Wes Boyd's
Spearfish Lake Tales
Contemporary Mainstream Books and Serials Online

Hat Trick
Book 2 of the Bradford Exiles series
Wes Boyd
©2004, ©2010

Chapter 29

Day followed day. Sandy didn’t want to say it was dull, or boring, but it soon became routine, if a lot more rewarding in many ways than making pizzas. But it was a routine that involved having sex several times a day, sometimes at unpredictable intervals. She was pleased that she made minimum the first day, and every day following except the first Monday, when most of the girls didn’t make it – it was just dead slow around the place that day – but her average was more than high enough to have the room and board rebated.

The quality of the sex varied. While she always tried to show interest, some of it – a relatively small amount – made Robbie look good as a lover. Much was better; most guys if they’re spending several hundred bucks to go to bed with a professional woman understood that they liked to see her having a good time, and they worked on it. A few customers were just about the best she’d ever had, and that included Frank the astronaut years ago. One guy in particular laid her out on the bed, face down, and gave her a professional quality oil massage that made her come before they actually did anything. What followed was pure ecstasy. This guy knew what he was doing, big time; he had her fucked about half silly, and she ended up wondering if maybe she shouldn’t have paid him for the wonderful experience.

Much of the time, especially between lineups, little was going on. During her off-duty time, she slept, practiced guitar, or went back to the gym and worked out, and she worked hard at it, hard till her muscles ached. When on-duty, the girls had to stay close and ready for a lineup on little notice. Often they hung around the lounge or the dining room; for some reason, cribbage was a traditional game there, and there were often a couple games going on. One of the girls who had worked at some of the houses up by Reno told her that the Redlite was the only place where the tradition was cribbage, and no one knew why.

Sandy rarely got involved in the cribbage games; mostly she sat back in the lounge with the twelve-string in her lap, practicing and playing – never loud or intrusive, just practice. When Shirley or one of the other shift managers made the traditional call, "Ladies, we have callers," or when the bell went off, she’d stash the guitar in the office and go do the lineup. In the ten months since she’d done any serious guitar playing, the calluses on her left hand had just about disappeared, and if Dayna actually contacted her, she’d be needing them. She got a lot of compliments on her guitar playing, but no one quite believed her about the albums – she hadn’t even had any at home, let alone any to bring with her. But if Dayna showed up, there’d be plenty in Home.

As the days passed with no word from Dayna, she started to worry just a little. Had she gotten the message and decided not to call? Had something happened to her? Angie told her that Dayna had been concerned about being out on the road by herself. Could something have happened? Half a dozen times she thought about trying to call Angie again to find out if Dayna had called, but she stopped herself. She didn’t want to be a pest – and if Dayna had gotten the message and hadn’t tried to call her, she didn’t really want to know.

After the first week had gone by, she started to get even more nervous about it; another week or ten days or so without hearing would determine her future: professional musician or professional prostitute. The second was looking increasingly more likely.

It was never totally possible to predict when times were going to be busy or not, although sometimes there were hints. On her second Friday at the Redlite, Shirley warned them that they could be in for a busy time; there was a large trade show in Las Vegas that was letting out that day. She hit it right on the nose; it got busy in the middle of the afternoon and stayed busy. There were twenty girls in the house, counting those who worked both days and nights, and by midafternoon Shirley had called everybody out, whether they were supposed to be sleeping or not. No one complained; you had to get ’em while they were there. It was busy enough that out of twenty girls in the place, the line-ups might run two or three girls, sometimes not even that; Sandy and the other girls were stacking it up. As the afternoon progressed, some of the weekend girls came in to help take up the load, some of them called in early, but they only kept up with the increase of men coming in. The joint was jumping.

Not long before dark, Sandy’s gut was growling and she had to have a couple minutes break, so she snuck out to the kitchen and had Sarah throw her together a sandwich and a drink of juice; to be out of sight, she stood there in the kitchen eating it. As she ate, she watched a white, low-winged airplane taxi up from the airstrip just east of the building to the tie downs by the service gate. She was a little surprised to see a tall, gorgeous dark-haired woman get out of the plane, walk around it to tie it down and make sure it was safe, then grab an overnight bag and head for the service gate. Pretty obviously a weekend girl, but one who flew her own plane in? That was something, but she didn’t have time to think about it as the call for a lineup came down again; she gobbled the rest of the sandwich and headed for the lobby.

