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Bones of Rubber

You give your legs to protect someone else's right to do what she wants with hers. And this is the thanks you get? Not even a courtesy tug?

Well, thankfully, payback is a bigger bitch.

Bones of Rubber by Bruce Harris



The bullet that turned bone black in Afghanistan still lay within his pelvis, the medics and docs afraid to touch it. Chris Johnson wheeled his chair a little closer to the stage.

“And now for your entertainment, heeeere’s Prissssscilla, the Pretzel Prinnnncess!" screamed a voice over earsplitting music. Shit, after the blood, smoke, gunfire, mangled torsos, busted up skulls and amputees, Chris figured he was entitled to look at something beautiful, even if it was fantasy. Priscilla came on stage staring straight at him and doing obscene things with her mouth to a straight pretzel rod.

“She digs you, man,” said Preston.

“Bullshit. She digs money, like every other daddy’s girl in here.” Chris laughed and took a sip of beer.

“No, I mean it. Look at the way she’s looking at you. She likes you.”

Preston Ward was the closest thing Chris had to a best friend. The two couldn’t have been more opposite. Chris was a city boy, slight, shy, who was forced to quit high school to help support his family. Preston was as garrulous as he was big and strong. He came from a very successful Midwestern circus family. But the two men hit it off in the army. It was Preston who dragged Chris to safety after his body soaked up an enemy bullet.

Priscilla stopped on large heels directly in front of Chris. Her perfume went through his nostrils like cheap whiskey through a bum. From nowhere she pulled out a bag of twisted pretzels and hurled them into the crowd. She backed off a few inches, and then contorted her body, legs and arms behind her neck as she stared directly into Chris’s eyes. It was almost as if she had no joints. She truly resembled a pretzel.

“Let’s hear it for the Pretzel Princess” shouted the voice over the PA.

Priscilla straightened herself out and approached Chris. “Lap dance?” she whispered in his ear. “Only $25, handsome, and I’m worth every dollar.” She smiled showing a set of pure white teeth as straight as army regulations.

Priscilla guided Chris’s wheelchair to a far corner, into a small vestibule about a dozen feet from the stage.

When it was over, the Princess asked for $75.

“$75? That’s one hell of a tip for a $25 dance.” Johnson wiped little sticky sparkles from his chin and tongue.

Priscilla’s facial and body expression changed. Gone was the sexy smile, replaced by a more serious business-like look. Her perfume began to smell stale and Chris detected old acne scars beneath the caked-on makeup. “That’s without the tip. $25 per song, Jack, I danced for three songs for you. You owe $75, or is your math that bad?”

Johnson was furious. “My name’s not Jack, you crooked skanky bitch, you can’t bully…”
Priscilla wasn’t paying attention. She made a motion with her hand and over came a large bearded man covered with tattoos. “What’s going on?” he asked.

“TJ, this cheapskate engaged me for a lap dance. I explained to him clearly that the cost was $25 per song. I danced on his pathetic body for three. That’s $75. That’s first grade math.”

“That’s not true…”

“Shut up!” shouted TJ. “If Priscilla says she danced three dances, she danced three dances. Let’s not have any trouble here. This is a respectable place. Pay the fuck up!”

“I don’t have the money.”

“Fortunately for your sorry ass we have an ATM machine over there.” TJ pointed toward the back of the place near the restrooms, near where Preston Ward watched and listened. “Get the cash,” said the bouncer.

***

Less than a week later Chris opened the morning newspaper. The lead article began, “City police are investigating the vicious murder of a young girl, her body found in the small dressing room at the Tease Me and Please Me Club where she was employed as an exotic dancer. Her strangled corpse was posed in a bent and contorted fashion, one that, according to sources, imitated the victim’s stage act. In a bizarre twist, detectives discovered an old and colorful circus sideshow banner covering the deceased. It read, 'Come See the Amazing Pretzel Princess—She Has Bones of Rubber.'"

Bruce Harris is the author of Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson: About Type (www.batteredbox.com). His fiction has appeared (or will appear) in A Twist of Noir, Shotgun Honey, Pine Tree Mysteries, and Over My Dead Body! He enjoys relaxing with a Marxman.