Negative Reaction

by Julie Baker
© 2002

For disclaimers, see One

Chapter Six: The City That Never Sleeps


Georgia bent down to whisper in Ernie’s ear, "Ernie, that guy has a squirrel sitting on his head." She was careful not to speak too loud for fear that the squirrel would run off before Ernie had a chance to see it.

He gave a little yelp of joy. "That’s who I was looking for!" They’d been in the park for about an hour pushing a dollar on nearly every homeless person they came across, asking if anyone had seen Nancy earlier in the week. Georgia even pulled out her own wallet, searching for bills and change, after Ernie used his last dollar with no results. After zero luck in finding anyone who remembered seeing her that night, he eagerly headed towards the odd man with Georgia in tow.

Georgia couldn't take her eyes off the squatting rodent, perched so comfortably on the man's wild mane. "You think he’s the one who covered up Nancy that night?"

"The Mayor or the squirrel?" Ernie chuckled. "No, but he's the unofficial 'Mayor' of this park. He's Dr. Doolittle, and he knows more than that ass Bloomberg will ever know about the people around here. We gotta show this guy some respect, so straighten up."

There was no question as to why the homeless man was known as Dr. Doolittle. Georgia could see that along with the squirrel on his head, he had another clinging to his back, while yet another was attempting to climb his tattered pant leg. Pigeons and sparrows were pecking near his feet and a chipmunk kept peeking out from under a bench to nab tossed seeds. Two restless mourning doves bookended his head, cooing advice into his ears, warning him of the duo's approach.


Ernie slipped another bill from Georgia's hand, offering it as homage to the man who stood silently as he listened to Ernie's questions about Nancy. He continued feeding the menagerie at his feet, and never made direct eye contact with the smaller man. Ernie finally got to the point and asked if The Mayor had any idea who may have covered Nancy with cardboard that night on the bench. After long moments passed without response, Georgia was certain that Ernie had just wasted the last of her hard earned cash.

Dr. Doolittle looked down at Ernie and thoughtfully twirled a tangle in his matted beard. With a voice as soft as his appearance was rough, he finally said, "Where’d your friend say she fell asleep?"

Ernie glanced at Georgia with a quick smile of relief, and pointed to a bench near Avenue A. "Nancy said it was that bench, the one under the streetlamp, across from The Niagara."

Dr. Doolittle nodded his head, and so did his twin sentry doves in cooing agreement. "That would be Agent 409’s bench."

"Agent what?" Georgia looked at him as though he had three heads, which, essentially, he did. Not counting the squirrel.

Dr. Doolittle returned her stare, and answered in a very formal, authoritative voice. "Agent 409." He shrugged his shoulders, and the doves bobbed up and down along with the movement. "He belongs to a secret government spy organization."

"Is he around now?" Ernie asked, painfully straight-faced.

The Mayor's eyes darted left and right, silently having a meeting with his closest advisors before he answered. "No, he doesn’t stay in one park for too long." He cleared his throat, and eyed Georgia, daring her to react even a little to his next statement. "He’s afraid the Liberace Warriors will find him."

Georgia not only flinched, she dropped her whole jaw and almost lost the piece of gum she'd been chewing on. "Who are the Liberace Warriors?"

The Mayor ignored her lack of manners, and continued as though she was just a misguided constituent who had voted for the wrong party. "The group he spies on. Agent 409 insists that Liberace never died - he just went underground." He paused dramatically. "And will reemerge one day, triumphant, to overtake the fashion and cabaret worlds." His eyes narrowed, and his voice dropped even lower. "Agent 409 intends to never allow that to happen."

Georgia's literal mind was forming the image of mincing militants in sparkling rhinestone suits, carrying flaming candelabra, intent on infiltrating nightclubs throughout the city. Could be worse. They could be the Lawrence Welk Warriors. Leisure suits instead of rhinestone, carrying batons instead of candelabra. She shook her head. It just wouldn’t have the same affect.

