Monday, March 23, 2020

Downashore

Call it “Portrait of a hooker on her wedding day.”

Diana seldom spent much time at the bathroom mirror. Her strong cheekbones, the slightly Asian cast of her eyes, and her dark blonde hair were the tools of her trade. A quick professional check usually satisfied her.

But today she felt a need to study her reflection. The woman in the mirror looked the same as ever. Was that good or bad?

Maybe it wasn’t the best idea to be having these thoughts here, but that was the problem with a destination wedding. It involved hotels and motels, her natural habitat for fourteen years of hooking.

“You pick where we’ll go,” she had told Bert. “I’m good anywhere.”

But the retired police chief could surprise her like no other man in her experience.

“Let’s do it in Wildwood.”

Not Cancun? Not Paris?

“You’re a Jersey girl. I’m a Jersey guy.”

“So we go Downashore. Makes sense.”

“We can get married barefoot on the beach.”

She could take off her stiletto heels. Talk about a break with the past.

And so she had spent the night in this delicious Art Deco motel from the 1950s. Alone, which was a first.

“Humor me on this,” Bert had said. “I can’t lay eyes on you you until the ceremony.”

“You’re the expert.”

His first marriage proved it. It had ended only with his wife’s death of cancer.

Someone knocked, and she checked her watch. Mary Alice and Dawn were early. Her friends were still in the business, which made things a little weird when Diana thought about them mingling with Bert’s crowd of current and former cops.

At least they were single, like good bridesmaids.

Diana crossed the room and turned the handle. As the door swished open, she gave a fleeting thought to the spy hole. It was the first time she had ever skipped the elementary security check. Maybe today was the day she became a civilian.

That looks like a gun, she thought.

It should, because it was. And the man behind it looked familiar.

“Gordon,” she said.

“All those lies,” he said.

“Stories, I call them.” 

“‘Just wait, Gordon. Someday I’ll be free. We’ll be together.’ All lies.”

“I was never going to marry a client. Is that really a surprise?”

“But you can marry a cop.”

“What do you want, Gordon?”

“We’re going to take a walk.”

For a moment she considered slamming the door on him, but he could shoot through it.

“Where?”

“To see your cop. You’re going to tell him you can’t go through with it.”

It made no sense, but Gordon wasn’t in reasoning mode. He seldom was, as she recalled.

“I don’t know where he is.”

“Don’t try it. I’m wise to you now.”

“It’s true. Bert’s superstitious.”

It felt like old times, improvising on her feet, or sometimes on her back.

“Find him. Or else.”

He stuck his hand in his windbreaker pocket, but the gun kept pointing at her.

She started walking down the hall.

“Where are you going?”

“You said find him.”

She couldn’t tell him the truth. She was making space for something to happen. What, she didn’t know.

The door to the stairwell opened. Mary Alice emerged, as dark and dramatic as ever. Dawn followed her into the hallway. Diana shook her head slightly at her friends. Mary Alice replied with an even smaller nod.

“Gordon,” said Mary Alice. “What a coincidence.”

She stepped up and drove her fist into his abdomen. Dawn caught on fast. She darted behind Gordon and stomped on his calf with her stiletto heel. He screamed and went down. Mary Alice kicked him in the jaw. He went limp.

Diana stood gaping. The rough stuff usually fell to her. Things were changing all over.

“Thanks,” she said. “I wasn’t sure you’d get the idea.”

“When I see you with a client on your wedding day,” said Mary Alice. “Something is very wrong.”

“Wait, how do you know him?”

“He’s one of my regulars.”

“Mine too,” said Dawn.

“Well Gordon, you cheating bastard.”

“That’s good,” said Mary Alice. “You’re sounding like a wife.”

~FIN~