Later that evening, she wound up in a lineup with the tall, gorgeous, dark-haired woman. Sandy introduced herself as Memphis Minnie, of course, but she was really shocked to hear the strange woman introduce herself as "Jennlynn"! For an instant, she almost lost it – that was the name of Dayna’s classmate who no one in Bradford had heard from for years. Could she still be a hooker? Could this be her? But wouldn’t she be using a work name? She didn’t have the chance to ask, for it was two guys picking, Jennlynn was one of those picked, and Memphis Minnie was the other one. She headed back to the room with him, her mind on business, but the back of it resolving to investigate.

The dining room was almost empty the next morning. It was a little late for breakfast, but not yet time for lunch. It had been a long night, not ending till near dawn, and Sandy was still a little bushed; nothing had better get in between her and her coffee. When she walked out into the dining room, Jennlynn was sitting at one of the tables, finishing a light breakfast and trying to drag out a cup of coffee. As Sandy drew her own coffee, Jennlynn spoke up. "You’re new here, aren’t you?" she asked. "Come join me."

"Sure thing," Sandy replied as she walked over and sat down. "I’m Memphis Minnie, and yes, I’m new. My real name is Sandy. You’re Jennlynn, right? The one who flies her own plane in here?"

"That’s me, Jennlynn Swift," she grinned. "People may not know me by name, but they know me by my plane. I’ve been coming here longer than any other girl in the place except for Shirley, so I always try to welcome newcomers. Is this your first shift?"

"Yeah, it’s the first time I’ve worked in a house, although I’ve done tricks as an indie now and then the past few years."

"How you liking it?"

"It’s all right," Sandy shrugged. "I’m sitting out the six weeks residency until I can get a divorce, so it’s better than sitting around on my dead butt."

"I have to say it’s not the first time I’ve heard that story, and it probably won’t be the last," Jennlynn smiled. "I’ve never even gotten close to getting married, and every time I hear that story it reminds me of why."

"Uh, can I ask you something?" Sandy frowned. "By any chance are you the Jennlynn Swift from Bradford, Michigan?"

"Yeah, I am," Jennlynn nodded, obviously surprised at the question. "You’ve heard of me?"

"Well, yeah," Sandy admitted. "In fact, you’re a little bit of the reason why I’m here. I used to play guitar on the road with a girl by the name of Dayna Berkshire. She told me one time that the story was that you were making big bucks working in the houses out here, so when I had to make some money and find a place to stay, I thought I’d check this out."

"Dayna, wow," Jennlynn shook her head. "I haven’t heard anything about her in years." She looked distant for a moment, then continued, "Yeah, I remember hearing that you and she used to play guitar together . . . " she frowned for an instant and continued. "Something seems to come to mind about the two of you busking renfaires in corsets with your boobs about popping out."

"We made quite a few bucks that way," Sandy laughed. "Occasionally we turned it into a paying date, too. It was fun. I guess she kept on doing it after my folks pushed me into marrying the dickhead I’m divorcing."

"Damn . . . Dayna," Jennlynn shook her head. "We went to school together. I know you’re not from Bradford, but it slips my mind where you’re from."

"Warren, up around Detroit," Sandy told her. "Dayna and I started playing together, working renfaires and bars and turning the occasional trick while we were at Central."

"I’ll be darned," Jennlynn smiled. "I take it you did all right?"

"We weren’t getting rich, but we made out and had a lot of fun," Sandy nodded. "Then I got sick and I got stupid and let my folks push me into getting married. They weren’t real cool about me being out on the road. Well, it didn’t work out, and the hell with them. Dayna’s folks are a lot cooler about it."

"Dayna was a good friend," Jennlynn told her. "About the best I had in high school. This is the first I’ve heard anything from Bradford in years."

"I haven’t been there in over a year myself," Sandy said. "But if you know Vicky Pabst, it used to be Varney, she helped me make my escape from my husband a couple weeks ago. I owe her a big one."

"Vicky? Now there’s another name I haven’t heard for years. How’s she doing?"

