More Freud-inspired titillation for the masses in James Hadley Chases’ No Orchids For Miss Blandish:
"He pounced on her. Scooping her up, he slammed her face down across the bed. Holding her securely under the angle of his arm, he whisked up her clothes and began to spank her long and hard.”
Eddie Schultz came out of a heavy sleep with a start. The sun was shining through the blinds and he blinked, cursed, and then looked at the bedside clock. It was close on ten a.m.
Anna slept at his side. She was making a gentle snorting noise and Eddie scowled at her.
He got out of bed and searched for his cigarettes. He had a headache and he felt like hell. He lit a cigarette, then went into the sitting room. He poured himself a big whiskey and tossed it down.
The liquor exploded in his stomach. He groaned, then as the effects of the spirit reacted on his jaded system, he felt better. His sleep-sodden mind began to work.
He remembered the cop of last night. Ma had nearly flipped her lid when Slim had come down to say the cop had been upstairs. Eddie grimaced. Ma was right, of course. He had been careless, but it wasn’t as if the cop had found out anything. Slim was the one who had made the real uproar. There had been a horrible moment when Eddie had been sure Slim was going to kill him. If it hadn’t been for Ma, he was sure Slim would have stuck his goddamn knife into him. The memory of the scene brought Eddie out into a cold sweat.
Anyway, it was Ma’s fault. If she had to be so stupid to let her nipple-headed son keep the Blandish girl, then she had to accept the responsibility if anything went wrong.
He returned to the bedroom.
Anna was awake. She had kicked off the bedclothes. She was lying flat on her back, staring up at the ceiling. She had on a sheer nylon nightgown.
“You’re not doing your act now,” Eddie growled on his way to the bathroom. “Cover up. You’re indecent.”
Ten minutes later, showered and shaved, he came into the bedroom. Anna still lay on the bed, still staring up at the ceiling.
“Instead of acting like a hypnotized fugitive from a honky-tonk,” Eddie barked, “couldn’t you get me some coffee?”
“Get it yourself; are you so helpless?” Anna sat up abruptly. “Eddie, I’m getting sick of this life. I’ve about had enough of it.”
“Here we go again,” Eddie said. “Two months ago you were hiding your talents behind a couple of moth-eaten fans for peanuts. I fix it for you to work in the best club in town. You get a hundred and fifty bucks a week and you’re still not satisfied. What do you want? More money?”
“I want to get into big time,” Anna said. She got off the bed and went into the bathroom.
Shrugging, Eddie went into the kitchen and made coffee. He took the coffee into the sitting room. Anna came in. She had put on a wrap and had fixed her hair. She saw the whiskey bottle that Eddie had forgotten to put back in the cabinet.
“Can’t you lay off the booze for ten minutes?” she demanded. “What are you becoming—an alcoholic?”
“Oh, shut up!” Eddie snarled.
They drank their coffee in brooding silence.
“If I could find someone to finance me,” Anna said suddenly, “I’d get out of this town.”
“If I could find someone to finance me, I’d do the same,” Eddie said sarcastically. “Will you stop yapping about your goddamn talent? Why don’t you wake up? You’re just a dime a dozen stripper. You’re getting too big for your pants!”
Anna pushed aside her coffee cup.
“You men are all the same,” she said wearily. “Frankie was the same. All you’re interested in is my body and my looks. You aren’t interested in me for myself.”
“If the candy tastes good, why worry what it’s made of?”
“But suppose I was ugly, Eddie? Would you look at me? No, of course you wouldn’t! But it would be me just the same.”
“Oh, for the love of Mike! Can’t we cut this out? I’ve got a hell of a headache. You’re not ugly. So what?”
“I’m scared of getting old. I want to be in the bright lights before that happens. I want to be someone. I want to be a star: not a cheap stripper in a cheap club.”
“Snap out of it, will you?” Eddie pleaded. “You’re depressing me. You’re doing all right. Can’t you be content?”
“What’s going on upstairs in the club?” Anna asked abruptly.
Eddie stiffened, looking sharply at her.
“Nothing. What do you mean?”
“Oh, yes there is. I’m not blind. I have an idea Slim’s got a girl up there. Who is she, Eddie?”
“You’re nuts!” Eddie said angrily. “Slim doesn’t go for girls.”
“I’ve seen Doc and Ma go up there. What’s going on?”
“Nothing!” Eddie snapped. “So shut up!”
“I must have a hole in my head to have picked you to live with,” Anna said angrily. “That’s all I ever get from you—shut up!”
“You talk the crap you talk and that’s all you can expect to hear.” He went into the bedroom. It was time he left for the club. He dressed.
Anna came in.
“How much longer are you going to tag along with the Grisson gang?” she demanded. “How much longer are you going to lick that old bitch’s boots?”
“And don’t start that again,” Eddie yelled, struggling into his coat. “I’m getting out of here. I’ve had all I want from you for one day.”
“Small-time. What I ever saw in you! Run along, gigolo. Start your boot licking.”
“Don’t say you didn’t ask for this,” Eddie bellowed. “I’ve had enough of your big mouth. I’m going to teach you who’s boss around here!
