Brenna R. Singman
Abigail stumbled through the door, clutching her crocodile purse in one arm and Lulu's chiffon sleeve in the other. Her cheeks were flushed beneath her creamy foundation, and she bit her rosy lips, but it failed to stop another bout of laughter.
The ladies leaned against the brick wall of the building beneath a glowing neon sign for GX30 Lounge. The air was cool compared to the pressing heat of bodies in motion. The reek of alcohol and cigarette smoke clung to their clothes and hair, but it was home. It was Abigail's wind down from a week of trivial classes without her flask to tolerate the droning. The deafening music sang her on to war with the mundane. The smeared eyeliner on her date's pillowcase was a cherished kiss goodbye as she tiptoed out of his condo at five-thirty in the morning. Each weekend was exciting and new.
A limousine pulled up behind the row of parked cars along the sidewalk. The ground vibrated with the blaring bass from within that assaulted the entire street as the windows rolled down. There were more laughing women with hair pinned and stemmed glasses in decorated hands. Somewhere past the tinted glass were some gentlemen as well. Their hosts were waiting.
Lulu took her arm back and tucked a dark lock behind her ear. She turned to Abigail. "Good?"
"Gorgeous," Abigail said. "And me-?"
But Lulu was already swishing her hips towards the limo with the door held open. Abigail looked down at herself. No noticeable stains, although it was hard to see her purple velvet dress in the darkness of midnight hour. Her tan stiletto glared against the sidewalk and the stubbed cigarette butts. It would have to do. She could slip into the bathroom for touch ups with the makeover arsenal in her purse. As long as her smile was glamorous, she was in for the most exciting night of her life.
Abigail faltered as her heel cracked beneath her. Two warm arms caught her around the waist.
"Whoa, chick," a man said. "Careful."
Abigail looked up at the bearded man in the button down shirt and creased black slacks. His shined loafers reflected the purple neon of the sign above. She let him lift her up. One of his thick dark eyebrows was perked, not begging any questions or offering any help, just waiting. It was a stoic look that made her uneasy. Her knees felt weak and her heart raced. Probably too much to drink.
"Abby, you dumb ho! Come on!" Lulu shouted from the window of the limousine. Her bejeweled arm stuck out with a tilted flute of champagne.
"Thank you," she finally said to the man.
"Faidi," he introduced himself.
"Wouldn't want that necklace popping your assets there." He nodded towards her widely exposed chest beneath a sheer layer of lace.
Abigail grabbed at the crystal arrowhead pendant dangling between her pushed up cleavage. Her face heated, unsure if she was being insulted or not. Faidi kept grinning. His smile was startling in its sincerity. No smog or cold or head-pounding music seemed to affect his calm. Behind them, Lulu shouted from the limo again. The champagne in her glass was half gone.
"Abigail, I'm not missing this party for anything so let's go!"
Faidi waved in the limo's direction and then looked back at Abigail, leaving her rattled mind washed clean again. Maybe an easy one nighter would be better than the wild orgy she might expect from a trip to the Facade. And what impression would she make with a broken heel? Abigail threw on her best smile and fluttered her false lashes.
"My assets are completely self-made," she said to Faidi. "Thank you for noticing."
"Hard not to. They would be expensive for a party girl to pay for."
Abigail scoffed. "I do more than party. What do you even do?"
"It would take a while to explain what I do," Faidi said, eyeing his cuticles with a nonchalant passing. "And a sober mind. You looking for something to eat before heading to your next slut walk?"
Abigail's heart raced. She wanted to glare at his side step of her question, but she also wanted an answer before she let him take her home. His suit and finely coiffed hair told her he at least made decent enough money to find a girl at a high end lounge. "This is couture, sir. But I could eat," she finally said.
"That's the kind of answer I get from a lot of my clientele," Faidi said and motioned down the block. "Great place right around the corner. You know Ferrera Cocina"
"I love that place," she admitted.
"I figured." They continued down the block, Abigail dabbing at her eyes between the flow of conversation to make sure her makeup was still as she needed for her next good time.
The news streamed from the living room of Faidi's condo and woke Abigail the next morning. Sun poured in through sliding glass doors to a patio and warmed the fluffed, quilted blanket snuggled around her.
"...bodies of three women found in a lot behind Facade Bar and Lounge reportedly strangled and assaulted. The only lead are stamps on their left hands from the GX30 Lounge where they may have been earlier that evening."
Abigail bolted upright, fists balled into the sheets. The skin on her left hand felt tight with the ink of the lounge stamp. The bed was empty save for a small white card on Faidi's pillow, and she couldn't hear any clinking of dishes or a running shower. No one was there to kick her out. Abigail picked up the card.
"Remember where we might've been. A good time is more than booze and sleaze. I learned that the hard way. I couldn't learn the hard way again. -Your Guardian Angel"