"Pretty good, although I get the idea her marriage is going to hell, too. So, is working here all you do?"

"Oh, no," Jennlynn said. "I’m a design engineer down in Phoenix, and I make a lot more money on my day job. I just fly my plane up here every other weekend to be lazy, play some cribbage, and have some sex. It’s my form of relaxation."

"It is a lot of fun, isn’t it?" she smiled. "If Dayna calls and we can work it out to get back on the road, fine. If I don’t, I’m staying here for a while if they’ll let me."

"Damn, I wouldn’t mind seeing her again," Jennlynn submitted. "I never hear anything from back there anymore. If you hear from her, let me know."

"I’ve been waiting for her to call for a couple weeks," Sandy said. "Since she’s on the road, it’s hard to get a message to her. I’m just hoping she hasn’t forgotten about me."

Just then, one of the girls who had been hanging around the lounge stuck her head into the dining room. "Hey, Minnie," she said. "Shirley says you have a call on the RLR line."

*   *   *

Face it, Dayna, she thought as she sat eating a hamburger in the Coffee Cup Restaurant in Chadron, Nebraska. This isn’t working.

She’d been out three weeks, and it had been the crappiest trip she’d ever been on, bar none. There had been a couple good college dates, and one of the clubs hadn’t been too bad, but the others had been zoos. On top of that, the people in both Des Moines and Omaha didn’t know busking from a bite on the butt. She’d been lonely, bored, and depressed.

Really, about the only thing that had gone halfway right in the last week or so had been the college gig last night. Chadron was about as close to nowhere as she could imagine, it was a small college and there wasn’t jack shit going on. Even though the gig hadn’t been for much money, the kids had responded well – but shit, they must have been so starved for entertainment that they’d have been happy with a Sky King rerun, so it really hadn’t picked up her spirits much. She still had a few days to kill before the busker festival in Boulder, and she was wondering whether it was worth it to even bother to go. About the only thing that had kept her going so far was that she knew she had the Canterbury Festival booked in California. It should be for some fairly decent bucks and might make up for the first part of this trip. But that was still a little more than a month off, and killing a month on the road like this would be difficult, especially alone.

Once again, she helplessly wished that she had Sandy with her. It was impossible, of course; she’d given up on it, but it would have been nice.

Maybe the thing to do, she thought, would be to head on back to Bradford and just sit out three weeks. She’d have a little time to hit a couple colleges again for a summer intern or companion, or whatever, or there might even be some Bradford kid who would like to ride along for the summer. Even just having someone with her to talk to would make a hell of a difference. For that matter, screw Boulder. Any busker there is already going to have an established act, and it wouldn’t fit into her own act very well. After all the work last fall, and some brushups, she had the solo renfaire act down to where it would do the job.

The waitress, an older woman, was leaning back on the counter, just taking a break, smoking a cigarette. There was an idea that helped sometimes. "Hey," she spoke up, "Any chance I could bum one of those?"

"Sure thing, honey," the woman smiled, leaning forward and walking over with the pack and a lighter. In a few seconds, Dayna was lighting the cigarette, inhaling deeply. She was glad she’d never gotten hooked on them, but once in a while they were the finest aid to concentration she could think of. It was a thousand miles to Michigan, and she’d have to double back in three weeks or so, and with the way the RV burned gas, that was no small chunk of change, considering that she’d spent more on this trip than she’d taken in, and there was no prospect of better for a while; even Boulder wouldn’t be good money with half the buskers in the country and their brothers hanging around. She could work the mall, maybe pick up a small gig or two from her local contacts once she was back home. And for that matter, the Indy Renfaire that she and Sandy had worked once years ago started next weekend. It’d probably be too late to get a stage, unless there was a cancellation, but she could still go down and busk it. Hell, even drive the Dodge that was parked in the yard, save a little on gas, maybe take a tent and a sleeping bag for one night.

Best of all, heading home would bury this lousy trip, put the bad luck behind her. The next time she’d head up the I-67 on-ramp, she’d know she’d be heading to a sure thing, and there wouldn’t be the lousy fucking boredom.

