Last time: https://lancemyblogcanbeatupyourblog.wordpress.com/2012/10/05/helloitsme/
Go read this one too, by my friend and writing partner, @Tara_R: http://thinspiralnotebook.wordpress.com/2012/11/01/passing-notes/
He opened the door and along with a cold gust of wind, she came in. Paulette watched the goateed man walk into the street to meet his friend. He glared back at her until she closed the door to the dress shop.
“Oh my God, Paulette, you’re wearing a silk skirt! That’s a Marc Jacobs! I knew my influence would change your life!”
Paulette rolled her eyes as the shop’s owner, now going by the name Vivian Alves, walked around her, examining her wardrobe. Vivian touched Paulette’s professional haircut of blonde layers that bounced off her pale shoulders.
“Paulette, your style is terrific. But, when you came in I could feel the chill of Northeastern air. We’ll get some sun on this skin today. Please tell me you’re on vacation.”
Vivian almost hugged her complicated friend, but grasped Paulette’s small wrists and waited for her answer.
“Yeah, Milli, I mean Vivian. When I read your note I wanted warm climate and interesting conversation. So, what’s going on with the minor league Scarface and his buddy that just left?”
Vivian let go of Paulette’s hands and walked back to the table where she’d been talking with the men. Paulette followed her lead and sat down across from her. Vivian moved her white- tipped manicure across the metal table, sighed, and forced a smile.
“You’re in Sao Paulo. You need freijoada for lunch, some shopping and dancing.”
Vivian knew there was one person she couldn’t bullshit and she was sitting across from her, with a weapon strapped to her hip.
“Paulette, when I came to Brazil, the fake identification and money I had got me settled in the country, but I couldn’t be chemist or pharmicist without a license. In Sao Paolo, unless you know local politicans, the only way you get money and open anything is through black market brokers.”
Vivian stood and walked to the refridgerator to grab a gallon pitcher of iced tea and two tumblers. She knew Paulette was figuring out the rest. She returned, poured drinks, and let Paulette speak.
“So you borrowed, what, twenty-five, fifty grand? Out of town girl with a snooty dress shop has trouble drawing customers so payments get late?”
Vivian swallowed her tea and laughed.
“No, silly, I pay my bills, And this place is doing great. After the third month I was profitable, I mean not by much, but I make money.”
Vivian was surprised. She figured jet lag and many months away from each other had clouded Paulette’s deductive reasoning.
“Everything in this shop, Paulette, is imported. Mexico, Columbia, Chile, South Africa, that’s where the best fabrics and cuts are made. But those places also have something else in common.”
The women placed their glasses on the table at the same time. Vivian she knew her skilled friend had gotten it.
“You’re running coke or heroin or both in the dress shipments.”
Vivian was proud of Paulette. Her new sense of self, the simple blouse with the flowing skirt, and her intelligence.
“Well, Paulette, those losers you met are trafficking drugs. I don’t have to pay interest on my seventy-five thousand dollar loan, customs treats me great, and Tomas, the wiry one with a goatee and false bravado, doesn’t tell people where Millicent Stingley is now calling home. Of course, I’m uncomfortable with being a blind, deaf, and dumb mule so I got a visit, today.”
Silence set in. With Vivian’s young assistant, Danela, peaking in the Vivian Alves Couture’s storefront door widow, there was little time left to talk. Paulette reached across the table and clasped Vivian’s left hand.
“Viv, I’ll come back at noon and we can figure out what to do with this scumbag, Tomas.”
Vivian stood and pulled Paulette up for a warm hug. She whispered in her friend’s ear.
“Check out of your hotel. I have plenty of room. I won’t take no for an answer and you don’t know how I made that tea. So, don’t mess with me.”
Tara and I are writing a sequel to our Dead Money summer series.
Today’s song is from Ray La Montagne. Here’s Trouble: