With vestiges of his costume still clinging to his body, Mike Berger drove along Armagh Avenue through downtown New Belfast. He had absolutely no luck at his brother’s party, and he couldn’t stand the thought of retreating to his apartment while so many of his friends had an endless amount of success with women dressed as sexy nurses, or sexy angels, or sexy pirates. He couldn’t believe he somehow managed to strike out with the sexy pirate.
Once he crossed the bridge over Limelick Run, he started to drive slower. He lingered at intersections and kept an eye on every corner. Mike Berger had never picked up a hooker, but he no longer considered himself above patronizing the world’s oldest profession.
This part of Armagh Avenue was especially seedy, even for the notorious north side of town. Mike stopped at a traffic light where Armagh Avenue crossed St. Stephen’s Street. A pair of women stood on the far corner. Both were bundled up, as the night had been unusually blustery, but showed enough leg to convey the only message Mike was looking to receive.
Of course, Mike was concerned about being stopped by the police, or by encountering an undercover officer. This particular corner seemed too exposed and bright, so he continued onward. The next intersection had a bus stop, and, although a few women looking the part stood nearby, there were too many people milling around for Mike to be comfortable pulling over.
Finally, Mike reached the point where Armagh crossed the Boulevard of the Saints. This intersection marked the point where the rough northern blocks of New Belfast gave way to an overgrown park. Shadows abounded and the avenue took on a distinctly darker tone. A tall figure stood near the corner. A slender leg in a stripped stocking and capped in a red pump was exposed in the dim glow from a club on the opposite corner.
Hoping to capitalize on this opportunity, Mike pulled his car up to the sidewalk and reached over to unlock the passenger door. The figure approached after a few seconds. As the door opened, the interior light illuminated the pumps and stockings, as well as a long green peacoat and an oversized cloche hat. Not wanting to draw attention to his vehicle, Mike switched the interior light off. As the car went dark and the figure slipped into the passenger seat, he noticed a few strands of bright red hair sticking out between the collar of the peacoat and a black scarf.
Mike pressed the gas, causing an uncomfortable jolt. Remembering the speed limit, he tried to slow down and relax. He was incredibly nervous. He didn’t initially look over to the passenger seat. For a few blocks, he satisfied himself with the brief images he had caught as the hooker had stepped into his car. The long legs. The fire engine red fingernails and hair. The incredibly full breasts hemmed into the peacoat. He suspected this woman was no fool. She had carefully secluded herself from the busier parts of downtown and hadn’t lingered on the sidewalk to discuss business.
Mike definitely wasn’t comfortable enough with this sort of exchange to take the woman back to his apartment. He had hoped to stay in the downtown area and thought that a parking garage or a dark lot might be ideal for whatever he could afford. He turned onto a side street near the city limits and started to head back toward downtown.
“So, I’ve got about eighty dollars,” he said.
The woman offered a giggle.
“I’m going to drive to the parking garage on Harpring Street,” Mike said, trying to sound experienced with this sort of situation. “I thought I would park on the top of the garage.”
The woman canted her head at first but then nodded.
At a traffic light, she reached into her left pocket and flashed a condom wrapper.
“Of course,” Mike said and reached over to grab the plastic square.
As Mike lifted the condom from the pocket, he noticed that the package was attached to another square. And that square was attached to yet another. Before he realized what was happening, he had pulled an entire strand of connected condom wrappers, each a different color, from the peacoat pocket.
The woman giggled again.
The light turned green and Mike started to drive forward. He felt unbelievably inexperienced. He was obviously supposed to tear off the first condom, and not pull a week’s supply of rubbers from the hooker’s pocket.
He wondered where she had bought such a long strand of condoms. The box must have been some kind of huge value pack.
“You must get a lot of business?” Mike asked.
The woman nodded.
A few intersections later, a crowd of costumed revelers unexpectedly crossed the street in front of Mike’s car. He stopped with distance to spare but honked his horn at a jaywalking ghost, ninja, princess, and werewolf anyway.
“Come on!” Mike shouted from within his car.
He heard another horn. A bicycle horn.
His passenger put down her window and had joined Mike in honking at the jaywalkers with a bicycle horn concealed somewhere in her peacoat.
The werewolf turned and offered the middle finger of each hand to Mike and his hooker.
Mike chuckled. His passenger honked again and put her window back up.
“That’s cute,” he said.
Just a few blocks from the parking garage, Mike felt his entire body slump as a railroad crossing gate dropped down across Harpring Street and red lights started to flash as a freight train laden with coal rumbled through downtown.
“Unbelievable,” Mike said. He looked over at his passenger and offered a scowl.
The woman seemed to be inspecting her carefully painted fingernails.
He knew he was taking too much of this woman’s time, and that he’d likely be charged for this overly long drive to nowhere. With no end to the train in sight and feeling suddenly magnanimous, Mike pushed the gearshift into park and leaned across the center console.
“Maybe you’d like to discuss some business now?” Mike asked with a grin.
The woman cooed but continued to look at her nails. Deciding to make the most out of this delay, Mike reached over and pushed a shaking, sweaty hand down the peacoat. He absolutely had to feel the masses that the peacoat strained to conceal.
The woman offered an approving hum as Mike’s hand slipped between her scarf and collar.
At first, Mike was wildly impressed with what he found within his grip. But he soon realized that something was amiss.
“What the hell?”
Mike pulled his hand out and exposed a full water balloon in the flashing red lights of the railroad crossing.
With a few rehearsed movements, the woman stripped away her peacoat, scarf, and hat. Her bright red hair fell around an unnaturally white face. Centered on that face was a ridiculously bulbous red nose. Her quick hands manipulated a flower mounted on yellow suspenders.
Mike’s face was sprayed with water. His passenger now laughed hysterically.
Dropping the balloon, he wiped his eyes and restored his vision just in time to see the hooker reveal a comically long knife.
Mike screamed as this blade was thrust across the console and into his crotch. He lost consciousness not long after the blade was removed.
The police later inspected the parked car near the railroad crossing on Harpring Street. The officers quickly deduced the driver had died from blood loss. There wasn’t much else to see inside, except a large, red water balloon with what appeared to be a nipple drawn on one end.
Joshua Scully is an American History teacher from Pennsylvania. His flash fiction and other writing can be found @jojascully or at https://jjscully.wordpress.com/