She took one more drag on the cigarette, and realized that the decision had been made. So be it; might as well get it on. It’d be good to be heading back to Bradford, at least it would be something to do. She glanced over at the waitress, and happened to notice the pay phone on the wall, and that gave her an idea. If I’m heading back, I probably ought to let Mom and Dad know I’m on the way, she thought. Shit, it’s been days since I called – how long? She wasn’t sure; in the old days she’d usually tried to check in once a week, but some days had slipped by. Shit, though, it was way the hell back the other side of Des Moines. Yeah, I better call.

She took the cigarette and ashtray, and headed over to the pay phone. She used a phone card for these calls home; it was a good price but a hell of a bunch of numbers to push. In a minute or so, she heard the phone ringing, and her mother answered. "Hi, Mom," she said. "How are things back there?"

"Wet," her mother replied. "April showers. Where are you?"

"Chadron, Nebraska, which is about like what hell with the fires out must be like. It’s been a lousy trip and I’m thinking of heading back for a while. Any messages?"

"One big one," she could hear her mother smile. "Are you sitting down?"

"No, give it to me straight, Mom."

"Sandy’s husband beat her up, and she left him. She’s in Nevada, getting a divorce, and she wants to get back with you."

"Mom!" she exclaimed. "You’re kidding!"

"No, I’m not. She called the day after the day you called the last time, then the day after that from Nevada. I’ve got a number you can call for her, any time, day or night. She says they’ll have to call her to the phone but she’ll be there."

"Well, my God! That changes everything! What’s the number?"

"Just a second, it’s on the desk here somewhere. Dayna, don’t get too excited. It’s been a year, a lot has happened, and both you and she have changed a bit."

"I know, Mom, but I don’t think they’ll have changed that much."

"Still, a word of caution: don’t go overboard until you find out. Here it is; do you have something to write on?"

"No, uh, just a second," Dayna said, frantically looking around for something. "Be right back." She looked up at the waitress and asked, "I need to get a phone number; do you have something I can write on?"

The waitress nodded and handed over her order pad and pen, and quickly Dayna took the number. "OK, Mom," she said after reading it back. "I’m probably heading to Nevada, I’ll give you a call when I get there. Thanks a ton!"

"Dayna, just keep it cool," her mother advised. She let out a sigh and continued. "It was pretty obvious what was going on with you and Sandy. I can’t say as I thoroughly approved of it, but over the last few months your father and I have seen that you were a hell of a lot happier with her than you are without her. So, good luck, and I hope this works for you, but don’t get your hopes too high till it happens."

She said goodbye and hung up the phone, heart pounding, breathing deeply, scarcely able to believe her ears at any of this conversation. Sandy! And now, an all but complete admission that her parents knew just how close they’d been – and gave their approval!

Stop, she thought. Get hold of yourself before you call, it won’t do any good to break down on the phone. "Good news?" the waitress asked casually.

"The best, I hope," Dayna replied as she started to punch numbers again. "Cross your fingers for me and pray to Christ it is."

The phone rang two or three times before a woman’s voice answered, "RLR Casino Management, may I help you?"

"Yes," Dayna said, trying to suppress the pounding in her chest. "I’m calling for Sandy, uh, I’m not sure what last name she’d be using, either Buehler or Beecham or Beach."

"Are you Dayna, by any chance?" the woman asked.

"Yes, I am."

"Good, she’s been waiting to hear from you. I’ll have to put you on hold; it’ll be a minute or two."

"Fine," she replied, willing herself to be calm. She’d never dreamed this could happen, had long since given up hope that it could happen. Yeah, her mom was right; things had probably changed a lot; they had for her – it had been a long struggle to learn to operate without Sandy, not that she’d done all that well with it, but at least she’d accepted it and moved on as best she could. And yeah, Sandy had been through a lot of brainwashing and bullshit, too. But damn it, she loved that woman, and life had been hell without her; it was worth trying to put back together again.

And then, she heard the phone pick up and a small, worried voice say, "Dayna?"


"Oh, my God, I was starting to worry that you wouldn’t call, that you’d want to put me behind you."

"Oh, hell no; I just found out less than five minutes ago. Mom said Robbie beat you up and you left him?"

