Everything seemed pretty damn good. What didn't make sense to Johnny Boy though, until lately, was why this fucking stripper going by the name of Quilt took so long to give him the time of day.
Johnny Boy ratcheted out a front lat spread, his girth filling the mirror on the wall of his studio apartment in Bensonhurst. Wing-span like a goddamn pterodactyl. He held it a minute, started to tremor then relaxed, shook his hands out at his sides.
He adjusted his bulge in the tight knitting of the jockstrap. Yeah, he was still pretty damn solid, even at forty-nine. The abs were rock, still could see the washboard, six little knobs poking through a thin layer of fat. The couple strands of gray hair above the ears you could hardly even notice.
Had he gotten hitched he probably wouldn't have looked so good. He'd have a beer gut and a turkey-waddle chin. Probably get his ass kicked in a bar brawl. And no friggin' way could he be working the door at a titty bar. No way a wife would deal with that shit.
Johnny Boy grunted through sixty close grip push-ups, turned over and did twenty crunches, puffing out hard. He sprung up off the hardwood floor and turned the radio a little louder, getting in the mood for work. The disco beat cranked and he did a goofy dance move, rocking his pelvis. He caught a glimpse of his hairy ass in the mirror and laughed.
He slid into a choreographed posing routine to the beat; a performance that earned him third place in the heavyweight class at the Mr. East Coast eighteen years earlier. He eyed the trophy standing majestically on the top of the television and felt as if he were back on stage. Shredded to the hilt. He still had every move down. Every transition just right, like a goddamn ballet.
He muscled into the black tux, black cummerbund and black bow-tie, pulling and stretching. He stared at the mirror and raked a palmful of gel through the buzz cut.
The fuck could've been wrong with her anyway?
Not seeing the obvious.
A short time later he was in the Trans-Am. The T-tops were off, the cool air massaging his ears and face. He cruised the pot-hole ridden Belt Parkway toward Long Island, the road smoothing out a bit as he merged east onto Sunrise Highway, ending up at the Raven's Nest Tavern in North Bellmore.
He did the rounds of hellos and howyoudoins then planted himself at the door, checking ID cards and shaking hands with the regular assholes. He stood on the top step, way up high just inside the door, leaning on the thick chrome railing. He could see everything from there.
Quilt got in around seven, sporting a workout getup; black spandex pants that showed off her gorgeous bubble-ass, a baggy t-shirt draped over smooth mountains of silicone, a headband and ponytail. And those eyes -- the eyes glared at him, signaled to him as she strutted past.
He could swear she was giving him a secret code lately. Finally seeing it like he did. Like she wanted to marry him when she was done with this stripping gig, finally coming around.
He imagined them living together, nice new apartment, right in Bay Ridge, him cutting squares of fresh cantaloupe in the morning. There'd be awesome views of the Verrazano Bridge -- sun blasting through a huge bay window. She'd grind the coffee beans in her nightie. They'd sit at the kitchen table and eat, go workout, then come home and fuck all afternoon.
Of course, by then he'd have a different job, something other than the strip joint. Quilt wouldn't dance no more. Maybe she'd do interior decorating for some rich clients. He'd do construction or something, a good union job with a solid pension. Straight seven to three.
So tonight, like all the other nights, Johnny Boy watched. Making sure these fucking losers in suits didn't get too close. Grabbing Quilt and trying to cop an ass feel. He watched her work the smoke-filled room, doing it just to make cash, not caring about the parade of gawking sleazebags.
Occasionally, she'd look over and wink. He was sure now they finally had the connection. When she hung upside down off the pole, she glanced over his way and he could see that sexy-as-shit smile. He knew she was dancing for him. It was Johnny Boy's show now, baby.
Their little secret.
So, Johnny Boy thought it a little friggin' weird when he escorted Quilt to her car after work. When she said, "Thanks JB," and he pulled her close for a kiss and she pushed him away. Both her palms on his chest, pushing, Quilt saying, "The fuck you doing?"
What the fuck? He was sure she was keeping up their little game, in case somebody was spying. Sure, that was it. Everyone knew the doormen weren't supposed to bang the dancers -- against club rules.
She smelled so good though.
Just a whiff sent his mind reeling
Johnny Boy thought it was way too much though when she hammered his chest, clenched fists, hitting hard, now kicking him too, saying, "The fuck off, you freak!"
He reined her in, thick fingers circling her tiny neck, just to get better control, making her see the light, the kind of life they had in store -- husband and wife.
She wouldn't listen.
He leaned in, his chest flattening the balloon-like tits.
Johnny Boy thought the knot in his stomach was a cramp, maybe low on potassium or something. The pain was funny though, took his breath. Funny enough that he let go of Quilt and had to step back and sit down on the pebbly blacktop.
And then Quilt saying, "The fuck didn't you just stop. Fucking choking me, asshole."
Johnny Boy looked up at Quilt, her purse hanging open, on a cell phone now, frantically punching in numbers, saying, "Shoulda stopped. Shoulda just stopped."
Johnny Boy then felt the thing protruding from his gut -- a smooth wooden knife handle. It jutted out just above the cummerbund, off the middle, at a little bit of an angle. Sticky warmth spread from its base, soaking the white shirt.
The pain got worse and Johnny Boy had to lie down, his head getting light, thinking of all the dirt and crunched glass that was getting in his hair and on his tux. From the ground, Quilt looked like a giant, the glow from the streetlight behind her head making him squint. He turned his head away and touched the wood handle again, then rubbed his abs, wondering if the washboard would ever be the same.
Glenn Gray is a Radiologist in private practice. His stories have appeared in Thuglit, Blazing Adventures Magazine, DZ Allen's Muzzle Flash, Bewildering Stories, Underground Voices and Out Of The Gutter 3. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.