Black market, black book

Allison breaks down and decides to profit from her business.

Published August 9, 1999 4:00PM (EDT)

Monday July 19

Last night, Jasmine cheered me up by insisting on martinis at the
Peninsula. I updated her on Allison: "Zack takes a train in once a
week to see her at the Sexaholics Anonymous meeting. Not to be outdone,
she goes to three 12-step meetings a week. But she's not telling Sexaholics
Anonymous that she's also in Prostitutes Anonymous!"

Jasmine took a thoughtful sip and summed it up. "So, we've got a
guy who Just Says No when a hooker offers him free pussy, and a hooker who's totally wet for him! The girl can't even give it away!"

"That's uncalled for," I scolded. "Allison's in a vulnerable state
right now. When I asked her about Tom -- that strange caller -- she went off
on some New Age tangent. But meanwhile this creepy guy knows her address."

"You've got her book, why don't you just look him up?"

"You know I can't do anything of the sort."

"You've always been a stand-up chick, Nancy," she answered
earnestly. The martini was making her maudlin. "And I respect you for that."

"Thanks," I said, cringing. Jasmine -- for all her talk -- would
never have looked, and I do regret peeking in Allie's book. "Another round?"

When I got home, quite wobbly from my third drink, I had a
voice mail from Eileen Wong: "I wish you wouldn't give out my
number without telling me!" In the two years that we've worked
together, Eileen's phone manner has grown more abrupt.

"I wouldn't give out your number without asking," I insisted.

"A guy called Tommy Warren says you recommended me for a party
on somebody's boat. He wants me to find three girls for him! He's
talking about $500 an hour."

"He's a phone freak!" I warned her. "And you should be careful
when you get calls like that." It's nervy to lecture Eileen about
a mistake that I made, too, but I was in that kind of mood. She promised
to tell me if she heard from him again.

Tuesday July 20

Today Allison rang while I was sorting my laundry: "Nancy, I've
been thinking it over ... you're right. I want to sell my book."

I was surprised to hear from her so soon -- but I wasn't
enthusiastic. Since Allison's outburst at Starbucks, I've had cold
feet about that whole idea.

"Just take it back. I don't want to be involved," I told her.

"Look, I'm really sorry about Sunday. I realize you were offering
to help and I was being a jerk."

I resisted the impulse to agree.

"I'll give you a cut," she pleaded, "I need cash. I thought your
friend -- the new blond girl?"

Promising nothing, I hung up. But I was sort of pleased when April
answered her phone.

"Let's all have lunch," April bubbled. "I have to see what she
looks like -- I mean, if she's a lot bustier than me, her guys
might be disappointed." Trust me, I thought, very few people are a
lot bustier than you, April -- but California is D-cup country, and
April's a California gal.

Wednesday evening

Lunch with Allie and April went better than I expected -- Allie
didn't bend April's ear with her tale of addiction. April
assessed Allie's breasts from across the table and gave me a
businesslike nod. "So why are you quitting?" April asked point

"Oh, I'm ... involved with someone," Allison said in a vague voice.
She wasn't quite ready for April's bluntness.

"This guy must be rich! Does he know about your business?"

"Oh, no," Allison assured her. "Of course not."

April looked relieved -- most girls don't want to work with a
girl if her boyfriend knows what she does.

"How many calls were you getting a day? I mean, how many were you

"I'd say, on a slow day... two? And on busy days, as many as six.
Average -- four. I have lots of afternoon business." Allison was
coming to life, switching tenses, as she described her routine.
"And most of the guys in the book -- the ones with numbers? Those
are my day guys. My nighttime guys -- I didn't have numbers for
most of them because they were mostly hotel calls -- out-of-towners."

"Don't you have any out-of-town numbers? In my experience, those
are the biggest spenders."

"Oh sure," Allison said. "I've got a guy in Dallas who would love
to meet you! You could just call and say Patricia gave you the
number. A lot of my out-of-towners call me Patricia."

"How many names do you work under? I'm just April, all the time."

"Most of my local guys call me Allison. Let's see ... Patricia, Sue
or Allison. But I had to stop calling myself Sue because of 'Suzy'
here." She looked at me. "That's Nancy's name."

"Right," said April. "It's going to take me a few days to get the
money together. How can I reach you?"

Allison hesitated. "Can you call Nancy? I'm hard to reach these

When I got home, I had disconcerting news from Jasmine. "That
crank caller is making the rounds," she told me. "He's
claiming that you gave him my number. Well, I told him I didn't
know you. Then he said the girl he was really trying to find was
Allison but he lost her number. So I gave him the number for the Salvation Army.
That'll teach him to nose around."

"He's not a normal phone freak."

"Tell me about it. I think it's Allison's boyfriend."

An obsessive, suspicious boyfriend is scarier than an STD, and
somebody else's boyfriend is even worse than your own -- an
unknown quantity.

"But why? How? I've never met her boyfriend. Neither have you."

"He probably wants to see if she's still working. Maybe he's peeking in
her address book -- following her around. Who knows? I wouldn't put
anything past that nut. You have to tell Allison about these calls!"

I promised to do it. Now I realize that not only do I not have
Allison's phone number, but she'd probably be flattered to hear that Zack is tailing
her. If it's Zack, and he's figured out how this cozy little seller's club works,
he could have us all thrown in jail for pandering.

By Tracy Quan

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