"Pretty much," she admitted. "Look, I don’t know how to say this, but I’d like it if we could try to get back together again. I don’t think it can be quite the way it was, but maybe we can make it into something, maybe even something better."

"Works for me," Dayna said in relief. "At least, we need to get together and talk it over."

"I’d like that," came the voice over the phone. "But you’re going to have to come here. I’ve got to get six weeks’ residency in before I can get the divorce, and I’ve got two now. No point in wasting it."

"Sure, no problem, I’m not doing anything anyway. Where are you?"

She could hear Sandy take a deep breath. "Dayna, do you remember back up at Central when you did that frat guy the first time, you said that sometime things might get so bad that maybe turning a trick would be the only way out?"

"Yeah," Dayna nodded.

"You were right. I’m at a place called the Redlite Ranch Bordello. It really is pretty cool; I’ve had a lot of fun and done pretty well."

"Glad you listened to me," she grinned. "Damn, you were always better at getting it than I was, and now you just proved it. Now where is this place, anyway?"

"Antelope Valley, northwest of Las Vegas."

"You got a street address?"

"Dayna, when you get to Antelope Valley, the only way you could miss the Redlite Ranch is if your seeing eye dog is asleep."

"I’m on my way," she replied. "I’m in the middle of nowhere, Chadron, Nebraska, and I’ll be damn glad to be heading somewhere."

"You don’t know what the middle of nowhere is until you’ve seen Antelope Valley," Sandy laughed. "But it’s a pretty neat nowhere." She took a deep breath. "Dayna, thank you. I was getting worried."

"Thank you for calling," she said. "Damn, Sandy, I missed you."

"I missed you too, Dayna. God, I missed you all the time."

"Sandy, we could sit here and cry at each other for hours, but that’s time I could be spending on the road heading your way."

"Drive carefully and take it easy, Dayna. I’m not going anywhere."

*   *   *

Dayna’s resolve to follow Sandy’s advice to drive carefully and take it easy lasted all the way to the city limits of Chadron, where she punched the Chevy V-8 under the RV’s hood with as heavy a foot as it had ever experienced. Kevin Holst may have thought that he drove the RV hard getting from Louisiana to Bradford in a day’s drive last November, but he didn’t have western open spaces, western speed limits, and western drivers to deal with. Fourteen hours, five pit stops – none of which lasted more than fifteen minutes – and no sleep later, she slid into the parking lot of the Redlite Ranch Bordello. Sandy had been right – there had been no way in hell to miss it. But good God, who ever dreamed a cathouse could look like this!

Staggering a little from the stiffness of sitting in the driver’s seat, and with excitement pushing back the exhaustion, she walked up to the gate with the sign that read, "RING BELL – PUSH GATE – HAVE FUN." Without a second’s hesitation pushed the button, heard the click of the latch, and pushed the gate back, heading for the door.

Shirley had been sitting in her office, with one eye on the gate’s TV monitor; she’d learned a lot about what was going on in the last day or so and knew what a motorhome pulling in would likely mean. She glanced out into the dining room; both Sandy and Jennlynn were sitting there, talking, with only two or three other girls there at this early hour of a Sunday morning. Shirley had a little streak of mischievousness from time to time, and this was a good time for it. "Ladies, we have a caller!" she called out, the traditional call for a greeting lineup, then headed for the front door herself.

As the girls assembled into a line, Shirley opened the front door and said in her most friendly but formal manner, "Good morning, and welcome to the Redlite Ranch. Please come in and greet our staff." She stepped inside as the tallish, dark-haired girl walked into the low light of the lobby and glanced around – and heard Sandy gasp, "Dayna!"


"Oh, God," both of them said as they rushed into each other’s arms. Instantly, there was a huge, deep kiss as ten months of separation fell away. They patted each other’s backs, as the tears of joy rolled, and said things like "Oh, God, I missed you," as Shirley and the other girls looked on.

"I wasn’t expecting you so soon!"

"I couldn’t stop!"

After a minute or so, Dayna’s eyes began to grow a little used to the light as the initial excitement died down – and then she let out a loud gasp as she recognized one of the other girls in the lineup. "Jennlynn! Oh, my God! What are you doing here?"

"What does it look like?" her old friend laughed as she turned the hug into a three-way.

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