THE TIP RAIL
I met Mae Dela Galicia when she was seventeen years old. She had the most angelic face. Mae was really smart and her eyes were wise and she was really hard headed, like wood, and she made people believe she was twenty-three years old.
She was a stripper.
I approached the Tip Rail while she was dancing onstage at the MOON DAWG club. I wrapped my business card in a twenty-dollar bill folded length-wise and I slipped it into her garter.
I was working on the screenplay for SINS OF THE FATHER and I had been meeting with the Mexican film producers and I thought that Mae was perfect for the role of Lucida.
I had to find out if she could act.
As I watched her I grew firm with determination and I booked an hour in the Champagne Room in the back of the MOON DAWG to be alone with her. I paid for a bed dance so we could have a tit-à-tête and she would have to listen to me.
The private Champagne Room was well decorated, like a country lodge, with solid hardwood, stained dark with testosterone, and it had a bar. I made mental notes about how my bedroom might look someday if I ever came to rest in one place long enough.
The lights dimmed and the sound system began to pump my first request, Highway to Hell. Pump, pump, pump, pump.
Mae Dela Galicia opened the door and her smile then opened me.
Mae said, “Hi, babe.”
I said, “Hi, right back at’cha, babe. I like that outfit.”
Mae was wearing low slung black leather pants with silver chains and she wore what looked like a pair of criss crossed silk kerchiefs for a top.
Mae said, “Thanks, babe. How are you?”
I said, “Doing better and better.”
She said, “Lay down, babe.”
I sat on the firm bed and then raised my legs up and over and I settled back against the oversized pillow. Mae came upon the bed and approached me on all fours like a leopard.
Mae straddled my hips and sat back and settled against me. I stared into those wise eyes of that child-like face and I blinked.
Mae began to shift her hips in rhythm to the rock anthem. …Hey Satan, paid my dues playing in a rocking band. Hey Momma, look at me, I’m on my way to the Promised Land…
Mae asked, “Where are you from?”
I answered, “California.”
Mae smiled, “You like earthquakes, babe?”
Mae began to rock harder and she was adding a subtle twist.
I blinked, “Better than tornadoes.”
Mae said, “Your choice, babe.”
Mae undid her kerchief top. She was making her breasts sway. I followed her nipples with my eyes and I had a vision of my childhood Felix the Cat clock with the eyeballs ticking side-to-side.
Then she began to lift her hips up and down while she rocked side-to-side. I had a vision of a girl gymnast on the pummel horse.
Mae stared at me mischievously. She asked, “Tell me, babe. What do you do for work, by the way? If you don’t mind me asking.”
I puffed, “Did. You. Get. My. Card?”
Mae began to stroke my hips with her hips. I was kindling. She replied, “Yeah, babe. You write stories. Cool,” then she grinned and said, “Maybe you write about this, babe.”
I was rising and falling with her like I was magnetized. I began to breathe though my mouth. I steamed, “I. Am. Writ-ing. A. Screen-play. You. Would. Be. Per-fect. For. A. Part.”
Mae stopped. She leaned her face very close to my face and I inhaled her as she said, “You relax. You already paid, babe.”
I protested, “No, no. You don’t understand. I am serious. If you can act. It’s a Western. The girl is called Lucida and she is a nun with a terrible past.”
Mae tilted her head and narrowed her eyes and she asked me, “You pay to talk?”
I said, “Well. Sure. I mean, that was real nice, but I have to meet with the producers tonight. What I mean is: I don’t have a change of pants. Why do I wear tan pants? You are really great, Mae. But let’s talk.”
Mae dismounted me and I stumbled off of the bed and I went to the little bar. I grabbed the bottle of champagne and two glasses.
I asked Mae as I came back to the bed, “You can drink a little, right?”
Mae was sitting on her knees now on the bed. She shrugged, but she accepted the proffered glass of champagne.
I sat on the edge of the bed beside her and swallowed a whole glass of champagne and then I poured another one for myself.
Mae sipped and she studied me over the rim of her glass. She then downed the whole glass and held it out to me and said, “Wait for me, babe.”
We both laughed. We both downed our glasses of champagne.
I said, “They probably charge more for this champagne than I make in a month.”
Mae giggled, “Or more than I made today.”
This was getting oddly personal. I was feeling warm towards Mae but I wondered if I was behaving a fool: was she just using ‘tactical interactions and manipulations toward a result of monetary gain’? Was she just acting? Of course! Wasn’t that a good thing? Sure. That’s a good thing.
I asked, “Have you ever acted?”
Mae replied, “I have performed.”
I said, “Well, I mean acted acted, like in a play, or maybe a… movie of some kind?” I had a vision of Mae in a porno movie and it bothered me. I drank another glass of champagne.
Mae giggled and then she tipped herself toward me and put her finger to her lips and made a shushing sound. She said, “I will tell you about this ‘nun’s terrible past’ and I will prove I can act, babe. Everyone thinks I’m twenty-three but I’m seventeen,” then she squinted her eyes and she put her hand over her mouth and her breasts shook in a silly silent laugh.
I whispered comically, “Who am I going to tell? The stripper police? I’m in more trouble than you are!”
That did sober me up, though.
I said, “So, Mae, you have my business card. Call me if you want to audition for that part, OK?”
Mae said, “Okie, babe.”
We still had seven minutes left on the clock for the Champagne Room.
What can you do in seven minutes?
Later that evening, as I drove up the producer’s driveway I strategically tipped a lukewarm cup of Jack in the Box coffee-with-cream onto my lap.
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