Finally, I got a hold of Lesbian Adventure Club: Book 10’s second chapter. It has been very slow going. Apparently, the author has a life and responsibilities aside from us. Can you believe it?
If you haven’t read Chapter 1, please do so first, right here. People who read things out of order simply drive the author nuts.
Filled with apprehension, we stood in the study and watched Girl Friday take a leisurely stroll to a cabinet between two built-in bookshelves. She put her hand in her pocket to retrieve what ended up being a key. Then, she unlocked the cabinet door. A few seconds later, she turned around, holding … holding … Bimbo Babe! Damn, I was happy to see her, as Claudia and I had been forced to relinquish her a few days prior. Little did I know she’d be a kept woman, under lock and key in a frickin’ wall.
Girl Friday set her on the desk, and as she jiggled, it became obvious that Bimbo Babe was not quite herself.
"We dressed her up for the occasion," she declared. "She looks pretty damn good, huh?"
We all leaned in, and I admit: I feared another lopsided spectacle. Instead, I noted that she simply wore a gaudy diamond necklace, just as Alison did. Between jiggles, it madly glinted. Livable, I thought, at least until the hoopla began.
"You’ve got to be kidding!"
I looked again, my head bobbling to keep rhythm with her. "Holy shit!"
"How do we win her?"
"If we win her, do we get the diamonds, too?"
"You didn’t glue those on her, did you?"
"You didn’t let her get her nipples pierced, did you?"
Girl Friday bellowed, "We did not do anything permanent to her. Get a flippin’ grip!"
"So, how do we win her?"
"You don’t," she bluntly answered. "There’s no competition this weekend. She just gets to be all dolled up for a nice relaxing weekend at the mayor’s mansion, too. She looks like a million bucks."
Before we had a chance to either agree or dispute, the mayor ordered, "All right, let’s get our butts to the dining room before our chef quits and we’re stuck ordering pizza."
With that immense motivation, we hurried out of the room.
"Please, please, please, don’t let dinner be hotdogs."
There in the swanky but relaxed dining room, I fully expected to assume my desired position next to the flirty Alberta, but instead, we found assigned seating. Each plate held a blue envelope with a character name written on it. I searched and found my place at the end of the far side, between the mayor at the table head and Amah Fraud, who, I quickly discovered, was strategically placed between Alberta and me. A quick scan helped me realize that everyone was a person away from her partner, except our hostesses. On each end, they would at least have eye contact without having to crane their necks. I was such a wuss.
We took our seats, and not a second later, Fritz came sashaying through the kitchen’s swinging doors with two pitchers of ice water. He announced, "Prohibition prohibits me from serving a good wine … or a bad wine for that matter. Give me your goblets, and I’ll fill them with water."
One by one, we did so.
When he finished and left the room, Girl Friday said, "Since we’re strangers, we’ve got a note for each of you to flesh out your character a bit more. You’ll also find a topic to keep the weekend’s conversations going." With a sickeningly sweet smile, she glanced around the room.
The mayor instructed, "Go ahead and read them, and then we can have a nice relaxing dinner."
Cautiously, we each picked up our envelope and sought affirmation from and/or commiseration with each other. Simultaneously, we removed the blue paper.
On tenterhooks, I unfolded and read.
You, Heady Heaper, know the truth about Alberta Cojones’ ‘business’ dealings. A complete sucker for those green eyes, you have, on innumerable occasions, provided Alberta with alibis via your gossip column. Where exactly was she that night you said she was at the theater? Where exactly was she that night you said…
Your goal this weekend is to protect Alberta at all costs. Her freedom and your credibility as a reporter depend on it.
Find out exactly what goes on in the back room of The Lost Generation with those literary types you once wanted to be … before you gave your soul to Alberta.
Holy shit! I slept with a chick named Alberta who had balls and was a crook! Hmm… Would I relinquish my ethics for those green eyes? Apparently, I didn’t need to think on that too hard. It seemed I already had. Holy frickin’ shit!
Open-mouthed, I looked up to find seven other open mouths and two snickering government officials.
"I thought you f-ing said you weren’t going to mess with us?" Samantha Shovel scooped on the indignation. "There’s going to be a corpse again, isn’t there? You’re—"
"No, Laura!" Alison nearly screamed. "There isn’t! I swear." She looked to Janice at table’s end. "Please, Janice? Please?"
Without hesitation, Janice smiled at her. "Go ahead, Al. If it messes something up, we’ll deal with it. If it’ll make you feel better, go ahead."
Alison released a heavy sigh and then admitted, "I agreed to let this all just play out, but, Laura, if you’re already thinking that, I’d rather risk messing it up." She smiled and explained, "There is a mystery this weekend, but it is not a murder mystery. I swear. And I want you to know this was all my idea. I’m the one who talked Janice into doing this. She wanted to do something totally different." She paused and looked at each of us. "I just didn’t like what Lisa and I did last time. I’m very sorry for that. So, I wanted to do it right. We’ll have fun. And nobody dies, Laura. Nobody."
"Not even Lover Doll," Girl Friday said as she cracked the dick on the arm. "Seems to me, Miss Shovel, you made your own murder mystery, too. It wasn’t just Alison and Lisa."
