Chapter 11. 'Two-Tit Body-shot.'
Remittances from abroad. Hotel on Perimeter Road robbed. Daddy's birthday party. Tequila shooters. More Nick. The first two rules.
The following morning, Blen carefully washed her heavily stained costume. Taking the laces from the corset and the veil from the hat, she laid them flat in the basin to soak in soapy water for a couple of hours. Then, with great care, she rinsed them thoroughly, gently rubbing where necessary. Pulling them into shape, she laid them flat on a towel placed on the bed, to dry. In early afternoon when the sun broke through, she hung them outside and the hot sun completely dried the flimsy material in an hour. Finally, she folded the costume carefully, doused it with her favourite perfume, and placed it in the back of her locker.
"What will you do with those clothes?" asked Anabel.
"I do not know. I like them. I will keep them for special," Blen told her.
In the afternoon, there was a caller. A smartly dressed man, accompanied by a thick set, inscrutable-faced gentleman, asked for Amor. It was her door-to-door remittance. ID was required, she then counted her remittance, signed for receipt, and showed the others.
"Danny has send me 10,000 pesos."
The weather relented that Friday, and the sky was clear and starry as the girls went to work. Even as they walked up Field's Avenue a lift in the mood was apparent. Foreigners frequented the streets and the door girls stood outside the bars encouraging them to come in. Street vendors were out in force, insistently peddling their wares. Viagra, porn videos, umbrellas, sunglasses, sandals, knives, bows, cigarettes and chewing gum were popular offerings. Other goods and services were either on offer, or could be obtained on request. An early foretaste of high season was in the air, and the girls burst into Talent Spot with high-hopes of bar-fines. Several clusters of customers already sat in the bar.
Daddy had picked up the vibe. He walked back and forth in the changing room, encouraging the girls. "It looks like it'll be a good Friday night. Smile at the customers, make them feel welcome. If you land a bar-fine tonight, you may well be set up 'till Monday. It'll be a good weekends work for you. Be good girls and fill my till, fill my till."
Mama approached Girlie. "You can start to use the booth again. But be discrete. I will place two waitresses to warn you, just in case there is trouble. No blow-job signs, but you can approach westerners at their tables. Just whisper. Do not approach Asians. If there are Japanese, I will speak with them."
She then reminded all the girls that there was to be no nudity or lewdness in the bar. The word bar-fine was not to be used and no offers to provide sexual services were to be shouted from the stage. Any offending girl would be sent home, without pay.
The evening was orderly and busy. Blen diligently approached every customer and, with a smile, delivered her sales patter. Since there was a party mood, if rather subdued, she made some sales to the more festive customers - but without the offer of body shots, it was a more difficult sale. Several of her customers came in, and she explained that she was not giving blow-jobs for the time being, and instead promoted Girlie's suck n' fuck service. One or two asked for Girlie to be brought to their table.
In mid-evening, a couple of customers entered. When they were settled and the waitress had bought them their drinks, Blen approached with the offer of inexpensive tequila shots.
"Line us up two each," the fat one told her, "I need a few stiff drinks."
"It has been a hard day, Siir?" enquired Blen, as she prepared the shots.
"We've just come from the police station, been there for hours."
"Have you been arrest?" Blen suspected they had been ripped off.
"No. We've been making statements, for what that's worth. We've been robbed."
She remembered the statement she had given as witness to the fatal accident, so she knew the worth of a statement. "Is it the snatchers in St Maria, Siir?"
"No. Not a street robbery. We were robbed in our hotel. Just where we thought we would be safe?" said the fat man.
"In your hotel. Which is that?"
"We're at the Amerigo, up Perimeter Road,"
"But it is a big hotel. I know it. It has a guard. How can you be robbed?"
The fat man took his first shot, then continued, "It was highly organised. There were eight of them. They were in police uniforms and carrying M16 carbines. They walked the guard inside before he realised it was a trick, and disarmed him. Lucky for him. They had a lot of firepower. They locked the doors and herded the staff into a room. They then went from room to room knocking, and brought all the guests into the same room. There were fourteen of us. The first thing they did was demand our cell phones, so we couldn't call for help."
His thin companion said, "Just as well. If the police had turned up while they were there, there would have been a shoot out with automatic weapons. We would have been hostages."
"I was shitting myself," said the fat man, "I was waiting for the firing to start. They were in no hurry. They took their time and demanded that we empty our pockets. They took us to our rooms, one at a time, to turn out our possessions. They took all our valuables, but left our credit cards and passports, they were smart and didn't want anything traceable, thank God."
"Must have been an hour, hour and a half," added the thin man, "they just left us all locked in the room. We were let out by the late shift staff. By the time the alarm was raised they were long gone."
