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Bareknuckles Pulp No. 20: Calling Home

The hooker with the heart of gold? Prince Charming? Not if Mr. Kabel's got anything to say about it.

Calling Home by Dana Kabel



The well-dressed man unlocked his hotel room door and held it open for DeeDee. He had grace and style.

She was used to seeing her customers fumble through their pockets, nervously searching for the key and often dropping it on the floor before getting the door open. But this guy wasn’t shaking and sweating like a twelve year-old boy. He was too cool for school and movie star handsome.

His perfect smile showed a row of straight white teeth that complimented a granite chin and steel blue eyes. She wasn’t sure why he was paying for something he could get for free from any single girl in the city. But it made sense for a guy from out of town who wanted something fast without playing games or dealing with attachments.

“Shall we?” His voice was a smooth baritone.

DeeDee felt herself getting wet down below.

-Get hold of yourself, girl, she thought. He’s just another customer. That’s as far as this goes. It’s as far as it ever goes. This ain’t no goddamned Pretty Woman movie.

But she felt a shiver of electricity as she walked past him and into the room. Maybe it was the smell of his cologne or the feel of his body heat, but the charge danced up her spine from the small of her back and made her nipples hard.

The door clicked shut behind her and DeeDee closed her eyes. She wanted him to come up behind her, touch the back of her neck with his thin lips…

“Can I get you something to drink?” he whispered in her ear.

“I…”

“You look nervous. Is everything all right?”

“Sure, I’m fine,” DeeDee lied.

He put his big hands gently on her shoulders. DeeDee felt that charge of sexual electricity again and wanted to collapse into him.

“You haven’t been doing this for very long, have you?”

“No … I haven’t.”

“Is it okay if I kiss you?”

“Yes.”

His lips touched hers; soft and open and sweet. Tongues waiting, but not touching. It was pretty innocent, compared to what she was used to, and it made her even hotter for him. What the hell was going on?

-Come on DeeDee, snap out of it. This guy doesn’t want to sweep you off your feet and marry you. He’s no different than the fat, sweaty bastard who wanted to stick his fist up your ass, or that pig who wanted you to piss on him and burn his nuts with a lighter. You’re just a thing they want to fuck for money…even Mr. Smooth here.

But Mr. Smooth was smiling and brushing her hair back from her cheeks. She put her forehead against his chest and he stroked the back of her neck with his strong hands. And then he just held her without saying a word. She melted into the comfort of his embrace.

-Fuck this shit, DeeDee. You’re a whore and he’s your customer. Now start acting the part, girl.

She put her hand on his chest and gently pushed to make some space between them. Mr. Smooth relaxed his embrace and DeeDee slid down to her knees and started unbuckling his expensive pants.

“Hey come on.” He tried pulling her back up to her feet.

DeeDee sat back on her heels and kept fumbling with the belt.

“Want me to suck your cock, baby? I’ll give you the best blow job you ever had.”

Mr. Smooth pushed her hands away and dropped down in front of her. He brushed fresh tears from her cheek. DeeDee turned her head and tried to pull her top off. Mr. Smooth stopped her.

“Don’t,” he said.

She struggled, at first, to pull away from him. Then she relented and fell into his arms and the comfort of his embrace. He rocked her back and forth like he was soothing a hurt child.

He steadied DeeDee on her feet and led her over to the bed.

-That’s it. Take me. Take me now and just fuck me.

But he took her past the bed to the leather sofa.

“Sit down,” he said. “Let me get you a drink.”

She sat.

“Why don’t we just get down to business?” DeeDee asked in a trembling voice.

Mr. Smooth dropped a wad of cash in her lap. It was more than her usual price. A lot more.

“I just want to talk to you a little first, okay? Then we’ll see what happens. I think that’s more than enough to cover the rest of your night. If not, I’ll give you more.” He went over to the mini-bar and started mixing a highball.

“What are you drinking?” He asked.

DeeDee thought about her friend Traci, who took a drink from a customer. Turned out the freak drugged her. He beat her to a pulp and left her on the street for dead.

“There’s cold beer in the fridge too,” he said like he had read her mind.

“I’ll have a beer,” DeeDee said.

He opened a bottle of Beck’s and handed it to her. DeeDee took the bottle and Smooth sat down next to her. He tapped his highball glass against her beer bottle.

“Cheers. My name is Glen, by the way,” he said.

“DeeDee,” she said before taking a sip of the beer.

“What’s your Christian name?”

DeeDee rolled her eyes.

“Oh shit,” she said.

“What? Oh.” Glen laughed. “I’m not some religious weirdo trying to sell you Jesus. I meant your real first name. DeeDee sounds like a nickname.”

Most of the girls that she knew on the job used a working name. She knew at least five that went by Destiny.

“So what did your parents name you?”

“Deidre. My baby sister couldn’t pronounce my name, so she called me DeeDee.”

“That’s how half of all nicknames get started,” he said. “You still talk to them? Your parents…baby sister?”

DeeDee frowned.

“I don’t want to talk about this,” she said.

“All right. We’ll talk about something else. How’d you end up in the city?”

“It’s stupid.”

“So what? Let me guess…you wanted to be an actress.”

“Shut up,” she said, giggling. “How’d you know?”

“I guessed. You’re pretty enough to be an actress.”

