“Have you seen jumping beans before?”
“Well, they’re jumping beans.”
I sat inside the newly remodeled Starbucks that was nestled in between Whole Foods and Pacific Coast Highway. The majority of the customers were Pepperdine students, with their faces pushed against their Macs and with earphones blasting while they crammed for finals. The other half of people were from the Paradise of Malibu Rehabilitation Center, which was really just a cover for the rich folks to recover from one drug only to be addicted to the next. After Starbucks they would wander across the street in their sandals on to Broad Beach Drive not looking for the beach, but the small yellow condo to choose their drug of choice.
Anthony searched through his phone, determined to find the best video of jumping beans. This was better than listening to him talk about every episode of Game of Thrones or his burning desire to squeeze Nicki Minja’s ass. It also distracted him from asking me so many questions. Plus his fascination with the beans occupied my mind and pushed the thought of home far from it.
“You know, I thought there would be better videos of the beans,” he said, almost disappointed.
“I believe you. There are beans out there that jump and stuff. I’m sure if I search for it, I’ll find something-”
“Fuck the beans and this place. Let’s go to your house and hang.”
“No, Anthony. You can drop me off at the bottom of my driveway, as always. That’s the closest you get to come. We go through this every time. Seriously I need my own car. Let’s go.”
“Yeah, you do, because my bucket is struggling to make it up Kanan every day. How do you live in Malibu and not have a car?”
“The same reason why I’ll be going to Pierce in the fall and not Pepperdine. My momma does not like me.”
“Well I wouldn’t know, since I have never met her. Callie, please. I won’t tell a soul. We’re suppose to be, uhm friends, yet I’ve never been to your house. We can go straight to your room. Just let me come in for ten minutes.” He reached over and laced his fingers with mine.
Anthony had a full head of brown curly hair. Sometimes he would let me play in it. His smile was infectious with a small gap between his front two teeth. He had braces back when we were freshmen, but the gap had never disappeared. The soft glow of his skin always held my attention, for I have never seen something so radiant. He was beautiful.
I released his hand and said, “Umm you’ll come in less than that.”
He smiled. “Callie, you know me better than that.”
Up the winding Latigo Canyon Road, about half way between Kanan and PCH, is my house. It just so happens that sixteen other girls live there, too, providing special services to men with wild fantasies and overflowing wallets. Yep, I get live with bitches that run around naked all day. Redheads, blondes, and every other shade. There are even two twin sisters from Spain with dark spiraling curls down to their waist. Their father shipped them to California for school, but they took the money, got boob jobs, (really nice ones at that), and came to work at Momma’s House.
Most of the time the house is in a swirling pool of cigarette smoke with ripped fishnets and empty lube bottles littered everywhere. Body mist attempts to cover the musty odor. All types of men–young, old, obese, and scrawny–are in and out all hours of the day and night. Surveillance cameras were placed throughout the house, in case any customers attempted to take the business down. We have their secret lives on DVD and Blu-ray.
The palm tree paradise is usually on lockdown, but the security there is shady at times. If I don’t let them have a squeeze fest, they give me a hard time. It takes me fifteen minutes sometimes to get past the gate and my ass lives there. Momma’s three story home is a mansion and a half, that of Spanish architecture. The house itself is set way back from the road sitting on a few acres of land, just far away enough from snooping neighbors.
This is my momma’s house and she is indeed a business woman. I’d say about nine years ago, she married Robert, who was a CEO of Sketchers. And he loved him some Momma, mostly her cooking and long legs. All she did was cook food for him: fried chicken, cornbread, yams, and pig’s feet. At one point, he grew his hair out long so Momma could braid it into cornrows. Robert was a chill older dude. But then his ex-wife hit and killed him with her car once she found out he left her for a sweet, southern, brown beauty. Momma cried for a whole year straight. I would rub her back and bring her soup every day, but she would just smile and close her door. Somehow, she met a new man, Big Terry, and they decided Malibu needed a little bit of spice. There were a few times the place almost got raided…almost. Big Terry made sure it wouldn’t happen.
Big Terry and I have a bond that I may never have with anyone else. He is a tall, bearded chocolate man with a singing voice that drops panties. The truth is he was never in love with Momma, but they were business partners. He admired her desire to be a business woman and her cooking, but she wasn’t the one. I had always knew that myself, and so did Momma. But her being the desperate woman she is, Momma continued the romantic act with Big Terry. On the last day I seen Big Terry–before Momma kicked him out–we went down to the Malibu Pier.
“Ya momma making me leave, Callie,” he mumbled.
“But Terry, you don’t have to. I’ll promise to stop feeling what I’m feeling. I’ll apologize to Momma. I just, I just feel comfortable knowing you’re around. You know how to handle the business better than she does.” I almost couldn’t breathe.
“I’m still handling the business, no doubt about that. But we know it ain’t good for me to be there.” He reached over and caressed my neck, only for a few seconds, then stopped.
“I care about you Callie,” he said, “ in more ways than I should. But it ain’t right sweetheart. This could lead to a destructive path for you. You need to go to college and leave Momma’s house. Try having a normal relationship with Anthony. He’s good for you.”
