Cameron and I were married for fifteen years. No children, bills paid, house nearly owned. She's thirty-eight and I'm forty now. She's still a tawny haired beauty with B-cup boobs and the plumpest ass ever to have graced the backside of a 110 pound five-foot four-inch female woman! Her olive complexion is to die for and she smells like something descended from Mt. Olympus.
Our sex life was terrific through most of those years. Was, being the operative word. She eventually filed for divorce, that was two years ago, and moved out. So while we had indeed been married for fifteen years at that point, as I said, it was but six months after that that little reality became past tense.
Now, you might think that she left me because I was cheating. Maybe because she had to find herself. Maybe because I didn't make enough money: I'm a bartender. But you'd be wrong. Nor did she leave me because she was in love with somebody else. No, she swore she still loved me and only me; and, in her way I think that was true, and I am of the opinion it remains true even now.
No, she left me because of a career move she felt impelled to make. She wanted to be a prostitute! Not forced to be, not blackmailed into it, not talked into it—well, there were influences. She wanted to do it to enjoy herself and at the same time make good money. She felt, not unreasonably, that I wouldn't have been able to handle it, and so she left me. Well, she was right about my not being able to handle it. I hated it! But, that said, I can't bring myself to hate her. Go figure, but I just can't, even now.
Two years ago:
I'm meeting her in fifteen minutes. She wants to talk to me. I don't know what about. I mean we're divorced, almost. She didn't want anything from the house other than her personal stuff. She didn't ask for alimony or anything. We don't have kids, as I said, so there was no problem there. So I don't know what she wants now. But, I am curious.
"Want another drink, Manny?" said Rhonda. Rhonda Davis is the early shift bartender. She and I have worked together for these past many years. We love each other like brother and sister and have each other's back when the occasion requires it. She knows my situation and empathizes.
"Yeah, I guess, Rhonda. I mean I haven't come close to my limit of sixty-four beers in a day yet," I said.
Rhonda returned with the beer and set it in front of me. She looked up and past me. She nodded. "Incoming," she said. I turned. Cameron had come in and was looking around for me. She saw Rhonda who pointed me out to her.
My soon to be ex-wife slid in across from me. "Hi Manny. How are you today? You okay?" she said, by way of greeting.
I nodded. "Okay I guess. Yeah" I said. I just looked at her. She clearly wasn't dressed for business. Jeans, a t-shirt, and lightweight slip-on sandals, no socks.
"I wanted to talk to you about something," she said. She paused, and then jumped in. "I gotta ask again, are you okay? I know I hurt you, Manny, and I feel like a skunk for doing it. But, it is just something that I had to do. You know, like I explained before."
"Cam, I'm as good as can be expected. I miss you. I wish you hadn't done this to us. But, it's done now, and I guess we have to move on, both of us," I said, sounding far more logical than I felt.
"Yes, well, I miss you too, if it comes to that," she said. "Manny, I need a favor. It can work to your benefit too if you want," she said.
I was immediately suspicious. She'd killed my heart. Divorced the hell outta me. Disgraced me, my family, hers, the whole damn world; but now, she needed a favor and apparently I was the only one in the whole wide world who could supply it! Well, the gods do move in mysterious fucking ways.
"Huh?" I said.
"A favor, Manny. It won't cost you a dime," she said.
"Can I ask you something, first?" I said.
"Sure, anything, honey buns," she said.
"You know—our love life—it wasn't enough for you? I mean, I thought it was. I thought we did good," I said.
"Yes," I said, and I knew I shouldn't have.
"Manny, I could hardly even feel you're little four-inch dick inside of me. You tried hard, and you were marvelous with your mouth and tongue. But, overall..."
"You sure no how to hurt a guy," I said.
"I didn't mean to hurt you, Manny. Believe me, Manny, that is the last thing I want to do. You are a wonderful guy. Any girl but me would be tickled to death to have you and to hold you. But, you asked, and I will never lie to you. Not ever, no matter what," she said.