“I wanted to be on Broadway. When I was in school I used to get all the leads. But it’s different here. You can’t spit on the sidewalk without hitting another actress. And there’s always someone better than you.

“More talented, or more trained, or they have a better agent…”

“You have an agent?”

DeeDee looked down at her beer. Why the hell was she talking about this? She felt like she was going to start crying again.

“Not anymore. I gave up.”

Glen put a hand under her chin and gently tilted her head up to look into her glistening eyes.

“You should never give up on your dreams. You must have some money saved up from your…work. Have you thought about taking some acting classes?”

“I grabbed a flyer the other day for a theater workshop in the Village. I thought about checking it out but, I don’t know…”

“What have you got to lose? You have the looks, and I bet you have the talent inside. I know you have the desire.”

DeeDee felt her cheeks flush. She smiled. Maybe this was all some sort of game, but it didn’t feel like it. She felt like someone was showing her some genuine kindness for the first time in a long time, and it felt good.

“What does your family think you are doing? I mean, do they know where you are in the world?”

That took part of the smile away from her, but DeeDee finally relented to talking about her family.

“I haven’t talked to any of them since I left home. My parents wanted me to go to college, but I hated high school and I was ready to hit the ground running. They told me that Broadway was a pipe dream, and that I needed to grow up and face reality.

“I guess they were right. I sure have been facing reality for the last couple of months.”

“Is that when you started hooking? A couple of months ago?”

“Yeah, I’ve been here almost a year. Living in a closet and holding down two or three jobs at a time to support myself.

“Then I met this girl who told me she knew an easier way to pay the bills.”

She held his gaze for as long as she could and then looked down.

“I want you to do something for me,” Glen said.

DeeDee smiled and put her hand on his knee.

“I want you to call home.”

“What?” She pulled her hand away. “No fucking way.”

She stood up and started to walk away.

“Stop,” Glen said. “Is it too much to ask such a simple thing?”

“A simple thing? You don’t fucking know me. You don’t know my life. What is wrong with you? You are the strangest fucking person I have ever met.”

“Just listen. I had a little sister once. Lindsay. She…she ran away when she was sixteen, with this older boy. They went to L.A. and he left her there. Lindsay ended up hooking to make ends meet. Maybe she was scared to come home or thought my parents wouldn’t have her back, so she never called.

“She was murdered in a motel room by one of her…customers.”

Glen grew dark and silent. He held a hand over his eyes like he was nursing a headache.

“Sorry…I need another drink.” He went back over to the mini-bar. “You want one?”

“I’m good,” DeeDee said, holding up her bottle.

Glen took a long swallow of bourbon and sighed.

“We might have never known where she ran off to if the police hadn’t found our address and phone number in her belongings. To this day, I don’t know why she left or why she never called home. The cops never caught her killer. My parents both died a couple of years back. They’ll never know…why their little girl didn’t at least pick up the phone and tell them where she was.”

“Look,” DeeDee said, “I’m really sorry about your sister, but I don’t have anything to call home about.”

“If Lindsay had just called, my parents would have begged her to come back. They would have welcomed her with open arms. Who knows? It may have just given her the boost she needed to get out of the rut she was in and turn her life around.

“At least she’d still be here anyway.

“And Deidre, you don’t know what your parents would say if you called them. But you sure as hell don’t have anything to lose.”

DeeDee wiped a falling tear away with the palm of her hand and finished her beer.

Glen pulled a cell phone out of his pocket.

“Here, it’s a five hundred dollar phone. If your mother isn’t glad to hear from you, you can keep it.”

DeeDee laughed through her tears. She took the phone. She couldn’t believe what she was about to do.

She pushed the numbers on the keypad. They were still fresh in her memory because, in truth, she came close to calling that number at least once or twice a week.

It rang a couple of times but she imagined her mother would ignore the call from an unknown number. She was surprised when someone picked up.

“Mom?” Her tears spilled over the floodgates. “I…I can’t believe it either. Mommy, I miss you so much.”

Glen smiled at her. It was the warmest smile in the world at that moment. With his right hand, he made the thumbs up gesture.

DeeDee sent the signal right back at him. She felt like a weight was being lifted off her chest.

Glen curled his thumb into his fist and smashed her in the face with it. The punch was so hard that she flew back and smacked her head against the wall before crumpling to the floor.

The pain was blinding. Hot blood gushed out of her broken nose. Stars danced in her eyes.

“Fuck!” Glen said. He picked one of her teeth out of his bleeding knuckle and flicked it across the room before picking his phone up from the floor.

“Hello?” He said into the phone.

“What? I’ll tell you what’s going on. If you ever want to see this fucking whore alive again, you’ll listen to me very carefully…”


Dana C. Kabel is a writer of crime fiction. He has had several stories published online and in print at such publications as The Flash Fiction Offensive, Out of the Gutter, Muzzleflash, Mysterical-E, Yellow Mama, A Twist of Noir, Powder Burn Flash, Darkest Before the Dawn, Near to the Knuckle, and Shotgun Honey. A forthcoming story will be published in KWIK KRIMES, which will be available in print this spring 2013. Dana has flown airplanes, jumped out of them, and holds a 5th degree black belt in Okinawan Karate. He now lives in New Jersey with his wife and daughter after spending 20 years in the south as a Damned Yankee.