IN THE SHADOWS OF WRIGLEY FIELD

BY

JOHN WEAGLY

Windy City actor, playwright, and author John Weagly has produced and directed a number of plays for Iguana Productions. In 1998, he started to focus less on writing plays and more on writing fiction. His story  The Redemption of Tyler Jack was published in Pirate Writings Magazine.  His book of short stories  The Undertow of Small Town Dreams  is currently available from Twilight Tales Publications. Iguana Productions has evolved into Iguana Publications, which publishes cheap, no frills chapbooks. He is a member of the Horror Writers Association, Mystery Writers of America, The Short Mystery Fiction Society, and Private Eye Writers of America.

 

            It’s rare that I let one of them keep the underpants, but it has happened.

            This was one of the many times I worked Wrigley Field.  I was standing at the corner of Waveland and Sheffield, waiting for the Cubs game to let out.  The heat was brutal.  As I stood, waiting, I felt a bead of sweat trickle from my right temple down to my jaw.  My lower back felt like a swamp.  I wanted to disown my armpits.  None of it was very lady-like.  Not even very lady-of-the-night-like. 

I had a spot in an alley a couple of blocks away, behind Metro, a club on Clark.  I had several spots in the neighborhood where I took my clients, but I kept the locations in steady rotation, and Metro was where we were going tonight.  I’d discovered the logic of using a variety of locations in a movie on Cinemax.

            They’d been playing the ninth inning for what seemed like forever.  A few people had straggled out, trying to get a jump on traffic I suppose, but none of them had held any potential.   Even though I’d only been waiting for a little under an hour, I was ready to quit for the night.  Just not in the mood, I guess.  The heat didn’t help.

            I was just about ready to give up and take myself home to a cool bath when I heard the last out.  I never paid attention to the final score, it didn’t matter.  If the Cubs won, the fans wanted to celebrate; if the Cubs lost, the fans wanted consolation. 

            Baseball junkies started spilling out into the street.  I scanned the crowd, looking for men that were by themselves that might have some money.  The search didn’t take long.  He was throwing a soda cup into a garbage can.  His hair was dark, and he was dressed in khaki shorts and a loose white Cubs t-shirt.  He looked like he carried enough money on him to afford a fun night, and he didn’t look like a trouble-maker.  I wandered over to him, walking beside him and trying to blend in with the crowd. 

            “What ya think?” I asked.

He turned his head and looked me up and down.  I had short blonde hair and, like him, I was wearing a white Cubs t-shirt, but mine was a couple of sizes too small, and I complimented it with a denim miniskirt.  From the right angles you could make out black lace supplied by Victoria’s Secret.  I also carried a red purse that was not too big and not too small.  I could easily pass for a slightly trashy fan. 

            “About what?” he asked.

            “I don’t know.  The game?  The Cubbies?  How about the temperature?”

            He looked around like he was trying to see the heat.  “It’s hot.”

            “Yes it is.”

            We kept pace with the rest of the crowd.  He didn’t say anything else, but he kept glancing at me.  A bead of sweat rolled past my left eye.  It was too hot for this kind of beating around the bush, so I said, “Are you looking for a date?”

            He stopped walking and turned toward me.  “I…uh…I don’t…”

            “No is fine. I just thought I’d ask.”

            “How…um…How much?”

            “Sixty.”

            He thought for a moment.  “Is that a good price?”

            I threw some extra sultry into my voice. 

            “Worth every penny.”

            He smiled and nodded.

            I pointed toward Clark Street. 

            “Let’s go this way.”  I started moving west. 

            After a moment, he followed. 

            “What’s your name?” I asked. 

            “Connie.”

“That’s a girl’s name.”

            “It’s short for Cornelius.”

            I still thought it might be a girl’s name.  He didn’t ask me mine.  It’s surprising how few men do.  They see me as an object, a thing, a non-entity.  Nothing doesn’t need a name.  Until we’re done that is, then they see me as even less; a bitch, a whore, a slut. 

