Blowing off Betsy BJs
(M/F rom <*>)
©2002 Father Ignatius
I reckon a man only has one true love ever. Cindy was mine, and she’d dumped me.
I finished my drink quickly and left. I do that, as suddenly as possible, when people in bars start talking to me. I don’t go to bars to talk. I don’t go to bars to have strangers telling me their problems, or to hit on women. Or to have women hit on me.
Or to have the fucking barkeep making conversation. Not that I get that so much from barmen any more. At the bars I go to, they know me, except for new-hires now and then, and they soon learn. When someone talks to me at one bar, I move on to the next, and then the next. In a long evening, I might even come back, hours later, when I’ve already gone around all my other regular bars.
I go to bars to get drunk. I’m good at it. I’ve had practice. The best way I know—and I’ve tried plenty of ways—is straight Scotch with a water jug on the bar. Don’t let them put in the water. They always put in too much, especially when they think you’ve drunk enough already. It stops you getting drunk enough. Fuck that. Time spent in front of a urinal is wasted drinking time.
Drinking it without water is also not the best because you pass out while you can still hold more. This is also bad because you mustn’t pass out in bars where you’re a regular and want to stay one. Bars like customers who come early, sit quietly, drink steadily, and stay upright. A valued customer is one who leaves unassisted at closing time, without making trouble and without vomiting.
The best way is to add very small amounts of water to your drinks from the jug as you go along, like touching the brake and accelerator as you drive down a familiar road. Don’t eat anything—no peanuts or pretzels or anything complimentary. It soaks up the booze. They make a profit out of giving away free stuff. It’s craftily designed to make your precious drunken escape more expensive. Don’t take ice. For some reason, it makes it harder to gauge your carefully controlled descent into handcrafted oblivion.
With enough practice, you can become remarkably skilled at judging an evening’s drinking just right. Getting it just right is a minor art form. “Just right” means you can get yourself home and inside your building before you feel the buzz of approaching blackout. “Just right” also means that you definitely do feel that buzz before you see the front door of your own apartment. You don’t want to let yourself into your own home without oblivion comfortingly close by.
When you get it just right, you feel yourself start to lose it as you carefully climb the stairs to your apartment. Hold firmly to the handrail, Howard. We don’t want to fall over again. You’re on the way out at last, thank God. You must still hang on, though. Keep enough control to get your key into your keyhole smoothly. There must be no drunken jiggling to make the neighbors come out and see if there’s a burglary in progress, and realize it’s only you, drunk again, and sneer. And look at each other, revolted, wishing you didn’t live in their building. And call the super again to see if they can get you kicked out.
You must keep enough control, in fact, so you can coherently greet any neighbors you might pass on the stairway. They mustn’t think you’re a pathetic drunk who, even two years later, can’t sleep sober.
Two years since Cindy kicked you out for being a drunken loser? Dear God, will the pain never get less?
This other drunk in the bar started trying to tell me that his wife didn’t understand him, or some damn thing. I finished my drink quickly and left for the next bar. The cold air can work both ways when you’re trying to drink yourself home just right. It can keep you going when you’ve been going too fast. In this case, it was waking me up too much. I was thinking I’d have to drink myself back on track in the next warm, stuffy bar when I passed an alley and saw three punks ganging up on Cindy. They had her up against the wall. Two of them had her by her wrist and shoulder, pressed against the brickwork, the third one sneering down on her, spitting hatred, unbuckling his belt, dodging her kicks, using them to spread her legs, pulling her skirt up.
“Cindy!” I screamed.
They turned and saw me coming. Young fuckers, young and still fit, amused at my stumbling, drunken, blubbery charge down the alley. Their young ghetto smiles say You can’t be serious? Young fuckers, suddenly with flick-knives ready, never mind. Cindy. Cindy in danger. Must help, must help. Oh God, Cindy, swinging, missing, mocking laughter, kicking awkwardly, hit something, Jesus, old man, I’m not old, I’m thirty-four, I just look this way, Cindy, are you okay?
Shit, pain, stagger back, sprawl, dustbins, they’re coming for me, kicking, knives, shit, my legs, pain, Christ, what was that? Hurts. Grab dustbin lid, swing hard. Cold, flabby muscles exerting desperate strength. Crunching noise, horrible howl of animal pain. Cartilage. Jesus, old man! Sudden quiet, I can hear Cindy sobbing, it’s okay Cindy. Again with the dustbin lid, bastards, bastards, bastards. I have to step forward as I hit, there’s one down, they’re trying to carry him away. They’re running for it, catch them bastards, dustbin lid. Come back, punks. Bastards! Shit-faced… Fuck! Lost them.
