At that point, we’d reach the end of our small residential street. I followed Beth across the adjoining street, through a field, and around the back of an old torn up fence to an area that looked like it had become the neighborhood junkyard. She meandered through old car parts, torn up cardboard boxes, broken yard tools, and even on old typewriter until we came to an abandoned snowplow. Beth nestled herself into the shovel of the snowplow and patted the spot next to her.
“When you chain-smoke like I do, there’s no better way to avoid burning down the city than by smoking in my little office here.” She dowsed her cigarettes stub on a piece of plywood sitting over top an old truck tire that appeared to serve as a makeshift coffee table. I sat down next to her as she reached around the back of the shovel. By the time I was situated, she had an old radio sitting on the coffee table, calmly playing tunes from the local oldies station.
“Thirsty?” she asked.
I wasn’t, but I was exceedingly curious about exactly where she planned to procure something to drink. I nodded.
She pulled up the plywood lid to her coffee table, reached in, and pulled out two beers from the inside of the truck tire. She handed one to me. “Cheers.”
“You realize it’s only 10 o’clock in the morning, right?” I said.
She shrugged. “I know. Time for breakfast.”
I reluctantly followed her lead, opened the bottle with the edge of the plow shovel, and took a swig. Ugh. Beer did not taste near as good this early in the morning. But that disappointment was offset by the fact that it was at least cold.
“So you want to know about the Kiss of Death…” She balanced the neck of her beer between two fingers and adjusted her position so her head was laying in my lap. She held her beer above her head and tipped it back so a drizzle of fluid fell into her gaping mouth.
She smacked her lips. “I’ve been doing this oilfield thing for a nice long while. Eight years, to be exact.”
What? eight years? She couldn’t be older than maybe 25. Did she just look really young?
She laughed and her next acrobatic drizzle missed her mouth, dripping down her chin. “Everyone gives me that look when I tell them that. It’s pretty simple: I graduated high school at 16 – it was too fuckin’ easy and it pissed me off so I got my ass out of there as fast as I could. My mom was making me crazy, we fought constantly, so I moved up here with my old man and started working full-time in his office – that shit sucked. I am not a paper-fucker.”
“Anyways, as soon as I hit eighteen, I moved out of his shithole trailer, got a field gig, and got my own place.”
I nodded, knowingly. My parents were good people but they never really “got” me. At least not once I hit puberty. They were hoping for a slightly more standard package from the adoption agency, I guess.
I glanced down at her. “I’m not gonna be happy until you fuck up and spill that entire beer on your fat face.”
She sat up and stuck her finger right between my eyes, berating me like a disobedient dog. “No, Ches. No! We talked about this. No more fat face or I won’t tell you about the Kiss of Death.”
I raised my hands in submission. “Okay, okay. No more fat face.”
“Good girl.” She settled in next to me, her knees up and her arm hanging loosely over them. “Now, our friend The Kiss of Death there didn’t come wagging that little ass out here until about four years ago. Before then, you’d never have convinced me that one guy was capable of creating such a clusterfuck out of perfectly lovely girls. I mean, most of these hookers have been with me for at least six years and they’ve broken more pitter-patting male oilfield hearts than have broken theirs. Hell, I think they like fuckin’ each other more than they like screwing the men out here.” She burst out laughing, but got some beer down the wrong tube and ended up hacking like a choking junkie.
“Don’t die on me now, Bethie. I’ll kill myself if I don’t get to hear this goddamn story,” I said, slapping her on the back.
She finally calmed down and shook her head vigorously. “Whew! Might have to cut down on the smokes.” She sat up and reached back into the ‘coffee table,’ fumbled around a bit until she pulled her hand out with some paper and a small plastic bag. She cleared a spot between us, laid out the paper, and grabbed a pinch of weed from the bag.
“Oh for God’s sake, Beth, is there anything you don’t do?”
She looked at me pointedly. “Love. I don’t do fuckin’ love.” She rolled the doobie and reached into her back pocket, returning with a lighter. “And anyways, this is to help me quit smoking. So I don’t want to hear any shit from you.”
I sighed and leaned back into the shovel. I set my beer down; I knew I wasn’t going to finish it. “So can we get to the point already? I don’t have all day to sit around on my ass and smoke weed like some people.”
