© Copyright 2023 by Valerie Byron
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Lola? Of course not. Of course it wasn’t her real name. You don’t have to tell me anything about women, no sir! And if you want to know why it wasn’t her real name, I’ll tell you. Lola is a “type,” not a name, and it would be a mighty clever mother and a mighty disillusioned one who could picture the kid she was suckling grown up and twenty-one. But I’m not telling you about Lola. I’m telling you about June and Judy and Bill and me.
It just happened that we were having a bit of a celebration down at Just Johnnie’s to mark Lola being there a year, and that’s the night we all got together. Just Johnnie? Why, everyone called him that. I’ve seen one or two storekeepers at Half Way, but they have a habit of disappearing when they start any crooked deals with the boys. I reckon that in towns you have more law and order, and more dishonesty, but out West where everyone carries half the law in his own holster, you’re kind of helped to run straight because if you don’t, you’re for it, and everyone knows it. But Johnnie was a straight guy, a little fellow with a heart of gold. Yes sir. When you were in a jam, he chalked you up, and kept your respect by seeing you paid as soon as things were running smooth again. He was a wise guy, too; eased you off the liquor so as you didn’t notice it if you got too far on the way to making a fool of yourself, and kept his prices right and traded fair with everyone. We all reckoned it was a lucky day when he took over and another lucky day for the boys when he got Lola to help him out with the stores and the drinks. Mind you, son, as I said before, her real name wasn’t Lola. It was – well, never you mind what it was; I guess we can all make mistakes at times, and her mother was no exception. But when we took a look at her, we could hardly believe our eyes; and when Jake said, just like he was stating a fact, “Your name’s Lola,” she just grinned and said, “OK, it’s as good as any other,” and went on with her job.
What did she look like? Well, I’m telling you she was Lola, aren’t I? You know, not too big and not too little, dark hair, a figure like the dream in the last shot at the bottom of a whisky bottle, and wore her clothes like she’d been melted and poured into them. I guess she wouldn’t have looked much different without them, and that’s what the boys thought too. Her eyes were always laughing, and she had red lips, just like the tropical fruits the wise guys write about in books. Hell, I said to myself, when they dished it out, you certainly took your plate up twice; but oh boy, how long will you last? But I was wrong, son, I was wrong. She certainly had a way with her, and with the boys, but there was never any trouble. She always had time to listen or to help with those jobs not made for men’s hands; she knew when to talk and, more important, when to keep her mouth shut; and she knew the jokes to laugh at, the jokes to ignore, and the jokes to turn her back on. She knew all the answers, but never offended anyone, not even after his second bottle, and she always looked clean and neat and tidy. And most important of all, she was just the same to each one of the boys, and never caused a single fight, the way the other dames did. And if you don’t believe me – I’m telling you.
Well, after she’d been there a year, we all felt so pleased with her that we reckoned we’d have that little celebration I mentioned. You may think that selfish because we’d get the most of the fun, and she’d get most of the hard work, but that’s how it was; and, as everyone thought the same way about it, including Lola, we fixed on one Saturday night and told Just Johnnie to get a few crates up and prepare the back room where we used to do our gambling.
It was a grand evening, warm, with a full moon and plenty of stars knocking about. Most of the boys from Twenty-Six rode in, and though the saloon couldn’t hold us all, it wasn’t too cool to have our drinks on the verandah outside. We got everyone fixed up fine, and those that fancied the cards soon crowded themselves around the table and settled down for a real old-time evening. When I got there, Just Johnnie was lugging the bottles around, and I gave him a hand at making a bit of a show with them. Silly, you may say, seeing they’d soon be empty, but it was a celebration, so what are the odds?
