Craven Gets Flashed XI
From the backroom of Ramone’s Tattoo Parlor, Madame Roza took a peak through a hole in the closed curtain and let out a hearty beer belch.
“I do not care for these women,” said Roza. “They walk in with the laughing. They sit down with the laughing. They pinch my Ramone’s tender, rosy cheeks and sing the hot cha cha. All the time with the goo, goo eyes and the laughing. And the old crow with tattoos just kiss my Ramone on lips! And still they laugh. In old country we have dark cellar for such as these; where we feed them bowls full of laughter. Our own. Ha! Ha! Ha!”
Madame Roza’s daughter Anika rolled her eyes and cracked open two more cans of beer.
“They are soused, Mama. Tomorrow they will wake with swelled heads of regret, and tongues hung low in soiled toilets. It is punishment enough. We will soon empty their purses and send them penniless into the snowy darkness. How much longer must we endure such peoples as this?”
“Not long, my dear. We are soon to retire and have the many storied brownstone in Brooklyn, with backyard and pool, and the many muscled cabana boy to rub on the lotion. Then, and only then, can we finally give up on these lousy accents. My tongue is killing me, Annie.”
“You said it, Ma.”
“When he’s done with his tattooing, I’ll phone Ramone and have him send them over to the Crystal Ball Palace. They won’t be laughing then. I can tell you that much. Now it's time for me to get back on the ball. Wish me luck.”
“We feed them bowls full of laughter?”
“I really get into this stuff, Annie. I shoulda been an actress. Now is time for me to go.”
Arm in arm, Betty and Mildred ambled down snowy Bleecker street in search of Ramone’s Crystal Ball Palace.
“Chicken,” said Mildred.
“I’m not chicken,” said Betty. “Ramone was too hands-on for comfort. My thigh’s way too ticklish. I couldn’t take much more. And it sure didn’t tickle after he dug in with that pen. Ouch!”
“He’s a tattoo artist, Betty. There’s no way around that.”
“I know, but I am happy he managed to get as far as he did. I'm looking forward to seeing those lovely blue Cobra eyes looking up at me when I use the ladies room. Maybe he can fill in the rest on an installment plan.”
“I know what the problem is.”
“We’re not drunk enough.”
“You were drunk enough to plant a big five second wet one on Ramone. What were you thinking?”
“I got concerned when you didn’t come up for air.”
“Being laid up on my death bed for the past year makes a girl a little peckish, Betty. Besides, I hadn’t seen Ramone in over twenty years. He was a bachelor back then and pretty hot, cha, cha with the ladies. I may be sixty now, but I did manage to pull one foot out of the grave tonight. It felt real good. Let’s work on getting the other foot out. To hell with wakes. I’ve been flat on my back for way too long, and for all the wrong reasons.”
“Ha! Your killing me, Mildred. Now let’s go get crystalized at the palace.”
Steps away from the tattoo parlor stood a man wearing a sandwich board.
“Madame Roza Welcomes You to Ramones Crystal Ball Palace. Step Right In and See Your Future! Enter at Your Own Risk! read Betty.
“How convenient,” said Mlidred. “It’s right next door.”
“Our future awaits. In we go.”
“Mr. Danger,” said Jenny. “I need my eyepatch. It’s in the glove compartment.”
“Eyepatch? What you need is a bonfire in the backseat. It’s freezing in here. What’s the eyepatch for?”
“My left eye is sensitive to bright lights and the setting sun’s giving me a headache.”
“What would happen if you were a pilot and you’re flying with a guy — who happens to be me — and he decides he wants to have a nice hot tea with lemon—which I’m about to pour from this thermos. And, as he’s about to give his drink a good squirt of lemon, the ride gets a little bumpy and, instead, it’s your good eye that gets the squirt? What happens then?”
“What happens? I throw you out of the window, Mr. Danger. Then I strap on the only parachute and jump to safety.”
“If you were going to leave me without a parachute anyway, why throw me out the window?”
“Because you're getting on my nerves. Have you ever talked to yourself in the mirror and then had the sudden urge to jump through and strangle yourself?”
“Can’t say as I have.”
“That’s because you don't see yourself as other do. It's a good thing you live alone in that office of yours. Else wise I’m sure that Betty would have strangled you a long time ago. She must be some kind of saint, but don’t you ever marry that girl. Your life depends on it.”
“Forget I asked. And if we took the El we’d have been to the Village already.”
“Weegee never rides the train, Mr. Danger, and neither do I. Now sit back and shut up. There’s a disturbance on Bleecker Street and we’re gonna get the scoop.”
She hasn’t called me beautifully pensive all day. Something I said?
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