Suddenly weak. Cindy still back down the alley. Must help. Cindy, are you okay? Are you there? Cindy? You look like shit. Why are you so thin?
It’s not Cindy. Cindy was two years gone. Don’t you get it, ass-wipe? Cindy is never, ever coming back. Jesus, I need a drink so very badly…
“I’m Betsy,” she said through chattering teeth. “You were awesome, Howard.”
She was scarfing down a doughnut one-handed from the streetside stall. The coffee was too hot to drink but she was clamping it in her other hand, against one breast, for warmth. She was half-starved and blue with cold, covered with bruises both old and new. She was pale, and so thin that her dark brown eyes stood out waif-like against the translucent, unhealthy blue and pale skin, like Cindy’s had never, please God, been. Her long, straight brown hair was dirty and matted, like Cindy would never have allowed. When she looked up at me, though, her straight nose, her full lips, her everything… When she looked up at me she reminded me painfully of how Cindy looked when I first met her, the bitch.
I bought Betsy another doughnut, thinking, “Shit, if I’d been sober…” Never mind that. If I’d been sober, I wouldn’t have been wrecking my reputation by buying a strange young street-waif doughnuts and coffee with money that could just as well have bought Scotch. And I wouldn’t be hurting all over, like this.
I rubbed my hand absently down the side of my coat and said, “So, Betsy, how did you manage to get into all that trouble, huh?”
I had trouble listening to her gay, chatty reply. Either I was drunker than I should have been with all that fresh air, exercise, and adrenalin, or there was something wrong. I couldn’t see clearly. I had to lean on the wall for a weakness that got worse, instead of better, as I got my breath back. Her voice seemed to be coming from further and further away and there was definitely something amiss down the side of my ribcage.
“Hey, buddy,” came the barrista’s voice, half-joking, concerned, “You’re bleeding all over my pavement.”
I pulled my coat open. A gasp stopped Betsy’s chatter as she looked at the solid red, sodden mass that was my shirt and coat lining. My vision was graying out and I couldn’t stand any more. I heard Betsy screaming, felt her pawing at me, as I slid out of consciousness.
Door closing. Movement.
…no, not yet…in here, bitch…oh, yes, oh, yes…
Scuffling. Furniture scraping. A guilty giggle. What the fuck?
…no, passed right out…just fucking do it…
Too difficult. Must sleep now.
I spent a long time waking up and didn’t even open my eyes. I felt like shit. I lifted my arm. It was curiously difficult to do it. I was like a marionette with no strings. I smelled hospital smells. I had tubes in my arms, up my nose and God knows where else, and pain all over, including a pounding headache. But, more than anything, I was thirsty, thirsty, thirsty.
I heard footsteps and swish, swish, swish.
“Who do I have to fuck to get a drink around here?” I said, not opening my eyes.
“Oh, God, don’t you start,” said a brisk, authoritative voice right close my. My eyes snapped open and I took in a big, solid, middle-aged, black nursing sister. She was looking at me quizzically, half concerned and half amused.
“What?” I said, all groggy. My voice was hoarse and unused.
“Your little friend has got all that covered,” she said, “so don’t worry your pretty little head about that.”
“I’ll get you a drink. If you’re a good child I’ll sneak a Popsicle from Oncology. I heard one of their patients died in the night.”
Time to sleep again.
I heard movement in the room again and opened my eyes, hoping for something to drink. What I saw wasn’t the black sister, though, it was a young male nurse. He had his back to me. His pants were round his calves and Betsy was giving him a blow job.
…oh, shit, oh, shit, yes…
Shut the fuck up. You’ll wake him.
Nah. He’s out forever. But when he comes round he’ll get as much to drink as he wants. Promise. Now suck, Betsy, I’m begging ya…
…oh, shit, oh, shit, yes…
Some sound woke me again. When I opened my eyes, there were several drinks on my bedside table, none of them the plain water I really wanted. Including some sort of melted sundae thing. The sister was standing looking at them, exasperated.
“What’s going on?” I asked.
“Oh, you’re back in the land of the living, are you? I’ll tell you what’s going on. Your little pal Betsy is what’s going on. Baby, you are going to be getting the best nursing anyone ever had. If you’re lucky, the attention won’t kill you.”
I saw she was joking but she could see I had no idea what she meant.
“Let me explain,” she said. “You know you’re in hospital, right?”