“Anthony is just a situation. He’s not you. I think you want me to leave you alone.”
Anthony had begged me for the last five years to come inside, to enjoy the world of sex and beautiful women. I wasn’t allowed to let anyone in unless they had a referral from a regular client and spoke the language of money. A hefty deposit on top of regular price was always required. The deposits are usually never returned due to broken windows, stained carpets, and medical procedures to terminate the unwanted. Anthony barely had enough change for gas.
“Out of all the things to do, you want to go to my house? I mean, we can do it in your car like last time if that’s what you want. Seriously, out of all the stories I told you, not one has turned you off? It’s a fucking crazy house there most of the time.”
“Why wouldn’t I want a glimpse? You know nothing about men.”
“Yeah, and you apparently know nothing about me either.”
Back in December, I had an unpleasant encounter with one of the clients. It was a Wednesday night, all the girls were wearing Santa hats and edible candy cane g-strings. A few “tickle fights” were going on in the corners of the round room, with a few girls and the indoor security team. I always hung out with the girls on Wednesdays because they usually had no customers and an endless jar of green sativa. It was a free night. That was until a man who called himself Tiger, or Tigger ,or Lion–I don’t know–called in for request for him and five of his boys. I wasn’t aware that there was a request until Momma rolled up in the round room, almost surprised to see me there.
She said to me, “Callie, you’re still in here? I got six nice men comin’ in right now and they goin’ think you are an option. Now Momma always got a spot open for ya sweetie.”
Before I had the chance to roll my eyes at that woman and get up to leave, the tiger man and his diamond dipped crew stepped into the round room, soaking up the naked asses, bare breast, Santa hats, and me. There were only two options for me to get to my room. I could have walked past these guys and booked it up the stairs, or go out the side doors into the rain and gone around. It was an impossible task.
“Here, take your tea and don’t make eye contact,” Mary whispered. Mary is my favorite.
She’s the only one not sniffing white powder on Fridays and drowning her liver in Jameson. She studies at Pepperdine, majoring in religious studies. She has high cheekbones with sad, green eyes. Mary’s voice is so soft and timid I can’t imagine her sucking off the random men. I’m sure she’s the only one I haven’t seen naked or in a compromising position. There’s nothing positive that can come from living in a whore house, but she gave off good vibrations and a level of consciousness that I admire.
“Go. I’ll come up later and we’ll handle some Netflix,” she said, nudging me towards the door. Mary was mother and savior.
Don’t make eye contact, don’t make eye contact, Fuck, I made eye contact!
“Her right here. Why she got clothes on though?” The short lion man pointed at me and blocked the door.
“She just my daughter,” Momma said, “she doesn’t like to participate in this. Choose someone else, Mr. Tiger.”
The five foot tall, high yellow rapper grabbed the crotch of his sagging jeans and inched towards me.
“Naw, I want her. She got that pretty chocolate color I like, and she got a fat ass.” He licked his lips.
Momma waved over a few girls. “I have Sidney, Tanya, and Megan who I think you would like then. You can have all three if ya want.”
The three girls quickly stood and scurried over to the lyrical genius. “Why don’t you like to participate?” he asked me.
Mamma smirked at me. “She only sixteen. Callie just a chile. ”
“Seventeen,” I mumbled, searching the room for security. “Oh for real? I thought you were gonna feed me that virgin bullshit.”
Momma snorted, “Hmm, virgin is not in this girl’s vocabulary. Neither is loyalty.”
And she stared so deep into my eyes, so deep into a dark place that made me feel shameful all over again.
“Go on ahead chile. This the type of attention you want ain’t it? I promised these men anything when they stepped in that front door. Handle it.”
And Momma walked away. I guess since she gave permission this time she wouldn’t feel guilty about the outcome.
The side of his thumb slid along my collarbone and stopped at the hollow of my throat. I shook a little bit, almost wanting to cry. There I was, trapped in a way too familiar situation, searching for something inside to end this never ending misery.
“Callie how long have we been together?”
“Will you watch the road please? We aren’t together. We just do things from time to time.”
A pained look came across his face. “We’ve been is this situationship since freshman year. And I still know so little about you.”
“You don’t need to know all the shit I put up with. And I’ve told you some things.”
“Hell yea I do. You have my heart, Callie and you know that. All this secrecy crap needs to stop.”
Honestly, I was shocked. For the longest time, we had avoided going into detail of our status with one another. On numerous occasions, mostly those in the back seat of his car with my dress pulled up, I did acknowledge the fact that I strongly cared for Anthony. I had purposefully stayed away from the word love, and never did I know, until that moment, that I was the keeper of someone’s heart. A sour taste of guilt bubbled up.
I breathed out, “Anthony, honestly, I think I do love you.
“Wait, you think you love me?”
“No, I do!”
But that was the end of that conversation or any conversation. He stopped the car at the usual spot near my house. I felt the urge to tell him everything, to just ramble it all out. He didn’t look at me, he didn’t kiss my cheek, and he didn’t say bye.