He pounced on her. Scooping her up, he slammed her face down across the bed. Holding her securely under the angle of his arm, he whisked up her clothes and began to spank her long and hard.
Kicking and struggling, Anna screamed like a train whistle. Eddie continued to slap her until his hand was burning and sore and the neighbors on either side of the apartment began hammering on the walls.
Then leaving her wriggling and screaming on the bed, Eddie left the apartment, slamming the door behind him.
Fenner, sitting in his car opposite the apartment block saw Eddie come out, his face dark with rage. He watched him get into the Buick and drive away.
Leaving his car, Fenner entered the apartment block and took the elevator to the top floor.
Before ringing the front door bell, Fenner checked to make sure his gun was ready for fast action, then he pushed the bell.
After a minute’s wait, he rang again. The door remained unanswered. Fenner frowned. He was sure the girl was in. Why didn’t she answer? He placed his thumb on the bell and kept it there.
After another two minutes, the door flew open. Her face contorted with pain and fury, her hair disheveled, Anna glared at him.
“What do you think this is—a fire station?” she screamed at him. “Get the hell out of here!” She attempted to slam the door, but Fenner had already wedged his foot against it.
“I’m not seeing anyone! Beatit!”
“But I am from Spewack, Anderson and Hart,” Fenner lied. “Surely you want to see me?”
The name of the famous Broadway theatrical agents gave Anna pause. She stared at him.
“Are you kidding?” she demanded suspiciously.
“What should I want to kid you for?” Fenner asked blandly. “Spewack saw your act last night. He talked to Anderson, and if Hart had been on speaking terms with Anderson, you can bet your last nickel that Anderson would have talked to Hart. I have a proposition to discuss with you, Miss Borg.”
“If this is a gag…” Anna began, then stopped. If it was true! she was thinking. Spewack, Anderson and Hart interested in her!
“If you don’t want to discuss it that’s okay with me,” Fenner said, stepping back. “But let me tell you, baby, eight hundred strippers in this city would give their G-strings for the chance.”
Anna hesitated no longer. She threw open the door.
“Well, come in…”
She led the way into the sitting room. She could kill Eddie, she was thinking. She had already inspected the damage he had inflicted on her. Suppose Spewack, Anderson and Hart wanted her for an audition? Suppose this guy wanted her to hop a taxi and go right downtown and do her act? How could she with the bruises she was carrying?
“Would you be interested to work in New York, Miss Borg?” Fenner asked, selecting the most comfortable chair and sitting down. “Or are you all tied up here?”
Anna’s eyes opened wide.
“New York? Gee! I’d love it. No, I’m not tied up.”
“You’re not under contract with the Paradise Club?”
“It’s only a week-to-week arrangement.”
“That’s fine. Sit down, Miss Borg: relax. I have a modern fairy story to tell you.”
Absentmindedly, Anna sat down, but was up immediately with a gasp of pain.
“You sit on a tack or something?” Fenner asked, interested.
“Standing is good for my figure,” Anna said, forcing a smile. “In my line, I have to watch, my figure.”
“Relax, baby. I’ll watch your figure. It’ll be a pleasure.”
“Now, see here, mister,” Anna said, “If this turns out to be a gag…”
“This is no gag, Miss Borg,” Fenner said smoothly. “We have a client with more money than sense. He wants to finance a musical on Broadway: that’ll tell you how crazy he is, but who are we to discourage him? He’s got the book, he’s got the music and now he wants a star. He insists we use local talent. He made his money in Kansas City and he’s sentimental. He wants some local girl to have the chance to be a star. We haven’t found anyone yet as good as you. Do you want the chance?”
Anna’s eyes opened wide.
“Do I want it? You really mean I’ll be a star on Broadway?”
“There’s only yourself to stop you. All Spewack has to do is to call our client, tell him about you and it’ll be in the bag.”
“Oh gee! It’s too good tobe true!”
“I said it was a modern fairy story, didn’t I?” Fenner said airily. “A year’s run on Broadway; then Hollywood. You have a great future ahead of you.”
“When do I get a contract?” Anna asked, thinking she would pack at once and walk out on Eddie. “When do I meet Mr. Spewack or whoever it is?”
“I’ll have a contract ready for you to sign this afternoon. You’ll be lunching with Mr. Spewack in New York this time tomorrow.”
“You’re sure your client really wants me?” Anna asked, suddenly nervous. “Didn’t you say Mr. Spewack had to telephone him first?”
“I’m glad you brought that up,” Fenner said, lighting a cigarette. “There is that. Before we can talk to our client, there’s a little situation that needs clearing up. We like you, Miss Borg, but frankly, we don’t like your friends.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, the boys you run around with aren’t exactly the cream of society, are they? Take Eddie Schultz as an example. You’ll have a lot of publicity, Miss Borg, once the news leaks out you’re going to be the star of this show. We have to be careful it is favorable publicity.”
Anna began to look worried.
“I’m not married to my friends. Once I get to Broadway, I wouldn’t dream of associating with them any more.”