“Grand evening, Joe,” greeted Johnnie when I strolled along, “going to play?” So I told him “Yes” and that I was going to drink too, unless he’d mucked up his orders. Johnnie grinned. “No fear of that,” he told me. “You tip up the dough, and I’ll tip up the bottle.” Funny, see? Johnnie had a sense of humor “All right,” I said, and pulled out my wad, “give me a bottle of rye right now and send Lola along with the glasses.” With that, I made my way to the back room where I found a dozen or so of my pals ready for a game. “Come on, Joe,” shouted old Dan Silver, pulling the neck of a bottle out of his mouth and gulping as though he hadn’t had a shot for a week. “Come on and lose some money, you can afford it.” “By God, I can,” I answered, “and a damned fool I’d be if I played when I couldn’t”. He went a bit quiet at that, like I’d meant him to. One night, he’d stuck the neck in his mouth once or twice too often, and put up a bet he couldn’t have fixed if he’d lost. They’re a sensible crowd, though, and told him what a goddam fool he was before the deal. Pulled his stake down, too, which was a good thing because he lost every cent, and we don’t have to look for trouble in our sort of life. No hard feelings, you know, but I thought he’d opened his mouth a bit too wide for first thing in the evening. “Have a drink,” he invited, waving the rye at me, but I’m not as big a fool as that. A man who starts the evening on neat rye may look pretty big at the time, but he doesn’t look so big under the table later on, with his friends’ feet on him, no sir.
“No thanks,” I said, “I’ll wait for the water.” He looked at me pitying-like, as though I’d be asking for pap next, though I noticed he was the only one on the neat rye. Then in came Lola with the glasses and oh boy, did we feast our eyes on her. I’ll say we did. She’d ordered up a new dress for the occasion, just an ordinary sort of black dress, very short, with the thinnest black silk stockings you’ve ever seen. But safe inside that dress, the things her figure said to us all was nobody’s business. No, sir. No, sir! I guess we all went pretty quiet, and there was more honest admiration in that back room for that little girl than for many a movie star stuffed with dollars and those mink affairs. She must have realized it too, for it’s the only time I’ve ever seen her hesitate or look a bit shy. “Like me?” she asked with a nervous little laugh, looking a bit small and lonesome; and at that, everyone started to shout at once, and old Dan pounded the table with rye bottle and broke the neck clean off. Luckily, he didn’t spill much of it, but it just shows you the effect that kid had on even the toughest of us.
Then we all snatched up the glasses and drank her health like a sloppy collection of teenagers. One or two even forgot themselves and clapped her on the back, and she must have been black and blue for days after that. As we quieted down a bit I thought, Lola, my girl, the man who marries you is going to spend the rest of his life thinking how lucky he is. As I said, you can see what she did to us. Suddenly smiling at us, but in a voice that seemed strangely unsteady, she said, “Thank you boys,” and ran out of the room. I guess I must have been mistaken when I looked into her eyes as she slipped round the door; for in a very few minutes she was back again, brightly cheerful, just the same Lola as she had been to us all that year. Yes, son, I guess I was mistaken. I crossed over to my pal Bill. “How do, pal?” I said, “How’s things at Twenty-Six?” “Fine,” he replied, “there’ll be a good payout this fall. How are things with you?” “OK,” I told him. “I’m sitting pretty. Let’s drink to it.”
I fetched my rye and filled a couple of tumblers easy, half and half, and we downed them and felt a damn sight better. “Outside?” suggested Bill, and I nodded. So outside we went, and sat yarning over the emptying bottle till we heard the boys coming out for a breather and explaining away their losses or reckoning up their gains. June and Judy? No, sir, they ain’t forgotten, but I’m telling this story in my own way, just like I’m reminiscing about that evening and remembering everything that happened and the good time we had. But, if you want to hear about June and Judy now – I’ll tell you. Old Sweet Sue and her two girls had been run out of the place a while back, and don’t you make no mistake over the old girl’s name, for she was the lousiest whore-marm any of us had ever seen, and that’s saying something. Well, as I say, out they went. And no sooner had they gone, than these two poodles appeared.
