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Call Girls by Gay Degani

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When you're young and naive life in The Gutter can look glamorous ....

Call Girls by Gay Degani

At Thirsty Liquors, I flapped eyelashes at the belly-heavy man behind the counter, handing over the money for two bottles of Sassy Bitch pinot. I slid the dude our newly minted business card. His eyes popped out of their bags when he read it, then he gawked at my boobs. Behind him, Jess smuggled Bourbon into her beach bag. I bit my lip and treated him to my bikini-clad backside. We howled all the way to her old Buick Rendezvous.

We’d dropped out of community college and moved to the beach—well, toward the beach—because Jessica wanted to ditch her hound-dog dad. The queen-sized bed barely fit into the one small bedroom. Our costumes hung on a rack in the hall. We crammed everything else into the closet.

The love seat we salvaged from a curb got Febreezed and topped with my mother’s faux-fur bedspread, then we smoked the joint we found under the cushion. We giggled, high-fived. We’d soon have enough money to vacay in Aruba.

We made a video on my iPhone, me prancing around the clothing rack, peeking between schoolgirl uniform, can-can outfit, and Daenerys Targaryen’s leather pants, not a stitch on. I recorded Jess in a bubble bath wearing nothing but cat ears. We posted our ad online, sipped wine, and waited for the phone to ring.



It took a day. Jess answered the first phone call.

“He asked for you.” Her face scrunched up. “Sounds weird.”

“Stalker weird? Serial killer weird?” I was teasing, but not really. We’d talked about the potential danger of launching our website.

“Nah. More like trying-to-disguise-his-voice weird.”

I snatched the phone, and purred, “Your pleasure is my pleasure.”

“I saw your ad.”

His voice was weird, robotic, like that that crippled genius my old boyfriend used to be obsessed with. Maybe this was my old boyfriend. “Is this Joe?”

“I really like that little schoolgirl outfit you weren’t wearing in your video.”

“Use your own voice or I’m hanging up.”

“I’ll pay you $100 just to rip that plaid skirt off you.”

The science-guy-in-a-wheelchair voice made my neck hair rise. I hung up.

Jessica asked what happened and I told her.

She said, “Dodged a bullet,” and I rolled my eyes.

We got three more calls, one phone call and one email for Jess, one email for me. Claimed his name was “Walter,” and I figured him to the Thirsty Liquor clerk. Then I remembered Jessica stealing his booze. Maybe he saw her. Maybe he wanted revenge. Wishing I hadn’t given him my business card, I lay awake that night wondering if what we were doing was a really stupid idea.

The morning sun shone on the taped-up picture of an Aruban beach, palm trees like flags in the sand. I grinned, forgetting last night’s worries.

At four Jess went out, and put on my can-can outfit, all that tulle making me feel light-hearted and French. I tidied up. Snatching the corkscrew left out after last night’s wine, I wondered how effective it might be as a weapon. We’d done this all wrong. We should not have given our address to strangers. The rat-a-tat-tat at the door made me grab a handful of frothy skirt, flashing on all the dead hookers I’d ever seen on TV crime shows.

I summoned up sandy beaches, daiquiris under Tiki roofs, hot bartenders under cool sheets. These were the adventures Jessica and I both wanted so badly. She was counting on me. We were counting on me. No way was I going back to that greasy restaurant job, toting trays for dollar tips. Besides it was just that liquor store guy, wasn’t it?

I opened the door. The man’s back was turned, but I knew right away this wasn’t my clerk. The polo shirt, rumpled and worn, was familiar, the sandy hair mixed with gray. He turned toward me, that voice-changing gadget at his throat.

It was that raunchy man-whore, Jess’s father.

“You’re not wearing that little schoolgirl uniform.” He sounded like a robot in a bad movie. “I guess ripping off your tutu will have to do.”


Gay Degani writes flash fiction and short stories, and has authored the suspense novel, WHAT CAME BEFORE and the full-length collection, RATTLE OF WANT. A recipient of the 11th Annual Glass Woman Prize, her work has also received Pushcart and Best Small Fictions nominations. She occasionally blogs at Words in Place.


"Call Girls" first appeared at Yellow Mama Webzine