One Night after a Who show
by Regis Boff
Twenty naked women smell a certain way.
“He wants money,” Tiny said.
“Do you have him?” I asked. It was seven hours after The Who show. “Buttoned down, he doesn’t want to get away, but you better come; he’s been pestering for you.”
I palmed a couple of hundred dollar bills as I got out on Keith Moon’s floor in case I ran into any police sniffing around.
Teenage girls wandered the drummer’s closed hallway like confused chickens. They cocked their heads towards the sound of my elevator, alert for any flying corn, they were disappointed because I was a grown-up.
One of Jim’s security guys was standing at the door to the Moon’s suite, being sturdy and earnest.
“What’s he doing?” I asked.
The likable tough shrugged like muscular people imagine they can, “He’s been ringing up hookers for the last couple of hours with Jim, Tiny, and Dougal.”
The living room was empty except for Tiny, who was standing sentinel at the bedroom door.
Tiny was a monster. An ex-New York cop who was shot and lived on a pension. It was his story. He irregularly carried The Who’s only gun keeping it on his ankle where he could not reach it without a chiropractor. He had greasy black curly hair and an uncut testicle sparse beard. He reminded of a fat black bear who had been smacked by a high school custodian’s wet mop.
Tiny bathed, as the tour joke went, only before major surgery.
And he was naked in front of me except for his laminated security pass that hung around his neck.
“You’re a picture,” I said, passing him to knock on the bedroom door.
Callaghan answered with too big a smile, “No clothes, governor’s orders.”
“No,” I said,” then undressed except for my case and walked in.
Moon glances up at me from under a private sea of breasts on his pink bed. Seven naked girls are surrounding a Scrabble board placed in the center. I lose his attention as he turns back to the board.
” Well, where the fuck have you been?” He attacks.
“You better be winning,” I challenge him.
“Well Regis, you’re in time enough, I may need to buy a vowel,” he loudly confuses our two most important American letter games, Scrabble and Wheel of Fortune, which must have had a British equivalent somewhere in his past.
“Come sit, he patted the bed beside him, shoving a blond to the floor. I cover my lap with my bag and sit.
“I have these ladies of the night on the run, but the field of play is getting crowded, the board is very condensed.”
I glanced down, seeing that three words had found their way into the contest so far, but none of the little wooden squares forming them were touching each other.
“You guys ever play this game before tonight?” I said to the girls. One or two expressed vague confidence.
A stunning black girl with bruised blood-colored hair and long bone earrings heaved in a dark voice, (like a lonely cow’s moo), “I got one,” carefully laying down “dog,” forever impressing four of the other girls who I judged to be on her team against the drummer.
So Moon kicks the board into the air in a losing hissy fit and banishes the poor black girl off the bed. She promptly goes from pride to tears, her spelling days over and in tatters.
He pushes himself up to lean on the silk headboard beside me. I don’t sit touching naked men regularly, so I start to sweat. It goes unnoticed because the whole room is already glistening.
“Can I hold it?” he draws my eyes with his to my crotch then gives a begging look. I hand him my case. He flattens it to his balls and says brightly, “Does it have lots of tonight?”
“You bet,” I said.
He tosses the bag to the middle of the bed, and the girls lunge on it like it was a jungle musk genital pouch. Except for the ones pinned down by Jim and Doughal, the room’s women are now circling the bed, treating my briefcase like an exotic animal.
I was half thinking of how early I could get hold of a spray bottle of Fantastic from housekeeping or a new bag.
Moon, his mouth now on my ear, says in his whispering British spy voice, “I have my eye on that little blond down there.”
I have this job owing to two strengths; I am trustworthy with money, and my reality was not easily overwhelmed by the unreality of anybody else’s.
I offer, “she has not taken her eyes off you.” Meanwhile, she is gnawing on one side of my case; he seems not to notice that or was happy with my reassurance.
Jim and Dougal know their call girls.
“Girls, the case,” putting his arms out like the prongs on a forklift.
“I will need quite a bit tonight,” now back to me.
“How much?” I said.
He began gravely calculating, employing his taxing ” pin the tail on the donkey” arithmetic.
“Twenty-thousand might cover it,” he said, immediately giddy with relief that the stress of the mathematics was finally over.
Opening the case, I counted out twenty packets, handed it to him, and made him sign for it, which he did, dramatically sweeping my pen in semi-circles like a crashing propeller plane before landing close enough to the dotted line.
He threw all the money at Doughal, who couldn’t disengage his hands fast enough from women’s body parts, so most of it hit him on the head.
Jim and Dougal sprang for it before the girls got it, which would have resulted in a hooker /security fistfight. These girls would fight.
On my way out, I told Jim to pay the girls himself, if he could, and to drop the balance back to me at the next show.
None of it ever comes back.