The fat man continued, "Then the police took us all to the station to make statements ... that was chaos. After all that, they tell us that this gang is known. They're professional robbers working mostly around Manila. They had a description of one of their vehicles, and a partial plate number, which may have been fake, but at least we have a crime report and crime number for our insurance."
"I don't think the local police intend to do much. They were just happy that no one was hurt, and said they will pass the report to the Manila police who are after the gang," added his friend.
"I've still got an adrenaline rush," said the fat man, "I've got a survivor's high. Now I have some cash, I want to party. You're a pretty girl. Can we get a body shot or two?"
"There is a problem tonight, Siir. There is no body shots, because of the police?" Blen told them.
"Aw heck, I was hoping to have a little fun, to take my mind of this afternoon."
"It is possible," said Blen leaning forward. "See that girl there." She pointed out Girlie. "She can go with you in the booth in the back. She will do short-time ... a suck n'fuck ... it is five ladies drinks only. Would you like her to sit with you?"
"Sure, bring her over," said the fat man, "she looks cute, I could have fun with her."
Blen waved Girlie over. "This is Girlie. Girlie, these guys like to sit with you."
They left for home without Precious, who had worked her adhesive charm on another customer. Amor had a quiet evening, deciding against shabu because she might get too wild for Mama if she took it, and lingered inconspicuously at the back of the line-up. Anyway, she had paid off her credit, and still had 13000 pesos in her locker. She felt no need to strive. For the first time since she had arrived in Angeles, she was free of financial worries.
That morning, when Blen curled up with Amor, both fell into a contented and peaceful sleep.
Over the weekend the weather stayed dry and sunny; the late afternoon rain lasted only an hour or two before the sky cleared. Saturday and Sunday nights were busier than usual for the time of year without bursting into life. Mama-san Joline still languished in jail. The NBI officers were ambiguous in their statements, and the prosecutor decided to leave the matter to be decided by the court. A cloud still hung over Field's Avenue, and the guidelines were, more or less, adhered to.
On Saturday, Blen received two calls.
The first was from Bruno, angry that she had not texted her measurements. She, reluctantly, promised again, and with the help of the other girls and a tape measure, sent the required information.
The second was from Jesusa, who confirmed that her father had received the remittance, and all necessary school fees had been paid. She had bought her uniforms today, and would attend her first day at the private school on Monday.
On Monday, the smart gentleman with the menacing friend turned up again at the lady-house, bringing another remittance for Amor.
"Another 10,000 pesos!" she waved the notes for her housemates to see. She confided to Blen, "That is for last Thursday, Danny send me extra."
"Now you need a bank account, like Precious," suggested Girlie.
"I do. I will open it today."
Amor, Girlie and Blen, set off down MacArthur Highway in the jeepney, and got off opposite the bank. They crossed the road, and entered. Amor followed the same procedure as precious had, and deposited 20,000 pesos, leaving 10,000 jingling in her pocket. She earmarked 5000 to remit home. They took the jeepney back to Fields.
"What is the time?" asked Girlie.
Blen looked at her watch. It reminded her of Nick. She had tried to put him out of her thoughts, but whenever she sneaked into the shower to masturbate, and the face of the foreigner who ravished her became distinct, it was Nick's face. "It is half-past-three."
"Then we can cook."
They discussed what to eat, and Girlie and Blen went to buy meat and vegetables from the stalls, Amor headed back to Johnnie's Supermarket to buy some sweet luxuries to celebrate her bank account.
A large pot of rice was prepared, together with a selection of fish, pork and chicken dishes to accompany it. All their housemates were invited to join in the meal. Afterwards, Amor passed around boxes of chocolates and other sweets. Never, in Desbilla, had they enjoyed such a feast. Three meat dishes and chocolates. But, with the help of their remittances, the girls knew that their families would eat some meat with their vegetables and rice, as well as buying an education for the children and medicine for their grandparents.
The evening also brought good news. Mama-san Joline had been released. Details filtered in throughout the evening as news was carried back and forth, up and down Fields and Perimeter. Joline had appeared in court and her counsel had moved to dismiss for want of evidence. The girls had retracted their affidavits and he submitted that the agents had entrapped the girls. The judge read the statements from the NBI officers and the girls. She concluded that there was conflicting evidence, so she could not be satisfied that the girls were not entrapped. The officers' evidence could not be admitted, and there was no case to answer. The case was dismissed.
Papa-san Rod and Mama-san Joline were leaving for her province tomorrow and would be married next week. Chez Mama would remain closed for the time being, but would reopen in November. The bar owners and managers were relieved at this news, and almost immediately the guidelines began to be circumvented in small ways, as business-as-usual resumed.