“I’d got that far, yes.”
“Does anything strike you as strange about that?”
“Well, I got in this fight you see…”
“Yes, I know that. What I don’t know is who you are or where you live or anything about your medical insurance. In these enlightened days of modern medicine, baby, that means you’re not in hospital. Officially.”
Her mouth curled a little. I could see she was somewhat bitter about modern medicine in these enlightened days.
“But you are in hospital, right?” she continued.
“So, what happened?”
“Your little pal Betsy happened, is what. When the cab dropped you off, bleeding everywhere and like to die in our nice, clean, corporate reception area.”—again with the little disparaging curl of the lips—“your little pal managed to get you admitted and treated super-fast. No ID, no nothing. In fact, it’s amazing how fast you can get treated if you by-pass the form-filling.” Yet again, the curl.
“Good for her. I’m glad she did it. How did she manage it, though?”
“What?” I said, stupidly. “I thought you just said ‘blow jobs.’”
“I did. She was out there offering BJs left, right and center. The cab driver got one. There wasn’t enough money on the pair of you for the fare. The housemen and the male nurses were queuing up, but she was trading, not giving away. And she was offering all the way up to the Administrator and the Registrar.”
“No shit, Howard. She’s known around these parts as ‘Betsy BJs.’ She even offered to get me off.”
“I told her, ‘No offense, but when my old man can’t get me off any more, I’ll get me a young man. And somewhere along the way, by the way, she traded you into here. And now”—briskly—“I gotta take your details.”
At that point, Betsy appeared in the doorway and saw me awake. In a flash, she was by my side, tears streaming down her face.
“Howard! I thought you’d die!”
She was truly distressed. I hadn’t expected that, but Sister Stevens didn’t seem surprised at all. The bottom line was that Betsy got my address and front-door key and Sister Stevens sent her off to my apartment to collect my ID and Medicaid details to make me belatedly official.
When she came back, Betsy said matter-of-factly, “You gave me the key to your apartment but not to the building.”
“Shit. Sorry. How did you get past the super?”
“I blew him.”
“Ah.” Embarrassed. “I’ve heard about your, um, methods.”
“Yeah.” Sardonically. “Word gets around, huh?”
She flicked her hair dismissively over her shoulder. “Whatever gets results,” she said. And shrugged. And got back to business.
She moved over and sat on the chair next to my bed. “I was worried about you.” She put her hand on my thigh.
I was uncomfortable about how intense she was. Shees. We only just met.
“I just want you to know, Howard, that I’m very, very grateful for what you did. And I’m going to make it up to you.”
“Look, Betsy, you’re making too much of this. Anybody would’ve…”
“Oh, no, they wouldn’t.”
And her hand slipped under the blanket. I twitched as I felt her fingers moving over my thigh, groping for my dick.
“Betsy, no. Please…”
“Shit! What’s this?”
Whereupon Sister Stevens appeared, and said, “Not yet, Betsy. He’s lost a lot of fluids. He can’t.”
“Let me give you a little hospital advice, kiddo. Don’t argue with the one who gets to take out the catheter, okay?”
In the fullness of time, the catheter came out. After a decent interval, Betsy checked to see if I’d caught up properly with my fluid intake. I had. Once she had my throbbing hard-on in her hand, she pulled back the blankets and stooped over my crotch. Her hair tickled my belly and thighs as she breathed hot, and cold, and hot, on me, before sucking me gently down into her throat. But I didn’t want a BJ from Betsy BJs.
“Betsy,” I said, tugging at her hair, “Make love to me.”
She clambered up onto the bed and kissed me. She struggled out of her clothes and then straddled me. Gripping me by the shoulders, she stared at the wall above my head as she slipped onto me. Her eyes met mine again, and she smiled.
“You just lie still, there,” she said, “and mind your stitches.”
And she slowly, gently, began to ride me like a rocking horse.
Oh, God, it was wonderful.
“Oh, God,” she said, “this is wonderful.”
When it was over, she lay on top of me, and kissed me gently. There were tears in her eyes.
“Thank God that’s over,” said Sister Stevens’s voice from the corridor, “At last. Now we can all carry on with our lives.”
The day I was released from hospital, Betsy took me home in a cab. By then, she had brought my ATM card from home so I could draw cash and pay the cab driver in money. Maybe it didn’t have the same style as a BJ, but it sure was quicker.
Betsy helped me solicitously up the stairs. It wasn’t that bad, I’m not a grandfather, but it was kind of cute, all the same.
“Ta-da!” she said, throwing open the door of my apartment.
