aryn slammed down the receiver of the old pay phone still bolted to the wall outside the men’s room at The Exquisite A Go Go, and then slammed it down again, and then banged it against the wall a few times for good measure.
Fuck George! George was a class-A motherfucker. He was a first-class asshole, was what he was. Man says call him if she was ever in trouble. Man says don’t worry, he would always be there for her, of course he would be, she was the mother of his child, and he would always love her.
So this was what he called love? She phoned him in need, sick, and he said he was sorry, but he had to go take care of someone who was genuinely sick? Genuinely: She understood what that meant. It meant Fuck off, you druggy bitch.
Wade Perkins, another first-class asshole on her endless list, pushed out of the men’s room just as she was about to see if she could tear the phone out by its roots.
“Whoa, little girl!” he said. “Calm down there. Somebody do you wrong?”
Wade, with his flowing silver locks, big belly straining against pearl-buttoned black cowboy shirt, and Margarita breath, was the only dentist that Taryn had ever been to. George had sent her to Wade when they were first together, and she remembered Wade leaning over her, breathing through his mouth, clucking as he poked at her many cavities and exclaimed that she had the gums of an 80-year-old, a comment for which she would never fucking forgive him.
“It’s just George,” she told the dentist now. “He owes me my support money, you know, and he won’t pay me.”
Wade drew his head back, looked surprised. Yeah, nobody would believe such a thing of St. George, the Eagle Scout and Biggest Ass Good-Doer of central Arkansas. But it was her word against George’s, and she had the advantage of standing right here in front of Wade Perkins, batting her eyelashes and wearing nothing more than a rhinestone-studded patent leather mini-dress.
“Wade,” she said, stepping closer and laying a hand on his chest. “Do you think you could spot me some cash, just till tomorrow?”
Wade’s big dumb-ass face contorted itself into confusion. “I tucked some money in your G-string out there,” he said. “Not a dollar either, it was a ten, I”m not sure whether you noticed that…..”
“I need more than ten dollars, Wade.”
She was next to him now, running her hand through his hair, trying not to gag on the smell of his breath.
“Well, how much are we talking about?”
She could feel him turn warmer against her, see the sweat beading on his forehead, feel his erection poke against her hip. She’d like to draw this out but she could feel herself beginning to crash and she didn’t have much time.
“A hundred,” she said.
She could get amped for a lot less than that but there was the rest of the night to consider.
He peered closely at her. “Taryn,” he said. “What’s going on with your teeth?”
She pressed her mouth closed. “Nothing,” she mumbled. “Come on, Wade, I need some money.”
“I’ve seen that kind of damage. That’s meth mouth there. Taryn, tell me the truth. Are you trying to get money for meth?”
“Come on, Wade,” she said. “It doesn’t have to be a hundred. Fifty will do.”
“Meth will kill you, Taryn. You shouldn’t be doing that.”
“You don’t know what it’s like, Wade. I”ve got to have it. Dancing here all night, I’ve got to.”
He shook his head. “It’s no good for you. Listen, I don’t have that kind of money, but I have something that will help you come down.”
He pulled away from her, dug in his shirt pocket, produced some little green pills. Oxies. And not just any oxycontin, but the strongest kind, 80s they called them.
Worse than meth, some said. With meth, at least you knew you were alive. Oxies made death feel like a high.
“That’s the one thing I don’t do,” she said. Actually, she thought, feeling righteous, there were at least three or four things.
“Yeah?” Now he was reaching for her. “You might like it. At least, it’s going to help you forget about that other stuff.”
“It gets you hooked.”
“And freaking meth doesn’t? Come on, it will help you relax for now. No big deal.”
If she just had some pot, an Ambien, she’d be okay. Or if she could keep tweaking. But Jamie had taken off without her, up to the cabin, and hadn’t come back. And DaShawn said he would not advance her even one more puff, she was three weeks into her paycheck as it was. And she still had four sets to dance.
“Come on, baby,” said the dentist, holding one of the green pills to her lips. “Open up.”