Poodles, son? You don’t, eh? Well, that our name for them and I guess you know just what I mean. And were they good lookers? Yes, sir, they were! Were they a couple of the nicest girls who never bought a brassiere? Yes, sir, they were! And did the boys fall for them and keep them as busy as a couple of honey bees in their own little hive? Yes, sir, they did! Mind you, they knew their job. And if you’re in business, if you know your job and if you work hard, then you just can’t help prospering. And they prospered. Yes, sir. First, they set about cleaning up the shack and it sure was spick and span by the time they’d finished. Then they got green paint round the windows and doors, and the boys said the inside was like those places they had in France, maisons something or other they call them, or did call them, I forget now. I‘ve heard they’re all shut down now, but maybe that’s just talk. And it was while we were yarning outside Just Johnnie’s that Bill said to me, “Joe, what d’you know about them dames June and Judy? Are they on the level?” You won’t believe it, but I’d not been along there myself, so I could only tell him what the other guys said. “As far as I know,” I told him, “why?”
“Joe,” replied Bill, “I feel kind of restless.” “Hell!” I exploded, “you’re not going to chuck our little celebration for a couple of poodles, are you? What’ll Lola think?” “Lola’s a fine kid,” replied Bill, “but you know as well as I do there are plenty of guys around tonight. I’ve looked in on her and, anyway, I won’t be missed.” Son, you know how it is when a man is out for the poodles. If he says he’s going, then he’s going, and there’s no stopping him. ”What about the game?” I asked him, “aren’t you going to try your luck?” But his mind was made up, and he even tried to persuade me to come along too, and we laughed over a joke he made about immoral support. But I wasn’t going to miss the fun; and so it was when the new game was made up, I went in with the others and left Bill striding off to the shack. And I ask you, son, was my luck in? I’ll say it was! I couldn’t have had better hands if I’d dealt them myself from the face of the pack. By and by, one or two of my pals started to look a bit glum, not awkward you understand, but a bit as though they thought things would be brighter if they were doing the winning instead of me. And you know there’s only one solution to that little problem – unless your luck changes and mine showed no sign of doing that. “Lola!” I called, and when she came over, neat and lovely as ever, “bring half a dozen bottles. If I can’t lose, at least my pals can drink some of my winnings.” You see, son, that’s what they call psychology. It’s not so much losing his money that the ordinary guy minds, it’s seeing it in front of someone else. But use it to buy a bottle or two that everyone can enjoy, and you’ll soon be on the way towards putting a smile back on his face.
I reckon you wouldn’t be interested in a play-by-play record of that evening, or even a bottle-by bottle account as the haze of smoke thickened over the card table. But it was a good evening and a particularly good evening for me. And when the game broke up hours later, I was still a tidy few dollars in hand, even after handing out the drinks too. We must have been pretty mellow by that time, and one or two of the fellows had run their fingers through their hair, as guys do after a bottle or so. All the old jokes were brought out and we laughed at them as though we’d never heard them before. Once or twice I caught myself looking at Lola in that provocatively short skirt, wondering maybe what she’d look like without it when she took it off before going to bed. Although I knew it was wrong, son, and although I knew these thoughts had been poured out of the bottle along with the rye, I didn’t do much to stop them. Maybe I’m not so much different from other men, and maybe the others were thinking thoughts too. I couldn’t stop wondering, even though I knew all the time that neither I nor any of the others would ever lay a finger on her until they had the right to. But it wasn’t till I was outside and feeling far too wide awake to think of my own bunk, that I recalled the talk Bill and I had had about those two poodles. My God, I thought, with a laugh. I’ll go and dig the old dog out and give the girls a break.