She had snuck in and cleaned up and readied the apartment for my return. Her housekeeping wasn’t up to her BJs. The windows were kind of smeary and I could see grimy cloth marks on the sink. The linen on the bed was fresh, but not ironed, and her specialist exposure to hospital life hadn’t introduced her to hospital corners. The food she’d got—I didn’t want to think too much about how she’d got it—ran to cupcakes and candies. I could see myself yearning for savories. But she’d really, really tried.
It really was kind of cute.
She led me into the bedroom, gently put me to bed, and gave me the sweetest BJ that any man ever had. Afterwards, she wiped me down with toilet paper. It was pink and floral.
“Now, you just lie back and rest,” she said as I dozed off. “I’ll be back in a while with your dinner.”
And she was. Dinner was pizza. I heard her answer the door to the delivery man.
“I haven’t got any money,” I heard her saying, “but…”
…oh, shit, oh, shit, yes…
“Salami,” she remarked a few minutes later, climbing into bed with me. “And olives, and garlic. Eat quickly. It’s not as hot as it was. I thought I’d never get him off. Shall I microwave it?”
“Nah. Makes it soggy.”
I taught Betsy how to clean, and she cleaned for me. I taught her how I wanted her to shop, and she shopped for me. I taught her how to cook, and she cooked for me. And then, Betsy asked, “Why don’t your work?”
“I don’t know. Don’t want to.”
“Everyone has to work. What was you work before you quit?”
She didn’t argue the point but, a few days later, she announced, “I’ve got you a job.”
It was a shelf-packer job at the local corner store, a family business. It paid almost nothing and the owner never used anyone outside the family before. I tried not to think what had motivated him to offer me an opening. And I also tried to notice that we always had more groceries than I could afford.
But I went and did it, to please Betsy. It was kind of therapeutic, doing the same actions over and over, all day. I kind of got into it. The owner never saw me drunk and, truth to tell, I got drunk less. I had less to get drunk about and more not to get drunk for. When I was drunk, Betsy wouldn’t give me BJs. She wouldn’t fight or anything. In fact, she wouldn’t be there at all when I finally staggered home. I would have to go to bed alone, and I found I’d rather go sober to bed with Betsy.
I became aware that the store owner struggled with his books. He wasn’t a lettered man. I mentioned this to Betsy and, the next day she dropped in at the store while I was working.
“Did you know that Howard’s really an accountant?” she said to the owner. He can get money back from the tax man for you.”
The owner grunted non-commitally but he was in the hands—mouth—of Betsy BJs. It was a foregone conclusion. In a little while, I was moved into the back office, giving the owner tutorials on exaggerating his stock losses for tax purposes—I got a sudden insight into our grocery situation at home—and showing him how to claim rebates for this and that.
This impressed him enough for him to mention me to his brother-in-law. Betsy had nothing to do with that. Over time, word spread and eventually I wound up with a small clientèle of small businessmen in the ’hood.
Betsy was proud of me.
I began to get my hair cut, and then styled. I dressed better, and then dressed well. I got a credit rating back and, such is the nature of capitalism, I very soon found myself in a position to borrow more money than I really thought I could afford. The small clientèle grew into a big one spreading over a quarter of the city. I had to hire an office, a receptionist, and associates. I didn’t have time to drink any more
Betsy was very proud of me.
Around the time I started getting manicures, I got a BMW as well. I began to lunch with bigger clients, and that’s how come I ran into Cindy again. We hadn’t seen each other in years but seeing her was like running into a snowplow. I reckon a man only has one true love ever, and Cindy was mine.
She appraised my suit, my hair, the BMW I was getting into.
“Hello, Howard,” she said.
“Hello, Cindy,” I said. I almost said Long time, no see, but I didn’t.
We chatted a while. We went back inside for a coffee. This turned into a drink, and more coffee. And a few phone calls over the next few days, and a date.
“Where have you been?” said Betsy when I came home not-drunk.
“Out,” I said.
In the end, I had to arrange for Betsy to catch us in bed. I had Cindy come over to borrow a book, one thing led to another, as I knew it would. When Betsy came home, Cindy and I were in bed together, trying to look guilty.
“Um. This is Cindy,” I said. It sounded a dopey thing to say.
“I always wondered who Cindy was,” said Betsy, and walked out of my life.
I feel badly about Betsy sometimes, when I’m awake in the dark at 3 a.m. But I reckon a man only has one true love ever, and Cindy is mine.
This page last updated 23rd October 2002