Spearfish Lake Tales
Contemporary Mainstream Books and Serials Online
Finding two old friends, one she hadnít seen for most of a year, the other for several years, and at the same unlikely place at the same time, was just about too much for Dayna. Soon, they were back in the dining room, fresh coffee was served, and Sarah was throwing together a breakfast for Dayna, who hadnít eaten anything but two candy bars since Chadron.
At least Dayna had known Sandy would be here. Jennlynn was just about a heart stopper. "So the stories about you working out here were true!" Dayna stammered.
"Sure are," she smiled. "I donít know what stories went around, but I hope they did real good."
"The only thing I remember is that you worked at the Mustang Ranch and later a place down south. Is this it?"
"No, that was Bettyeís Ranch, where I met Shirley," Jennlynn said. "When Bettyeís got sold out from under her, she and George bought the old Redlite, bulldozed it, and started building this place, and I moved over here with the other girls from Bettyeís."
"So, youíve been a hooker ever since?"
"Oh, no, just every other weekend. Iím a design engineer down in Phoenix." She let out a sigh. "Dayna, the truth is that Iím a nymphomaniac. I keep it under control by working here every now and then."
"A nymphomaniac? But you never had a date."
"Actually, I had one, for the prom," Jennlynn smiled. "I suspected that I could get hooked on sex real easily and real seriously when I was in high school, but I managed to keep it under control, mostly because my folks watched me pretty closely. When I got to Caltech, I started sleeping around a lot. Somehow, that got back to my folks; I donít know how, but when I flew my old Cessna 150 in for summer break, they figured I had to have made the money to buy it being a prostitute, so they threw me out on my ass without letting me explain it was on a bank loan. So, I figured that if they thought I was a prostitute, I damn well would be, and flew straight to the Mustang. I was full time the rest of the summer, there and at Bettyeís, and Iíve been part time ever since."
"And you called Emily to tell her what happened, to slap your folks in the face?"
"Yes," Jennlynn nodded. "I had the impression that it worked pretty well, but youíre the first person from Bradford Iíve talked to face to face since then."
"Iím afraid I canít tell you a lot," Dayna told her. "All I know is that nobody mentions your name around your parents. I mean, ever. They know that itís going to get very nasty if they do."
"Good, it must have worked," she smiled. "Look, I donít know how to say this, but if you can somehow freshen the rumor, and for your own sake, without mentioning that you were in here, Iíd appreciate it. Maybe I told you when you met me at a renfaire or something."
"I can do that," Dayna laughed. "I donít know when Iíll be back in Bradford, but maybe when I get there Iíll drop by Emilyís, and watch her just about burst with the urge to grab the telephone."
"Look, Sandyís been filling me in on Bradford a little," Jennlynn said. "Iíd love to sit here and talk old times, but you and Sandy have more important things to discuss. I donít have to head back to Phoenix till this evening. This time of year, I like to leave about six, so I can make it back before dark, I donít like night flying single engine over the desert."
"Thatís your plane sitting outside?" Dayna asked, a little incredulously.
"Yes, itís a Mooney Mark 21 I call Soiled Dove. Iíve been thinking about selling it and buying a light twin." She laughed. "You see, Dayna, Iím just about as obsessive about planes as I am about men, but I discovered a long time ago that the fussiest airplane takes a lot less maintenance than a boyfriend or husband. "
"Iíd love to bring you up to date," she said. "My God, I never dreamed Iíd find you here."
"Can I say Iím just a little surprised to find you here? Sandy said you and she turned a few tricks, too."
"Yeah, we have, not real serious, though, nothing like this."
"Could you have ever believed when we were sitting talking over lunch in the cafeteria in school we were actually holding a meeting of the Bradford Future Hookers Club?"
"No," Dayna said. "But while youíve done more of it, I think I beat you to it."
"That was what Sandy was telling me yesterday," she smiled and got up. "But like I said, letís get together later and talk old times. In the meantime, Iíll see if I can interest Shirley in a game of cribbage while you and Sandy discuss important stuff."
Dayna shook her head as she watched Jennlynn walk over to the office. "Sandy," she said. "This has been the goddamndest day I can remember. First you, then Jennlynn."
"Sheís a really neat person," Sandy nodded. "She tells me that sheís a real bitch on the job, and her nice side only comes out here." She let out a sigh. "Dayna, we have to talk."
"Yes, we do," she sighed. "Sandy, I thought about it all the way down here. I donít think we can pick up right where we left off, but maybe we can work up to it. Iím willing to give it a serious try if you are. I missed the hell out of you, and I had a hell of a time learning to operate even half-assed without you. I couldnít have done that if I hadnít had a lot of help from some of the kids Jennlynn and I went to school with."