I felt fine as I swung along, and everything looked just a bit larger than life in the moonlight – that’s the effect rye has on me, and I guess I’m not the only one. Well, son, when I got to the shack, sure enough there was a light on in the window and I’d given the door a mighty good thump before I suddenly thought – What if old Bill ain’t here? What if he’s had his fill and cleared off? For it was mighty late – or early – whichever way you look at it. I was just pondering this when the door opened and there was one of the dames. Fair haired with a sort of silk dressing-gown affair that wouldn’t stay shut, and flimsies on underneath. “Why, if it ain’t big Joe Carson!” exclaimed the fairhaired poodle. “Come on in, Joe.” It was her knowing my name that got me down. Believe me, son, I opened my mouth and meant to say, “Bill around here?” But instead, before I could think straight I said, “How come you know my name, sister?” – and there was the door shut behind me, and me standing in the little hallway. Not alone, neither. There was that poodle standing just beside me, right near, and I could smell some sort of scent on her, and I stood a good bit taller than she did. “Don’t kid yourself, brother,” returned the poodle, “everyone knows Big Joe in these parts. How d’you like the place?”
I must say they’d fixed it up dandy. New paint all round and little knick-knacks to give the place tone. They’d even got a bit of a mat on the floor and a few flowers in a jug over by the window. It was real class. “Fine,” I replied, “fine. I guess you’ve got it all fixed up mighty pretty.” “Sure,” said the poodle, “and why not? Come along.” She opened one of the two doors opposite each other right by where we were standing. Son, I tell you again, that place had class. There was another mat on the floor, more flowers, cupboards to stow your clothes in, a real wash basin, and as neat a little bed as you ever saw, in a sort of alcove with plenty of mirrors. “Sister,” I said, looking about me. “You’ve got as nice a little place here as ever I did see. Yes, sir.” “Sure,” smiled the poodle again, “but I guess you didn’t come here only to look around, now did you?”
At that I looked at her and a kind of excitement began to run through me, and I felt very much stronger than she was. I don’t know how they do it, son, but sure enough I began to think that maybe I’d done myself a good turn in coming along, and I forgot all about asking for Bill. Then, just as I was going to make a grab at her, she turned to a cupboard and said, over her shoulder, “How’s your throat, Joe? Do with a drink?” – And out comes a bottle of rye. Sure as I’m standing here son. The only stuff I can drink and go on drinking forever. That finished me. “Sure, sister,” I replied. “I could sure do with a drink.” She poured out a couple of half-and-halfs and we sat down on the bed and again I could see that flimsy she’d got on underneath. Very pale pink it was, son, with scarlet roses on it, and I felt a tingling all over me, and it wasn’t altogether because of the rye I’d had, either. All the same, I had my wits about me. When you’re young, son, you aim for women like a bull, head down, eyes shut, and damn the consequences. But it doesn’t take you long to discover there’s many more fish in the sea than ever came out of it; then you can take your time and see what you’re getting. “How much,” I asked the poodle. I’d already put my dollar down for the drinks – I guess that’s where the name dollar-downer comes from. I’m telling you, son, you can’t teach me about women, so I kept an eye on her to see how she took it. They’ve all got some little trick to flurry you when you start talking about the price, a taste of what’s coming, like, and some are good and some are just plain silly. This dame was no exception, and pulled the slip-off bounce. But neat, boy, oh very neat, not obvious like some.
“Ten dollars honey,” she suggested. As she stood up her wrap was in her hand, and she crossed the room and hung it up on a hook that I guess was put there, and nowhere else, just for that very little act. She could have put it on the bed, see, much easier. But could she walk, son, could she walk! That flimsy she wore was just about as good as a shop window, but some shop, son, I’m telling you! When she turned round, there was her navel winking at me as plain as daylight, and a couple of those scarlet roses sat just on the right places too. That’s showmanship, I thought, this is good.
“Five dollars,” I said, not moving. She sat down again, right close to me, and finished her drink. “Honey,” she replied, businesslike, “ten dollars. Any way you like. You’ll see if I’m not worth it.” I began to feel all hot again, her sitting right there with next to nothing on and, oh son, did she look comfortable. “Sister,” I said, “get this straight. I’m just an ordinary guy, not a flash guy with dough to chuck away on extras I don’t want. Five dollars.” Son, she quivered a bit at that, and I’m not saying that if she’d said ten dollars again I wouldn’t have let her have her own way so’s we could get on with the job. But I guess I’d put my act across better than she put hers.
