.”

Jill had always been bi-sexual, but she kept this a secret, and rarely did it reveal itself, even on stage when the girls pretended as an act, because for her, it wasn’t. So, she never even hinted that she was. Very few men like very few women turned her Jill on, and she was surrounded by beautiful women, all day, every day, and most did nothing for her.

Shannon was that exception, she had always been, but she didn’t know until she kissed her on that deserted hallway that fateful night, and that’s why, she took her under her wing even when she knew better. And that was the real reason that she let Shannon get away with murder that she would have killed other women over even half the shit Shannon pulled… and that’s why she even Shannon breast feed her son. Because secretly it turned her on.

She loved Shannon’s body, and she loved her sassy personality, and she wanted to control her and sometimes even beat her into a sexual submission. She wanted to “turn” Shannon.  Jill would have been very happy to have Shannon quit, and do nothing but take care of the children. She didn’t want Shannon working at the club, she didn’t want her around the men or the women. She wanted her as her “girlfriend,” she didn’t even want Shannon leaving the house when she was at work, she wanted complete and total control over her, that what she needed.

She wanted Shannon to cook her food, to wash her clothes, to raise her child, and to clean her house. She wasn’t an Ice-Queen, she was a dyke.  When the work was done, and the kids were cared for, Shannon would be hers, she would be used to satisfy her every sexual desire.

Every time they “experimented,” fueled and excused by alcohol, Jill was getting more into it, while Shannon more disenchanted, complaining to her now that after several sexual episodes, she liked boys. Jill had never considered herself a lesbian, she in her mind was only a lesbian because of Shannon, and not because of any other women.

That morning she told Jill that Richie started sleeping over regular, Jill lost it, “I don’t want him around my son, and he’s not welcome in my apartment so don’t show up with him, and if he’s here (Shannon’s apartment), Rob and me will not be, Jill spat.”

“Don’t you take Rob away from me, she screamed!!!” “I’m protecting him from a junkie, I don’t want him to accidentally step on a needle, she spat.”  “Don’t take Rob from me, she bawled.” “You’re not his mother, Jill spat, you’ll be lucky if I don’t call social services on you, and have your own son taken away.”

That was it, she threatened her son, she may never have called Social Services, but the threat was made, and that could never be forgiven, Shannon went it the next day to quit, she went in with Smokie to collect the things from Jill’s dressing room. When Smokie asked Jill to come with them, from behind the bar she said, “She can take whatever she wants.”  Shannon said goodbye to every girl who was present that day as she carried he stuff out, and every woman was crying as she left, a few of the bouncers were choked up as well, and Smokie himself had his head lowered.

“I’m sorry about not giving you my thirty day, Mr. Smoky, she said as he was standing next to Jill, who would not even look at her.” “A lot of girls have walked thru that door, Shannon, and a lot of girls had walked out it, I have met hundreds of them, some of them I remember to this day going almost thirty years back, but others I wouldn’t know if they ran over me with their car, but I will never forget you, not till the day I die.  Almost everyone laughed.

I don’t know where you’re going, but… even thou you were the No. 2 girl around here, and then he looked at Jill, you never had any business working here, and I hope you can find something better now that you don’t. You had friends and they protected you, whether you knew it or not, but you don’t have that anymore, and you’re a girl who needs to be looked after, do you understand what I’m trying to say to you.”

“I think so, Mr. Smokie.” And then he hugged her goodbye. Shannon looked at Jill, she wanted to say goodbye, but Jill pretended to be busy, and wouldn’t even look at her. Finally, Shannon said, I don’t know to say Goodbye to people, but I was never that smart, maybe you can teach me she said to Jill. Everybody was stunned. Jill said nothing.

“I don’t know how to stop loving someone either, even after a fight…” Jill never said a word.  And she left trying not to cry but faltering.  Goodbye Dummy!!! That night Jill was taking a bath with the water filled to the top and her face submerged underneath it, she was crying her eyes out, she wanted to tell Shannon the truth, all those times she said she loved her, she meant that. The next day Smokie announced that Whitty would not be returning, he had died shortly after they released him from the hospital, and “Jillian,” would be taking his place as Bar Manager.

The girls didn’t know which the bigger tragedy was.


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