"I know," she said. "Vicky told me about a lot of it."
"Vicky Pabst, lives in Troy, not far from my parents. She helped me make my escape from Robbie," Sandy nodded. "Dayna, I know Iíve changed a lot, too, and I donít think itís been for the better, although Iím trying to recover. I can see now I was really brainwashed by my folks, and doing what I did was one of the dumbest fucking things I can imagine. But yeah, Iím willing to try to work to put things back together somehow."
"Works for me," she replied. "We can go over what happened in the last year later. Looking ahead, the Canterbury Renfaire starts in a little over a month. Then Iíve got one in Oregon set for July, and tentatively another one outside Seattle in August."
"No Mackinaw City? No Maple Leaf?"
"I didnít want to go there without you. There were too many memories there. We probably should do the Oregon date, but I havenít firmed up the Seattle one yet, so we could get a month there if we wanted. Sandy, I had a hell of a time breaking the show down into a solo act, but if weíre going to get back together, weíre going to have to put our act back together again, maybe freshen it up a little. You have to sit out Nevada for another four weeks yet, right?"
"Four weeks from next Tuesday," Sandy nodded. "Iíve got the twelve-string with me, but thatís about all. Iíve been trying to get in practice a little."
"Good. What do you say if we just find someplace to hole up, work on the act and work on putting ourselves back together again?"
"Works for me," she agreed. "I donít know where weíd do it . . . unless."
"Dayna, have you seen much of this place? Itís incredible! Itís almost like a resort with plenty of hot sex! Iíve been stacking up some serious bucks and having a hell of a good time. If you hadnít shown up I was more or less planning on staying here. Iíll bet if we were to talk to Shirley you could sit it out here with me, we could rebuild the act in our spare time. Weíre not busy all the time, thereíd be plenty of time for it."
"Itís worth considering," Dayna smiled. "Sandy, do you have any idea how long itís been since Iíve been laid?"
"Not real recently?"
"That guy you and I did last spring. Like I said, youíve always been a little better at getting it than I am."
"Then there isnít any better place in the world to catch up," Sandy grinned. "Iíve learned some tricks here I would never have dreamed. They do things here a little different than we did, but it all makes sense, and itís real professional." She let out a sigh. "In fact, itís almost ruined me for doing it indie like we used to."
"You remember how we used to worry about guys getting rough? You see the bartender over there?" she said, pointing at a big, burly guy polishing glasses behind the bar. "His name is Virgil, heís a former pro football player, has a karate black belt, and a .44 magnum behind the counter. A client gives you trouble, Virgil is just one push of the panic button away, and thereís more backup coming right behind him. So, we donít get much trouble."
"OK, you made your point. Letís go talk to Shirley."
A minute or so later, they were sitting at the table with Shirley and Jennlynn. "Can we break in?" Sandy asked.
"Sure," Jennlynn laughed. "I got a shitty hand; Iíll take what I can get to get out of it."
"Whatís up?" Shirley asked as she put down her cards.
"Lucille here was just complaining to me that she hasnít had any action for a while and was thinking she might like to work a shift while we put our act back together."
"Lucille?" Dayna asked, a little bemused.
"Iím Memphis Minnie here," Sandy explained. "Jennlynn is ballsy, God bless her, she uses her real name."
"How long has it been?" Jennlynn asked.
"Nearly a year," Dayna said.
"Oh my God," Jennlynn shook her head. "I donít know how you can stand it. Shirley, do you remember that time I took two months off after my first summer?"
"Oh, Christ yes," the older woman laughed. "She came stomping into Bettyeís in her street clothes, literally grabbed this hot young trucker who was looking over the lineup and drug him back to the nearest room, then did him for three hours on the house minimum, just about raped him to death. He came staggering out afterwards saying, ĎChrist, I didnít know a woman could get that horny!í"
"I told you I was a nympho," Jennlynn laughed.
"And then there was that time after sheíd gone to work down in Phoenix, she tried to go straight, and went five months without. That was right after we moved here; she showed up here, no card, no medical, and I couldnít put her to work. Fortunately, my grandson was here, he was about to go into the Air Force and wanted to party. Back at Bettyeís we could let him in at eighteen but we couldnít here till he was twenty-one, so we put two and two together, I sent them to the motel across the street and figured Iíd better call an ambulance."
"Didnít need it," Jennlynn laughed. "Will is quite a kid."