“OK, Big Boy,” she agreed crossly, “five dollars. Just a five dollar routine,” she added meaningfully, “no fancy work.” “Suits me,” I told her, and gave her the five dollars. I reckon I crossed her again when I counted them over to her, one by one, though she didn’t say anything. Probably it’s happened to you, son – some of these poodles are mighty slick at disappearing one bill from a wad and then kicking up almighty hell that you’re doing them down. They’re often a bit better when they are cross too, so I wasn’t worrying any. I just buttoned my wallet away, put my clothes right where I could keep an eye on them, and got down to the job. Well, son, I don’t need to describe a five dollar routine to you, do I? She was a neat little worker and we settled down very reasonable. I was glad I‘d happened along.
“Honey,” she began when I sat up; and I chuckled to myself, thinking, Sister, I can say your piece just as well as you can, you poodles are all alike. “Honey,” she said, “come on down again. Half price this time, and money after, because, gee, I like you. Any way you like. Come on, Big Boy.” And, sure, she really looked as if she could take it, too. “No thanks,” I told her, “you’ve been dandy, and I like you too. But I’ll be getting along.” I guess she knew I meant what I said, too, for she stayed quite quiet while I got my things on.
So long, Blondie,” I said, draining my own downer as I always do after. “So long,” she replied with a friendly sort of smile, “I’ll know you better next time.” I opened the door. “Maybe,” I replied, stepping into the hallway, “G’night.”
Now, you’d think that was the end of the story, wouldn’t you, son. That I went off back to my own place and hit the hay, good and proper. But if that’s what you think, then you’re very much mistaken. There wasn’t no light on in that hallway, but the door opposite the one I came out of was a bit open. And the light was on in the room, so’s I could see it was much the same inside as the room I’d just left. Guess that’s the other poodle’s hide-out, I thought, and just as I was passing the door a voice, very soft and low called out, “Hullo there, Joe?” What goes on, I asked myself, and pushed open the door and looked into the room. Sure enough, there was the other poodle sitting up in bed, looking fresh as a daisy and, boy, was she an eyeful. I gave her the once over.
“I’m Judy,” she announced, looking at me. “Then goodnight, Judy,” I returned – but somehow my feet stayed put and I stood looking at her in the open doorway, one hand on the door. “Come in and shut the door, Joe,” she commanded, still keeping her eyes fixed on me, “what about a rye?”
“Honey,” I said, “you look as lovely an armful as ever I’ve come across, but in the first place, I came here looking for a pal and in the second place, your blonde girlfriend has given me my medicine for tonight, and I’m off home” Then somehow I found the door shut and me on the inside of it. I crossed over to her. And, son was she lovely! Dark hair like Lola’s and an older sort of look in her eyes that told you she wasn’t born yesterday. As I came nearer, she got the blanket pulled up to her neck, but it was only a thin blanket and I could see all the outline of her underneath it, and the old fascination came over me again. “That doesn’t stop you from accepting a drink if a girl offers you one, does it?” she asked, pouting her lips and never taking her eyes off me; “I’m not offering a dollar-downer, I’m offering a drink, and I guess you need one after what you’ve been through. Have a good time, huh?”
“Routine,” I answered briefly. She’d kind of got me on the defensive, and I had a feeling she thought I couldn’t take it when I told her “routine.” “All I wanted,” I added. “Sure,” she agreed, not moving away, “sure.” The rye’s in that cupboard over there, and glasses. God darn it, I thought, I’m as dry as hell and now that I’ve got a good looker to drink with, I’m not going to turn it down, no sir.! Still she sat there without moving and there seemed to be a sort of understanding between her and me that made me feel mighty peculiar. Probably you wouldn’t understand, son, but then you haven’t met Judy. I got the bottle.
