From ANTHRACITE by David Fulmer

Note: Contains Adult Language                                                   


                                                                       SUNDAY.

    Fat’s garage door rattled down and Ray Pizulski came
out of the Camaro, his mouth going a mile-a-minute about
how he almost didn’t steal it off the shopping center lot in
King of Prussia.
      “Hey, Fat, listen to this.” Ray was juking like a
homeboy. “I’m out in front of the laundromat, the one
out there by the Food Giant. You know where I mean?
And I see this short turn into the parking lot.” He waved
a possessive hand at the car, sitting there hunched and
ready to pounce, the sweet, butter-colored curves set off
by black pinstripes and tinted glass all the way around. “I
said, that is a fucking
ride.
      The fat man had gone waddling around the other side of the
fucking ride, so Ray
addressed the air: “He comes by and I heard the pipes and I say, hey, sounds like
somebody’s been under the hood that knows about a motor. And then I saw the
hubcaps, man.”
      Fat hadn’t been paying attention. Now he fixed his good eye on a wheel. “What?”
His voice was a dry grinding of gears.
      “Baby Moons!” Ray said. “Are you kiddin’ me? Who puts Baby Moons on a car
anymore?” He sniffed, his eyebrows stitched, and he poked a righteous finger.
“Somebody with some class to him, that’s who. Somebody with some class who does not
deserve to have his pride-and-joy stolen by Ray Pizulski.”
      Fat shook his head. Every time the Polack brought a car, he had to go through
some bullshit story that he couldn’t follow to a point he never got. At first, he thought it
was Pizulski’s way of jacking the price. Then he realized the dumbass just didn’t know
when to shut up. Like now, for instance.
      “But then he comes across the lot,” Pizulski was saying, his lip taking a curl as the
plot thickened. “Swings around right in front of me. Almost ran over this lady pushing a
shopping cart. With a little kid in it. Like he owned the place. That type.”
      Fat, who had gone back to trying to figure out how to get the car and get rid of the
Polack, scratched his balls and grunted.
      “He pulls up across from that pool hall or fucking billiard emporium or whatever
they call it,” the moron went on. “That place with all the plants and shit. You know the
one I mean? Never mind, it don’t matter. Anyway, here’s this little college prick, all
dressed up for the coeds. Strictly Bucks County.” Ray’s rough elfin face twisted in
disgust. “I saw that, I knew he didn’t build it. Probably never even checked the oil.
Daddy probably bought it for him for graduation. So I said fuck him, y’know?” He did
a hand jive with invisible wires. “Dumb shit didn’t have a decent alarm. Nothing. I’m in
and on my way in like a minute.”
      Fat made his way around to the front of the Camaro, waved Ray aside with a grimy
paw, popped the hood with the other, and stared down at an engine that was packed
tight and gleaming with chrome. “This a three-fifty?”
      “Yeah,” Ray said “The ZZ-five. So, okay, whaddya think?”
      Fat made a sound in his throat. “What I think is I can move this motor. Right
tonight. I know someone needs one bad.”
      Ray’s head stopped bobbing. “Hey, now. You can’t go chopping on this one.”
      “What do you think, I can sell it outright? You fucking kidding me?” Fat dug
under his feed sack gut for a folded pad of greasy bills. “Fifty-five hundred,” he said.
      “I mean it, Fat, you can’t be chopping this one.”
      Fat laid a finger on one side of his nose. There was a loud snort and a yellow-green
gob went flying. “Six grand,” he said.
      Ray’s eyes flicked back and forth one time and he snapped his fingers as if he had
just remembered something. “I just remembered something,” he said.
      The fat man’s eye narrowed to a slot. “What? Six grand, in your hand. You ain’t
gonna do no better’n’at.”
      Ray grabbed the door handle. “I gotta go. Really.” He jumped in the car and
started fiddling under the dash.
      Fat scowled. “All right, sixty-five, goddamn it, but that’s it.”
      The engine caught with a basso rumble and Ray jerked a thumb at the garage door.
“C’mon, let me go, Fat!”
      Fat raised his voice. “Sixty-seven.”
      Ray kept pumping his thumb over his shoulder. Fat snarled, hauled his girth to the
side of the heavy door, and grabbed the chain. “You gonna bring it back?”
      Ray said, “Yeah, yeah.” The car was inching along in reverse.
      “Bring the fucker back,” Fat yelled over the rumbling engine and rattling door. “I
can move that motor. Tonight.”
      Whatever Ray shouted got lost in the shriek of the tires. He swung around in the
alley, rammed the shifter into first, and tore away, leaving a cloud of gray gravel. Fat
watched as an easy ten grand disappeared. He wagged his thick head in disgust as he let
the door down. “Goddamn Polacks.”

