The following is another section of my novel's first draft. Titled "That's Show Biz", it centers on the crew at The Candl Club, a cafe/strip club on Manhattan's Lower East Side in the mid-late 1950s. This almost immediately follows the incidents in PREVIEW #2.
In the earlier part of the evening Sugar Red, a stripper at the club, was physically abused, as was the habit of Wheezy Gibson, a club comic who has forced his way into her home as a live-in lover. Afterwards, they left to perform at the club as usual, and arrive back at Red's place at about 2:30 am...
After they got back to Red’s, Wheezy hit the pillow and was snoring immediately. The night was pitch black but for the moonlight shining in through the picture window. Red felt so tense with anger, she imagined hearing blood hissing within her head.
What have I got to lose? Nothing.
Something within her snapped. Suddenly, she felt calm. She walked into the kitchen and, as silently as she could, picked her way through the silverware until she came upon the biggest, sharpest steak knife she owned. She took care pulling it out, not allowing the steak knife to clang against any of the other utensils. She left the drawer open behind her. She couldn’t waste any time on that. Red slithered down the hall, holding the knife in one fist, guiding herself along the wall with the other hand. Only the chirping of the crickets in her little garden could be heard. She walked into the bedroom. She approached the bed, raising the knife slowly as she approached. There was just a split second for her to see the bed was empty before Wheezy’s arms wound around her from behind. He grabbed the wrist with the weapon and squeezed and twisted it. But Red had been pushed over the edge. With her other hand, she raked her nails down Wheezy’s face; down his eyes.
Wheezy squeaked/yelped, jerking his hands to his face. Released, Red lunged into Wheezy with the knife. She raked it against his stomach. This time he squealed like a pig, and doubled back into the wall, knocking the lamp and clock from the night stand. “You BITCH!!” Hunched before him, Red’s teeth were bared. Her nostrils flared. She was actually snorting like a beast. Her eyes were red rimmed and wide. Now, gripping his wound, it was Wheezy who was trembling. He could only whisper, “no…don’t…” before Red sprang at him again. They hit the wall and tumbled over each other, the fight now confined to that tiny corner of the bedroom. Red got confused in the darkness. Her eyes flashed around as she tried to get oriented. And sure enough, Wheezy’s fist connected full in her face.
Once again, Red lay huddled on the floor as Wheezy rose to his feet. He was about to give the stripper a good kick in the stomach when he remembered…and saw his stomach wound. He sprang to the bedroom, soaked the wound with a warm washcloth, and applied every substance in the medicine cabinet, grimacing under the sting of the medicines far more than the wound itself. He tied one of Red’s monogrammed towels around his midsection. Then he staggered into the bedroom and fell on the bed. Again, he snored almost immediately.
Red woke with a start as soon as daylight came. She lifted herself from the floor into a kneeling position, and saw Wheezy lying on his stomach, snoring loudly.
Jeez, I didn’t kill him, she thought.
Red was comforted, if only by the fact that she had less chance to be sent to prison. But how much less chance? She tugged Wheezy onto his back, and carefully untied the towel from around his midsection. Thank God, it appeared to be a surface wound, the blood congealed.
Red plodded into the kitchen and sat at the table. All the mess, the bottles and glasses and poker chips, lay scattered in a puddle of beer on the floor. Now what would happen? Another fight with Wheezy, a knock down drag out for all eternity? Red was merely annoyed by the thought of it. Just more of the same; more of the shit her life had turned into. She pouted and sulked as a dull eyed Wheezy entered the room in his bathrobe. Leaning against the doorjamb and clutching his midsection, he said, “Listen, baby; I think it best that we don’t mention last night to anyone. O.K.?”
“O.K.”, agreed Red.
COPYRIGHT 2015 BY MILTON KNIGHT