“Make yourself at home,” she suggested, moving over in the bed and curling her legs up out of the way, “and make it a stiff one.” So I made a couple of stiff ones, and gave one to her. “Luck!” she said, and drank deeply. Son, you could see it doing her good. Most dames drink because a shot’s a shot. But this dame drank like she enjoyed it with every bit of her warm body. Not greedy, I don’t mean, but as though she understood what it meant. “I was needing that drink,” she said, “know a better one?” I told her “No.”
Under the blanket her leg was against my thigh and I could feel the warmth of it. “No, I don’t. What is it?” “There ain’t one,” she laughed, and I grinned back at her, because I knew she felt just like I felt about it. “I don’t aim to put a lot back, but when I do have it, brother, I aim to enjoy every drop.” “Me, too,” I agreed. “I put a tidy bit away, but by God I enjoy it as much as you do.” “Fine,” she smiled; “have another.” I fixed the glasses and settled myself again on the bed, leaning against the back wall of the alcove. She’d shifted sideways a bit and I was much nearer to her than before. And was I glad, so? Yes, sir, I was glad.
“How d’you like this joint?” she asked me, “suit you all right?” I watched her soft red lips moving. “Fine and dandy,” I replied. “You’ve got a swell place here. You ought to make a good business out of it.” “Sure we do,” the girl told me, “though we ain’t been here long. The boys like us, and I guess there’s no reason why they shouldn’t.” I knew just what she meant. And as far as looking at her went, I couldn’t either. The rye scorched my guts as I drank it down, and I felt lean and hungry again as I watched that dark haired dame in her bed. We looked at each other and understood each other. My glass was empty and I figured it wasn’t right to go on drinking her rye, and that made me all the thirstier. My blood was hot.
“Don’t stand on ceremony,” dark haired Judy said. “You don’t have to wait to be asked in this joint.” I guess I must have looked a bit doubtful for she took the glass from my hand and reached out for the rye on the table near the bed. As she leaned forward, her full breasts were clearly outlined under her silken nightdress, and when she gave me back my glass my hand was shaking, yes, sir, believe it or not, it was shaking. “Luck!” she said again, and this time clinked glasses before drinking. The strong liquor ran down my throat and I thought, Christ, I could fight a guy now.
“Feeling good?” she asked, putting her hand on my knee, and I couldn’t take my eyes from those red lips so near to mine. Then I pulled myself together just in time. You know, son, you can do most what you like with poodles bar kissing, and I nearly made a damn fool of myself. “Honey,” I said hoarsely, “were you on the level when you said these weren’t dollar-downers?” Again she smiled at me, and nodded her head. “Sure. You said you’d gotten what you came for. I reckon there’s no law against a bit of pleasure when you’ve finished your business, is there? Reckon I’m lucky to have a real man to do my drinking with, yes sir.”
“Then this ain’t business?” “Aren’t I telling you,” she cried, her cheeks flushed and her eyes bright and sparkling, “this is just pleasure.” I can’t remember what happened to those glasses, son. Her head was hard back on the pillow. Her lips matched mine, kiss for kiss. I’m no lightweight, son, but she held me to her mighty strong and I forgot she was weaker than me. When she could no longer breathe, I had to let her go, but when I looked into her eyes they only said “Hurry, Joe, Hurry,” and I knew there was only one thing we both wanted. Then again she fastened her lips to mine and gave me all her strength, and all her knowledge, and everything in the world that the other fair-haired girl couldn’t have given me. Son, that was something, believe me.
She was fast asleep when, two hours later, I stood by her bed, ready to go. “Poodle,” I said soft, knowing she couldn’t hear, “Poodle, you sure know your job. I’d have you know one thing, I’m not a guy to drink all a dame’s rye, to say the least of it, and sneak off without a thank-you. Here’s something to buy another bottle for the next guy, and maybe a bit left over for you.” And I tucked a twenty dollar bill under her pillow and turned away.
