“Put your hands here on the table,” Frank ordered. He covered both of hers with one of his and squeezed slightly. “Now, let’s get to the nitty-gritty, you know, the details. I want both of you to listen good. If you don’t understand, feel free to ask.” He took another sip of his drink. “Like we said, for the next thirty days, that is until 9:00 PM on March first, little Lisa is on service call. You know what I mean?” He waited for a moment then continued. “Any time of the day or night she comes running. That clear?” He put pressure on Lisa’s hands.
“Yes, I understand,” she said softly, again avoiding his eyes.
“Look at me, damn it!” he said. “And, by God, you better learn quick to look at me like you like what you see!” Lisa flinched. “Now, look up and wet your lips. You’re supposed to make me hot, not sit there like a Goddamn dummy!”
Lisa made a little involuntary sound, then did as he said. Her small red mouth glistened. I wanted to pull her after me, to rush away from this place, to get Richie from the farm, and drive until we ran out of money. But we couldn’t have gone far, and Frank had the tape.
“That’s better,” he said releasing her hand. “You look thirsty. Come over here.” He patted the seat beside him. “I’ll give you a taste.” He lifted his glass. I moved out of the way. Lisa stood unsteadily, then walked around the table and slid in next to him. He put a big arm around her and pulled her close. She looked so tiny and frightened. “Good,” he said smiling, “this is the way it’s going to be, just you and me, babe.” He laughed so loud several people at the bar looked at us. He drank from his glass and, careful to turn it so that she would have to drink from the same place, he held it to her lips. He watched her closely. “Billy, your wife’s got some hot little mouth,” he said, and pulled her closer to him. With his left hand, he tilted her chin so she had to look up at him. She tried to turn her head away, but he forced her to hold still. Slowly, he pressed his mouth over hers and parted her lips with his tongue. She squeezed her eyes shut.
I wanted to kill him. The couple at the bar near us continued to stare. “Not bad,” Frank said, sitting back again, but still holding her. “The little lady’s not exactly turned on, but she’s got what they call potential.” He winked at me. “She’s nervous. She’ll learn. Right baby?” He pressed her shoulder, then his big hand slid under her coat. “You gonna try real hard?”
Tears were in the corners of her eyes. She couldn’t speak. She nodded her head. He held his glass for her and she sipped. “Well, Billy boy, what do you think? Do we make a good looking couple or don’t we?” He drained his glass and handed it to me. “While Lisa goes to the john and freshens her lipstick you can get me another. Lisa started to rise. “Wait a minute, baby.” He held her there. “Did you wear something sexy like I told you?”
“Yes,” she said quietly.
“Well, I sure can’t see through this goddamn coat so take it off and check it before you come back. And what about stockings? You wearing them damn things that come up over your ass?” She nodded her head. “Well take them off in there. I can tell you ain’t got on a bra so that’s Okay.” He fished in his pocket for a cigarette. “You smoke?” he asked her.
“Well one of your little duties is to light me. Put it in your pretty mouth and light it, then put it in mine.” She took the cigarette. Her hand shook as she held the lighter to it. Careful not to inhale, she lit it and handed it to him. He shook his head. She placed it between his thick lips. “That’s the idea,” he said. “Now, come back in here looking hot. Know what I mean? Hot for old Frankie.” He released her and she rose holding onto the table. “That’s it, baby,” Frank said. “Billy’s buying.”
The bar was crowded now. I had to wait a long time for Frank’s drink. As I carried it back to the table, Lisa appeared. Several men at the bar turned to watch her pass. She had checked her coat. The tight turquoise dress she wore revealed her shoulders and back ending a “V” just at her waist. In the dark, they might not have seen that her legs were bare. Her spike heels left little imprints in the thick red carpet.
Although her shoulders and back were exposed, the front of her dress was cut high against her neck. I saw the anger in Frank’s face as she approached, but when he noticed the open back and realized how accessible it made her breasts he smiled. She had made-up her eyes so that there was no sign she’d been crying. Her perfectly formed lips were bright red and her cheeks were flushed. Her jet-black hair was cut short with bangs across her forehead, and it curled under at the nape of her neck. She moved with the natural grace of a dancer. Her classic beauty always caught me by surprise, but never more sharply than now.