Cherie Had a Way


    Cherie had a way of moving, and must‘ve practiced it a lot. Every move studied; moves like a dancer, holds composed like a model. The soft interplay of costume, a flash of skin, a quick reveal, a grin, a throaty chuckle, a sleepy look, the soft zip of silk underwear, the legs. She was the whole package, of course. You don’t get to be lead nude by having a hole in your swing.
     “You didn’t pick me,” she said. Wasn’t mad. Just curious. Like “Why’d the dice come up wrong?”
     “That happen often?”
     “Not a lot.” She leaned down, giving me a look at the cleavage, like the two rock formations on either side of Hoover Dam.
      “You don’t have to do that,” I said, not meaning it for an instant.
      “I know but it helps.”
      “Put ‘em away. I can’t concentrate.”
      "Why do you need to concentrate. Just go with your gut.”
      “Look, the other girl, Meredith, she understood football.”
      She just smiles and looks like I’m dim.
      “And I have to write this stuff. What if I wrote the show about football which I am to do, so as, they don’t kill me. What then?”
       She shrugs. And it’s a cute shrug that somehow sets her jugs a jiggle. She’s got all the moves.
       “Well, the way I see it,” and she crossed her eyes like that Siamese cat, “I can learn where the Bears come from. Yellowstone, is it?”
       And here she spread her hands wide, seeming to encompass every sexual thought I ever had. And it worked like a charm.
     “I changed my mind,” I said.
     “Just then.”

     And it was true. What was I thinking? It wasn’t about football. It was about jiggle. Like everything else. Like the neon, and the coke, the raucous noise and the spinning lights. It was to distract. The gamblers were used to it, and it set them in the mood. But it was really for the Feds. With forty-six guys in Robert Hall suits and white sox and buzz cuts taking notes and looking up and drooling on their pads it was all part of the scam. Cause when she was on stage all eyes would be death-locked on Cherie. Paul could fade into the curtain where he belonged. And if it ever came to trial, with the jury’s eyes locked on her zabongas, who could tear them away. And more important, who could swear that wasn’t entertainment?
     “Brilliant,” I said. “What was I thinking?”
     “You’d pick me now?”
     “You showed me your tits. I like that in a girl.”
    “Well, you’re gonna see ‘em sooner or later. Just about everybody is. Everybody’s always wanted to see ‘em, ever since I got ‘em. In some ways I feel I’m only the conservator of them. You know. Keep them nice and fresh for the crowds. Don’t let them get sunburned, don’t let Sinatra eat hot food off them. And rub them up good with oil.”
     “Wasn’t nothing special, then?”
     “Oh, yeah. Thought you’d like ‘em.”
     “Just for free?”
     “You gotta give back. Betty White told me that. Give back to the public, you know. Can’t always be about cash. And if we’re working together you’re gonna wana see ‘em sooner or later. Might as well get that out of the way.”
     You know, I was getting to like the girl. “Might as well,” I said.
     She got up and danced about the room and took things off. And I must’ve lost my mind for a bit.
     I wish I had gone to Morty in the first place. But I had not.
    “Morty, what gives?” I would have said.
    “Not what. Who. Who gives and who gives what. And when and why. That's the proper form.”
    “Morty, never mind that mindfuck shit,” I should have said. “These guys are all gangsters.
    “Gangsters? Why, no. I don't think so. Gangsters wear carnations in their lapels. And flip coins, and wear hats pulled down over their eyes. These are ‘clients.’”
     “I know that, but..”
     “Paying clients. Good paying clients. On time paying clients… In TV… Imagine!”
     “The audience seems to be made up entirely of Law Enforcement Officials.”
     “Hey, its a free country. I can’t explain what passes for excitement. Some people like to stare at hogs.”
      “I…we…you and I…and the crew. Seem to be in the middle of something.”
      “And that's often profitable. Which would be a welcome change from the muffler business.”
      “And possibly indictable…”
      “For making television? What are they gonna do next? Perp walk Clarabelle?”
      “Clarabelle's never been up for Murder Two.”
      “How would you know, he's got a clown suit on! He could be the Boston Strangler.”
      He put his arm around me in one of those father gestures that don’t really work. “Look, you do what any news service does in a disaster. You do your job. Often in ‘Golden Time’. Just treat this as any other disaster.” He walked away quickly, glancing behind.
     Just then a gaffer lost the leverage on a 2K. It went over the rail and crashed halfway through the stage floor, throwing sparks and splinters and shorting out the board.  I should have taken it as an omen, or a direct warning. A threat. Or something.