“Well, that’s nice to know, but a while back you were tied up with the notorious Frank Riley and he’s right in the news. The press are certain to connect you with him. It could kill the whole show if that little item hit the headlines.”
Anna suddenly felt sick with disappointment.
“I—I scarcely knew Riley,” she said. “I—I just met him. You know how you meet people.”
“Look, Miss Borg, you have to be frank with me. You don’t meet people the way you met Riley just by chance. I’ve had to check on you. Don’t imagine I like poking my nose into your affairs, but if we are going to make a big star out of you, we can’t afford any scandal. I understand you knew Riley intimately.”
Anna made a despairing gesture.
“Then why come here, raising my hopes? I knew this was a gag! I knew it was too good to be true.”
“Hey, hey!” Fenner said. “Don’t get depressed. There’s always a way around every problem if one thinks hard enough. Now, look, Miss Borg, we can’t hide up the fact that you have associated with hoodlums. That’s impossible. So what do we do? We must use the fact to your advantage, and not to your disadvantage. They say the whole world loves a lover. I’ll tell you who the world loves even better than a lover: a reformed character! That’s what you’re going to be. We’re going to feed the press with a big sob story. We’re going to tell them how you started from nothing; how you became infatuated with Riley without knowing he was a hoodlum; how you desperately tried to make him go straight when you finally found out what he was; how you lost faith in him when he kidnapped the Blandish girl. Do you get it? From the moment Riley walked out of your life, you have been trying to get away from your sordid environment, but Eddie Schultz appeared. He forced you to live with him. Then came this chance to appear on Broadway. You seized it with both hands. The hoods of Kansas City are now the thing of the past You’re a reformed character.”
Anna didn’t think this sounded very convincing.
“Do you think they’ll believe it?” she asked doubtfully.
“If they don’t, baby, you’re sunk,” Fenner said, shaking his head.
Anna leaned against the mantel. She wished she could sit down. There was a hollow feeling inside her. She was sure now that this Broadway offer was going to be just a pipe dream.
“How are you going to make them believe it?” she asked. “Newspapermen! How I hate them! They spy and pry and they never leave you alone once they think they have a story. They don’t give a damn how much they hurt you, how much mischief they cause, how many hearts they break so long as they get their story. I hate them all— the stinking sonsofbitches!”
It wouldn’t do, Fenner thought, to tell her that he was once a newspaperman. She would probably shoot him.
“I’ll tell you how we can convince them,” he said. “Boy! What a story it would make! You’d be headline news throughout the country and good headlines at that.”
“What are you talking about?” Anna snapped.
“Look, suppose through you, the Blandish girl was found. Imagine! Think what it would mean to you: television interviews, your picture in every newspaper, Blandish paying you a reward and your name on Broadway in four-foot lights!”
“Are you drunk?” Anna demanded, her face suddenly hard. “I don’t know anything about the Blandish girl. What’s the matter with you?”
“You knew Riley. For all you know, you may have the one clue that would lead the police to him.”
Anna’s eyes turned vicious.
“Yeah? Maybe Frankie did walk out on me, but I’d never give him away to the cops. What do you think I am? A squealer?”
Fenner shrugged his shoulders and got to his feet.
“If that’s your idea of a reformed character, Miss Borg,” he said. “I’m wasting my time. Well, it’s been nice meeting you. I’ll just have to tell Mr. Spewack hell have to look elsewhere for our local talent.”
“Wait a minute,” Anna said hurriedly. “If I knew anything, I’d tell you, but I don’t.”
“When did you last see Riley?” Fenner asked.
“The morning before the snatch.Bailey telephoned him about the necklace. Riley told me he was going to grab it.”
“Did he say anything about kidnapping the girl?”
“So you didn’t hear anything from Riley after he left you on the morning of the kidnapping?”
“Well, yes, I did. He telephoned me from Johnny Frisk’s place.”
Fenner drew in a long deep breath. Here it was at last! The new lead! Something she hadn’t told the police.
“Johnny Frisk? You mean the old rummy who lives out at Lone Tree junction?”
“That’s him.” Anna suddenly stiffened. “How do you know him?”
“I get around,” Fenner said. “So Riley was out there? And you never told the police that?”
Anna was staring suspiciously at him.
“Just who are you?” she said. “This is a gag, isn’t it? Are you a cop?”
A sound made both of them look towards the door. Someone had unlocked the front door. Quick steps sounded, then the door leading into the sitting room jerked open.
Eddie Schultz came in.
“I forgot my goddamn wallet…” he began then he saw Fenner.
“Pardon me, pal,” Fenner said quietly and uncorked a right hook that hit Eddie flush on his jaw. Eddie went down as if he was pole-axed.
Anna turnedand rushed into the bedroom, but by the time she had got her gun, Fenner had vanished.
Slowly Eddie sat up, holding his jaw. He stared at Anna. Then he got to his feet.
“What’s going on?” he demanded shakily. “Hell! That punk’s nearly bust my jaw! What was a goddamn newspaperman doing in here?”
Anna stared at him in horror.
“A newspaperman?” she screamed.
Her expression sent a chill up Eddie’s spine. He had a terrible premonition that his future was about to explode in his face.
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