Why couldn't she be like other women and lie to me. But, she was right, I'd had to ask. Talk about dumb shit moves. "Yeah, well, fucking wonderful."
She looked at me. I could tell that she was sad she'd felt she had to tell me something that she knew would hurt me, and that hurt her.
"Okay, what's the favor that little dick here can do for you?" I said.
"Manny—I'm—I'm sorry. I didn't mean to hurt you again. But, you are to honest and good a man to treat like an idiot. I will not lie to you. Not for anything."
"Yeah, yeah. Okay get on with it," I said, trying not to cry.
She nodded. "You remember Calvin, right?" she said.
"Yeah, the asshole who influenced you to get involved with this escort stuff," I said.
"Yes. Well, you're right. He did turn out to be an asshole. He dumped me. My pimp dumped me. Can you believe it!"
"Oh my, that's absolutely horrible! I don't know how you can stand it," I said, as sarcastically as I could.
"Manny, you don't have to be so sarcastic and mean," she said. "I was never nasty to you."
I looked at her like she was crazy. "Not nasty to me? You dumped me to become a goddamned street walker! I'd call that supremely nasty," I said, trying to hold on to some semblance of dignity and failing miserably.
"I'm not a street walker, Manny, too dangerous. I make dates, and then only with men who have been vetted. I needed a pimp for that though, and Calvin let me down," she said. She said it like it was some kind of minor business failure. Like she'd only have to call HRO to get a replacement. But, she soon disabused me of that thought. "That's why I'm here."
"Huh? What are you talking about?" I said. I had a thought, and I laughed. "Hah! You probably want me to fill in."
She wasn't laughing. "Exactly."
It took me a minute. I think my mouth was hanging open. It was definitely dry. I had to be dreaming. My wife, soon to be ex-wife, had left me to become a prostitute. She'd had a pimp who'd arranged—uh—clients for her. The pimp had blown town. Now she wanted me to pick up the slack and pimp for her. To say that words failed me would not come close to describing my confused state. I couldn't talk, not at first.
"Manny? I know this is a strange request, but..."
"Strange? Strange request? It's fodder for Guinness. Let me answer you this way, "Get the fuck outta here!"
"I know I've shocked you. But, someone has to do it for me, and there are not too many people I would trust, like you. In fact there aren't any," she said. "Please, give it some thought. I know when you think about it you'll want to help me. And, in case it matters, Manny, you'd be making a lot of money!"
"Cameron Lee, get the fuck outta here before I call the cops and have you picked up."
"Okay, I'm going, but please think about it. I'll be back soon. I need you," she said.
I sat there stunned. Rhonda arrived like some kind of guardian angel with another mug. I sloshed it down fast and furious. I needed something. Like I said, my mouth was dry.
"What'd she want?" said Rhonda.
"You wouldn't believe it," I said.
"Try me," she said.
"She wanted me to pimp for her."
Rhonda couldn't contain herself, she broke out laughing. "You know, Manny, it wouldn't be the first time a husband pimped out his woman," she said, as she gained back a measure of self-control.
I looked at her like she was some kind of crazy person. "Not me," I said.
I didn't hear from Cameron for two weeks. I figured she'd gotten the message that I didn't want anything to do with her offer. I was wrong.
I was sitting in my living room watching Alabama and Arkansas go at when the door bell rang. Getting up to answer it I spilled my beer and swore.
I opened the door, and she was past me before I could slam it in her face.
"You really need to stop that swearing, Manny, it doesn't become you. What's that I smell—beer?" she said.
"Yeah, when I got up to answer the door for you, I spilled it. "Thanks a helluva lot.
"Whaddya want, Cameron. I told you I wasn't interested in your proposal and I'm still not. Call me little-vanilla-dick," I said.
"Geezsus, Manny, is your male ego that fragile? If I'd realized how sensitive you were about the size of your cock, maybe I would have lied to you," she said.
"That's my wife, always thinking of new ways to belittle me," I said.