Tomorrow was Daddy's Birthday Party, and banners were hung at the front of the bar advertising free food, cheap drinks, and various entertainments. Every customer was handed a flyer, and girls were despatched into Fields Avenue to walk up and down distributing them.
By Tuesday, the rains had returned again. The morning and early afternoon were fine, but the sky clouded over and the cloud thickened until late afternoon when heavy rain fell for a couple hours, then eased. However, the cloud remained, and fine drops of rain continued to drift down.
Talent Spot's door girls were dressed in party hats, and blew kazoos. Balloons and streamers decked the door, and a large banner, proclaiming Happy Birthday Daddy Don, hung above it. A colourful chalkboard, set up adjacent to the door, listed the evening's offerings: extended happy-hour, free drinks, free food, and competitions for the girls. Inside, a well-practised crew had transformed the bar into party mode. Balloons, streamers, mobiles and lanterns hung from the ceilings. The waitresses all wore party accessories - hats, and badges bearing the legend, Happy Birthday. Arranged on a table were trays of buffet food wrapped in cling film.
It was the freebies that drew in the customers. In order for the evening to be profitable, it was necessary that customers arrived early, stayed late, bought a lot of drinks, and left with a girl. Daddy would put himself about greeting and glad-handing the customers, and striking up an instant familiarity. The freebies would draw the customers in, but it was the personal connection, even if of short duration, which would keep the customers there to celebrate Daddy's Birthday, and Daddy has mastered the necessary skills many years ago. That was step one. But, the customers would not stay if there was nothing else to keep them. After they had had their freebies, there needed to be something more. They had to believe that the experience in Talent Spot would be better than the experience down the road. The extended happy-hour, when they could buy half price drinks, kept them seated longer, and drinking more. Daddy would distribute free drinks personally, confiding in the customers, reinforcing the bond. Once the customers had drunk enough to get a glow-on, a virtuous cycle would set in. They would see the girls through beer goggles, and develop a maudlin attachment to Daddy. They would become dis-inhibited, and anxious to demonstrate their appreciation of their new friend, Daddy, and these beautiful girls. Daddy would casually talk about the girls, and point them out. He would offer to make introductions. The girls would come and sit with the customers. They would be bought ladies drinks. If all went well, they would leave with the customer at the end of the evening.
The bottom line, however, was that the customers were there to have fun with the girls. They came to look at the girls, and choose a partner. That is the reason why the costumes were skimpy, and the dances consisted of simple, but classic, invitations to court. This invitation to look, piques interest, and stimulates a desire to see more, and then, inevitably, to the desire to touch. This suited the customers, and it suited the girls. It did not suit the authorities. So far, and no further, was the rule. Such rules suppress the party spirit, and can turn a promotional event from a profit into a loss.
Mama was relieved that Joline had been discharged, and reviewed the house rules. For the party to succeed, some relaxation was necessary. Through back channels, she had ascertained that no activity was to be expected from the local officials and police, and there was no indication of planned NBI activity.
When Blen and her friends entered there were a good number of customers present. Daddy stood schmoozing with a group sitting at a table.
"Haappeee Biiirthdaay Daddeee," the girls chorused, as they approached.
"Hi girls," he greeted them, then turning to the customers said, "This is the night shift, there're some gems here."
As they passed, the girls smiled and waved flirtatiously at the customers, each picking out the guy who interested her most as a focus. These little contacts, these little expressions of interest, were important tools in the bar girls' art of seduction.
Mama called all the late shift girls together.
"So far, the party is going well. We have happy-hour for another two hours, and you must keep the customers here. That is your job. Joline has been release from jail, so we can relax a little now. If you have a wardrobe accident you will not be sent home. Blen, you can start doing body shots again, and I want you, Amor, to be a shooters girl also, for tonight. We will have a lot of customers, so try and sell a lot of shots. A quarter-of-an-hour before the end of happy-hour ... I will tell you when ... I want you to take of your tops. Keep moving around from table to table. Make sure all the customers see you. Then they will think there is more to come, and the next event is the competitions after ten. Girls, if you are ask for a ladies drink, tell the customer that there are competitions later, let them believe it will be very sexy. Remember you are selling the promise of things to come. Tell them that after midnight there will be dirty dancing, but do not tell them what it is. You must keep them in the bar."
With this brief, the night shift went to work.
Blen and Amor stood before the mirror and transformed themselves into twin cowgirls, then spread out around the bar to pitch the customers.