Ernie tried to steer the conversation back to where a sane person might understand it. Georgia certainly wasn't helping; she seemed too fascinated with the idea of the Liberace Warriors. "Where do you think we could find him?"

Dr. Doolittle absently picked some dried bird droppings off of his hand. "Hard to say; he wanders a bit. But if you keep an eye out for him, he’ll be back before too long."

"What should I watch for?" Ernie prompted.

"Well lessee, he always has a shopping cart full of cardboard, so’s he can build a house everywhere he goes." The morning doves nodded, and one of them had the gall to shoot Georgia a dirty look.

Ernie grimaced. Great, he described just about every homeless person in the city. "Anything else?"

The Mayor pulled more birdseed from his seemingly bottomless pocket and tossed it around, some of it landing on Georgia's sneakers. "Umm, nothing comes to mind." He closed his eyes, deep in thought. "Oh, well there is one thing."

Ernie and Georgia were all ears waiting for the pronouncement.

"He wears a kilt."

Georgia was starting to wonder if Bess had actually set her up for some kind of warped practical joke. "A ...KILT?"

More nodding from the peanut and birdseed gallery. "Yep, a kilt and ... a bicycle helmet."

Now Georgia was positive that Allen Funt was going to come back from the dead just to jump out of the bushes and tell her she was on Candid Camera.

Even unflappable Ernie cocked his head at that one. "He wears a bicycle helmet?"

The Mayor didn't react as the squirrel from his head used his beard as a shortcut to the sidewalk. "Yep, one of those aerodynamic ones, he never takes it off."

Georgia did a city park mental ward recap of the situation. My sister is friends with a nice but scheming gay midget and his obviously under medicated friend is a suspect for the Freaky Murders and now her only alibi is man who wears a bicycle helmet and a kilt. We can’t talk to him right now because he’s on the run from The Liberace Warriors. All this and the girls at work think I live a dull life. I'll send 'em down here to meet the good Doctor and his little soldiers We'll see how much shit they give me after that.

They finished up with Dr. Doolittle, giving him the last of Georgia's change and even a subway token and stick of gum. While trudging back towards Nancy’s apartment, common sense made a roaring reappearance in an exasperated Georgia.

"Ernie, I don’t think finding this guy is going to help Nancy’s case at all. I mean, we’re asking the police to take the word of this, this ... Agent 409! ... and the odds are he wasn't living in the same time zone as the rest of us when he saw her."

Ernie patted her shoulder. "I know it sounds a little, OK, a lot crazy, but these people tune into everything that goes on around them. Maybe finding the guy with the … kilt ..." And the bicycle helmet? ".... will lead us to something else."

Georgia rolled her eyes, sure that Ernie was a little off his nut.

Ernie turned the pat into a poke. "Hey, I said, 'maybe', didn't I?"

Sitting on the front stoop of Nancy’s apartment watching the passing parade of people, Nancy and Bess shared a step, sitting close together on one side under the pretense of allowing room for people to come and go.

Nancy reached out and gently took Bess’ hand. Looking down, she used her thumb to softly stroke the skin on the back of the smaller hand. Tracing over the veins and knuckles, she sat silent for a moment, her eyes following her thumb's gentle exploration.

She finally spoke. "You know, I planned on calling you the day after Coney Island. I was going to ask you out on a date."

Bess looked over to see a wonderfully shy look in the eyes of her companion. Charmed by the unsure tenor of Nancy's words, she squeezed the hand in hers.

"Ask me now."

"Uh ..."

She gave Nancy’s hand a little reassuring shake. "Go ahead, ask me now."

Sweetly smiling, Nancy took a deep breath, but couldn't bring herself to look Bess in the eye. "Allrighty then ... Bess, I was wondering if you would be interested in going to dinner and a movie with me sometime."

Bess stood up, and put her hands on hips and said in a falsely indignant voice, "Why, Nancy Zoccoli, have I done something to give you the impression that I’m attracted to ... women?"

