Episode 7: New business?

A call from a mysterious stranger drives her straight to Allison's secret book.

Published August 2, 1999 4:00PM (EDT)

Thursday, July 15

When it rings it pours. My phone was so busy today that I haven't
heard all my voice mail. Late this afternoon, a new guy
called asking for Suzy. He said Allison had given him my number,
which makes sense -- I've always used "Suzy" with Allison's
clients. He said he was "Tom from Short Hills."

Normally I would call Allison and check on him but since she
announced her departure from the business and gave me her book to
keep, she's disappeared. "When did Allison give you my number?" I
asked him.

"Last week ... well ... I think it was last week. When can I see

"Why don't you phone back tomorrow?" I suggested. The only way to
check on this guy is by looking at Allison's book. This wasn't part
of the deal when Allison asked me to get rid of her book. But if
she gave this guy my number, didn't I have a right to peek?

Tom started rambling. "In case you're wondering, it's Allison
Rogers on East 85th Street --" He told me Allie's building and
apartment number. "She's about 5-4, blond ..."

My internal "jerk-off" alert started buzzing. What next --
Allison's breast size? The color of her pubic hair? "Why don't you ask her to
call me," I said, cutting him off.

"OK," he said. "Will do."

I hung up, resolved that I wouldn't deal with him. Allison's been
MIA for almost two weeks -- a regular customer would be aware of

"Missing" is the operative word for Allison, even if she is a ditz.
I miss hearing her voice, arguing about the restaurant check
(because she overtips), sharing the Stairmaster at the gym. We've
always had good chemistry at work, though we usually fake our love-making. We're like working musicians who instinctively play
well together.

Friday, July 16

I did a major excavation of my cashmeres -- where I stashed Allie's
book. When she gave it to me, the book was wrapped in a postmarked
manila envelope with her name and address on the front. Truly
moronic. I threw out the incriminating envelope and sealed it in a
plain white Tamper-Evident Tyvek envelope.

Sleek and anonymous. Having tampered with the Tyvek, I stared at
the book for a while. The last time I rejected a guy, he turned out
to be legit -- another girl's regular. Though it was her fault for
neglecting to tell me about him, it was my loss. She wouldn't work
with me again because I had insulted her client -- and I lost a
potential customer. Girls who don't stay on top of the details are
maddening, but you won't stay in business long if you're

Another call from Tom, pushing for a 6:30 date. "I'm on my way to
the gym," I bluffed. "Do you have a friend?" Tom asked. "Someone
attractive?" "Let's talk later," I said, dollar signs flashing
profanely in my head. If I see Tom from Short Hills with another
girl, I'll make a commission and exceed my weekly quota, feel less
guilty about hanging out with Matt this weekend.

Ever since I started sleeping with Matt, I'm obsessed with meeting
my quota. I'm determined not to let a new boyfriend screw up my
routine -- as past boyfriends have. Being your own madam is no
piece of cake. (Who manages the inner madam?) If I don't push
myself, I'll give all my evenings to Matt, stop counting my
weekly take ... sometimes when he holds me, his hands feel so
proprietary and I've begun to like it. Love makes you lazy. It's
a goddamn disease ...

That blasted book. Guess what? Allison knows five Toms: They all
have last names or initials. There's a Tom L. on 57th Street, a
Tommy Z. with glasses and dark hair from Seattle. There's a Tom
with an office number who's obviously using his real name ... So
When Tom from Short Hills called back, I asked, "Do you have a last

"Williams," he said, after a pause. "Tom Williams. Do

"Sure," I said, "It's Layton."

"That doesn't sound Oriental," he remarked.

If Allison doesn't have a Tom Williams -- not even a Tom W. -- in
her book, if she didn't send him to me, how does he know what I'm
supposed to look like?

By Tracy Quan

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

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