Miss Shovel started laughing. "All right, yes, Holly and I killed Lover Doll and put the blame on you. But we saved her, didn’t we, Sutter? You got your little blowup doll back for those nights Kitterman won’t sleep with you."
Both Alberta and I readied to spat when the artist splattered the airwaves.
"Babe," she called with a laugh, "it’s going to become a murder mystery if you’re not careful. You be a good girl over there without me next to you to keep you in line."
The dick nearly flattened the vegan stuck between them as she reached for Carolina. "Hol, if you were next to me—"
Girl Friday started banging her plate with a fork. "We’re strangers! Remember? It’s 1930! Remember? Shovel and Reef, behave before you piss off the mayor."
Carolina giggled. Miss Shovel snorted. "Sorry," they said in flawless unison.
"At the risk of pissing off the mayor, can I say something?" Susan—er, Vanna—asked. With no intention of waiting for permission or disallowance, she quickly continued, "We’ll go along with whatever you two have planned—and I’m sure we’ll have fun—but Alison, there’s really no need to feel bad about what happened. It’s over. Just let go of it."
Agreement rippled through the room, as did Fritz on a salad-delivery mission.
Mayor Alison replied, "Well, if you’re all so willing to let me off the hook, then do it now. Just act like we never had this conversation. Just trust us and have a nice relaxing weekend. That’s really all I want."
"Deal!" resounded so loudly that croutons went breadcrumbs.
From there, we enjoyed a leisurely dinner. Swede spoiled us as only he could. If others in this era were standing in soup kitchen lines, we were the arrogant upper crust dining on prime rib … and some stuff that looked as though it belonged in a vegan shoe store not a vegan mouth. I wasn’t at all sure what it was, but I was certain I did not want to know.
What little conversation there was proved stilted, as though we somehow were strangers. Simultaneously, it felt both peaceful and awkward, and it became obvious that the mayor and her aide succeeded at creating an air of mystery. Maybe we were all simply lost in thought. I was; I kept thinking about the character note, about the goal and the directive. Short of blurting the obvious, I had no idea how the hell to find out what went on in the back room of Gertie’s coffeehouse. Then, I found myself wondering if someone sat there puzzled about how to approach me for information. But what the hell did I know?
We all leaned back and starting groaning our praise to Swede as he and Fritz cleared the table. Then, unconcerned with our already overstuffed bellies, they began serving coffee and warm raspberry pie. As soon as I smelled both, I knew I would make room; I knew we all would.
Before I even achieved pie in the pie-hole, Alberta roared, "What the heck is this, Sam?"
Curious as hell, I stretched my head around Amah as far as I could.
"It’s Swede, Miss Alberta, and that is a cup of hot water," he sheepishly replied. "I know you’re not a coffee drinker. It’s just that with Prohibition…"
"What about Prohibition, Sam—Swede?" Instead of awaiting an answer, she jutted her beautiful head into the middle of the table and shot looks to both ends. "Please, don’t say it."
"Okay, we won’t," Girl Friday said with a smart-ass snicker. "We won’t tell you that Earl Grey has been outlawed."
Uh oh! I flinched, but the reaction I expected from Alberta didn’t materialize. Apparently, she was rendered speechless, or she was too engrossed in watching each bow her head in not-a-good-time-to-laugh fear.
"What?" she finally asked with a surplus of incredulity.
"Sorry, Alberta," the mayor said. "It has anti-depressive qualities, and this is supposed to be the great depression. The two just don’t mix. They had no choice but to outlaw it."
Alberta laughed, but it severely lacked amusement. "They?"
"The government," Girl Friday clarified.
"You are the government!"
"Oh, we are, aren’t we?" Mayor Alison glibly said. "Then I guess we had no choice."
Alberta craned her neck again, this time to look at me. It was the dreaded Do-Something-Kate look. I hated those, because I only got them when she already recognized a situation as hopeless. Think, Kate! Think! Um… I had a stash of Earl in my car and she in hers … but we didn’t have our frickin’ cars. Um… In my mind, I rummaged through my duffle bag, although I knew I had not packed any. Um… Whoa! Whoa! Wait a frickin’ minute! They reminded us to trust them, and yet, this was a trust issue, a big trust issue. The vegan would always get vegan fuel, Laura and I would always get nicotine without having to asphyxiate anyone, and Alberta would always get her Earl. The vegan just got her fuel— Oh shit!
"I’ll get you some, honey," I blurted. Yeah, I would, even if I had to walk (and smoke) blocks and blocks away, and even if I had to walk (and smoke) all the way back. "Don’t worry," I assured. "I’ll get you Earl."
Girl Friday tsk-tsked and shook her red head. "Alberta, I thought you were a shrewd businesswoman," she challenged.
Alberta nearly snapped her neck to turn to her, and while I could not see her expression, I heard her cogs engage and her hackles rise.
Girl Friday furthered, "I would have thought you’d have better connections than a gossip columnist."
Hmm, I would have thought so, too, but still, if she didn’t have Earl within a half hour of rising in the morning, I would be in the trash heap, not simply writing it.