Nancy finally caught Bess' eye, and saw the teasing sparkle there. "Well, there is the circumstantial evidence that you kissed me a little while ago. I'm sure I could find a witness or two."

"If memory serves me right I do believe you were the one who kissed me. I would swear to that under oath."

"Nuh uh, it mighta started out that way but it most certainly ended with YOU kissing ME. And I'll bet if I could afford a shyster lawyer, he or she could convince a jury of my peers of it. Without bribing them."

"Your peers? You mean klutzy Amazons who hang out with midgets and freaks? I'm sure there's five or six right on this block alone!" Bess slid down to the step below and stood in front of Nancy, using her body to shield them from the prying eyes of the passerby. "Well, it seems that we both have a different perception of the facts in this case. We may have to reenact the alleged crime to come up with the truth."

Nancy pulled Bess forward, so she was nestled firmly between her thighs. Not forceful but with definite purpose, their lips met and parted with little persuasion. Bess slowly wound her fingers in dark hair as a warm wet tongue darted into her mouth. Nancy urged her closer, and just as their bodies started to move with a sensual rhythm, a honking horn and a wolf whistle brought them back to reality. Reluctantly pulling back, they smiled at each other with regret shining in their eyes.

Bess reached out and tucked a lock of hair behind Nancy’s ear. "I think we can honestly testify we kissed each other. This time."

Nancy was all for ignoring their surroundings and continuing her oral investigation of Bess' mouth, but was sure the little redhead wouldn't be comfortable with that kind of public display. "Yep, I think so too, but I think we’re going to have to bring it up in front of our own private grand jury sometime soon."

"I agree, I think we need scrutinize this matter again in a much more intimate place -- maybe the judge's private chambers?"

Nancy hung her arms loosely around Bess’ waist and brought their foreheads lightly together. She was just about to remind Bess that she'd never answered her about the date, when she heard a familiar cough, and she frowned at the interruption.

They both turned to see Ernie and Georgia standing at the bottom of the stoop, eyeing them. Bess reached a hand down to help Nancy up

Still holding her hand with conviction and warmth, she addressed the new, if unwelcome at this particular point in time, arrivals. "Hey, so did you have any luck at the park?"

Georgia was busy examining her sister’s possessive hold on the photographer's hand and took a second to answer. "I don’t know if we had any luck ..." She half smiled at Ernie. "... but it sure was, uh, interesting."

Ernie was completely fascinated by the goofy pleased grin plastered on his best friend's face. She looked like she'd just won the state lottery. "How about you two? Did you discover anything, uh, interesting since we last saw you?" He didn’t bother to disguise his smirk. If anything, he tried to exaggerate it.

Nancy laughed out loud at his smarmy tone and quipped back, "I’m not sure that this will help me out with the cops ... but I discovered Bess has great taste in music." She and Bess exchanged blushing grins. "Oh, I almost forgot..." She looked directly at Georgia this time, flashing her most wicked smile. "... we also discovered that your sister is sort of a freak herself ... she's attracted to women."

"Just freakily weird women. Get your facts right." Bess gave her a hip check and laughed with her. "I would have to admit I’m attracted to one particular freak right now."

Nancy pulled their clasped hands up and gave the back of Bess' a quick kiss, and then they mirrored gooey expressions.

Ernie groaned at the sappy display. "I’m glad to see that you two were so ... productive while were gone."

Bess said innocently, "Productive?" She turned to Nancy. "Is that what you would call it?"

Nancy's voice took on a teasing quality. "I would actually say it was more... stimulating than productive."

Ernie mimicked sticking a finger down his throat. "Gag me with Poppa Smurf, you two. God, you two are so sweet, my teeth are rotting." He sidestepped past them and got to the door. "Come on, lovebirds, let’s go in and compare notes while I chug some Pepto-Bismol."

Georgia stepped up next to her sister, and said incredulously, "You have great taste in music? Since when? I mean, do you still have that kilt you wore to the Bay City Roller's concert?" The earlier mention of kilts by Dr. Doolittle brought that fascinating tidbit to the forefront of Georgia's memory bank, and she'd gleefully shared it with Ernie on the way back.

