“Inappropriate?” she asked, snapping her menu shut. “Did he come
“That’s not the point!” I said. “I will not be represented by a
psychotic lawyer who regards my personal life as a hilarious
joke. I’m not giving anyone a $5,000 retainer to insult me!”
Jasmine waved my arguments aside. “You’re talking about the man
who’s been my lawyer since I was a child offender,” she said.
“I know Barry’s a voyeur. He’s also a jerk. Do you expect a good
criminal lawyer to have the personality of a maitre d’? He deals
with prosecutors and psychos — that’s his job! Don’t you get
I contemplated this in sullen silence. Who else would be able to find me a
lawyer at this point? Not my so-called best friend, Allison — she’s the
reason I need one! Not my boyfriend. Maybe Milton, but “Criminal Lawyer”
might strike him as a sordid request. Better to use his money to handle my
legal costs while keeping these messy problems to myself. Even though I’m
ahead of the game — sitting on the pile of cash Milt gave me — I do care
what he thinks of me. I don’t want to be seen as an aging street urchin on
the verge of New York Post infamy! I’d like to remain somewhat genteel –
sexy not seedy — in Milt’s eyes …
“You know,” Jasmine continued, “Barry saved me from myself. When
I was a teenager, he said: ‘You have no concept of the future.’ I
was, like, incredibly willful.” Was? “If he weren’t so obnoxious,
I wouldn’t have listened. He scared the hell out of me! And,” she
added grandly, “we have Barry Horowitz to thank for the woman I
have ultimately become.”
“Oh my God,” I mumbled into my double espresso. What would she
have “become” if the obnoxious Horowitz had not put the fear of
prison into her?
The self-satisfied gleam in her eyes was softened by nostalgia.
“Barry persuaded me to stop dealing. I wanted to keep expanding
my business. He said if I kept selling drugs I would eventually
come up against the glassine ceiling, and what a boring future I
would have as a corpse. He’s an excellent judge of character.” I
shuddered at the thought of Jasmine’s chestnut locks covered in
blood rather than golden-brown highlights. “If you really want
to be a dealer, it’s still a man’s world,” she said, in a “case
closed” no-nonsense tone. She didn’t want to entertain any
“Well, I’m glad you became one of the girls,” I said, reaching
for her hand. “Barry did the right thing. You were in terrible
danger! I’m glad you explained … about Barry.”
My sentimental reaction caused her to look away. “So,” she
abruptly concluded, “if you don’t want Barry to represent you,
you’re a short-sighted bimbo who deserves to be up on federal
charges!” After a pause she added, “I hate this weekend
crowd — and where are my goddamn french fries?”
Wednesday, October 20
Yesterday’s mishaps began with my appointment at Claudia’s.
Claudia was disappointed when I abstained from a total bikini
waxing — it’s her specialty, after all. “Could we leave my hair
neat but natural?” I asked anxiously. “I’m kind of sensitive
As I stepped out of my panties, Claudia philosophized — and
empathized — about the delicate science of intimate grooming. “I
know what you mean,” she cooed. “Sometimes, I feel too
vulnerable for a complete bikini. When your mind talks to
your body, you listen.”
She smeared hot wax on my inner thigh.
“Next time, try taking Motrin 20 minutes before you come in,”
she suggested, pulling briskly. Then, an application of the hot
green wax just to the right side of my lower lips. “You know who
I saw last week?” she added. I exhaled slowly, to reduce the
sensation. “That girl you sent here in the summer … the blond
from California. She was asking about you and Matt — she said you might
be getting married.”
I sat up, horrified — how did April find out my boyfriend’s name?
“April?” I demanded. “Why didn’t you warn me?”
“Honey! You’re — you’re all glued together now!” Claudia had dropped her wooden
applicator on the floor. She bent over to retrieve it, then stood, shakily readjusting
her spectacles. I looked down at my thighs and tried to open them.
“Nancy, what’s going on?” she asked me. “Warn you about what?
I thought you two were good friends.”
I was staring at Claudia in despair, wondering if she had seen April’s picture in the Post
or — worse yet — the National Enquirer. No, it wasn’t that, it was worse: Claudia was simply
April’s vehicle — April knew a lot more about me than I had ever known about her, more than
I realized. And now she was warning me — blackmail at a vicious remove!
Looking down at my thighs, I discovered that I was now joined to myself, and the aftermath was …
As I left, Claudia told me, with an embarrassed look on her face, “I’m sorry — I don’t
know what I got in the middle of, but April knows you have an appointment here today.”
I flinched, as my panties rubbed against the tender spot on my right lip, and sighed.
“Please don’t tell anyone about this,” I begged her. “I’ll — I’ll explain it to you sometime, but
please … don’t ruin my life, Claudia!”
I looked around on the street as I left Claudia’s but April was nowhere to be seen.
I realized I had told Claudia way too much. What else, I wondered, had April said to her? God, how did April find out my boyfriend’s name? “Getting married — might be.” Or not, if April gets to him first, spilling all my secrets. Well, what else could that possibly mean?
On my way home, I picked up some cortisone cream and some aloe vera gel, hoping to
get my agonized equipment back into some kind of working order.
Then, as I turned the corner, I saw a tall, skirted figure with short blond hair coming out of
my building. If not for Claudia’s blundering revelation, I would
never have recognized her. Without the puffed-up mane, hair pared
down to her face, she looked a lot harder. In other
circumstances, April’s attempt at the pixie look would be a
Praying she had not seen me, I numbly crossed the street. A
speeding bike messenger screamed, “Watch out!” causing me to
freeze. One inch closer and we would have collided — badly. As
he sailed away with a grateful wave, I knew it was too late.
Everyone on the sidewalk, including April, had noticed.
“There you are!” she said, rushing toward me. “Wow, you almost
got hit by that bike, huh?” Her voice was forceful and sugary.
I was still trembling from my near-encounter with what might have been. “Jesus Christ!” I screamed. “What do you want from me?”
“Hey,” she said, in a low, belligerent voice. “Calm down, OK? I have every fucking
RIGHT to be here. How come your friend Allison’s not
returning my calls?” Her eyes were colder and meaner than I had ever known them to be.
“She wanted to –” give you back your money I almost said. Then
I remembered Barry’s theory: Wired. April was probably wired in
July and could easily be wired now. My panties were bruising the
sore spot between my lip and my thigh. I squeezed my eyes shut in pain,
anxious to get upstairs and lie down with my legs open. It was the only position
I could imagine being comfortable in.
“I’m … oh, God,” I moaned. “I’m having the worst period of my life, April. You startled me!”
I knew I couldn’t risk taking her upstairs to my apartment — but she showed no sign of
moving from where she stood.