            We walked a little further in silence.  With the heat I could feel the air giving as much resistance as possible.  Connie kept quiet.

            “Anything wrong?” I asked.

            “I’m a little nervous.”

            “Why?”

            “I’ve never done this before.”

            A lot of guys told me that.  I never believed them. 

            “It’s okay,” I told him.  “I’ve done this before.”

Then, Connie did something that none of my other clients had ever even tried.  As we walked down the street, he took my hand in his; gently but with authority, like we were on a date.  It felt peculiar, but I didn’t mind it.

            We got to Metro and went around to the back.  There was a Dumpster that provided a little camouflage if anybody else happened to wander this way.  The alley smelled like spilled beer and garbage and I could hear music pounding inside the club.  While we’d been out in the open I hadn’t noticed a breeze, but now, between buildings, I could tell it was missing. 

Connie stood, shifting from one foot to the other. 

“What do we do now?” he asked.

            My whole body felt itchy with perspiration.  This was the part I dreaded, but a girl has to make a living. 

            “You give me my money,” I told him. 

            Connie took out his wallet.  While he did so, I opened my purse.  When he looked at me again I had my gun pointed at him.  Shock spilled over his face.

            “Sorry,” I told him.  “Tonight all of your money is my money.” 

            He handed me his wallet and I took out the cash.  Then I took out his driver’s license.

            “Cornelius White. 1500 West Belle Plain, apartment 3-C,” I said.  I was surprised he’d given me his real name.  “Listen Connie.  You might decide you want revenge for what happened tonight.  You don’t.” 

            I held up the driver’s license. 

            “I know where you live and if anything happens to me, I have friends who will find you.” 

            I didn’t have to tell him not to go to the cops, none of them ever did.  They didn’t want to admit how they ended up in an alley with a strange woman in the first place. 

I put the driver’s license back into his wallet and handed the wallet back to him.  I knew what a pain it was replacing credit cards and all that other crap we carry around.

            “Now drop your pants,” I told him.

            “Are you still going to…”

            I rolled my eyes.  “Don’t get your hopes up.”

            “Then why do I have to take off my pants?”

            “It’ll help me make a clean getaway.”

            “Oh.”  He thought for a moment.  “That makes sense.”

            He took off his khakis.  Underneath he wore boxer shorts with blue and green vertical stripes.

            “This isn’t network television,” I said.  “Lose the underpants, too.”

            He looked embarrassed, but did as he was told. 

            “Give them to me.”

            He handed me his clothes.

            “Now turn around and face the wall and count to twenty-seven,” I told him.

            “Twenty-seven?”

            “It’s the number of ways I can make your night even worse if you don’t do as I say.”

            He faced the back of the building and started counting slowly.  I turned to leave the alley.  I could hear cars and buses honking and moving back in the proper world.  After I’d taken a couple of steps, Connie’s counting stopped.

            “Excuse me,” he said.

            I stopped, “Yeah?”

            “Can I ask your name?” 

I turned around and gave him an icy stare; it wasn’t cold enough to help me cool off. 

“I’m not going to do anything,” he continued.  “I’d just like to know.”

            “It’s Carly,” I told him.  I wasn’t sure why I gave him my real name, maybe because he’d given me his.

            He gave me a sad smile, and then Connie started counting again.

I’m also not sure why I did what I did next.  Maybe because Connie gave me his real name or because he asked me for mine.  Maybe it was the way he’d held my hand while we walked.  Or maybe it was just the heat.

            “Hey,” I said.

            Connie turned to look at me.  In a Mean-Joe-Green-Coca-Cola-Really-You-Can-Have-It commercial moment, I threw him his underpants.

            Then I continued on my way out of the alley. 

It was too hot to work; I swore I could hear my whole sticky body squish with each sweaty step I took.  I’d done well for the night, so I caught a cab in front of the ballpark.  That cool bath was waiting.

 

END

 

Copyright © 2007 by John Weagly

 

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