Bess stood on tip toes to loudly whisper in Nancy’s ear while she pointed a finger accusingly in her sister's direction. "Don’t listen to her. She actually liked 'The Macarena'."

The police trailing Nancy turned in their reports. Along with a rundown on how she spent her day, they also took surveillance photos. Friedman was reading over the reports one last time before he called it a night. She went back to the social club with the redhead that Fred saw her with the other day. Strange actions for a woman who spent the last few days in a holding cell.

He looked down at the photos of Nancy's friend. The pictures showed the two women walking up the avenue smiling and laughing. There were a few of the two of them kissing on the stoop. The last ones were of Nancy holding Bess’ hand as they entered her apartment building. He pulled the photo for a closer look. Fresh from days of questioning and you look like you don’t have a care in the world. You’ve got some chutzpah. He looked again to her cute little companion. What are you up to, Miss Zocolli?

The driving drum beat caused the forms on the dance floor to move to a frantic pace. Smoke formed by dry ice and the constant flash of the strobe hypnotically tantalized Mei's inebriated mind into forgetting who and where she was - momentarily. This was the moment she lived for each day. Through the music and liquor she could, for a small space of time, live only in this reality. Right here, right now, she didn't hate herself or her life.

She was only slightly aware of the man dancing with her. He also served a purpose in bringing about her current state of nirvana. He provided her with the liquor she needed on this evening and later she would repay him the only way she knew how, by giving him access to her body. She never asked their names and never told them hers. It was easier to remain disconnected if she didn't know their names. It was also much easier to hate them in the morning. The race was always on as to who she hated more - herself or the men or women who took her to bed after she reached her moment of bliss in the bar.

The music changed to a slow sexy beat. Mei slowly swayed her hips in a repetitive figure eight motion in time to the music. Her date stepped closer and moved with her. With her eyes firmly shut, she lost herself completely in the moment. She moved her legs to either side of one of his thighs and continued to writhe upon it. Moving up with the drum beat and down with the slow bass, she was swaying from side to side slowly, sensually moving slower and slower. Her hips were invisibly connected to the throb of the speaker, seeing only the pulsing light that flashed in front of her closed eyelids. On an upstroke she felt his erection. She stopped dancing and pulled away from him. This wasn't about a sexual release for her and if he was still around at closing time she'd let him do what he wanted to take care of that.

But this moment was for her and her alone. She wasn't gone enough to forget that. To answer his question of what was wrong she could only reply that she needed a drink. When he went to get it she started to dance again, alone at first but by the time he returned with her drink she had a new partner. Her previous dance partner took offense to this and a scuffle started. Her timeless moment was ruined. She wouldn't be able to mentally get back to that place tonight.

"GODDAMN YOU FUCKING PRICKS!!" she screamed in frustration, loud enough to actually be heard over the deafening music. Looking at the table behind the men, she noticed two untouched drinks, assumed one was hers, and drained it in three large gulps. Looking back to the men who were doing little more than shoving each other around, she noticed the bouncer approaching. She picked the other drink up and quickly downed that one as well. By the time the bouncer had escorted the brawlers to the door, she had flown.

I wonder how many New Yorkers have never been up to see the sunrise. Nancy was taking her third cruise on the Staten Island Ferry, which was always a free ride and ran all night long. It was nearly 5 A.M. and the sun was rising, reintroducing its light to Brooklyn and the Verrazano Narrows. In her neighborhood, the mass of buildings blocked any possibility of her witnessing this daily wonder of nature. Light and dark with varying shades of gray, that was the extent of the sky's majesty in the East Village.

The previous afternoon, after Nancy and her friends exchanged progress reports, everyone was a little disappointed in their sleuthing efforts. The two bartenders who where working that night didn’t remember her being there, let alone who she was talking to. And Georgia gave a very doubtful rundown about their trip to the park, and the Mayor's assertion that Nancy's cardboard supplier on her sleeping bench was a secret agent going by the numerical assignment 409.