The economics of tequila shooters was very simple. Local tequila was very cheap and tasted every bit as bad as the Mexican variety, since the Spanish had shuttled between Mexico and the Philippines for several hundred years bringing their acquired tastes with them. Tequila shots are shot-gunned, the idea being that the alcohol is passed through the mouth before the taste buds can protest, the after-taste is then cloaked by sucking a piece of lemon or lime coated with salt. All the ingredients are very cheap, and it provides a way to get a glow-on very quickly. This practice, of rapidly downing shots of alcohol to suppress social anxiety, is common in the alcohol-drinking world. It is disguised as a social ritual, so no stigma is attached. There are many recipes and many rituals, and it is a common element of teenage parties.
In the bar, it was the shooters girl who afforded the socially anxious, who wanted to come out of their shell, the opportunity to do so without incurring any stigma. By shot-gunning shooters, not only did they get loaded quickly, they visibly entered into the party spirit, and if they took a body shot, they became the party spirit itself.
Amor had her own way of shedding social anxiety. She downed a couple of 'pick-me-ups' in the CR.
Blen and Amor had the task of facilitating the transition from cold customer, to party animal. They would greet the customers warmly and ask if they were enjoying their evening. After establishing a little rapport, they would describe their offer.
"Are you ready for a shooter yet," Blen would ask, "They are 50 pesos only.
"If you buy four for 150, you can take a body shot on me, also. "If you buy one for me, for 100p, I will take a body shot on you. "If you buy the girl a ladies drink, you can have a body shot with any girl of your choice. Is there a lady that interest you?" She would wave her hand across the stage.
Business was brisk. 'four and a body shot', was her best seller. Undoing her top to expose her breasts, she would line up four glasses and pour the shots, then prepare the lemon and salt. The customer would take his first three shots, licking his salt and biting his slice of lemon, after each. This would shock and heighten his senses. When he was fully alert, Blen would rub the lemon on each of her nipples, and sprinkle them with salt. The customer would take his last shot, and then clamp his mouth on one of Blen's nipples and lick off the salty juice, then move to the other and repeat the process. There was no hurry, he could take as long as he liked.
Blen and Amor kept circulating. As the customers became a little less uptight, they became more receptive, so a second or third visit to their table might prove productive. A shooters girl did, however, require a good head for alcohol.
For many customers, it was the thought of Blen's lips and tongue working on their nipples which appealed, and they would buy a shot for her. Blen would lift their shirt, sensuously rub the lemon onto their nipples, and salt them. After taking her shot, she then licked this off, with a practised technique. Count to fifteen on each nipple. Suck first, then flick the nipple with stiffened tongue, then big round circles around the nipple with her tongue and repeat, and finally take the nipple gently between the teeth and tug it.
As the waitresses fanned out to the tables to remind the customers that happy-hour was coming to an end, Mama told Blen and Amor to take off their tops and walk through the bar. The four pert breasts, framed in the horizontal quadrants formed by the bandoleers, drew all eyes, and suggested promise of things to come. The customers all ordered a last round of happy-hour drinks that would take them beyond happy-hour. Once those drinks were consumed, the shooters were the best value in the bar. Between nine and ten, after several customers had bought shots from them, Blen and Amor were quite intoxicated, and their approaches became flirtatious and ribald. The more intoxicated they were, and the more intoxicated the customers were, the more shots were sold. Mama and Daddy were happy.
Blen approached a table, and now was selling body shots, not drinks.
"Hi guys do you like a body shot ... me or you? Which do you like? You are 100 and I am 150."
A couple of the guys were up for a body shot on her.
"OK. I do you two at once," she offered.
The drinks were poured, and the guys took their first two shots. Blen then prepared her nipples, and they took their third. Each then latched onto a nipple and suckled. There were catcalls from the stage, and a surge in the hum of conversation, as attention was directed to this free show.
Urged on by the spectators, Blen raised herself on the barstool's footrests so the whole bar could see. She rubbed the lemon on her nipples and sprinkled the salt. The customers then slammed their fourth shots, shot-gunned them down, and immediately each latched onto a nipple. Blen grabbed their heads and held them at her breasts to calls of encouragement from the stage. She looked in the mirror to acknowledge the onlookers who were enjoying this entertainment. As she looked around, she glimpsed a familiar face. The lights were dim, she was drunk and her vision was blurred, as it was when she masturbated. She blinked and effortfully focused, as she also did when she masturbated, and forced the features to emerge.
She saw Nick's face, and for an instant this did not surprise her, but then she realised she was in the bar not the shower. I was not her imagination. It really was Nick. He was sitting on a stool at the stage, staring blankly at her.
Blen's blood ran cold. The effect of the alcohol seemed to dissipate suddenly. She was able to feel shame. She could feel her face flush. It was as if she had bitten the apple offered by the wicked serpent.
