The cab pulled to the curb in front of the twelve-story apartment on 36th Street in Manhattan at 12:20 AM, and a short-haired blonde got out, flashing a glimpse of thigh that caused a passer-by walking his dog to stumble before regaining his balance and moving on.
It was just starting to snow as the blonde entered the lobby and pressed the button for 725. "Inger, is that you?" A feminine voice called out over the speaker.
"Yeah, Barb, it's me."
"Um, you're kinda late."
"I know, I know. Buzz me in, will ya?"
The buzzer rasped and Inger opened the door to the lobby, took the elevator to the seventh floor and knocked twice on 725.
Barbra, a pert brunette with shoulder length hair and wearing a Terrycloth robe, opened the door with one hand while holding a glass of white wine in the other and let Inger in.
"I was under the impression we were gonna do some bar hopping looking for Mr. Right," she said.
Inger made herself comfortable on the leather couch Barb had picked up at a consignment store the week before. Running a hand over the smooth, but worn leather, Inger said, "It's nice, Barb. I think you got a real deal on this."
"Thanks, but you're more than two hours late. What happened?"
"Could I please have some wine first?" Inger replied.
"Sure if you don't mind Gallo by the gallon."
"Ugh ... well, beggars can't be choosers."
"Yeah, you could have brought a nicer vintage if you're gonna be a friggin' connoisseur."
"Sorry, Barb, but wait 'til you hear about my little adventure."
Barb perked up at her friends words. "Adventure? Do tell."
"The wine, Barb, please, I really need a drink."
Holding her robe closed with one hand, Barb walked into her kitchenette, picked up the wine and filled two large glasses to the brim and came back, handing one glass to Inger then carefully took a sip to lower the wine's level in her own glass and joined her friend on the leather couch.
"So tell me about this big adventure."
Inger held up a hand, took a big swallow of the Gallo White, grimaced at the lack of flavor and said, "Okay, I was walking alone down 14th Street because I had some time to kill."
"You had time to kill and you're this late?"
"Stop interrupting, Barb. You know what I mean. You take forever to get ready. I was giving you time, figuring we'd be fashionably late for ... what the fuck am I talking about? We were going to pop in and out of some bars, for Christ's sake. There was no set time frame. And I know, I know, I am late. But let me tell you why."
"Go on, tell me." Barb said, drawing her legs up under her and pulling the robe tight around her to keep the warmth in.
Inger nodded and resumed talking. "So I popped into a Nedick's and grabbed a hotdog and an orange drink, you know, to fortify me for a while. I'm still chewing on the last of the dog when this well-dressed guy, maybe thirty, thirty-thirty-five comes onto me, saying, "Excuse me, but you're a most attractive woman and I wonder if I might have a few words with you?"
It took me a second or so before I realized he was holding a video camera and had it focused on me.
"Well, you know the city is full of whackos that come in all shapes and sizes. But this guy seemed harmless. I say that on account of how he kept his distance, not coming too close, you know?"
"So you heard him out?"
"Yeah, well sort of. Anyway, I said, "What's your problem?"
"Problem?" he says, "I don't have a problem. I have a beautiful girl talking to me. That's hardly a problem."
"It could become one, Mister. I don't normally speak to strangers on the streets of Manhattan; especially at night."
"Oh, then my name is Joey and I was ... well, I wanted to tell you how attractive you are ... how photogenic, and..."
"But what is your name, if I may ask?"
I don't know why exactly, but he was so nice and persistent that before I knew it, I was blurting out my name to him."
"Inger," he said, repeating my words. "A lovely name for a lovely lady."
I think it was at that moment that I noticed his cologne. I couldn't place it, and you know how I am about things like that, Barb."
"Yeah, you go nutso until you can place it, or find out its name."
"Right, and so for that reason I kept talking to Mr. Persistent; even though the damn camera was annoying as hell."
"So what was the name of the cologne?"
"I never thought to ask him."
"You never asked him?"
"No, we, umm, got to talking and shit and I forgot."
"I'll bet he was some talker to make you forget something like that, Inger."
"Well, he told me right off that I was beautiful."