Nancy was feeling rather defeated and reluctantly admitted to her friends that her week had finally caught up with her. As much as she wanted to pick up where she left off with Bess, or continue the search for her alibis, the need for sleep was fast becoming unavoidable. She slid exhausted into her bed at 6 and then woke again near midnight, groggy and irritated, unable to recapture sleep.

She dressed and headed out into the wee hours of the night, her aimless walking finally found her at the Staten Island Ferry's dock. Perhaps a soothing boat ride would lull her back into a state of unconsciousness. As she sprawled on a bench near the bow of the boat, her mind began to wander. I bet I could be exhausted to sleep in a much more pleasant way. By a certain little redhead. I’d give up sleep altogether tonight just for another chance to kiss her. She settled back farther in her seat, shut her eyes and replayed their kisses over and over again in her mind. She could almost feel the smaller body next to hers, Bess' small hands softly holding her face. Oh God, those incredible lips. Those lyrical thoughts and the gentle humming of the boat's engines combined to form a lullaby that finally led her to slumber.

"We followed her all night. Nothing exciting happened; she slept on the ferry until the Port Authority Police woke her and booted her off, along with a few homeless people." The beat cop who was giving his morning report to Friedman reached for the coffee pot and poured himself a cup. The Detective did his best to keep from tearing the pot out of his hands. Most of the beat cops who weren't actually assigned to the task force took no extra interest in the case; they just put in their time, punched the clock and went home. This man who was about to drink some of Friedman's precious freshly brewed coffee was one such cop.

Friedman grabbed the pot from him and replaced it brusquely in the coffeemaker. Taking a deep breath, he tried to muster up some patience. "That's not good enough. Did she talk to anyone? Did anyone talk to her? What time did she get on the ferry? Did she stop and spend time looking at anything, anyplace, anyone in particular?"

The beat cop gave Friedman a bored look, shrugged, and took a sip of his coffee.

Friedman grabbed the officer's mug out of his hands and slammed it down on the table, half of it spilling. "Listen, I hate to bother you with fuckin' piddlin' details, but do you GET what I’m asking you?"

The beat cop was used to people yelling, and even though this guy was his superior, he coolly answered, never raising his voice, but his contempt was plain. "No, sir, maybe you need to spell it out for me?" He reached for his cup again, and leveled a cocky stare at the older man. "Yeah, I get what you’re sayin'. Christ, Detective, nothing of any interest happened, OK? You got it?" He took a last swig of the coffee then turned to leave. Abruptly he turned back and gave Friedman a long hard glare. "I know you want this last collar for your big swan song outta this shithole, but maybe it’s time you admitted what the rest of us already know. You’re way in over your head on this case. The Feds have already been sniffin' around, wanting to take over. Let 'em. Maybe then you’ll at least get a good night's sleep. You look like three week old dog shit."

That retort shattered the rest of what was left of Friedman's composure. He crossed the room and as he was about to pound some respect into the bastard, Quinn appeared and bodily positioned himself in between the two hard staring men. With a look over his shoulder, he silently dismissed the patrolman, and then looked to Friedman, who was still leaning forward, his fists clenched. "What the hell just happened here?"

Friedman leaned back, his bloodshot eyes still blazing with anger. He paced over to the coffee pot, and shakily poured himself a cup while Quinn waited for his answer. Finally he replied, his voice low and full of self-loathing, "Nothing more than me losing it. Funny how I let a few measly murders get to me."

Quinn knew self pity when he heard it and he wasn’t about to let this go unchecked. "Look, you’re just tired. We’re all dead assed tired. This is a goddamned nut bustin' case. Don’t take it so fuckin' personal. We’ll find the asswipe. We always do." He amended that with a small grin. "Eventually."