"You're right. That was uncalled for. Got a beer for me?" she said, settling into the easy chair next to the couch. "And, I am sorry for belittling you before. I really mean it," she said.
"Look can we forget about my cock. It's never going to bother you again, so I don't see any reason to keep on bringing it up," I said.
"Okay, you're right again. I'm an idiot," she said.
I wanted to say she'd get no argument from me, but it was too easy. I let it slide. "So what do you want?" I said.
"First I need a place to shack up for a couple of days. Any chance you might have mercy on me?" she said.
"What's matter, the hooking business not paying very well these days?" I said, adding as much sarcasm as I could.
"Not exactly, when Calvin ran off, he took all of my money: almost $10,000," she said.
"So, have you stopped hooking?" I said.
"Temporarily. I won't do it without a pimp. I need you, Manny. You gotta help me out."
"No? No what?" she said.
"No, I don't have to help you out. I ain't pimping for you. But, you can shack up here until you can find a place. You know where the guest room is. Go there. Hide out. I wanna watch my game," I said.
"Who's playing?" she asked. We used to watch together; she was a fan too.
"Bama and Arkansas," I said.
"Can I watch too? I mean with you?" she said.
"Yeah, I guess, but don't be buggin' me about that other thing, and I mean it," I said.
"You got it. Never during a game," she said, qualifying her promise.
The game ended, Bama won, but just barely. She cheered like a teenager. It brought back memories.
I headed upstairs to bed, "Night, Cameron," I said. I heard her say goodnight back to me.
Around 2:00 in the morning I was awakened. Cameron was sliding into bed beside me. "I need for you to cuddle with me; I'm lonely and a little frightened," she said. She pushed her tush back into me, and I felt my little soldier betray me. What the hell, she was a damsel in distress. I wasn't much of a knight in shining armor, but I guess I would do for the night. I heard her giggle.
She turned toward me. "I'm in the mood," she said. "I think maybe you are too." She said this while her hand surrounded my cock and began hosing it lightly and slowly. She did a 180 and forced her pussy back onto my face. My mouth began sucking at her clit while my nose ground itself into her sweet smelling rose bud.
He tongue licked and flicked over the surface of my cock and them by balls. I was so hard I could have drilled a hole in a sheet of one-inch plywood no problem.
Another 180 and she was riding my totally inadequate 4.6 inches like the cowgirl she was! I played with her tits squeezing them like a kid squeezes a bath toy hoping it will make a noise; they did, she squealed. She paused to shudder; I was sure it was an orgasm, short lived though it was. She was hot, very hot. Just as she came down from her high, I unloaded into her. Fuck! she was a good screw. She was going to make a lot of money, I was sure. She collapsed on top of me.
"Was that good for you?" she asked, already knowing the answer.
"Is that a serious question?" I said. "But, I have one for you. Was that a real orgasm you had? Don't lie."
"You bet little man. You bet. Truth is, it's kinda rare for a man to get a woman off with his dick, even if the dick is sizable. Most men can't or won't control their own orgasms long enough. The woman has to be steaming hot, and I was tonight," she said.
I decided not to push my luck with any more dumbass questions.
We were both very tired; it was freakin' 2:30 in the morning for chryssakes!. We were out cold in minutes.
I was up and out before her. I knew she would want to talk, and boy could she talk the ass off of a horse or what. But that could wait; I wasn't up to it. I wanted the glow from the past evening—morning—to last a while: I'd been totally virginal since she'd left me.
I tooled into the house at around 6:00. She was in the kitchen making dinner. Hmm, how wifely of her. I went in to see.
"Feeling domestic today," I said. "Smells good."
"Yes. I guess so, I mean I'm feeling a little domestic. I just thought I'd make us something; I mean I am here freeloading; I have to do something to keep up my end, makes me feel better. I hope it's okay," she said.
"It sure smells okay. I'll let you know later," I said.