She raised an eyebrow. “Don’t you?”
I huffed. “Okay, I don’t want to sit around on my ass and smoke weed all day.”
She laughed as she lit her joint. “Oh, you will. By the time I’m don’t with you, you will.” She took a long draw followed by a salacious moan. “So the Kiss of Death moves out here four years ago. Lives with Kirk. Cute guy. Nice guy. Doesn’t talk much, but that’s a nice break for most of us. Anna was the first one to jump all over that fuckin’ train wreck.” She glanced up at me. “You haven’t met Anna. And you won’t. One helluva hooker, that one. She was crazy. I don’t think I could count the number of orgies and devil’s threesomes…” She tucked a hair behind her ear and took another drag. “Anyways, this was back in her more innocent days. We were trying to break her into this life – in other words, get her to dump her long-distance boyfriend and have some fun – and she had this thing for Jax. Fine, whatever, I’m not gonna judge another girl’s tastes. So, like any good bitches, we pulled some strings with the dudes we knew, and laid the groundwork for a party at Bill’s house.”
She gave me a sideways glance. “You haven’t met Bill yet. He and his wife live just outside of town and they throw the best parties, they’re totally chill and friggin hilarious – pretty wild for a married couple.”
“This place can’t get any weirder…”
“Sure it can. So we get Anna looking hotter than a stripper in a swanky Vegas casino, not lettin’ on about our little plan because she’s still stuck on this stupid boyfriend thing, and we arrive at that party like a bulldozer. We fuckin’ ran the place that night, Ches, shit you shoulda been there. Throwin’ down shots, flirting and dumping right and left, dancing like divas, we made everyone look lame. And the funny thing is, after all our hard work spreading rumors and setting things up just right so Anna’d get laid, we didn’t have to do a damn thing after we got there. Jax was all up in that, following her around, getting her drinks, talking her up real good. So we’re thinking we got one more hooker and one less lamer on the crew, especially when they left together.”
She took a long drag. My back was starting to get stiff against the hard and awkwardly-angled shovel, but there was no way in hell I was stopping Beth for anything.
“Shit got weird after that. She came home the next morning elated beyond reason. I mean, it’s one thing to be in a state of blissful after a good lay but this chick was in some form of heaven. I thought she was high as a kite most of the day, talkin’ about being in love, and roses and fuckin’ rings even, blah, blah, blah. She broke up with her boyfriend over text – even I know that’s a shitty thing to do. She was floatin’ on air all day. And then,” she shook her head, “later that night, we found out she didn’t even fuck him.”
She started, then looked at me directly in the eye. “Did you hear what I said, Ches? No fucking. They did not fuck. No pussy love.”
“Uhhhh…yeah, I heard you.”
“Why aren’t you more surprised? You should be all up in your own shit surprised. Only a really, really, really, really, really, really good fuck should make a girl act like that.”
I grimaced. “I knew quite a few girls who started naming their kids after one date with a very average dude.”
Beth’s eyes widened. “That shit’s messed up. Remind me never to visit Telluride.” She smashed her stub into the tire. “Anyways, she kissed him. One kiss. Not even a make-out session. We were all perplexed. They eventually did fuck and then she started making wedding plans and he freaked out and dumped her – can’t totally blame him for that. And that’s when she became a real hooker – so I suppose I should be thankful. She went wild. Fucked the whole town in a million different ways and then disappeared. Haven’t seen her in over a year. But the fact is, the same thing happened to Halley a month or two later. Halley took it much harder, didn’t so much as look at a guy for six months after that Kiss of Death. Then Chrissy – she moved back home after that trainwreck. It happens every fuckin’ time. Every time, Ches.” She gave me a stern look.
I grabbed her beer and took a swig. It was raunchy but better than dealing with the eyes of death boring into me. “I get it. Kiss of Death, no good.”
“So you stay away from that shit. I’ve lost enough hookers over that dude. It’s not fair.” She shook her head in defeat.
“Are you saying I’m an honorary hooker?”
She scrutinized me. “You certainly fit the profile. But we’ll see. You have to pass the hazing first.”
I raised my eyebrows. “You guys have hazing?”
She flashed a wicked smile. “We do as of about ten seconds ago. Come on, let’s get back to the house. I have to work out the details of your torture with those other bitches.”