Releasing the captive heads, she dropped to the floor and silently holstered her bottles, then turned, and looking down at the floor, walked past Nick, ignoring his call, out into the changing area. Slumping down against the wall, she began to cry into her hands. Other girls gathered around in concern, but she did not respond to them.
Amor entered. "Blen what is wrong? There is people waiting for you. Your friend is asking for you."
"The guy sitting at the stage?" sobbed Blen.
"Yes, he have come in to see you."
"How do he know to come here?" asked Blen rhetorically, but Amor answered.
"I tell him to come here. He ask me yesterday in Johnnies."
"You see him in Johnnies?" spat Blen.
"Yes, when I am in Johnnies buying chocolate, he speak to me. He think I am you. I tell him I am your sister, and he asked where he can see you. I tell him you are always here, because you cannot go bar-fine."
"I do not want to see him. I will stay here until he go. Tell him go away."
"I cannot tell him. It is not our job to send a customer away," answered Amor. "He look a nice guy ... where do you know him from? The video?"
"He is the guy in church." Blen continued to sob.
"He does not look too strange."
"Then you take him. If he like me, he will like you also. I do not want to see him again."
Amor shrugged, unable to answer Blen's anger, and left.
After five minutes, she reappeared with Daddy. "What are you playing at, Blen. There's a customer waiting for you, and you send him Amor. What's going on?"
"I do not want to see him," said Blen.
"Amor tells me he's your boyfriend, why don't you want to see him? This is no time for a lovers tiff. Get out and sell drinks."
"I cannot," said Blen.
"Well, let me help you," said Daddy.
He grabbed Blen by the arm, pulled her up, and marched her, feet dragging, into the bar. He stopped in front of Nick, and let go of her arm.
"Here she is," he said to Nick, "she's a little bit ass-holed, the shots have been selling well, but she's OK to give you a good time."
"Thanks," Nick said to Daddy
"No problem." Daddy walked off.
Blen stood in front of Nick, looking at the floor.
"Hello. I'm really glad to have caught up with you."
Blen continued to look at the floor.
"Won't you even look at me," challenged Nick.
Blen raised steely, tear-stained, eyes, and stared belligerently, into his face.
"Blen, you're angry with me. Why?"
"Why do you come here?" Blen said fiercely.
Nick was conscious that their little drama was becoming part of the entertainment.
"Is there somewhere we can talk privately?"
"Follow me," said Blen, and she walked off, leaving him trailing.
He hurried after her and caught up, just as she reached the booth. She entered and sat down, and as he joined her, a waitress appeared.
The waitress looked at Nick and asked, "Blow-job?"
"No Blow-job," retorted Blen angrily, and she snatched at the curtain, pulling it shut.
"I am just working, Blen," said the waitress, plaintively.
"Why do you come here?" she repeated to Nick
"You didn't call me, I wanted to see you. Your sister told me you worked here."
"Do you think they employ a nurse in Talent Spot? Do you think you find a student nurse in here?" her voice was angry, and sarcastic.
Nick remained even-tempered. "I just wanted to find the lovely girl who kissed me, a week ago, on MacArthur Highway."
Mama's voice sounded from the other side of the curtain, "Blen, I hope you are not giving a blow-job in there. Remember, you are not to give the blow-job until Bruno return."
"No Mama, I remember, no blow-job," said Blen, pointedly.
"You see," she addressed Nick, "that girl who kiss you is a liar, she do not exist."
"Let's look into that a bit," said Nick.
"Who was the girl who bought the candles and knelt down to pray? Was that you?
"Who was the girl that sat in prayer through that dreary Mass? Was that you?
"Who was the girl that put 1000 pesos in the charity box? Was that you?
"Who was the girl who went out of her way to help a stranger? Was that you?
"Who was the girl with the dazzling smile who listened to me drone on about nothing in particular? Was that you?
"Who was the girl who kissed me on MacArthur highway? Was that you?
"Because, that's the girl I've come here to see and that girl IS you."
"I am not a student nurse, I do not have a generous father," asserted Blen.
"So, who's 1000 pesos did you put in the Charity Box?"
"That was mine ... three blow-jobs only," said Blen, contemptuously.
"You're one up on me then," said Nick. "You remember my 1000 peso note"
"Since you were turned the other way, I put it back in my pocket," said Nick.
Blen was horrified. She could hardly speak the words. Her opinion of his moral superiority evaporated.
"You put the money in your pocket? You are rich. You have everything, and you trick me so I think you are a nice guy. You do not care about the poor. Why does a guy like you come in church?"
"Because I follow pretty girls in the street, and if they go into church, I go into church."
