Rain Will Come - Thomas Holgate
“You’re not one of those freaks, are you?”
Candy Darling, also known to her clients as Ecstasy Escorts Girl #73, stopped unbuttoning her shirt right before she revealed any of the huge Celtic cross tattoo that began at her fourth thoracic vertebra and disappeared between her dimples of Venus.
Her name had been chosen by the service. Candy herself had never heard of Andy Warhol, and the only “factory” she knew of was the one from which her deadbeat ex had been laid off six months ago.
“Why would you think that?”
She glanced over her shoulder, eyes eager to please. “To be honest with you, when a client tells me to get undressed but that he doesn’t want to touch me, I start to get worried. But I figure, maybe he’s got some crazy fear of disease. Or some other hang-up. But when he tells me he doesn’t even want me to take off my clothes, that’s when I get real worried.”
He laughed. “I assure you, you have nothing to worry about.”
“So you’re not some asshole?” she asked, wanting him to reassure her.
Detective Paul Czarcik of the Illinois Bureau of Judicial Enforcement considered the question. He didn’t want to lie. The truth was, he had been called far worse by both the cretins he pursued at risk to life and limb and his colleagues in various state and municipal bureaucracies. The consensus was unanimous. Czarcik was an asshole. But not in the way that Ecstasy Escorts Girl #73 meant.
Candy leaned over the 1981 Sony Trinitron sitting on the waist-level dresser. By some electronic miracle it was still working. She closed off her left nostril with her index finger and sniffed up the stray cocaine that had settled on top of the ancient picture-tube. Through her thin, translucent top, Czarcik glimpsed the arms of the Celtic cross stretched across her rib cage as if hugging her from behind. He was glad she wasn’t naked. He hated ink, as the kids called it. Not because he was of a generation that believed tattoos were reserved for felons, marines, and sideshow performers, but for aesthetic reasons. Even the most intricately designed ones were nothing more than cheap body graffiti. To call them art, or even anything approaching art, was an affront to, well, art. And despite this recreational pursuit, and the erudition of his current companion, Czarcik fancied himself a man who could appreciate art. A sophisticate, he would have said, if it didn’t sound so fucking French.
“Listen,” Candy began, “dressed or undressed, you’re still on the clock. So you wanna tell me what you want?”
“I want to talk to you.”
Candy stared at him, her anger apparent. “Listen to me, mister. I don’t know what your deal is. But here’s my deal. There’s pretty much nothing I won’t let you do to me for the right price. But I’m not telling you shit about me. Not for any amount of money.”
“I understand,” he replied, unfazed. He patted the bed next to him. “Then let’s just watch some TV and smoke some cigarettes.”
Czarcik sat propped up in bed, leaning against the headboard. Candy lay with her head at the foot of the bed, her face in her hands, watching the tube.
America’s Next Top Model was on. Candy’s choice. Czarcik preferred The Twilight Zone marathon, but Candy swore she couldn’t watch a black-and-white TV show, no matter how much—as Czarcik explained to her—its themes still resonated.
“You think I could be on this show?” she asked, pointing to the screen and laughing at the absurdity of the suggestion.
“You’re as pretty as any of them,” Czarcik replied bluntly. “And probably a lot smarter.”
She turned around, hurt in her eyes. “Don’t be mean.”
“I wasn’t. You’re an entrepreneur. Most of these girls couldn’t string two sentences together.”
Candy paused for a moment and then scurried up to the top of the bed, right next to Czarcik. “Promise you won’t laugh?” He crossed his heart. “Well, I actually have a modeling shoot tomorrow. For Chateau, not Vogue, but still . . .”
“Chateau, that’s still around?”
“Yeah. Pay is shit. Three hundred bucks a session. But it covers my monthly cell bill, at least.”
“Who buys magazines anymore? Anything you could want to see is only a click away.”
Candy shrugged, as if the answer was self-evident. “Guys your age, mostly. If a dude is over sixty-five and if he can still get it up, chances are he has no idea how to really use a computer. When I make house calls, you wouldn’t believe how many