Max stashes the trumpet under his barstool and leaves. Benson seizes the cellist’s pistol, slaps the handcuffs on her wrists, and pushes her out the bookstore exit. I grab Max’ trumpet.
“Take it out to him,” Marion says. “Yer trembling.”
I guzzle my drink.
“I need yours, too,” I say.
“Drown yerself, Kiddo,” she says.
Steve snags a fist full of Marion’s hair. Vinnie on the spot twists Steve’s arm around behind his back. Steve glares at me. With Marion’s help, Vinnie pushes Steve to the bookstore entrance and throws him out. I race to the alley exit with the trumpet. Vinnie races across the room to me.
“Gonna’ chase Max?” he says.
I bite my lip. He reaches for the trumpet. I clutch the case and step back, away from him.
“Maybe,” I say.
“Leave the horn here,” he says.
“No. Somebody might steal it.”
I step around him. Again, he tries to wrest the trumpet from me. A blood-freezing scream, glasses smashing, loud curses, take his attention. He takes off running past the roulette wheel. I slip out.
Condensation drips from the awning above the exit. A puddle reflects the narrowing column of light between the door and casing. I find a length of pipe, four–inches long, beside to a loose brick on the ground. Use the pipe to hold the door slightly open. The aroma from the kitchen roof vent, meat cooking, floats to me.
“Max?” I say. “You forgot your trumpet. Max?”
Shoes scuffle on the pavement at the back of the next alcove. “Max?” I say.
Whispered words come from the alcove.
I grab the wall. How many pink ladies did I drink? If I pass out, my soul will leave me.
I peer into the pitch-black recess.
“Are you alone?” I say.
“Alone,” comes back.
I set the trumpet on the step and grope along the wall to the far corner.
I reach out, touch his neck.
“Come out where I can see you.” I say.
He draws me tight to him.
“I’ve never . . .” I say.
“On yer knees,” he says.
I’d do anything for Max. I kneel. He unbuttons his pants.
“Think I was sissy boy?”
“Steve?” I say. “Where’s Max?
“Your girlfriend got me fired. She’s next.”
He lifts me to my feet. Grabs my throat.
“Want to live? Fight me, you’ll regret it.”
I bite his arm.
“No . . . I, no—”
He chokes off my air. Pries my legs apart with his knee and forces the full length of his penis inside me. A sharp pain comes when something tears in me.
“Got me a virgin,” he says.
A barrage of gutturally uttered words of humiliation morphs to a meaningless drone. I stop resisting. I meet the onslaught and at the height of our feverish coupling, with two brutal thrusts, a flood of warm sperm pours into me. A moment later, I ride my own roller coaster. Speed down, down, down, soar to the sky.
The headlights of a police car shine into the alley. The policeman steps out, bounces the beam of a flashlight between the buildings, along the ground and stops the light on Steve’s face. Steve shades his eyes.
“Keep your whore trap shut.”
“How’s everything sir?” the cop says.
“Couldn’t be better,” Steve says.
The officer salutes.
He backs the cruiser out to the street, leaving us awash in blue exhaust fumes.
Steve pulls out. I pick up the trumpet. Bolt for the door. His arm goes around my waist. He punches me under the ribs. I vomit.
“I’ll tell the police.”
“Not if I your dead.”
“If you made me pregnant, I can put you in prison.”
“I’m sterile. Take what I want. No proof, no prison.”
“But I’m a Christian.”
His expression shows a mountain of loathing, he twists my nipples.
“Sissy boy’ll never satisfy you after me. Those rich snots piss me off.”
“That rich snot’s coming any minute,” I say.
“Good, I’ll dump my next load in his ass.”
He spins me around, bumps against my back.
“My father’s a cop,” I say.
“See how the horn blower watches me? Only a cock sucker eyeballs another man like that.”
“I have to pee,” I say.
“Squat right here, Babe.”
I reach for the doorknob. He drags me back three-feet.
“I ain’t done with you,” he says.
My toe catches the loose brick. A sudden move he ignores. It’s in my hand. I slam one corner against his skull. His eyes roll back. He collapses. The brick falls from my hand. I drag the body to the darkest corner in the recess.
From the street, forty-feet away, Benson emerges from a car the cellist is driving. She takes off. Benson enters the alley. My toe catches the brick, sending me to my knees. I seize Max’s trumpet. The case falls open, the mouthpiece falls out. Behind me, Benson’s hand brushes my hair. Marion enters the alley from the street, speaks to him. He walks away. She pulls me into the speakeasy and hustles me into the ladies room, to a stall. The toilet seat is a chunk of ice with a hole.
“Oh Marion, he ruined me for Max.”
Marion inspects my groin.
“Blood,” she says.
The metal toilet paper holder mesmerizes me. I pull my wrist across the bottom corner. Marion takes my arm away.
“Come on, Honey.”
I squeeze her hand.
“What do I do now?”
“Are you a baby? Wipe it.”
“No paper,” I say.
“Use your panties. Hide em behind the toilet.”
“Oh Marion, I couldn’t find Max. Steve—Steve raped me.”
We weave our way through a half-dozen dancers to our table. I hold my lower abdomen. Cheers explode around the roulette wheel.
“Wanna’ get outa’ here?” Marion says.
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