We ate in mostly silence, and I think it was killing her. Finally, she couldn't take it anymore. "Manny, I really, really do need your help. I'm afraid out there in the big world. I need a manager," she said. Talk about euphemisms.
"You mean a pimp, dontcha, Cam." It wasn't a question.
"That's just a nasty word, Manny. I need someone to make sure I don't get hurt out there. You know, so that the experiences are all good ones," she said.
"Cameron, listen to me. I am not into being a cuckold, especially not your cuckold. You fucked me over good, and I will be years trying to pick myself up from that. You are willingly into a lifestyle that is both dangerous and stupid. We're in the middle of a divorce because of all of this.
"Are you getting it, Cameron. What you've got to do is stop it. Tell you what. You stop all of this now and forever, and I will stop the divorce and I will take you back. But, you are going into therapy, no question about that," I said.
That stopped her. "You'd take me back?" she said.
I nodded. I don't know where my words came from, but I knew they were true.
She thought for a minute. I could see she was wrestling with whatever demon was possessing her. She slowly shook her head. "I can't Manny, I can't. I love it too much."
That was the last said that evening. The following day she was gone. As it turned out I wouldn't see her again for a long time. The divorce was final some months later, and she didn't show for it. She had just disappeared.
I was washing glasses behind the bar a year later when a cop came to see me. I knew he was a cop from the combination of the cheap suit and the undignified swagger. "Yes, officer," I said as he approached the bar. "What can I get you?"
"You Manny Kirkland?" he said. His eyes were taking in the place. I hated it when people talked to me but had their eyes somewhere else. I waited for him to look at me before I opened my mouth.
He looked back at me no doubt wondering why I was silent. "Did you hear me?" he said.
"I wasn't sure you were talking to me. You were looking everywhere but at me," I said.
"So?" he said.
"I'm sorry, so what?" I said.
"Are you Manny Kirkland?" He was miffed.
"Yes." I said. "And, you are?"
"You got a wife named Cameron?"
"No. Did once, but we're divorced," I said. "What's this all about?"
"Somebody beat her nearly to death. Divorced you say?" said the copper.
"Yeah—beaten!—Wh—Wh—Why? Who?" All of a sudden I felt guilty.
"Yeah. But if you're divorced—She said you were her husband. She had a paper on her, in her purse. It said to call you in case of emergency. That's all I know, bub," he said.
"Look—where is she? Is she going to make it?" I said.
"Guy," he was being nicer all of a sudden, "you knew she was hooking, right? I mean we think it was one of her Johns."
"Sweet Geezsus! I have to get to her. Where is she? Can you tell me?" I said.
"County General. As for is she going to make it, you have to speak to the doctors about that," he said. "But she's in real bad shape; that I can say."
I was already gathering up my keys and heading out. I called back to Rhonda to cover for me. It was a thirty minute drive to the hospital. I was directed to third floor—intensive care.
The door was glass and I could see a nurse inside fiddling with some monitor or other. Cameron was covered with a light sheet; her face was twice its normal size and totally black and blue. Even from outside the room, I could see one of her eyes was bandaged up. This was my ex-wife, but she was also a woman, a girl, helpless against almost any man; and some imitation of a man had beat her bad, real bad! I wanted to kill. All I could think of was my impotence to do anything about it. I wanted revenge.
Cameron had brought this on herself. She was an idiot, but for all of her stupidity she did not deserve this, nobody did except the man that did it to her. I knocked softy. The nurse motioned me in. I entered.
"Two minutes," she whispered in my ear. I nodded. I went to the bed. I didn't try to touch her. I was afraid.
The nurse stepped out to give us privacy. "I love you little girl," I said. "You're a complete idiot, but your husband loves you—ex-husband." Tears flooded my eyes, I was helpless to do anything about it. All too soon, the nurse returned and gently shooed me out. I sought out the doctor.
"Dr. Moss is it?" I said by way of introduction.
"Yes, and you are?" He said.