Blen's opinion of Nick plummeted still lower.
"You follow young girls like your daughter in the street, and try and pick her up in church. Are you a pervert?"
"No. I'm just an ordinary Joe, like the two who were hanging off you tits, earlier. No better, but no worse."
"And, will you like to hang off my tits also?"
"Yes I would," said Nick calmly, "Give me four."
"I will get my things." Blen was defiant. She sprang to the floor, turned in a flounce, and strode off.
Returning with the essentials, she banged the four glasses down on the table, sat and pulled the curtain, and poured the shooters. Nick took his shots.
After the first, he coughed.
After the second, his face flushed.
After the third, he looked at Blen through blood shot eyes.
She glared menacingly back for a few seconds, then picked up the lemon. Nick caught her hand and took it from her. He rubbed it on her lips, and then applied salt. Blen sat motionless. He threw back his shot, leaned forward and kissed her on the lips, and held the kiss. When he leaned back, Blen continued to stare at him, now through soft, damp eyes.
"To clear the air, there are two more lies I told you," said Nick.
"Yes?" said Blen.
"Oral sex does not repel me."
"I forgive you," said Blen.
"And I did put that 1000 peso note in the Charity Box."
Blen slid onto his lap and threw her arms around him.
"I am so glad you are a nice guy."
They embraced in silence for several minutes.
"Can we meet somewhere and talk?" asked Nick.
"Can we go in McDonalds again?"
"Two- o'clock tomorrow?" suggested Nick.
"Maybe two, maybe two-thirty, just wait me."
"You've got your watch."
"Just wait me next time," said Blen.
"I'll leave you to it for now, but I look forward to seeing you tomorrow," said Nick.
He paid his tab, and left as the banana eating competition got under way.
Blen, psychologically concussed by the evening's events, floated around with a distracted air until a few shots dulled her senses, and she reverted once more to a party girl. She could have been bar-fined five times over if she had not been a cherry. The evening was a success, and she walked unsteadily home by herself, all her roommates were bar-fined.
Before she slept, she lay alone on the bed, and fantasising about Nick, employed Girlie's vibrator to bring herself to successive orgasms, until she subsided, exhausted, onto the mattress.
On Wednesday morning, when she came down into the sala, it was like entering a ghost ship. There were signs of occupation, but no one was there. Blen wanted to talk, but there was no one to talk to. She wanted to talk about Nick. She wanted to ask about Nick, and to tell everyone how wonderful he was. That was all she had to say, but she wanted to say it a lot. Her head was a little hazy, and her memory patchy, so she wondered how much had really happened, and how much she had imagined.
Blen busied herself with routine chores, and checked her watch frequently. Eventually, two girls emerged from the front bedroom. They were menstruating, so had missed out on the bar-fine rush. They remembered Blen taking two body shots at once, and they remembered her giving a customer a hard time by the stage. But, customers were customers. It was difficult to tell which was more wonderful than the other. Blen told them anyway. They listened with good humour, having heard it many times before.
Before she left at one-thirty, one or two more girls returned with stories of disappointing customers who just wanted to fuck them, tip them, say thank you, and goodbye. The others appeared to have succeeded in being retained as companions.
When she arrived at McDonalds, at two-o'clock prompt, Nick was waiting. He greeted her with her with a peck on the cheek. She wanted to hug him, and kiss him, but McDonalds was not the place. They sat, and agreed their orders, which Nick went to buy. Blen had a large coffee. She needed to chase away the after effects of the previous night. They exchanged smiles, and ate, but neither could think of a way to open the conversation that they needed to have. Eventually Blen bit the bullet.
"So, what is your plan for me?"
"I want to get to know you better, that's my plan today. See where we go from there. One step at a time, and see where that leads," said Nick.
"Do you think you can marry with me? If it is, No, say me now. I am a simple girl from the province. Do not play with my heart."
"We've met just three times ... four now ... so I can only tell you what I want for tomorrow, for next week. But I want to see you every day. I think I would like to see you every day, for a long time."
"Will you marry a bar-girl?" Blen asked.
"That's not a problem. When I look at you, I see the girl I met in church. I don't care much for virgins anyway. I prefer my girls experienced, less to teach them."
"Oh ... So sorry, I am a cherry girl. You will have to teach me."
Nick sat up, startled.
"But ... last night ... you didn't look like a cherry girl." His mouth moved, but no further words came.
"I do not want to be a cherry girl, but I sell my cherry to Mama, so now I must wait."
"Wait for what?"
"For Mama to sell my cherry."
"Can I buy it? How much is it?" asked Nick.
"You must ask Mama, but she has an offer of 50,000 and there are three customers who are interest. She will sell me next month," Blen told him.
