Dec. 13, 1999
Wednesday, October 20
I was anxious to get April away from my apartment building. “I’m sorry I snapped at you,” I said. “I’m having the worst period ever!” My period was a ruse but I didn’t have to fake my anguished grimace. “I — I have to go back to Duane Reade. Why don’t you come?”
April looked uncertain, then curious. Could I neutralize her? I showed her the contents of my shopping bag. “I forgot to pick up Advil,” I explained. “Come with me,” I added with forced generosity. Due to the accident in Claudia’s waxing room, I was walking slowly, to protect my stinging loins.
April’s bubbly, brassy manner had vanished. As I led her down the aisles of Duane Reade, she radiated resentment. Having finally tracked me down, she didn’t want to let go of me. But this unexpected side trip annoyed her. She obviously hated having to act concerned about my stupid period — and had trouble hiding that beady glint in her eyes. The new haircut made it even harder to hide.
Sitting in Starbucks, across the table from April, I opened a bottle of spring water and downed two generic ibuprofens. I envied the ease with which April placed her own recently waxed pussy onto the chair. How do you make small talk with a girl who might be wired? I didn’t want her to know that I might actually suspect her of taping me — that would give the whole game away. Watching her sip a mochaccino, I thought, Let her wonder if her threats — telegraphed through Claudia — have hit home.
“I don’t have a lot of time to waste,” she said. “I think you owe me an explanation.”
“An explanation for what?” I asked innocently. I wanted badly to be lying on my back, lower lips apart, applying cool aloe vera gel to my skin, but I braved a few more minutes on the chair and listened.
“I’ve left three messages for Allison.” A slight whine was creeping into April’s voice. “You girls have no right to hold onto my $1,500,” she continued. “I’m leaving next week and I want my money by the weekend. How much of a cut did you get?” she asked, changing her tack. “Why don’t you give me your part and I’ll collect the rest from Allison?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I said carefully. “But if you need money for any reason, I — I’ll make sure you have $1,500 by the weekend.”
“Oh, come on,” she insisted. “I know you got a cut. Besides,” she said in a kinder voice, “you shouldn’t have to give me the whole thing. After all, I gave that money to Allison. So how did you split it? And who did you two sell her book to after I left New York?”
Her questions were getting more and more deadly — pointed weapons. I couldn’t, mustn’t, acknowledge that anyone had tried to sell a client book — least of all me.
“I — uh — think you’re jumping to a lot of conclusions,” I told her. Then I pleaded uncontrollable menstrual cramps and came home, promising to meet her on the weekend.
Thursday, October 21
Horowitz had to comment when I showed up this afternoon wearing a new-and-different Hermes scarf with tortoise-shell sunglasses. “You have more taste than sense,” he said. “You should have been wearing this disguise when you were trying to sneak past April!” I suppose he’s right. I keep thinking that I’ll run into someone in midtown — Matt maybe? — who might ask why I’m visiting the notorious Barry Horowitz. But so far, I’ve mostly been tailed and ambushed in my own neighborhood!
“Oh my God, you’ve been crying,” he said when I took off my sunglasses. “OK, let’s get finances out of the way before you start that again. It’s impossible to talk about overdue bills with a weepy hooker.”
“I have your retainer!” I replied, handing him an envelope. “So count it, OK?”
“No, no, no,” he clucked. “I know I don’t have to count it. Our friend Jasmine vouches for you.”
I told him about the threats April had delivered to me via Claudia. “You were in the middle of having a bikini wax?” he said, raising a salt-and-pepper eyebrow. I didn’t mention my accident — or the fact that my pussy is now out of commission and still smarting from the waxing disaster.
When I told Barry about my impromptu chat with April at Starbucks, he sighed. “In your own way, you’re very shrewd, but you should not be playing cat and mouse with someone who’s wired. As your lawyer, I can’t advise you to do that. Let me put it this way: The world is divided into Monicas and Lindas. Monica’s fate is not,” he said dryly, “what I have in mind for my clients. If you are not the one doing the taping, why are you talking to a tape recorder?”
“I knew what I was doing!”
“You think you did. Continue.”
“April’s upset because Allison won’t return her calls.”
“April has a phone number in New York?” Barry looked concerned.
“A cell phone — I haven’t called it.”
“Thank God,” Barry said, massaging his temples. “But I wonder if your friend Allison has called her.”
“She’s not my friend anymore,” I said, sadly. “And look who I introduced her to — April! It’s my fault, isn’t it?”
He sighed again. “Almost your fault. So, what happened when the money was discussed?”
“Well, I sort of offered to pay it back.”
“And why did you do that?” Barry asked in a patient, searching voice.
“Because,” I explained, “if April doesn’t feel ripped off — if April feels satisfied, maybe she’ll just go away and stop bothering us.” (Kind of like a pesky john who finally has his orgasm and suddenly loses all his strength, I thought.) “If she has a grudge against me or Allison — well, she seems to be informing on people to Tom Winters, right? It might reduce the chances of her trying to screw us over. And I’m the one who started this, after all, trying to sell her Allison’s book.” I ran through the entire exchange at Starbucks.
“Jesus,” Barry moaned, “you are so out of your depth here. She doesn’t want $1,500, Nancy. She’s trying to get you to say something that’s worth a whole lot more than $1,500. The consequences of a cash transaction with April are potentially disastrous for you! How long have you been in the business?”
I sat up indignantly. “That’s none of your business,” I replied. “Why?” I added. “Do I seem …?”
“Well,” I proudly informed him, “I’ve been doing this since I was 15.”
“You’re kidding.” I had succeeded in stopping Horowitz in his tracks. “Well, it certainly doesn’t show.”
“That’s supposed to be a good thing,” I said.
“Point taken,” he conceded. “But you’ve obviously led a charmed existence and I would kinda like to keep it that way. Please don’t speak to April or meet with her. Don’t get any more ideas about micro-managing April’s psyche. Because you can’t.”
Later, as I left, Barry told me, “I take back what I said last time. The ‘normal’ part. I’m glad you’re my client. Say hi to your boyfriend,” he added with a naughty twinkle. I gave him a dirty look.
Friday, October 22
Milt just called, trying to set up a three-way for next week. Will my working parts be over the recent trauma by then? Of course, I made no mention of the problem. I’m sure I could talk Milt into a lengthy blow job if I really had to! “Do I get to pick our playmate?” he asked.
“Maybe — as long as you don’t ask for you-know-who.”
He laughed at my snippy reference to April. “She’s long gone — thank God!”
I didn’t correct his impression. Should I warn him that April’s in town? Will she bother him again? God, she’s looking for money — and, as Barry says, a lot more than $1,500. She may start blackmailing Milt again! After everything Milt has done for me, I should warn him.
But his final words temporarily distracted me from April. “Well, how about Allison?” he proposed. “I was driving to work this morning and I started thinking about you both. Allison loves finding ways to turn you on, I can tell. And your bodies,” he reminded me, “are almost the same size — you fit together beautifully. And you won’t have to kiss me,” he added — a mischievous reference to our deal. No kissing in front of other girls! I was surprised to find myself thinking, Do I really want a three-way?