Alberta dared, "Exactly what kinds of connections do I have, Girl Friday?"
She cackled. "How shrewd are you if you need me to tell you? Not very, I’d say. How utterly disappointing."
Holy shit! Girl Friday just kicked Alberta Cojones in the cojones!
The room went breathless for a full moment as Alberta simply stared at Girl Friday. Then after a large inhalation, Alberta asked, "How’s the pie, girls?"
What the hell?
Frenzied, diversionary conversation commenced, and I watched the green-eyed gangster drink her cup of hot water as though it were the best Earl she had ever had. And all the while, I knew those cogs of hers glowed red-hot from friction.
A short time later, Mayor Alison and Girl Friday informed us that we would be retiring to the living room for after-dinner drinks. As the rich b-words we were slowly becoming, we heeded the order by moseying our way and lazily plunking down onto couches and chairs. And through it all, we remained mindful that we were strangers—strangers who just happened to end up next to certain other strangers. Oddly, I discovered I had an apparently repressed fetish for pinstripe suits.
The living room was grand but not in a stuffy, pretentious way. Its vaulted ceiling reached for the moon with great joy, and glossy wood spread in all directions. Plush couches made me want to sleep off the aftereffects of a large dinner. I thought I even heard the area rug whispering my name. Heady… Heady…
The mayor stood in the center of the room and spun to look at each of us. "I’m truly sorry," she said. "Inviting you in here for after-dinner drinks shows just how out of touch a busy mayor can be. There’s that whole little matter of Prohibition." She paused to laugh and then asked, "Would anyone like some water? I can call Fritz."
We assured Mayor Shithead that we were quite overstuffed as it was.
Girl Friday came to stand next to her and said, "Then let’s just relax. Let’s simply enjoy each other’s company."
After melodramatic sighs from each of us, Maggie—er, Joan—asked, "This is really your house, huh, Janice? It’s huge!"
"And beautiful," Gertie added.
Girl Friday shook her head dismissively. "It is, but it’s not what you think," she said. "I didn’t earn it." Her remark resulted in an instant swat from the mayor.
"Why must you always say that?"
"Because I didn’t earn it," she defended. "How many massage therapists do you know who could afford a place like this—well, at least the kind who only massage the legal areas?" She snickered and turned to Joan. "I inherited it," she affirmed.
The mayor smacked her again and opened her mouth to speak, but suddenly whooping and hollering came from the foyer. We heard the door loudly close, and then all hell broke loose.
Two individuals, in clothing befitting our reversal of time, burst into the living room, guns slung over their shoulders, one carrying a box. "You need some hoooooch?" they bellowed in concert.
Some of us were quick to recognize the invaders while others required Carolina to screech, "Sis! Denny!" as she shot to her feet.
"The name’s Bonnie," Noelle—er, Bonnie—clarified as she stiff-armed the lunging Carolina. "And this here’s Clyde."
Carolina was not buying. She wrenched Bonnie’s arm out of her way, saying, "You’re my sister! Give me a hug."
"And you’re half-naked. Where the hell are your clothes, sis?"
"Ah, see you are my sister, and these are my clothes." She twirled toward us. "Has everyone met my sister?"
Bonnie cuffed her one. "They know who am! Why must you always ask that stupid question?"
"I don’t always ask that stupid question!"
"Holly, you ask Mom and Dad that stupid question!"
Carolina swatted her and turned to Denny, asking whether he would at least give her a hug. He set the box on an end table, flung his paintball gun out of the way, and respectfully accommodated.
"So do you want hooch or not?" Bonnie shouted at us. "Hurry up. Yes or no? Me ‘n Clyde has banks ta rob."
"What kind of hooch do you have, Noelle—I mean, Bonnie?" Amah Fraud inquired. "I think I could use something to drink."
Gertie walloped Amah just as Bonnie specified, "I have hoity-toity cognac and the bubbly giggle juice for the mimosa lover." Her index finger jutted out, went on a quick tour of the living room, and came to a halt on none other than Mimosa-Head Susan—er, Vanna.
Vanna’s eyes sparkled until a dark thought instantly snuffed out the light. "Sure, get my hopes up. Then, I suppose you’ll tell me that orange juice has been outlawed."
Bonnie laughed. "It probably hasn’t been outlawed, because I don’t have any. I only deal in—" She paused to lean in and cup her hand around her mouth. "I only deal in, um, the illegal stuff the boss makes me deliver."
With impeccable timing, Fritz appeared with a large tray of legless goblets and a fluted glass half-empty/half-full of an orange substance that made me queasy at the mere sight. Instantly, Vanna’s eyes lit up again, and she flew to retrieve the object of her desire before the government intervened.
Fritz began to distribute glasses, and when the tray got to me, I took two, despite my hesitation. Booze remained on my shitlist since the Crappie Cabin vomiting teapot incident. Still, the whole bootlegging thing proved seductive, and besides, cognac was made for sipping, and sipping would not render me a drunken fool. Right?
Wanting to know I would not be alone in my decision, I turned to Alberta. "Honey, do you—"
Where the hell was Alberta?
My eyes quickly scanned the room and then again.
Where the hell was my green-eyed gangster?