Nick did some quick calculations in his head, "I will speak with Mama tonight."
"There is another guy who is interest in me," said Blen, "He want to marry with me. He is coming next month. He is very rich. He said he will pay any money for me."
At this, Nick subsided into thought. "I'm not rich. I'm in and out of work. I'm not a steady guy. Maybe you should marry this rich guy. Maybe I should not have interfered. I'm sorry. I didn't know you already had plans."
"I do not have plans. He have plans. I hate him. He raped my throat," Blen told Nick.
"How did he do that?"
"I am the blow-job girl in Talent Spot. Mama gave him 'try-before-you-buy', but he rape my throat. He says it is my fault."
Nick paused again to reflect on this.
"What about the other two guys?"
"I do not know the other guys. One is Chinese. He is coming next month. Mama wait him to sell me. He want to meet with me before his offer. The other is from California. He know me, but I do not know him."
"You're full of surprises," said Nick, "every time I meet you, you become more and more interesting. This is a lot to take in so suddenly. I'll speak with Mama tonight. We can talk about our future, or lack of it, tomorrow. For now, let's go to the movies and hold hands."
They took a trike to the mall and sat happily, with their arms around each other, watching other people acting at being thwarted in love, but against all the odds ending up in one another's arms. They left the cinema inspired, and chugged up to Talent Spot in a trike. Nick dropped Blen off with a parting kiss, and promised he would come in later, after he had thought things over.
Blen started work with mixed feelings. She had a boyfriend. She had a relationship. She had placed her trust in Nick, but her world was so uncertain. Nick was not a brother or uncle; he was a stranger. He could disappear overnight. He could have a wife. He might find another girl, but for now she was not troubled by thoughts of Bruno, or her cherry. That was now Nick's problem. If he loved her, he would sort it out.
Amor and Girlie were back at Talent Spot. They had been bar-fined by resident ex-pats, who had married, brought up kids, been widowed, passed their worldly goods to their offspring and retired to Angeles to end their days eking out their pensions as playboys. They enjoyed the girls, and the girls enjoyed them. But, the most a girl would ever be to them was a good value fuck-buddy, who would give them a full 1500 pesos worth once a fortnight. It was good to have a circle of such customers for fun and remuneration, but they would never be life partners.
The three girls went into a girly huddle to discuss Nick.
"Is he the guy you never want to see again?" asked Amor.
"He behave now," said Blen, "He is interest to marry me, he will talk with Mama tonight."
"He apologise to me."
"He shock me last night. I do not expect him," said Blen.
"Will you divorce him, if he walk in the CR, and you do not expect him?" asked Girlie.
"It is not a joke, he shock me, but he is a nice guy so I forgive him."
"What will happen about Bruno?" asked Amor.
"Nick will make a plan." Blen was confident.
Just as doubts began to surface in Blen's mind, Nick reappeared. He took a seat and Blen hurried over to drape herself on him.
"Give me four," he ordered.
Blen set up the shooters, and Nick gallantly took his body shot on her lips as her friends followed the touching scene.
"OK. I will speak with Mama now."
Blen led him through to the back. "Mama, this is Nick, my boyfriend, he want to speak with you."
"Your boyfriend, Blen? Well .. hello Nick." Mama looked quizzically at him. "What can I do for you?"
"I understand Blen's cherry is for sale, I'd like to buy it."
"I understand," said Mama, "Has Blen tell to you the current position?"
"There is an offer of 50,000 on the table. I can give you 60,000 cash now," said Nick.
"That is a good offer. I like to accept, because the girl is daft, I am sure she will like to give you her cherry. But I cannot. Did Blen tell you that there is an option? I cannot sell her cherry until Fu-Han come here; he has paid 50,000 to keep open the option to bid. When he has met with her I can accept bids, but the friend of Fu-Han is rich, and Bruno also is rich."
"That is pie-in-the-sky," said Nick, "it may never happen. This guy may not like Blen, particularly if Blen doesn't want to be liked. Then there's only one rich guy. He may not return. He may die. He may meet another girl. Angeles is full of pretty cherry-girls. I will give you 75,000 pesos cash now, in your hand. That is certain money."
Mama thought for a moment. "Are you a rich man?"
"I am a man with 75,000 pesos in my pocket," snapped Nick, "that is all you need to know."
"Of course, I do not mean to pry. But, if I suppose you are not a rich man, if you will pay 75,000, a rich man will pay more."
"May pay more," reminded Nick. "How many people have turned away a great deal, because they believe there is a better one further down the road, only to be disappointed, and miss the best price."
"That is true. What is your best offer?"
"100,000 pesos," said Nick.