"I called over there to ask if they wanted to come to breakfast," Shirley laughed. "Jennlynn doesnít like to be interrupted, so she just knocked the phone off the hook. We put the show on the speakerphone, and you never heard such screaming and moaning and screwing and rutting in your life, and it went on without a break for hours."
"Will has a lot of his daddy and granddaddy in him," Jennlynn smiled.
"Except that the two of you proved he doesnít need a wife, he needs a harem," Shirley laughed.
"Dayna!" Sandy said, eyes lighting up. "Did you bring them?"
Dayna read her perfectly. "Iíve got most of the collection, I was hoping to come up with another partner."
"Cool!" Sandy grinned. "Boy, will that be fun! Thatíll really turn some heads!"
"Whatís this?" Shirley smiled.
"Weíve got some show costumes that would be interesting in the lineups," Sandy explained obliquely. "We used to specialize in threesomes."
Shirley shook her head. "Why do I foresee an interesting four weeks ahead?" she grinned. "Dayna, letís talk business for a minute. I know youíve done this before, but not in a house. Itíll be a little different, and there are some rules youíll have to follow. Since itís Sunday, we wonít be able to start the paperwork until Monday, and probably canít have you working till Tuesday. Is that going to be all right?"
"Should be fine," Dayna said. "Any minute now Iím going to get over this high Iím on from seeing Sandy and Jennlynn again, and then Iím just going to collapse and sleep till Monday anyway. I was up all night and didnít sleep well the night before." She took a deep breath and went on. "Look, my priorities right now are to work things out with Sandy and get our act together for a show we have to be doing next month. If thatís not going to get in the way of the partying, itís fine with me. If itís going to be a problem, well, let me know now, or if it gets to be one."
"Shouldnít be a problem," Shirley said. "Sandyís been practicing and then dropping it to answer lineups. You can practice out back, in the employee lounge, out by the pool, whatever. Maybe if you want to try something out you could put on a little show up front some time."
"Yeah . . . " Dayna said, as the broad smile of an idea crossed her face. " . . . . sure! Oh, man would I like to do that!"
"Dayna, are you thinking Lucille Bogan revival?" Sandy laughed.
"Weíll have to work it up," she laughed. "I picked up a Memphis Minnie I hadnít heard before, and a cute idea has come into my head since I came in here, just like Steam Train John."
"Iím not sure what youíre talking about, but I think I want to be here to see it," Jennlynn laughed.
"Pretty simple," Dayna smiled. "Sandy and I have collected songs about prostitution whenever we come across them. Usually not Tin Pan Alley stuff, although we have a couple like Love For Saleand Fancy. Mostly real gritty stuff by blueswomen who really worked the streets. Lucille Bogan and Memphis Minnie were a couple of them, back in the twenties. Usually weíve only done them if weíre pretty drunk and the audience is drunker, but damn! It would be so neat to do that set in here!"
"Vision!" Sandy laughed. "We get Sam and Walker in here to record! Redlite Women, recorded live and on location at the Redlite Ranch Bordello!"
"Theyíd do it too, but if we do that," Dayna snickered, "it better be a Lucille and Minnie album, not a Dayna and Sandy."
"Even better! Eskimo Nell!"
"Ohhhhh, yessss," Dayna shook her head and turned to Shirley. "Iím sorry, but we get a little wild sometimes."
"You might want to run that one by George," Shirley laughed. "Heís always looking for a new promotion angle that ainít actually advertising." She let out a sigh. "All right Dayna, weíll see how it goes. If it gets to be a pain in the butt I may have to tell you to trim it back or cut it out, OK?"
"Sure," Dayna replied. "It has to be first things first for you, I understand."
"Actually, I think weíll get along just fine," Shirley said. "Itíll be fun to have some different stuff going on. Not quite like the Saturday night fights we used to have at Maybelleís up in Ely when I was half your age, but fun. Tell you what. Why donít we not try to go through the routine right now? You just sit here and shoot the shit with Sandy and Jennlynn. If they get a call for a lineup, they can go, and if they get picked, you and I can get started on the run through."
* * *
The three of them covered a lot of ground that afternoon, catching up on a year and a lot of years. As the afternoon grew late, Jennlynn had to head back to Phoenix, so she got out of lineup clothes, into a conservative pants suit, gave Dayna a big hug and told her sheíd see her in a couple weeks, then went out, got in the Mooney, and took off. By that time, Dayna was starting to crash; the excitement was being overcome by her sheer exhaustion. Shirley set her up in the room next to Sandyís, and she went back and crashed hard.