Friedman rubbed his chin, and returned the grin. But then he turned serious again. "You know this; I'm not tellin' you anything you don't already know. The problem is the longer we take finding the fucker; the closer we are to having another victim in the morgue. I don’t know about you, but I'm not looking forward to getting called in the middle of the night to get my ass outta bed to go look over another hacked up and posed pile of body parts. What really bugs my butt is not knowing if I'm missing something important now, and whatever mistakes I'm making are just leading to another murder." He moved around to his desk, and sat down tiredly in his chair. He shook his head, and looked Quinn in the eye, his voice dropping even lower. "And you also know, just as well as I do, that they’re going to start happening closer and closer together."

Quinn nodded. "Yeah, but you’ve got to know we’re doing the best we can with what we got."

Friedman studied the dark of the liquid in his cup, and didn't look up. "Are we? I friggin' hope so."

Somewhere between sleep and lucidity. Bess became aware that someone was watching her. She ran her tongue over her lips and struggled to open her eyelids, only to find a pair of eyes not two inches from her own.

"Yaa!" she yelled as she sat straight up, kicking the bedclothes away from her in consternation. "Georgia, Jesus! Are you trying to give me a heart attack?"

"Nope, I’m just impatiently waiting for you to wake up. Here, I brought bagels and coffee. Breakfast in bed for my charming and ... smelly little sister. Nice morning breath, and right in my face, too.  And my middle name is Anne, not Jesus."

Bess resettled in the bed, and considered the situation. Pounding her sister over the head would only make her drop the tray with the coffee and bagels, and even as tired and cranky as Bess was, she knew her priorities. She also knew what her sister was up to. They’d played this cat and mouse game forever and advancing years did nothing to diminish the adolescent immaturity behind it. Georgia wanted details about what happened between her and Nancy, and Bess wasn't one to give up information about her love life very easily. The bagels and coffee were a bribe. Bess wasn't above being bribed.

Georgia sat cross legged on bed, scooting in next to her sister. She blew on her coffee. She took a sip. "So," she said lightly, "you weren’t very chatty last night."

The game had begun.

"I was tired, it was a long day," Bess outright lied. Actually she'd retreated to her room because after the amorous afternoon with Nancy, she was on sensory overload and she really just wanted to wallow in it. Alone.

"You two seemed pretty chummy when we walked up."

Bess bit into her bagel and deliberately answered with her mouth full. "Seemed so, huh?"

Georgia glared, and Bess ignored her. Georgia tried a different approach. "Ernie seems nice."

Bess took another bite and offered another maddeningly uninformative reply. "Yeah, he is nice. Why, are you interested in him?"

Georgia blew her coffee out through her nose and all over Bess and the sheets.

Bess set her bagel down and grabbed the napkins out of the bag to mop up the mess, laughing. "Dammit, George. Smooth move, Ex-Lax. I just changed these sheets last night."

Georgia blotted herself with the napkins, and tried not to belt her sister over the head with a nearby pillow. "This is not my fault, you caused this yourself. Am I interested in Ernie? Funny, Bess. You're a stitch and a half." She blew her nose on the last clean napkin, and tossed it at Bess' head.

Bess took pity on her sister for one time in her life and gave her a cagey half grin. "Damn, why don't you ever just get to the point? You don't want to talk about Ernie. Even though I think you'd go for him if he wasn't gay." She laughed when Georgia gave this a quick thought, and a sheepish nod of the head. "So, yes, Miss Nosey, I’m very interested in Nancy and I’m going to see her again as soon as possible. Does that answer any questions you may have?"

"I’m sorry, I wasn’t prying. I was just curious. I have to admit you two looked pretty adorable when we walked up. I just wanted to know if it’s going to go any further."

"You're sorry? You were just curious? Get real!"

Georgia laughed. "Alright already. I was prying. I've got nothing going on in my own love life, so you have to share yours with me."

Bess sighed and leaned back against the headboard of the bed. "I’m sorry, too. You know I’m not exactly a morning person. Besides, I’m a little flipped out about all of this right now. Yesterday when I was with her, I had no doubt how ... far ... I would like to go with her. This morning it overwhelms me a little. She’s the first woman since Katherine that I want to spend more than an hour or two with."