"Is that what you have in your pocket?"
"I'll throw in the pocket fluff as well."
"OK, just wait," said Mama, and she walked out.
"She seems to be thinking about it at least?" Nick said to Blen, who waited patiently.
Mama returned. "I have just spoken to one rich man. He offer 150,000 straight away."
"Those are words. It is a promise that can evaporate like the morning mist. I have money now, in my pocket. No dodgy promises. Real money now," said Nick.
"Then I must choose if will place a bet. Can I bet your 100,000?" said Mama, thoughtfully.
She stared at Nick for a few seconds.
"For all I know, you are a rich man. You may be sounding me to see if you can buy Blen cheap by cutting out your rivals. There are now four interests. I think Blen will go up in value. Go up a lot. I do not think she will go down. I will bet against you. I am sorry, but you must wait, and bid with the others, if they come."
"OK then, you say I must bid, how does that work. What are the rules?" asked Nick.
"I do not know yet. Nothing is arranged. Bruno requires that it is transparent, that he must see the cash; that is all."
"Let me think a moment."
"I will be here all night," said Mama, and she sat down at her desk.
Nick paced back and forth in the changing room, deep in thought, unconscious of Blen's trusting eyes following his every movement. After ten or twelve turns, he returned to Mama.
"Hu-Fan paid 50,000 for an option, right?"
"Yes, he did."
"And, there are no rules?"
"There will be."
"I would like to suggest a rule, and buy an option," said Nick.
"Go on," said Mama.
"The rule is that there shall be a right of first-refusal. And my option is the right of first-refusal, at the winning bid."
"That is interesting, Maybe Bruno will like that option, he is very keen on Blen. Why should I not offer first-refusal to him?"
"Because, if he had first-refusal, there would be no reason for him to bid. You would take a rich man out of the bidding. That'll drive the bidding down. Call him now. He will pay for first-refusal. He's no fool. To sell it to a poor man won't drag the bidding down, he would be outbid anyway. But, when the bidding stops, you can remind the highest bidder that it's not in the bag. Whatever his bid, the other man still has the right of first-refusal at that price, then give the bidder the opportunity to use his deeper pocket to put the matter beyond doubt by offering a higher price."
Mama thought for a moment. "That is good," she said," and how much will you pay?"
"50,000 cash, now, in your hand."
"We do not need to go through that again. Give me your 50,000. I will write you an option for first-refusal, and I will start the rules."
She took out Blen's file, asked Nick's name, and wrote on a sheet of paper:
Rules for the sale of the cherry of Blen Baitan.
1. Nicholas Carter shall have first-refusal at the winning bidder's highest offer.
2. All bids shall be transparent and certain and payable immediately in cash.
She then wrote out two identical first-refusal agreements, which she receipted, and they both signed each of them, keeping one each. Mama slipped hers, together with the first two rules, into Blen's file. She then entered the 50,000 pesos in her ledger, and locked it in her cash tin.
"Have you seen the product?" Mama asked Nick, fanning Blen's witness shots on the desk.
Nick peered at them intently. He had never seen so much pink. The photos beguiled him, and the more so since it was his girlfriend and he felt a proud entitlement to ownership of the beauty spread before him. Having never seen a hymen before, he examined the pale seal closely, finding it far less attractive than what lay around or beneath it. And, why do people pay for it, only to immediately destroy it, he wondered. He did not care whether Blen came as a virgin or not, he wanted only her smile and her affection - and her shiny pink parts. He couldn't give a damn for that unprepossessing, white skin tag - but he would buy it as a gift for her, it was not for himself.
Mama also wondered, pretty as it was, why the hymen of such an unremarkable girl, should attract such interest. Already it was her best ever purchase. She had 100,000 in her pocket from options alone, and just this evening the starting bid had risen from 50,000 to 150,000. Who knew how high the bids would go?
As they walked out from the rear, Blen looped her arm through Nick's, and took hold of him with both hands. Amor leant down from the stage, and asked what had happened.
"Nick will buy my cherry," Blen replied.
When they sat down, Nick said, "That may have just made things worse, I had 100,000, now I only have 50,000."
"But, you can buy my cherry, whatever the other guys bid?"
"Only, if I have a lot of money. I don't know how much, but a lot. No matter how much I raise I can't be certain. But we have a holding position."
"It is not until next month. I know you will get the money," Blen said.
Nick finished his drink. "You can't work, with me here, and I can't buy you ladies drinks all night. I'll meet you tomorrow, on the corner of Fields and MacArthur. Is one-o'clock fine."
"I see you tomorrow then," said Blen.
She escorted Nick to the door, and kissed him goodnight.
May 5, 2018 in romance