Excerpt from the forthcoming novel “The Professional”
After my haircut I drove to the beach to the Pier Village. I just wanted to walk around, enjoy the ocean view, breathe some salt air and generally chill…and maybe to do a little work. I’m dressed for an afternoon boardwalk stroll in a Polo shirt over khaki slacks. Nothing fancy. It’s not my style to try to be flashy.
One thing I like about the village on weekdays: it’s easier to separate the spenders from the pretenders. The shops and boutiques down here don’t sell anything cheap.
You’ve got two basic types of females out here on the weekdays. First there are the unemployed and the shift workers, out here to window shop and dream. Then you have the serious shoppers. If they’re out here on a weekday it means they don’t need to work and they’re spending old money, or they’ve got somebody out making enough dough to let them come out here and burn some. Yeah, it’s mostly white women.
Money’s all green.
I was only in the village about fifteen minutes when I spotted this brunette checking me out every time I looked her way. She was curious, I could tell. Curiosity can lead to cash. I thought I’d go basic on her, just walk over and tell her that I thought she was beautiful and keep going, see if she followed and went after the bait on the hook. I was getting ready to make my move when my cell phone rang.
My caller ID showed it was Angel, my “agent.”
“Hey baby,” I answered. I kept my eyes on the brunette.
“Hello, handsome,” Angel cooed.
Angel’s voice is like liquid heat. I’ve never seen her, but if her sultry voice is any indication of her physical beauty then she’s got to be one of the most gorgeous creatures to ever breathe air.
“I have a session available this Saturday evening, if you have no plans,” she said.
“I’m open,” I said. “What’s the story?”
“A high school reunion.”
Angel laughed a throaty laugh. Even her laugh made me want to fuck something.
“The client is attending her twenty year reunion,” she explained. “She wants someone on her arm to make people believe that she’s done more with her life over the past two decades than make money.”
“So it’s all show?”
“Well, she’s paying for premium service, Lucas. I’m sure she’ll let you know her specific desires. The function is at the Shore Casino in Atlantic Highlands. You’ll pick the client up at her residence in Tinton Falls.”
“Just like a real date, huh?”
“That’s what she’s paying for. I’ll email you the particulars, if you want the job.”
“I’ll take it.”
“Every job is one step closer to your retirement goal.”
“Yep, two more years and I’m done.”
“Have you enjoyed your career, Lucas?”
“I got paid.”
“Not exactly an answer to the question, my friend.”
Sometimes I felt like Angel was inside my head, which was really creepy since we’d never laid eyes on each other. And, she’d only been my point of contact for a couple of years. I don’t know what happened to Ahmad, the dude who was my liaison before Angel. And it’s not my business, as long as the jobs and the money keep coming.
I decided to leave the brunette on the beach to her fantasies. Angel paid a hell of a lot more than I got for freelance work.
Tinton Falls, New Jersey
“If anyone asks, you’re an investment broker. You used to work on Wall Street, but now you run your own business from home. You got that?”
“Got it,” I said.
“Are you able to answer basic questions about investments? Some may ask.”
We’d just met twenty minutes ago and I was already sick of this chick. I was driving her to the Shore Casino in my Volvo like we were on a real date and I gave a fuck about her. Her name is Beverly. She wasn’t a bad looking sister, but she had a stick shoved so far up her ass she had to spit splinters.
“I can handle it,” I said.
“What’s the difference between a bull and a bear market?”
I looked over at her. “Are you serious?”
“Listen Lucas, if that occupation is too…complicated for you, say so now. I’ll think of something closer to your level.”
“And what do you think my level might be?” I wanted to open the passenger door and kick her out into the middle of Route 35 traffic…without slowing down from fifty-five miles an hour.
“Well, considering your actual occupation, I suppose you don’t have much familiarity with the white collar world.”
I took a deep breath to get a grip on my aggravation. “In a bull market, the price of given securities are rising or expected to rise, typically at a rate faster than average growth,” I said. “A bear market is the opposite. Prices are falling and expected to keep dropping.”
“And what’s considered average growth?” Beverly asked.
I glared hate at her. I felt like I was in fucking school again. “Typically about twenty percent.”
Now she looked away. “Don’t fuck it up for me,” she said. “Just get us through the night without embarrassing me.”
Embarrassing her? I’m not the one who can’t get a fucking date. I’m not the one who needed to front in front of people I haven’t seen in twenty years.
After I park us at the Casino and helped her out of my car Beverly tossed her weave, slipped her arm into mine, smiled and hugged up on me like we’ve been together for ages, are madly in love and probably just got finished fucking in the car.
Let the show begin.