One.

Sadie

Sadie was a thick woman, the kind who would smash a dude in the mouth just for staring at her tits. I think Crazy Joe was the only one who got away with it. It was hard not to stare, though. Sadie’s tits were awesome. Big, but not too big. And certainly not small. In fact, it wasn’t about size at all. Sadie’s tits were perfect. Voluptuous and natural and proportionate to her thick body, they were the kind that hung heavy without sagging, the kind that filled a T-shirt and refused to be hidden by a leather jacket.

When Sadie walked through the bar with her shoulders pulled back and her long brown hair bouncing, it was with such strength and confidence that her tits just accentuated the rhythm of her stride. And when she shot pool it was impossible not to stare. Her tits swayed gently as she leaned over the table aligning her shot, then shook when she jerked the pool stick forward, a movement punctuated by the expression of every man in the bar, and some women too.

But no scene could compare to how sexy Sadie was when she was fighting, standing toe to toe with some grimy biker dude, with her chin out and her shoulders back, throwing punch for punch with someone twice her size. That was sexy. That was hot as Hell. And the sexiest part was just after the fight, just after she kicked the dude’s ass, the whole bar watching her and everyone full of excitement and somewhat afraid of her, breathing heavily with her hair messed up and her brown eyes glazed, standing over her prey like a lioness.

That’s what made Sadie sexy. She was wild, untamable, dangerous. That’s also what made her an object of obsession. Dudes couldn’t stay away. They couldn’t help it. The way she walked, looked, talked, moved, smelled, brought out crazy desperation in men. So, in her own desperation she learned to fight. Then she got good at it. Then she got really good at it. I once watched her beat up three dudes in a bar just because one smacked her ass and they all laughed when she turned and asked who did it. Sadie’s the only woman I ever knew who looked sexy smashing a bottle over someone’s head.

Everything about Sadie was sexy, and most men would endure anything just to be noticed by her, even if that meant getting their asses kicked. And Sadie was willing to oblige. As far as she was concerned, men needed their asses kicked.

It seemed like the better she got at fighting, the more confident she became and, subsequently, the sexier. And the sexier she became the more obsessed the dudes became, until eventually it all got out of hand and Sadie would just leave town, often only a step or two ahead of the cops and a lynch mob of bikers with boners. Before long, Sadie got used to wandering, even began to anticipate leaving one town to discover another.

Two.

Welcome to Baltimore

Sadie smiled when she read the sign on I-295 north. As she screamed past it on her Harley, she thought of Gina. Gina was Baltimore to the bone. That’s what Sadie loved about her. Gina was real, down to earth, and cool. Sadie got warm thinking about seeing her again.

From the road she could see the Bromo Seltzer tower downtown. If its clock was right, she made it from Tennessee to Baltimore in eight hours. Sadie left Bulls Gap just after breakfast and rode into town on a balmy August afternoon. She needed to get out of her leather. It was great protection from the early morning air, but after hours in the summer sun Sadie could feel the moisture trapped inside.

She followed the signs to the Inner Harbor, past the city incinerator and the “Largest Trash Can in the World.” She turned right on Pratt and coasted past the harbor pavilions that blocked the view of Federal Hill, that blocked Fort McHenry, that blocked the British in 1812. She crossed Presidents Street and cruised the northern edge of Little Italy. On the left, looming over the restaurants and cafes were tall, plain buildings that Sadie could tell were the projects. Soon Little Italy ended and the projects grew.

Sadie didn’t know she missed her turn until she crossed Broadway, the street that Gina said meant she went too far. She turned around and followed Broadway north, past the adult theatre, featuring Marilyn Chambers, and the Baptist church next to it, featuring Jesus Christ. When Broadway ended, Sadie turned right and let her instincts guide her. Soon the houses were nicer and farther apart. She turned left and circled Lake Montebello, where men were parked waxing their cars to loud music.

Around the lake she headed north, past Morgan State where the suburbs took over. Two blocks later she turned right, then left into the parking lot of The Wishing Well Saloon. The lot was empty except for a Pinto station wagon and a couple of Harleys. She swerved to avoid a broken bottle and parked next to the Pinto.

It was dark inside the bar and it took a while for Sadie’s eyes to adjust. “Hey,” she heard Gina call from somewhere in the darkness. “I wasn’t expecting you for a few more hours.”

“Yeah, I know. I made good time.” Sadie answered, still unable to see clearly. She walked toward the voice. When she got to the bar she could see a little better. She sat her helmet down and Gina leaned over to hug her. “Sweaty leather,” Sadie warned as they hugged.

“Yum,” Gina teased.

Sadie leaned over far enough to smack Gina on the ass, then leaned back and smiled at her. “Good to see you, Girl. What’s up?”

“I missed you. I’m so glad you’re here…Here, have a beer. Grab a seat at that table and I’ll be right over.”

 

Three.

Gina

Sadie put the beer on a vacant table and peeled off her riding leather. Gina stopped to watch. So did the dudes in the bar, but Sadie’s cold look at them meant she was off limits, way off limits, even to look at. She hooked her leather jacket on the chair, sat down and scanned the room.

The Well was dark, plain, average, a typical biker bar, with a pool table, a dart board and a couple of pinball machines. But mostly, just a big dark bar. Some dudes huddled around a poker machine in the front corner. The player won credits and wanted Gina to pay out. It wasn’t legal, but it kept them playing and drinking. But Gina only paid out to people she knew. The guy she was hired to replace paid out to an undercover cop and got the bar shut down for a week.

Gina finished racking glasses and joined Sadie at the table. “So, what do you think of Baltimore so far? It’s a world unto itself, huh?”

Sadie looked around, “It seems alright here.”