When I let myself out the front door, the sky was already alight with the dawn of a new day. A couple of days later I ran into Bill in Half Way again. “Hello old timer,” he called out, “how’s things?” “Fine,” I replied; “how’d you enjoy yourself on Saturday night?” Bill gave a huge satisfied laugh. “Better’n what you’d think,” he said. “They’ve got a nice little place there all right, fixed up a treat. One of the poodles took me in and we ran through the business okay. Then, just as I was leaving, I sort of got mixed up with the other poodle, and boy, did we hit it off. We sure went to town all right, first class all the way. Poodle number one was good “routine” but poodle number two, boy, was she heaven! Didn’t worry about the dough, neither, just enjoyed herself.”
I looked at him a bit closer. “Yeah?” I enquired. “Yeah,” he affirmed, “sure as I’m here. Mind you, I didn’t walk out on her. No, sir, I’m not that mean. If I hadn’t had to get back to Twenty-Six that night, I’d have stayed till morning. But I had to go, and I felt so darned pleased with myself that I went and slipped her a twenty dollar bill to find when she woke up.”
“Did you ever,” I said. “How about the rye?”
“Funny you should ask,” replied Bill with another guffaw. “Could that dame soak it up? We downed a bottle between us and not a cent to pay. Boy, what a night! Can you beat it?” I gave a sort of laugh at that, but when I heard it I wasn’t any too pleased with the way it sounded. More like a groan it was.
“So you went and gave that dark-haired dame a twenty dollar bill too, did you?” I suggested. Bill looked at me strangely. “Say, what’s the game?” he enquired. You’ve got it all wrong. It was the blonde, June she called herself, who took me to town. Judy dark-hair was straight but dumb. Nice kid, but boy, you don’t know nothing till Blondie teaches you. Worth every bit of those twenty dollars, I’m telling you.” He turned on his heel. “Nice little business they’ve got there. Well, so long, I’ll be seeing you.”
“So long,” I replied, looking after him as he strode away. Yes, son, they sure had a nice little business did those two poodles. And what’s more important, they knew how to run it too. Yes, sir. What’s that son? Hell, you’re spoiling my story with your damn fool questions. Just got a nice ending and you drag me back to the beginning again. Oh, Lola. You want to know about Lola, do you? You mean, you’d guessed from what I said that I’d fallen for her. That’s pretty smart, I reckon. You want to know about me being married to her, do you?
Son, you sure aim to tell my story for me, and here was I thinking I’d made everything as plain as daylight. Sure, Lola was a fine kid, didn’t I tell you right at the beginning, and she had as much promise as any kid I’ve ever seen. It wasn’t only me that thought so, neither. But I reckon we grow up pretty fast out West and that little girl wouldn’t be more than fifteen the time I’m talking about. But that was five years ago, so you’ve a chance yet, son.
Where is she now? Well, I’ll tell you son, though you look a bit young and maybe don’t see women the way they really are. When she was eighteen she aimed she’d set up in business for herself; and as there was an opening at the poodles’ shack, she teamed up with June. The last I heard of them they were doing as well as ever, with the boys buzzing around and making as much fuss over them as any two poodles could expect in a place like Half Way.
So what more could you ask? Why was there a vacancy? Son, you sure do want to know every little thing, now don’t you? I’ll tell you, son, Judy left to get married. There was a girl with a figure like most men only dream about, as beautiful as they’re made, and as good at business as she was good in bed, and that’s saying something. So, when a guy comes along who’s a bit quicker on the draw than the rest, and has enough brains to see the bargain that’s lying there, ready to be snapped up, he’s a damned fool if he gives any other guy a chance to get in before him, believe me. Who? You’re goddam slow, son. That’s what I’ve been telling you about all along, ain’t I? Why sure, of course I did, that’s the whole point of the story. You can’t tell me anything about women, no sir!
Valerie biography and story list