Sunday night was moderately busy, but only moderately. Sandy had a couple parties, one of them pretty good, but she was in as good and a mellow a mood as sheíd been in for a year. Things were coming back together in her life. Finally, at two AM with the place dead, she figured she might as well call it a night. She went back to her room, thought about it for a second, then went back up front, got the spare key for Daynaís room, then went in and crawled into bed with her. Dayna was sound asleep, zonked, but her subconscious felt her, and in her sleep Dayna reached out and put her arm around her to pull her close. Not long after that, Sandy fell asleep with her head on her regained loverís shoulder. There would be some ground to cover to put things all the way back together again, but a lot of it had already been done. They were on their way, and the world was straightening on its axis again.
On Monday, George took Dayna into town to get her paperwork started; on Tuesday, she had her first party as a licensed Nevada prostitute, and things went just fine. For the next several days, both the girls answered all the bells, often coming from somewhere in the back, from one of the girlsí rooms, or from out by the pool to get in the lineups. People around the Redlite soon learned that no, Sandy hadnít been joking about the three albums; Dayna had boxes of them in the RV and was ready to sell them at the drop of a hat. When the guy came in to service the jukebox, all three albums were loaded into it, as well Ė but they didnít get listened to much, because everyone in the building could hear the real thing almost whenever they wanted.
* * *
A couple of weeks later Jennlynn flew in again, this time in a blue and white high-wing plane. "What happened to the Mooney?" Dayna and Sandy heard Shirley ask as soon as she walked in the back door. "I thought you were going for a light twin."
"I am," Jennlynn replied. "The Mooney blew a cylinder on the way back from here the last trip, and I had to dead stick it into Kingman. Iíve been using it more and more for office stuff, and the people around the office are a little antsy over single engine, even if Iím not. That Skylane is just a rental, Iím looking for a light twin, but I canít do anything till the Mooneyís engine is back together."
"How much is that going to set you back?" Dayna wondered lightly.
"Not sure yet, maybe a hundred grand," Jennlynn said. "But since Iíll be using it for the business, itíll pretty much pay for itself. I think Iím going to set up a little charter business, just to help with the tax issues and some Federal Aviation Regs."
"You donít think small, do you?" Sandy asked.
"No, I think about whatís needed to do the job," she smiled. "If the charter business grows to where I need a bigger or faster plane, Iíll get one. Look, let me change into lineup clothes and run a brush through my hair, and then we can talk a little."
They gathered with her later, had dinner, and relived the last two weeks and some of the good old days in Bradford. As they got into the evening, the place began to fill up; there were a few lineup calls, but Jennlynn noticed that somehow they didnít generate into parties Ė the lounge up front was filling with customers and girls, all talking and teasing and drinking. Jennlynn thought it a bit different, but then things were often a bit different around here. And then both Dayna and Sandy excused themselves for a few minutes.
Not long afterward, George came out into the room, and stood on the small, rarely used stage at the end of the lounge, and picked up an even more rarely used microphone. "Glad to see everybody here tonight," he said. "I see the back isnít being used much, but weíll deal with that later. Tonight we have something special. Professional ladies and customers, put out your hands for Eskimo Nell!"
By God, they did it, Jennlynn thought, as she looked up to see Dayna and Sandy walking into the room from the kitchen, carrying guitars. They were dressed in lineup clothes, almost caricatures of street hooker clothes Ė very short skirts, high heels, fishnet stockings, striped tank tops, and black hats. Both had unlit cigarettes dangling from their lips. They walked up to the microphones on the stage. "Hi," Dayna said. "Sheís Memphis Minnie."
"Sheís Lucille," Sandy grinned.
"Weíre Eskimo Nell, the nationís greatest licensed prostitute band."
"Thatís because as far as we know, weíre the only licensed prostitute band."
"Picky, picky," "Lucille" laughed. "Now what kind of songs would you expect a band of prostitutes to play?"
"Especially in a house of prostitution."
"Songs about prostitution!"
"Weíve been collecting them for years."
"And weíve written some, too."
"Some of them are a little, well, raw."
"But weíre all adults here."
"Or at least we better be," "Memphis Minnie" smirked.
"You want to know a strange but true?"
"We started collecting these for a college class."
"The first time we performed many of them was for that class."
"We got an ĎAí in it, too."
"But letís not talk about it."
They started off gently, with one of the few that were really familiar, Love For Sale, and Dayna didnít do it in the plaintive manner that Billie Holliday had done it. She was seductive about it, and there was a bunch of guys out there that were ready to climb the stairs with her, even though the Redlite didnít have any stairs.