“Yeah, it’s alright,” Gina nodded. “Baltimore is like the mutt of the world, a little bit of everything mixed with a whole lot of trailer park…Hon.” She smiled at Sadie. “So anyway,” Gina leaned over and gave her another hug, “how the hell are you?”

“Ok.” Sadie said, rubbing Gina’s arm. “Thanks for letting me stop by for a while. I know it was short notice, but I kind of needed to lay low, and I wanted a change of scenery anyway.”

“Cool. Well, if you need to lay low,” Gina swept her arm around the bar, “there’s no place lower than this.”

“Hey,” Nick yelled from behind the bar. “I got feelings, you know.”

“Sorry, Hon.” Gina mimicked his Baltimore accent, a hybrid New England nasal and southern twang, a little twangier than her own.

“This place is alright.” Sadie said looking up at the neon “Natty Boh” sign. “The land of pleasant living.”

“Thank you,” Nick said, glancing from his clipboard and bowing slightly. “Your next beer’s on the house. As soon as the bartender gets off her lazy ass.”

“Thanks,” Sadie nodded, then added, “…Hon.”

“Perfect.” Gina laughed. “You’ll fit right in. And as for you, Boss,” she pointed at Nick and did a neck movement she picked up from a talk show, “I’m on my break.”

Gina had been working at The Well since she got back from Florida, where she and Sadie met months before. They hooked up at a bus stop in Jacksonville and Sadie gave her a ride down the coast on her Harley. They spent six months together, traveling from beautiful sunny beach to beautiful sunny beach, all up and down the Florida coast. Gina only came back to Baltimore because she heard that I was getting out of prison sooner than expected. And Crazy Joe might too.

Gina looked back at Sadie. “So, you got a place to stay yet?”

“Well, I was hoping I could crash with you tonight. I’ll get a room tomorrow.”

“Are you sure? I got room if you want to stay with me for a while. I have a huge apartment over in Carney.”

“Nah, it’s cool. I got some money stashed. I might need my own space. I might stay a while.”

Gina understood the implication. “I’m glad you’re here, anyway, but I hope it ain’t too serious.”

Sadie smiled. “Nothing I can’t handle.”

“I believe that…Anyway, here’s my key. Go chill a while if you want. Come back tonight. We can hang and I’ll introduce you to some friends.”

Four.

Nick, the Manager

Nick was at The Well for years. Whenever new owners came, somehow Nick remained. Either because he was Mob or because of his OCD.

Nick was a clean freak, but a fixated clean freak. His fixation was the bathroom. It was spotless. The rest of the bar was never clean until Gina got hired. But the bathroom was cleaner than a hospital gurney. Nick spent more time there than behind the bar, which was cool with Gina. She told Nick she’d quit if he made her clean the bathroom.  Might not seem like a big deal, unless you’ve worked at a bar full of drunks and junkies. Puke and needles, piss and shit everywhere.

You’d think if it started clean, they’d try to keep it clean. Well, maybe they did, but they didn’t, especially on dollar draft night, or when a batch of heroin came through, which was often thanks to I-95. Drugs smuggled into Florida and destined for New York hit every city along the way. And when dope hit Baltimore it always hit The Well. And when dope hit The Well the Vagrants hit the bathroom.

There’s nothing more disturbing than a grimy, smelly, puke-covered Vagrant in a grimy leather jacket passed out against a shiny, clean, white tile wall. The contrast was stark. As soon as Nick bounced the Vagrant he would re-clean the bathroom. One summer he had it retiled: floor, walls, ceiling. And floor drains installed. Ever since, twice nightly he would douse the whole bathroom with bleach and hose it down. Crazy Joe suggested he leave the junkies in there when he cleaned it.

Nick was a strange guy, a potbellied Steve Buscemi with a better mustache and less hair, but greasier. He must have been forty years old. It seemed like he had been at The Well forever. Me and Joe knew him since junior high, when we started drinking there. We got high with him, even got him laid once by Flo, a nasty biker chick we knew. I don’t mean she was ugly. Actually she was kind of cute for her age. But she would have been cuter if she hadn’t drunk so much whiskey for so many years.

Flo was nasty because she was into golden showers. Not just into them, though. She couldn’t get off unless she had a dude to piss on. She liked to straddle a man and piss on his chest while masturbating. She could cum three or four times in a row, each louder than the last, at least that’s what I heard. So we thought Nick, with his bathroom fetish, might like Flo. We figured the two fetishes were somehow related.

And maybe they were. Nick and Flo dated for six months, even got engaged for a couple of days until Nick found out what Flo did for a living.

We knew Flo from Joe’s uncle, Gina’s dad. She drank with us sometimes. She was cool and always paid so we didn’t complain. One night we were shooting tequila and Nick joined us. It was late and the bar was dead so he did a few shots and flirted with Flo. That was before he tiled the bathroom. In fact, that was why he tiled the bathroom. Flo stayed past closing that first night and a week later Nick had the bathroom gutted. After that, whenever Flo showed up Nick kicked us out at closing. We thought that hooking them up would get us into the Mob, until Nick found out that Flo was a piss pro.

One night at The Well, Nick got a call. He slammed down the phone and ran out the door. Everyone knew that no one else was working. That was years before Gina. It took a minute for the Vagrants to realize the liquor was unguarded and another minute for the riot to start. Joe and I grabbed a bottle of Jack and hit the side door.

Flo told Nick she was nursing her sick mother. He found her down on the Block, in a backroom lounge, pissing on men for money. He walked in just as she was walking out. He freaked out and decked a dude. Then the bouncer beat the shit out of him and had him arrested for assault. He never told anyone about it, and we never told him that the anonymous caller was Gina’s jealous dad.