"Manny Kirkland. Cameron Kirkland's husband," I said. Of course it was a lie, but I figured God would forgive me.
"Yes, oh yes," He said. "You've seen your wife?"
"Yes. She's hurt bad. Can you give me..."
"Mr. Kirkland. Unless we run into any unforeseen complications, I think your wife will be all right, but it's going to be a long haul I'm afraid. She has massive internal injuries. Whoever did this kicked her often and hard while she was down."
"Do you know if the police have got the guy?" I said.
"No I don't. They've been here looking for evidence, but I don't think they've been able to figure it out yet," said Dr. Moss. I was pretty sure they, the cops, wouldn't be trying too hard: she was just another unlucky whore to them.
"Doctor, do you think I could stay with her. You know sit with her in the room. I wouldn't disturb anything," I said.
He looked to be thinking it over. "She's seriously hurt, Mr. Kirkland. Normally we like to have a patient in her state as quiet and undisturbed as possible. But, maybe it would be good for her to have you in there. I guess I can okay that. I'll inform the nurse's station," he said.
"Thank you doctor," I said. I hurried back to the ICU.
Over the next several days, Cameron came out of it several times, but each time only briefly. And, each and every one of those times the nurses would scurry and the doctors would appear as though from nowhere. And finally, on the sixth day, I was dozing; but for some reason, or no reason, I awakened to see two dark brown eyes peering at me. She smiled weakly in my direction. "Hi, my friend," she squeaked.
"Hi to you too," I said. "How are you feeling? No, don't talk, let me call the nurse." She smiled gamely.
I reached for the button and seven seconds later a white clad angel of mercy came in. She shooed me out, but I could tell from her demeanor that this time Cameron might have finally beaten the devil.
I waited just outside the door, not in the waiting room where they had initially tried to send me. The doctor came out.
He smiled at me. "It looks good," he said. "We'll keep her here for a few more days, run a couple of tests, and if all goes well, you can take her home."
I looked at him with a question in my mind. Home? With me? I knew then that I would be taking her home, but I had no idea for how long or really if she'd even go with me. I just said, "Sure doctor. Absolutely."
They had given her another sedative to let her rest, but at least she was out of the semi-coma that she had been in since her arrival. It was on the ninth day that I was able to talk with her at some length.
"You'll be released tomorrow," I said. "I will take you home with me. You're gonna need some help for a while."
"That's nice of you," she said. "Especially after all I've put you through."
"Yeah, well there will be rules," I said, knowing I had to take control or she would be back here again almost certainly and maybe in the downstairs morgue.
"I know, Manny. I know," she said.
"Can you tell me what happened?" I said. "The cops are going to want to know too," I said.
"It was Calvin," she said. "He did this to me. He came back and wanted to resume our business arrangement among other things. But, I told him to get lost. He didn't take it very well. And..."
She hadn't lost her talent for understatement. "I guess not," I said. "But I thought you wanted a pimp."
"He'd robbed me, and I knew he would again. Plus..."
I waited, and she looked at me with a growing sadness showing in her eyes. "I told him wasn't going to do it anymore," she said. "I told him I was through. That's when he lost it and beat the hell outta me."
I was having a hard time getting my head around what she had just said. My brilliant response was, "Huh?"
"You were right all along, Manny. It was a horrible life. I had some fun in the early going, but it soon palled. There was nothing in it but the money after a while. And, as I discovered, Money was not the most important thing to me anymore. I needed more, a lot more," she said.
"More?" I said. "What more?"
She stared at the ceiling for some moments. "Love, Manny, Love."
I looked down, I couldn't let her see me tear up. "Who is he?' I asked. "Why isn't he here?"
She had that sad look again. "Manny, he is."
"It's you," she said. "I know we're divorced. I know you can't stand what I've done. I've hurt you a dozen ways and as many times. But, I was wrong. I don't expect you to take me back. I just need you around me for a while, while I get my bearings."
"You got it, kiddo. I'll always be there for you. But, if you are really quitting the business, I am going to insist that you get counseling. No arguments," I said.