Barb laughed, and said, "He certainly knew how to get your attention."
"Shut up!" And laughed along with her friend.
"Then he asked me if I'd pose for him."
"All this with the camera going?"
"Yeah, I almost forgot about, but not quite. Anyway, I was quick to tell him I wasn't interested in posing for him or anyone else."
He didn't bat an eye, just kept talking, "But why not? Surely you know how attractive you are.
"Are you from Brooklyn?"
"So, you are a big city girl. You must value money."
"Of course I value money. Who doesn't? That's a dumb question."
"But it got you talking to me, didn't it? Why I even bet you don't remember my name."
"Of course I do, it's Joey." I pretended to be pissed off at him and turned away. I got two steps before he called out: "Would $70 interest you in posing just a little bit?"
I thought of those shoes we saw at the mall yesterday. Do you recall them?"
"Yeah, weren't they like $300 bucks?"
"$282.75 to be exact. I really loved them, but didn't have that kind of money to spend on them. Suddenly this guy had my interest.
The thing about him was that he never shut up, just kept on chattering away. "If only you would say show me your breasts..."
"No, go away!' I said, but stood there waiting for what he had to say next.
"They are very nice breasts ... very big. I bet your boyfriend likes to look at them."
I was thinking about the shoes and didn't catch what he'd said for a second or two. Then I said something brilliant, like, "What?"
"I said I bet your boyfriend likes to see your breasts."
"What if he does? He's my boyfriend after all."
"Yes, and that's why I'm willing to pay you for the privilege. Believe me it would be a privilege to see them."
"No, I'm not crazy. Well, I'm crazy to see your lovely body. But otherwise I'm not crazy at all."
I tried calling you then Barb, but got a busy signal.
"Yeah? I was trying to get you!"
"Oh shit! Isn't that always the way?"
"Yeah, crazy isn't it?"
"So what happened next?"
"He asked me who I was calling. I said my boyfriend."
"Oh, you liar!"
"Yeah, well, he said, how can your boyfriend's phone be busy? I don't understand; why I would keep my phone open at all times if you might call me. There you are, as pretty as you are and his line is busy ... maybe talking to another girl. I would never do that to you."
I rolled my eyes as if exasperated and turned away from him.
"So where are you going now that your boyfriend's not answering?"
"If you must know I'm going to my girlfriend's that's where!"
What I couldn't understand was why I wasn't putting some distance between us and walking away. But there was something about his persistence."
"Yeah, and the money that might help get those shoes, maybe?" Barb said caustically.
"Fuck you, Barb. You're just being catty."
"Can I come along? Maybe she would like to pose for me too?"
"I'm not taking you to her place!"
"Then come with me to mine. I have a hotel room just down the block. It's a nice hotel and we can get out of the cold."
I had to laugh at that. But just then the wind picked up and I shivered with the sudden cold blast.
"So you're laughing! He said happily. That's good. Let's get out of the cold, the forecast is for snow. Will you come with me?"
Now I should tell you that even before he spoke to me he was videoing me. By this point I'd grown used to it and was able to ignore it.
"I thought of the shoes ... I really wanted them. The money looked easy enough. I'd let him see my tits and that would be that plus the promised money, which I told myself I'd get up front."
"Okay, okay, I'll go with you. How much further is your hotel?"
"Two blocks, just two blocks."
It was really frigid and after a sudden gust of wind nearly blew my skirt up over my head I realized I was standing there stamping my cold feet on the sidewalk while listening to him. You know, they say women are talkers. Well I want to tell you this guy never shut up. He kept chattering away. Half the time he wasn't saying anything coherent, but it didn't matter, he kept talking and talking. He had a nice voice, not overly husky or anything, but it certainly had a calming effect on me. I forgot to worry about his being a complete stranger when everybody knows it's dangerous to do. It's like inviting trouble. But his voice was soothing, almost hypnotic in a way, and he kept his distance, never getting in my space.
I kept thinking about the damn shoes. And all but agreed to pose for him by saying, "I get the money before I go in the room, right?"
.... There is more of this story ...