"Did you tell her this?"

Bess gave a little chuckle and rubbed her hands over her face. "Um no, not exactly. We seemed to be able to express our feelings a little more through ... action and a little less through ... speaking."

Georgia’s lips formed a perfect "O", "Oh. I see. No further explanation necessary." They were both silent for a moment.

Bess finally spoke. "You know, I just don’t want to make a big deal out of it. I’m just trying to go with the flow and not to read too much into it. She’s fun to be around and she makes me feel good. That’s enough for me right now." She got a mischievous twinkle in her eye and nudged her sister "Plus even though you’re straight, you have to admit that she’s more than a little easy on the eye."

Georgia was pleased that she hadn't had to work very hard to get her sister to open up for once. She moved up next to her sister and leaned back against the headboard with her. "She’s sure pretty enough, but not enough for me to, uh, switch teams." She paused, and then said thoughtfully, "I’d be a little more inclined to go for, say, K.D. Lang."

Bess scrunched her face up, and said with real surprise, "Really? You've been giving this some thought, have you?"

Georgia gave her a baleful look, and continued on her subject. "See, as a straight woman I'd have to make it ... work for me. I could just pretend that she’s, oh, I dunno, Keanu Reeves? I think they really are the same person anyway."

Bess giggled as she contemplated this and decided to play along. "You know, now that I think about it, I’ve never seen them photographed together."

Georgia put her arm around her sister and hugged her. "Yep, think about it. Give ol' K.D. a strap on, and I could go to the 'Matrix' in my mind."

"Or have an Adventure with Bill or Ted. Which one was he? Bill or Ted?"

They both laughed for a long while and Bess teased, "I’ve always felt that there's no such thing as a true straight woman, they’re just women who haven’t discovered the joy of sex with another woman ... yet." She smiled at her sister, "After hearing about your twisted fantasies involving K.D., Bill, Ted, Keanu and you in the Matrix, I have to say I'm glad you stick to your own team. You, my dear depraved sister, are definitely straight."

Georgia toasted her with her coffee cup. "Damn straight!"

Nancy stood next to Jauan's cart, expectantly awaiting her turn to get her customary loaded morning repast and her mind turned to a certain newly favorite subject again. I wonder if Bess even likes hotdogs. Nancy took a moment to relish the memory of the toppings of her last hot dog, sliding slowly down the front of Bess' blouse. Bet she’s a mustard only kinda woman. Yep, no onions, no chili, no sauerkraut but she’d be the type to load it with hot sauce.

Jauan was putting the finishing touches on her dog while she rubbed the sleep from her eyes. This is ridiculous, I can't live like this. This damned insomnia has ruined just about every chance I’ve had at a relationship. She wearily considered a few facts. The women she'd dated didn't take kindly to the fact that she wouldn't spend the night after she'd been intimate with them. How many times had she tried to explain herself, beforehand, only to be reassured by her date that they would be able to exhaust her to sleep? Her body was eventually spent and tired, but her mind would never allow her to slip off into needed sleep. Despite their good intentions, Nancy would invariably find herself sneaking out like a non-paying john in the night, and those women also quickly tired of her excuses. Ernie always says he’s never seen me with the same woman twice because they’ve gotten a whiff of my morning breath and booted me. Can’t get offended by morning breath if I don’t stick around 'til morning, can ya?

She took a big bite of her dog and raised it in salute to Jauan who nodded back at her. Walking into her building, she conjured up a vision of Bess at the beach on Coney Island, laying back on the sand with her eyes closed, letting the waves lap at her feet. I bet that’s what she looks like when she’s asleep. She took another bite as she waved to Silvio on her way into her apartment. She probably looks like an angel when she sleeps. With a sigh she opened her door to the apartment. At this rate, I’ll never be able to find out for myself.

Continued in Chapter Seven

Feedback appreciated at Julie Baker

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