"Yes, sir," she said.
I had another agenda. Cameron had been interviewed by the cheap suits, but they didn't seem overly interested in breaking a sweat trying to solve the case. I, on the other hand, had every intention of solving it; and that with or without any help from them.
The ride home was not exactly lively but we didn't stop talking, really almost arguing. I wanted to know all about Calvin, and she didn't want to tell me anything.
"Manny, Calvin is twice your size, and he doesn't fear anything. He's a very serious dude. I don't want you going after him. The police can do that," she said.
"Maybe they will and maybe they won't, Cam, but this guy has got to pay. And, I'm willing to bet a million bucks that you aren't the first woman he's done this to. So tell me. I promise I won't hurt him too bad," I said, smiling and trying to lighten things up a little.
She let go of an exasperated sigh. "He has a place, or did until he disappeared. It's downtown, on fifteenth east. The Harmon apartments. Fourth floor I think. Don't remember the exact number." She turned in her seat to look at me, and I could see her grimace. "Manny, he carries a gun. He carries it all of the time. Do not go after this guy. He comes from a world you don't know anything about," she said, finally.
"Don't worry. I don't know what I'm going to do exactly, not yet, but I won't be taking any chances," I said.
Pulling into the driveway, I helped her out of the car. She was ambulatory but barely. Getting her up the stairs and into the bedroom where she was going to rest for a couple of days minimum was a bit of a challenge. But we got it done.
It was strange her laying there. She hadn't been in my bed in so long it was like she was a stranger. For sure she wasn't the same woman I'd married a thousand years before. Nor was she the same woman that had walked out on me to become a whore. It was going to be real strange for a while, and real iffy as to how things would turn out. Yes, I know, I could have put her in the guest room, but somehow that didn't seem right. She'd be sleepin' with me, and that was the long and short of it.
I called Rhonda. She and I knew a few people and I asked her to find me Jill Armstrong; they'd been tight a few years back, and what I was going to ask for needed the personal touch. Jill used to be a regular at the bar and she was also a private-eye. She'd find good 'ole Calvin for me, and more, she'd find the dirt on him that I was really after; and that before the police ever got a whiff.
The call had brought me to the bar and she was sitting near the front rubbing out a cigarette and nodding for the bar girl to bring her a refill; she was apparently drinking martinis.
I strode over to her. "Hi, Jill, haven't seen you in a long time," I said.
"Hello, Manny. Yeah, it has been a while. Been busy. So how have you been," she said.
"I've been better. Rhonda say anything to you?" I said.
"Not really. Said you and the wife had problems, but that was about it," said Jill.
"Problems? Not even close," I said. "More like a shit storm of problems, and I have no idea how I am going to get by them or how it will all end up or whatever."
She eyed me for the longest minute. "Okay, so what can I do to help?" she said, slowly.
I gave Helen a signal to bring us a round. After she had done that, I launched into the short version—which wasn't all that short—of what had been going on for the last year plus. Now, Jill was an experienced PI. She'd seen about everything one in her line of work could see. She was nevertheless shocked to hear my tale of woe.
"Sweet mother of God!" she said, not attempting to hide her feelings. "So at least you have an old address. Okay. And, you want to find this asshole before the cops get their hands on him. Why?"
"I want to talk to him about his, uh, behavior," I said. Jill eyed me once again for a long moment.
"You plannin' on doin' somethin' inappropriate, Manny?"
"No, but he's gonna know not to mess with my wife again. And, I'm gonna turn his evil ass over to the cops. After we have our little conversation of course," I said.
"Okay, I'll find him for you. But, no wild ass revenge shit, or you'll never see me again. Okay, am I clear?" she said.
"Good, I appreciate it," I said. "And, yes, you're very clear."
We spoke for a few more minutes. She laid it on me as to the cost for a search of this kind: $200 a day and expenses. I agreed, we downed our drinks and she got up to leave.