      At the same moment Ray was escaping down South 63rd Street and then onto West
Passyunk, Donna Santorello was stepping through the gold-framed doors of the
Westminster Hotel in Center City on her way to fuck the man in Room 533.
      The atrium was a noisy, bobbing sea of backslapping suits, all assembled for the
last day of the sales convention that had brought her Mister 533 to town. They milled
about in giddy eddies and all seemed to know each other. The few females among them
slithered like lizards in business ensembles and taut skins. So when Donna appeared
beneath the domed atrium, heads turned and tongues went still. First they glanced, then
they stared, and then they stepped back to let her pass.
      She felt their eyes and saw what they saw: the dusky flesh of a gypsy (or so a date
had once told her), dark-freckled, with high cheekbones, lips full and softly peaked, a
nose with a slight Neapolitan curve, and all framed in a corona of black ringlets that fell
to her shoulders. Behind the shades, her eyes were dark gray-green, like the ocean before
dawn − or so another gentleman had stated.
      Now the gazes of the men under the glass dome were little cameras clicking up and
down at a body that was dancer-tight and slender except across the chest, where she
threatened to come bursting through her leather dress, and without the help of any
Broad Street plastic surgeons, thank you. She walked her walk, ballet steps with arms
slung back a bit and hips swaying just so. Whispers lapped at her heels and she heard
jitters of laughter. Then somebody whistled low and somebody else let out a little moan.
      She was one of the two dozen women among the two hundred men who were used
to having females bow to them, at the office, at their swank saloons, at home. Now they
stood back as if a heavyweight contender or reputed mobster had stepped into their
midst. It took less than a minute for her to make her way across the atrium and they’d
still be talking about her at dinner. Hey, did you see that piece in the…
      The show was over. She moved past the front desk, where she caught looks from the
two security guys, one black, one white, but twins in their identical navy blazers and
gray trousers. Though they both clocked her, neither said a word. As she touched the
button to summon the glass elevator that would carry her upstairs to Mister 533, she
drew in the looks from across the room and felt the tingling rush that was her own
special drug.

      She followed the script, knocking one time and when the door opened, taking off
her shades and locking onto Mister 533’s face with smoky intent. Flushing pink, he
retreated from the heat.
      She knew his type at a glance: the hot-shot Vice President of Marketing or some
such thing who had made ten million dollars for the company and earned a big bonus: a
new SUV, a week in Aruba, and an hour of pleasure during the annual convention.
      She had seen the same character a hundred times. He was king shit at the office,
leased a new top-of-the-line Audi, and played a decent round of golf, but he put his balls
on every morning along with his suit and tie. Definitely the type who kept his dirty little
fantasies hidden from his sorority-girl wife. He stayed so busy kissing ass and making
cash that he’d never had a major-league piece of tail in his life and wouldn’t know
where to begin. He would let her take over; easier for her. It also meant she’d be on top,
and that would be safer for her.
      She splayed her fingers on his chest and walked him back into the room, letting a
languid smile tilt her mouth. As hard as he tried for cool, the stud who could take care
of business, his hands were shaking and he stuttered when he tried to talk. She pushed
him down onto the bed with one hand and reached for the zipper that ran down the
front of her dress with the other. She lowered it slowly, as if opening a present.
Underneath she wore only panties and a thin brassiere, both of plum-colored satin.
Mister 533 let out a low moan and then uttered something like a prayer.