They followed it up with a number theyíd written and pulled together in the last few days: Pick Me Please. It included the line, Pick me please, so I can give you my love. It sounded like it was about a school dance, with a girl trying to put the make on a guy, but there were a couple odd catchphrases that only someone who hung around a Nevada bordello might notice that made it what it really was Ė the thoughts of a girl in a lineup hoping to take the guy out back.
After that, they did Fancy, the old version of House of the Rising Sun and a couple of others before descending into serious blues. "Minnie and I hope that weíre honoring the greatest prostitute blues singers by taking their names and playing their music," Lucille said. "Iíve heard it said that every generation thinks they invented sex, but the truth is that both these ladies worked the streets of Memphis and elsewhere back before even Shirley was born."
They started with You Canít Give It Away and Hustliní Woman Blues. That got a lot of cheers and laughs Ė they had the crowd in their hands, now Ė so they headed right into the Lucille Bogan stuff Ė Tricks Ainít Walkiní No More, Till The Cows Come Home, and then the finale Ė the dirty version of Shave íEm Dry. It was as dirty, raw, and rough as it had been when Lucille had sung it eighty years before, a hooker sneering at a man, sheís more than enough woman to handle him, and he better damn well be ready. It was so in-the-face that they got a big applause from the crowd that knew, better than any other theyíd played, just exactly what they were talking about.
"All right, people," Lucille said as the applause died down. "Weíre going to take a break."
"But weíre the nationís greatest all licensed prostitute band."
"So weíre going to do things jusssst a little differently."
"Normally, bands take a ten- or fifteen-minute break between sets."
"Weíre going to take an hour, maybe more, so you donít have an excuse."
"Now, every guy in here, grab a girl, head out back and party."
"One more thing," Lucille laughed. "I got nipples on my titties big as the end of my thumb,"
"And I got somethiní down between my legs thatíll make a dead man come."
"And if any of you out there thinks you can handle both of us, or even either of us,"
"Weíll be glad to take you out back and see just how damn good you are."
Within minutes, the lounge was empty, but Virgil, George, and Shirley were going half crazy taking money and credit cards. Eskimo Nell never did get around to playing another set that evening, but it was one of the wilder nights around the Redlite Ranch.
* * *
At nine AM on Tuesday morning, a few days later, Dayna, George and Shirley stood with Sandy as the divorce decree was issued. It really didnít take long; the paperwork had been filed, and it was literally a rubberstamp. It took more time to sign on blank lines than anything else. One of the things signed was a name change; normally it would have been back to Beecham, but a little extra paperwork had been filed to officially change her name from Sandra Beecham to Sandy Beach. But, that was minor.
They walked out of the courtroom a few minutes later. "Now that youíve got that settled," George said, "youíre heading out, right?"
"Yeah, weíve got the Canterbury Renfaire starting Saturday," Dayna said. "We could hang around another day or so, but we really need to get moving."
"A shame," he said. "You two really have done pretty well as house girls. On top of that, Iíve had calls from some other places wondering if maybe Eskimo Nell would like to come up and play sometime."
"Youíre kidding!" Dayna laughed. "That was a one-shot, for the hell of it."
"I donít know," George grinned. "There was some real good music there, and you two put on a great show. I still like that idea of a live album. We donít have to do it right away, and maybe weíd only sell it out of the souvenir shop." He sighed. "Hey, look, any time you two are in the neighborhood, youíre welcome to drop by."
"Drop by and say hi, or drop by and work?" Sandy asked.
"Either one," George smiled.
"Weíve talked about it," Dayna told him. "Donít get me wrong, we enjoyed what we did for almost five years and we plan on enjoying it some more. But the past month has been the first honest-to-God vacation Iíve taken in all that time. One of the things that was burning Sandy and me is that we never learned how to take some down time."
"Youíre saying that you want to come to the Redlite for a vacation sometime?"
"Probably," Sandy laughed. "It might only be a week or two, and we might not know much in advance. But we get holes in the schedule every now and then when there might be a chance."
"And we donít exactly have to be in the neighborhood," Dayna added. "After all, we could park the RV at some airport and fly in for a few days."
"Youíre always welcome, but try to give us a little warning," Shirley smiled. "Itíll be good to see you girls again."
"You get down to it," Dayna laughed. "Weíre wandering minstrels. We never know for sure where weíre going to wander next, but somewhere along the line it could be Antelope Valley."
-- 30 --
-- 10:25 PM September 11, 2004